Antarctic video gallery
Expansion of ice free areas in Antarctica
Dr Alex Terauds: This paper is about the expansion of ice free areas in terrestrial Antarctica under climate change, because over 95 per cent of life in terrestrial Antarctica live in these areas. And we're not just talking about penguins and seals. We're talking about a whole range of plants and animals, from lichens and fungi and mosses down to little invertebrates, like tardigrades and mites and springtails. So there's a whole range of life that lives in these ice free areas.
Jasmine Lee: Most people probably picture the Antarctic continent as this massive ice and ice sheets. But what they might not know is that a very tiny fraction of the continent, less than one per cent in fact, is permanently ice free. So we see these small patches of ice free areas springing up around the coast and along the mountain tops. Across the continent, we're expecting up to 17,000km2 of new ice free area, and that's a 25 per cent increase in total area. But nearly most of this will all be concentrated in the Antarctic Peninsula. What the ice melt means is that the ice free areas start to expand in size, and some of them expand so much that they start to join together. So this increasing expansion coalescence leads to increased connectivity between patches that have been separated for, in some cases, probably hundreds of thousands of years.
Dr Alex Terauds: And that's got implications for how species interact with each other, whether it be native species interacting with each other or whether it be invasive species coming in and interacting with native species. And we also know that, together with the warming climate, this expansion of ice free area will likely provide more habitat and better habitat for invasive species. There is a strong focus on trying to protect and conserve this important biodiversity in terrestrial Antarctica. And if we understand what's going to happen under different climate change scenarios, then we can actually incorporate that into our conservation planning.
Midwinter swim at Davis research station
Bryce: I’m an electrician working for the Australian Antarctic Division and the swim was amazing. There is the briefest of briefest moments when you slight feel warm, and then you work out that you’re actually freezing instead!
Kirsten: Today we’re celebrating midwinters day, or the winter solstice. This is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. At 68° south where we are, we have 37 days without sun at this time. Our last sunset was 3 June and next sunrise is 10 July.
Midwinters day is a day of celebration for us. It will involve a plunge in the ocean, group photos, a sumptuous feast and then a live theater and band performance. The reason for the swim is that it’s a polar tradition and expeditioners all around Antarctica will take part in the swim today. For us this involves cutting 1m deep hole in the sea ice. The water temperature is -1.8° Celsius, and the air temperature is around -27 °Celsius which gives us a wind chill of -36 °Celsius – so it’s going to be invigorating.
Midwinters day to our group of 17 expeditioners is the highlight of our season. We’re halfway through our winter and it marks longer days and the return of sunshine. This time of year I’d describe Antarctica as cold, dark and extraordinary. We still have civil twilight, so lots of polar clouds, clear sky and beautiful stars and ethereal auroras which are quite other worldly. So a fantastic time to be here and a real joy to experience it all.
Happy midwinters day!
Australia's new icebreaker - steel cutting
Today we started the plasma cutter for the first time on the construction process for Australia’s new Antarctic research vessel. This is a key milestone because it ends the process of design, which has been going for the last 12 months, but the project itself had its inception in 2008 when we first started talking about this ship and the need to replace the Aurora Australis over the next decade. This is the culmination of 10 years of work from people across the Australian Antarctic Division and the Australian Antarctic Program. We’re putting together a 15,000 tonne steel jigsaw puzzle. The next milestone for us will be keel laying where all of the parts of the keel laying will be put together into the first block. Construction is still on schedule for delivery into Hobart in mid-2020 when the ship will undertake its first season in support of the Australian Antarctic Program.
Sea ice drilling: Mawson to Auster Rookery
I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘I’!
These is Pete, Mark and we’re expeditioners for the Australian Antarctic Division and today we’re drilling the sea ice.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘s’!
Ahhh, snow! Snow!
Mark, why do we drill the sea ice, mate?
We’re just proving the Mawson to Macey route which is the main route out to the Auster Rookery.
And what’s the minimum distance we need?
We need about 600 mm – we need 600 mm to drive the Hagg on it.
Turn around, look at that – we’ve got a good 685, 690.
How good is that mate?
Australian students chance to fly to Antarctica
It’s great to be here at Hawthorn West Primary to announce the start of a national school competition to name our next icebreaker.
The Government is spending nearly $2billion to have a state of the art vessel which will go to Antarctica.
Now the winners of this naming competition will get an incredible opportunity.
Six students from Years 5 and 6 and two teachers and six students from Years 7 and 8 and two teachers will have the chance of a lifetime.
So, would Hawthorn West Primary like to go Antarctica? YES!
It’s called Gondwana Express and I thought it because Antarctica used to be called Gondwana when all the countries were combined.
In respect to the Aborigines, this is an aboriginal word, which is Yarramundi, which is 'deep water' in aboriginal.
We thought of all these together. Another one was the Southern Cross star which we thought represents Australia and the stars.
Anzac Day at Casey research station
I spent 18 years in the military. I was in the Australian Army as a communications technician, and I was operationally deployed on a number of occasions. The most significant of those were to East Timor and to Iraq.
For me, Anzac Day is a chance to reflect on the sacrifices made by all of those people that served before me, to remember the people that I served with, and to be thankful for the soldiers, sailors and airmen who are still serving today.
This year at Casey, we'll be marking Anzac Day with a gunfire breakfast followed up by a dawn service, and then after that, hopefully a couple of games of two-up. For me, it's a special occasion to recognise; to come together as a station community, and to take a step back from our everyday lives to appreciate the sacrifices that have gone into making Australia the country that it is today, and providing us with the opportunities that we have such as working here in Antarctica.
Whale research video
Australian Antarctic Division whale scientist Dr Elanor Bell
We were studying humpback and minke whales, specifically looking at their foraging ecology, which means where they feed, how they feed, where they're travelling to in order to feed, and looking at their prey as well. We deployed two different types of tag. The first was a video suction cup tag, which has all sorts of really specialist motion sensors inside it as well as a video camera at the front. We were deploying those on the sleepy logging whale at the surface. We'd sort of creep up to them in the boat, we'd slap a tag on their back.
The video records where the whales - where they're going, how deep they're diving, and what they're actually eating. So you see footage of them actually lunging at dense krill swarms in the open water. The limpet tags are different. They are small implantable tags that we were deploying on the minke whales. They stay in the dorsal fin for up to two months, and they transmit the location data and dive data from that whale. And we want to understand what they need, and how these climate changes or these other anthropogenic changes might impact the whales in the future.