Dr Andrew Constable - Southern Ecosystems Change Theme Leader
My name is Andrew Constable. I am a theme leader in the Australian Antarctic science program responsible for studying Southern Ocean ecosystems and that theme has a number of elements. The first element is to understand how southern ocean ecosystems are responding to climate change. The second thing is to look at how do we conserve whales, albatross and other species like that? And then a big responsibility is how do you manage fisheries in the Southern Ocean so as they remain ecologically sustainable?
One of the main parts of our work is to do field work in the Southern Ocean. That involves going to sea on ships for maybe up to three months at a time and what we try to do there is we are sampling the animals and plants in the ocean to better understand how they work with the ocean, what sort of impacts changes in the ocean might have and in particular what things might happen as a result of climate change.
The last thing that we do is we try to look at undertaking laboratory studies that help us better understand the exact mechanisms of impact. That is how we know about the effects of acidification on krill, for example. That was done here at the Australian Antarctic Division.
For example we know the Southern Ocean ecosystem is becoming more acidic which there are some animals at the bottom end of the food chain, they’re not doing so well. So krill, for example, their embryos don’t survive very well in a super acidic environment.
One of the big challenges is being able to do science at a sufficiently large scale, so operating ships or being able to sample in many different places that give us very good information that we can feed into our models and basically help management make the right decisions.
The more we are able to forecast what is going to happen in the future, the more that we can adjust our management practices and the more that we can make better decisions in advance and make sure that fisheries remain ecologically sustainable.
I’m never bored. It’s a fantastic place to work, the work is very challenging, one of the great things about this work is the people that I work with. It is those partnerships that matter. That’s what makes the science very enjoyable and we can overcome the challenges together. In the end it will be a community enterprise to overcome these challenges and to better understand what we have in the future.
Aurora Basin: ice core science
The Aurora Basin project is an ice core drilling project where we expect to get an ice core which covers the last 2000 years. This is a very important time in the Earth’s climate history and currently we have a lack of data covering this period from Antarctica.
My name is Dr Mark Curran and I am an ice core research scientist with the Australian Antarctic Division.
The Aurora Basin project has been about seven years in planning and it’s the culmination of a lot of efforts by a range of scientists and logistics personnel here in Australia and overseas.
Aurora Basin is situated 550 km inland from Casey station in East Antarctica. We are very excited about the science that will be coming out from the project and there is a level of anticipation to get to this region and establish a remote ice core drilling camp.
The initial party to Aurora Basin will go via traverse from the French station Dumont D’Urville. This will take about 15 days. When they arrive on the site there will be three members of the Australian program and the team will establish a camp at Aurora Basin. A ski way will then be groomed and this will allow the Australian program to bring in their plane and the rest of the people from Casey Station into the Aurora Basin camp.
Two of the biggest challenges that we will face are the altitude and the temperature. It is a high altitude site and therefore once people arrive on site they will have to rest for a couple of days before they start their work. In terms of the temperature on the site we expect average daily temperatures of −25°C which will be very testing for both the people and the equipment that we use.