Friday, January 2, 2009

My Antarctic adventure!

This afternoon I left behind ordinary life: my work, friends and family in Northland. Tommorrow I start a new adventure! I will fly to Christchurch in the morning to meet up with Renee Burns an Environmental Officer at Antarctica New Zealand. We will spend the day getting fitted up with all our Antarctic gear and finalising the details of our environmental monitoring project of the wind turbines being erected on Crater Hill, Ross Island. On Monday, we will be boarding a Hercules on route to Antarctica!

I have known of my upcoming trip to Antarctica since August when I was awarded the Antarctic Youth Ambassadorship. However, in the midst of some of the hottest days we have had this summer, when everyone is on holiday, it has been difficult getting my head around the fact I will be in Antarctica very soon. What a contrast it is going to be. All the more exciting I say!

My excitement is not one bit diminished by the fact I have already visited the continent either. My last trip was during November and December of 2006. I was lucky enough to be taken down as a research assistant alongside scientists from Victoria University of Wellington working on the Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP). The LGP is a long running and multinational initiative aimed at understanding the coastal, marine and terrestrial ecosystems that exist along the Victoria Land (read more here We were sampling and studying communities of algae and bacteria that live in the seasonal sea ice that forms around the continent annually and that fuel the ecosystems of the Southern Ocean. Our study site was Terra Nova Bay, where we based our scientific activity out of the German Base ‘Gondwana’ and slept in polar tents on the ice for a month. It was an amazing, eye-opening and wonderfully rewarding professional and personal experience (trust me, I will convince you in days to come . . . some of you may take more than others!).

On leaving Scott Base at the end of this research venture, I was very reluctant to leave (to say the least). I remember expressing this to Brain, our camp manager, to which he said, ‘See you next time then’. How unrealistic that seemed at the time! I am still pinching myself.

I have a jam-packed itinerary whilst on the ice. However, given that it is Antarctica, activities may well vary depending upon logistics and weather conditions. I will be updating the blog daily, tune in and join my adventure!

Gondwana Station, Terra Nova Bay 2006. Our camp set up: polar tents in the foreground, Gondwana Station in the mid ground and the sea ice where we worked beyond

The members of event K043, from left to right: Andrew Martin, Dr. Ken Ryan, me, Dr. Simon Davy and Snout (a.k.a. Daniel McNaughtan)

Snout and I drilling sea ice cores for sampling and analysis (Photo: K. Ryan)

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