Station Leaders 2014-15
Ali Dean: I'm Ali Dean and I'm going down to Casey as the station leader.
I've worked in the Antarctic for quite a few years now, first as a geologist so going down over the summer months, using the stations as a staging post and preparing for trips to remote localities. So I was looking for clues on the geological history of Antarctica.
During those times on station, I became fascinated with multi-faceted, really active places with a lot of interesting people and that's probably what led me to eventually try station leadership.
This will be seventh winter as station leader in Antarctica and I'm just as excited about this trip as I was about that first one.
The Australian stations are extremely important for facilitating science because the Antarctic is such a hostile and hospitable place. There are science projects that run automatically through the winter and these are usually monitored by station personnel. For example, ultra-violet radiation is measured constantly, as are a lot of greenhouse gases. So this information is sent back automatically by satellite to scientists in Australia.
The encroaching winter itself - it can be a challenge. I enjoy the darkness but it is difficult to sleep for a lot of people. For a lot of people, that separation from family.
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.