Antarctic video gallery
Arts Fellows in Antarctica
Australian Antarctic Division Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeff Ayton:
So the polar medicine unit is the unit in the Australian Antarctic Division that looks after the health and well-being of people in Australia's Antarctic program, in the Antarctic. So, in Antarctica and Macquarie Island, and ships and planes in between.
We employ generalist doctors, who are generally rural or remote general practitioners from Australia, and we train them and add additional skills to their scope of practice; like, there's some surgery, I believe they undertake an anaesthetic.
The expeditioners are well-screened, and they are generally well and healthy, but when things go wrong, things can go really wrong.
Any medical evacuation is challenging in Antarctica, and may only be possible over summer. Without hope of winter evacuation, it's an extreme environment. We've got isolated doctors down there, who are isolated for up to nine months of the year, which is very challenging. They're on their own, supported by lay-surgical assistance and a telemedicine link back to Kingston in Hobart, Tasmania.
Hydroponics in Antarctica
Adélie penguin population
Seabird Ecologist - Dr Louise Emmerson
The purpose of this work was to bring together various elements of research to try and identify what pressures or threats there were on the Antarctic breeding seabirds. For this work, we were particularly focusing on the terrestrial environment where the birds were breeding, as well as the marine environment where the birds were foraging.
We used a long term 25-year mark re-sight program to try and estimate how many non-breeders there were in the population, and how this number related to the number of breeders.
So we estimate that the total population, which comprises of the breeders and the non-breeders, is around 5.9 million birds in East Antarctica. When we extrapolate that out to the entire continent, that's between 14 to 16 million birds.
In East Antarctica, the Adélie penguins are primarily eating krill but they also eat some fish as well, and we're trying to understand exactly how much of that has any overlap with potential fishing industry.
There were a lot of breeding Adélie penguins within very close proximity to the Antarctic stations. The Adélie penguins are trying to find locations to breed, which are ice-free and they're very close to open water. Our results can be used to identify areas which may need enhanced protection in the future.
Insightful approach to aging Antarctic krill
Dr So Kawaguchi: This is very exciting. Knowing the age of krill is a very very long research questions - more than 50 years, because krill doesn't have any hard parts that record their age. To find out their age, we used eye stalks.
What we did was to slice those eye stalks into really thin slices and then polish it, and then count the annual bands that have been created. The concept is the same as the annual tree rings.
Krill is the fundamental food source for most of the higher predators, like whales, penguins, seals, in the Antarctic Ocean.
If there's any change in krill populations, that will certainly have a fundamental impact in the structure of the ecosystem itself. So it's really important to know how old the krill are, because that will be used for the fisheries management. We can actually retrospectively go in to preserve samples, like about a hundred years ago, and then compare with the recent krill - we'll be able to better predict what may happen in this changing environment into the future.
Australia Day 2017 - Casey research station
Davis research station 60th anniversary
Under the sea ice in Antarctica
Glenn Johnstone - biologist
We’re diving under the sea ice in O’Brien Bay, south of Casey research station in East Antarctica.
This is a thriving, colourful world filled with sponges, sea cucumbers, sea spiders, worms, algae and starfish.
Here we are at 30 m below the surface, where the water temperature is a chilly −1.5°C year round, and the sea is covered by ice that is a metre and a half thick for more than 10 months of the year. This ice provides protection from Antarctica’s harsh weather conditions and a stable marine environment that allows biodiversity to flourish.
It is important biodiversity like you see here that is the focus of our research into the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.
Here at the Australian Antarctic Division, we are working hard to ensure the continent remains valued, protected and understood.