Antarctic video gallery

Antarctic lessons for space

Antarctic lessons for space

Video transcript

Going to Antarctica is like visiting another planet.

It’s extreme, confined, and isolated.

Chief Medical Officer — Dr Jeff Ayton

“We’ve got isolation for up to nine months of the year, so we can’t get people out of Antarctica. So, we have a small population of 14–25 people at Casey, Davis and Mawson and at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.”

Australian Antarctic doctors are experts in remote medical care.

This knowledge informs space agencies planning for long-term missions to the Moon or Mars.

Chief Medical Officer — Dr Jeff Ayton

“Australia has been quite successful in undertaking space analogue research in areas such as immunology, but also mental health and behavioural health. How do teams work well together, but also how to individuals work well together and how can we support them.”

Dr Ayton will share his insights from the icy continent Aerospace Futures 2019.

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Total ozone over Antarctica, 2018 (NASA Ozone Watch)

Midwinter swim 2019

Midwinter swim 2019

Video transcript

Amy Chetcuti — Davis Station Expedition Mechanic

Doing the swim was exhilarating. You think you are in there for ages, but it was like three seconds, so survival instincts definitely kick in.

Simon Goninon — Davis Station Leader

Water temperature is around minus 2 degrees, maybe just shy of that. Air temperature today is actually pretty good, around minus 22/23, and not a lot of wind, maybe four or five knots. So it’s actually a pretty good day.

The day on station is just really important for people, whether its people who have been coming down here for multiple seasons, or whether its people, like myself who are down here for the first time. It’s just a really nice way to recognise this turning point for winter, for everyone to gather together, and mark it as a really special occasion.

What it’s actually like to actually take this plunge is a bit hard to describe. Your breath gets taken away, it’s just a completely foreign feeling. You’re in sub zero water, the whole fight or flight response kicks in and you really just want to get the hell out of the water. And to be honest it’s once you’re out that’s the worst thing, because you’re dropping 20 degrees getting out of the water and into the air temp.

Luke D’Anastasi — Davis Station Expedition Mechanic

This is my first time down here and swimming in Antarctica was pretty hectic, pretty cold, I felt like my body was on fire and my head was screaming get to the ladder and get out as quick as you possibly could.

Kieran Lusio — Davis Station Boiler Maker

It’s pretty intense, pretty invigorating. But the water is not too bad, it’s just the getting out bit that’s super cold. I really enjoyed it.

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Southern Ocean — ice and awe

Southern Ocean — ice and awe

Video transcript

Dr Dirk Welsford (Program Leader, Antarctic Conservation and Management, Australian Antarctic Division)

The Southern Ocean is awesome for lots of different reasons. I mean it’s awesome to look at. Some of the biggest waves in the world come from the Southern Ocean. Waves over 10 metres high. It joins all of the world’s oceans. So, it joins the Pacific, the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans. It’s down there at the bottom of the world.

But it’s full of amazing things as well. That’s where the largest animals in the world live. So, the Antarctic blue whale lives in the Southern Ocean. It’s where a lot of the penguins and seals and things that we think about as being Antarctic, often live near or in the Southern Ocean. The other amazing thing is that one of the world’s most abundant organisms, the Antarctic krill lives in the Southern Ocean and it’s a key part of how that whole system works. It’s food for nearly everything that lives down there. It’s superabundant so there’s lots of things that can grow, happy and fat, eating krill.

And one of the amazing things about the Southern Ocean is that food web is very efficient. It’s quite short. So, you can go from sunlight to microbes, the krill eat the microbes and then you’ve got whales eating those krill. So, very efficient transfer of energy. And you can basically go from sunlight to the world’s largest organism in a very short space.

The whole process of freezing and thawing every year so the sea ice that grows and then melts every year, drives the world’s circulation as well. So, as that ice forms, it sheds the salt out of the saltwater; that salt sinks and that whole process then drives the entire circulation of the world’s oceans.

The Southern Ocean is critical to the world’s climate. So, all of our weather in Australia comes from the Southern Ocean. If you look at the weather map each day, when they do the forecast, you can actually see that these frontal systems are coming across the Southern part of Australia. They all are generated by Antarctica and then are transported across the Southern Ocean to us.

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Hydroxyl Hunters

Hydroxyl Hunters

Video transcript

This is Law Dome in East Antarctica.

For three months in early 2019, scientists set up a drill site to collect old air bubbles from deep ice.

Dr Peter Neff (Glaciologist, University of Washington)

It’s just about the most specific question we can ask about that little bit of atmosphere trapped in the ice, and it’s at the most specific site glaciologically. We can’t do it anywhere else.

The question they want to answer is: how has the chemistry of the atmosphere changed from pre-industrial times to today?

