Antarctic video gallery

Ice runway reopens

Ice runway reopens

Video transcript

On screen text: Flights have resumed to Australia’s Wilkins Aerodrome after major reconstruction works.

The 3.5 kilometre runway is built on a moving glacier.

A crew of seven has been clearing ice build-up from around the runway.

Nearly 20,000 tonnes of ice was cleared in 12 weeks.

Jeff Hadley, Wilkins Aerodrome Manager: What we’ve been doing is we’ve been grading the ice down to a suitable level, which has accumulated over the years, both natural and manmade.

On screen text: An A319 flight arrived yesterday with 17 expeditioners.

Flights will continue through to March.

[end transcript]

Krill swarms in 3D

Krill swarms in 3D

Video transcript

On-screen text: In the Southern Ocean, scientists are finding krill by following the blue whales that eat them.

ROB KING: It’s fascinating to be on a voyage where we're targeting areas to research by focusing in on blue whales that we're hearing from hundreds of kilometres across the ocean.

On-screen text: For the first time, the RV Investigator’s echosounders are being used to ‘see’ giant krill swarms underwater.

JOSH LAWRENCE: So the animation is showing us a three-dimensional representation a large krill swarm we passed over earlier in the voyage. The swarm was about 400 metres long by about 200 metres across and it kind of came up in this multi-level swarm that was a total depth range of about 100 metres, but with the three-dimensional view you can see that it’s all connected and it’s all one enormous swarm.

On-screen text: With a volume of a million cubic metres, this single swarm contains hundreds of millions of Antarctic krill.

ROB KING: What sort of krill is a blue whale after? Because krill isn’t just an individual. Krill is a super organism.

JOSH LAWRENCE: It might tell us something about the preferences that the whales have for the different three-dimensional structures. Again, that’s something you wouldn’t really be able to do without that three-dimensional information.

On-screen text: Each swarm recorded by the echosounders is also sampled for its krill.

ROB KING: There’s a whole bunch of female krill here that are ready to lay eggs. There’s also a lot of developing juvenile krill that are maturing. But what’s really interesting is that those krill are mainly females so it appears there’s a strong gender imbalance in this area. It’s not preventing them producing fertilised eggs. All of the females that have spawned here in the lab have produced fertilised eggs that have gone on to produce embryos, no trouble at all. So the system is working but we're not sure where the males are, so we're going to be looking for those as the cruise continues.

[end transcript]

In the Director’s Chair

In the Director’s Chair

Video transcript

This job for me is an extraordinarily exciting adventure. It seems to be a bit of a culmination to a long career in activities that all lead to the Antarctic Division. I was an army officer. I graduated and went into amphibious logistics. I went there specifically because I wanted to go to the Antarctic.

I spent a year operating in and out of the southern oceans and the Antarctic continent — a remarkable, character-forming experience. Then I spent nearly 16 years running small and large airports in Australia, and then went into the botanic gardens area.

There is going to have to be a significant element of change in the Division going forward, and the change is driven by this remarkable window of opportunity that we’ve got now. A significant investment by the government in the Division, in providing additional capabilities, a new icebreaker, the overland traverse capability, the rebuild of Macquarie Island, the aviation capability. They are amazing investments. The change will come for us in managing both those new capabilities and delivering our existing operations.

[end transcript]

Blue whales, krill and poo power

Blue whales, krill and poo power

Video transcript

Dr Elanor Bell, Voyage Deputy Chief Scientist:

Blue whales generally eat about three tonnes of krill a day and therefore they go down to Antarctica in the summer months when the ice is cleared out where they can find these huge swarms of krill, and eat them.

It’s completely about how krill and whales interact. So we're going to be looking at the krill swarms themselves, and in a world first we're going to be looking at the the characteristics of those swarms, how big they are, how deep they are.

Then we're going to look at the blue whales and how they're behaving around that krill, which of those swarms they're targeting.

And so we're hoping to actually record this in a world first, because it’s something scientists have talked about and theorised about for a long time, and if we can show it in the real world, it will be fantastic.

[end transcript]

Seeding Southern Clouds

Seeding Southern Clouds

Video transcript

Jared Lewis (Uni of Melbourne) — The AIRBOX is a great way of storing many instruments and all in one co-located area that we can move round wherever we need to make these measurements.

Dr Robyn Schofield (Uni of Melbourne) — We want to know how many there are, we want to know how large they are, we want to know how reflective they are.

Dr Robyn Schofield (Uni of Melbourne) — Over the Southern Ocean, a major source of aerosol, generally about 70% is sea salt. The tops of the waves get sheared off. That’s a major source of aerosol. Then they go on to form clouds. We wouldn’t have any clouds actually, without aerosols forming them.

Dr Robyn Schofield (Uni of Melbourne) — It’s a very clean and pristine environment over the Southern Ocean, and so the clouds that form, form really big droplets. And we get what’s called super saturation, so they’re both ice and water coexisting, so they are unusual.

Jared Lewis (Uni of Melbourne) — Helping us really narrow down the uncertainty in our climate model projections over the Southern Ocean. That’s a tremendously important thing.

[end transcript]

Dr Nick Gales: a unique Antarctic journey

Dr Nick Gales: a unique Antarctic journey

Video transcript

Dr Nick Gales, Director, Australian Antarctic Division:

I was incredibly fortunate that they were looking for a vertebrate ecologist to do some work on elephant seals that required administering anaesthesia, so my veterinary background was really a great strength for my application, I was very lucky.

Knowing now how important Antarctica is and then knowing what the consequences of climate change are to Antarctica and then looping back those influences on us is a key part of understanding what’s coming down in the future.

This whale finally surfaced and this huge wall of whale came up alongside me and I had no idea where on the body I was. It just kept passing me and I didn’t shoot the tag. I stood there completely dumbfounded as this animal just swam past us and looked. Then the driver was saying, “Why didn’t you shoot?” “I didn’t know where!”

[end transcript]