The Australian ice breaker Aurora Australis arrives back in Hobart tomorrow with sixty expeditioners onboard, marking the end of a challenging but successful summer research and resupply season for Australia’s Antarctic program. A total of eight resupply and research voyages have been completed this season by the Aurora Australis and Polar Bird, in support of Australia's Antarctic efforts.

Professor Michael Stoddart, acting Director of the Australian Antarctic Division said, “We have achieved a great deal, across a comprehensive range of research programs this season — with the focus very much on the important issues of global climate change and environmental protection.”

“We have had some fantastic results from our recently completed work on Heard Island, where among other projects we focussed on the effects of global warming on plants and wildlife. We have also successfully installed and commissioned the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) instrument at Davis station, which is going to play a very important role in our continuing research into climate change in the polar atmosphere”, Professor Stoddart said today.

Professor Stoddart added that research programs on the Amery Ice Shelf, complimented by the oceanographic programs from onboard Aurora Australis, had provided valuable data that will allow researchers to develop models essential to further understanding the role of this vast expanse of Antarctic ice in global processes.

In addition to the returning expeditioners the Aurora Australis also has onboard a compliment of some 2000 live krill, caught during this last voyage. The krill will be transported on arrival to specially built aquariums at the Australian Antarctic Division’s headquarters in Kingston, Tasmania, where they will be the focus of Australia’s ongoing studies into krill’s vital role in the Antarctic ecosystem.

The Aurora Australis is currently scheduled to arrive at Macquarie No 4 wharf at 10:30am Thursday, 5 April 2001.