Dr Vas Petrenko (Ice Core Lab, University of Rochester)

We’re trying to understand specifically the change in the ability of the atmosphere to scrub a number of pollutants, gases like carbon monoxide, but also greenhouse gases like methane, as well as gases that are capable of destroying ozone in the stratosphere.

The natural ‘air purifier’ is a highly reactive molecule known as hydroxyl.

Dr Peter Neff (Glaciologist, University of Washington)

If we’re emitting a whole lot of methane these days by burning fossil fuels, we want to know how long those methane molecules are going to stay in the atmosphere and that is controlled by how they’re oxidised, how they’re rusted out of the atmosphere, and hydroxyl (OH) is the main oxidiser in the atmosphere, that’s what we’re chasing after here.

By melting the ice to extract the old air, the team want to reveal a mystery.

Dr Vas Petrenko (Ice Core Lab, University of Rochester)

We simply don’t know how the hydroxyl radical concentrations have changed further back in time, as well as ultimately how we have altered the concentration of hydroxyl radicals through our emissions.

Knowing the past will help to accurately predict the levels of all greenhouse gases into the future.

The security of our planet’s climate depends upon this knowledge.



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The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

Video transcript

The winter sun in Antarctica barely rises above the horizon.

Simon Goninon, Leader, Davis research station
Living in twilight is something definitely to get used to. It’s a bit weird, you’re walking to work, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning or thereabouts, it’s pitch black, it might as well be midnight.

This is the last sunrise and sunset at Davis research station for more than a month.

The sun is up for only 44 minutes and won’t return for five weeks.

The lack of natural light makes it hard to maintain normal sleep patterns.

Dr Jeff Ayton, Chief Medical Officer, Australian Antarctic Division
It’s the light acting on the back of the retina in your eye that gives you that time stamp to say that this is morning time and you should be awake and that sets you up for the rest of the day.

As Antarctica goes dark, winter expeditioners look forward to the return of the light.

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Nuyina Harbour Tests

Nuyina Harbour Tests

Video transcript

ROB BRYSON: Manager — Antarctic Modernisation Branch

Nuyina is about to go into the first of a series of trials which is the harbour acceptance trials, which will be conducted alongside the wharf in Galati, Romania. What this is, is a whole series of 190 different tests that will test everything about the ship to make sure that it’s ready for the next stage in the trials process.

TEXT BOX: The Harbour Acceptance Tests (HAT) will test the ship’s propulsion, bilge, ballast and auxiliary systems.

ROB BRYSON: The HAT represents the first time that we’re powering up all the systems on the ship. The ship finally comes to life. Even though we’ve had little bits of systems working in the past, this is the first time that they’ll all work together.

TEXT BOX: The HAT is the first of three trials — harbour, sea and ice.

ROB BRYSON: It’s an important part of testing the ship and making sure it’s ready to go to sea for the sea acceptance trials. Following that we’ll move into the third phase of the testing program which will be special sea trials, which will involve taking the vessel off the coast of Norway and into the Arctic to test it in sea ice conditions.

TEXT BOX: The Nuyina will arrive in its home port of Hobart in late 2020.

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Nuyina landing barges

Nuyina landing barges

Video transcript

TEXT BOX: Two barges for the icebreaker Nuyina are being built in Tasmania to support Antarctic resupply.

ROB BRYSON (Manager — Antarctic Modernisation Branch): These barges are the primary link between the ship and the shore. We don’t have wharves or jetties in Antarctica, the ship doesn’t come alongside anywhere, so we have to use the barges to transfer all our cargo ashore and all our breakbulk containers and all our equipment.

TEXT BOX: Each barge can carry 45 tonne loads of containers, vehicles and other cargo.

ROB BRYSON: The great feature of these barges is their ability to ride up on the beach and discharge their cargo straight on to the shore, so that’s a tremendous capability that we’re building alongside the Nuyina and bringing into service.

TEXT BOX: The barges are being built by Taylor Bros, who have been crafting vessels for 83 years.

TEXT BOX: They employ naval architects, designers, and specialists from eight trades.

PHIL TAYLOR (Director — Taylor Bros): One of the first job I ever did for the Antarctic Division was in 1980 when we converted the first landing barges they had. They had four outboards strapped across the back of the barge and they were virtually a square brick. They were pretty uncontrollable so we turned them into a jet powered barge.

TEXT BOX: The jet propulsion system provides greater manoeuvrability than propellers

ROB BRYSON: The barges directly complement Nuyina because they’re made for each other. So from the ground up, the design’s been complementary. Seeing this design finally come to fruition is fantastic and a great achievement for all involved in the process today.

PHIL TAYLOR: We’ve had a lot of experience with Antarctica projects and we’ve learnt a lot out of working in a cold climate. Yeah there’s always challenges and that’s good, that’s what we like here, doing something different.

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