Vol.11 No.3 - September 2003

Lake Vanda in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. This permanently ice-covered lake has been the subject of NIWA research for many years. For more details see “Pond life on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, one of the world’s strangest ecosystems”.

In this issue

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    The Antarctic atmosphere: barometer on a changing world

    PDF of this article (247 KB)
    Stephen Wood, Dave Lowe, Brian Connor, Karin Kreher, Sylvia Nichol and Greg Bodeker
    Precision instruments and extensive international and local collaboration are the hallmarks of NIWA’s atmospheric research in Antarctica.
    Ozone depletion and increasing greenhouse gases both feature regularly in the news media these days and the connection between ozone and Antarctica is well known. We can also learn much about greenhouse gas concentrations from studies in the Antarctic.
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    Life in the dark: plant growth beneath the sea ice

    PDF of this article (399 KB)
    Anne-Maree Schwarz
    A surprising amount of plant life inhabits coastal Antarctic waters beneath the sea ice. How can plants survive such uninviting conditions?
    Marine plants need light in order to photosynthesise and grow. So what happens in an environment where there is no daylight for four months of the year, and for much of the rest of the time there is a thick covering of ice? These are the conditions faced by plants in Antarctic marine coastal waters.
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    Assessing biodiversity on the Antarctic sea floor

    PDF of this article (106 KB)
    Vonda Cummings
    Scientists are only now getting a good picture of the remarkable diversity of seafloor fauna below the sea ice of the Ross Sea.
    Think of Antarctica, and you probably conjure up images of inhospitable vast white expanses of ice and snow, glaciers, mountain ranges and, apart from the penguins, very little obvious life. However, below the sea ice of the Ross Sea, the seafloor is teeming with a diverse and colourful array of fauna.
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    These are the terms printed in bold in articles in this issue. Use your Back button to return to the article.
    Anoxic: without oxygen.
    Antarctic Cold Reversal: a period between 14,800 and 12,800 years ago when the warming trend since the peak of the last ice age (23,000 years ago) temporarily halted.
    Conductivity: a measure of a water sample’s capacity to conduct electricity, often used to approximate the amount of dissolved salts. Units are Seimens (S) per unit length.
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    What's so important about sea ice?

    PDF of this article (118 KB)
    Tim Haskell
    The seasonal cycle of freezing and thawing of Antarctic sea ice has far-reaching effects.
    Sea ice is no ordinary ice. Not only does it cover vast areas in both polar regions, but it also has a unique structure. Both these features mean that sea ice has significant effects on the environment of the entire planet.
    Climate scientists now consider that sea ice is crucial to the regulation of the Earth’s climate. Biologists believe that the Antarctic sea ice is the driving force behind the biological productivity of the Southern Ocean.
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    From icebergs to pongas

    PDF of this article (151 KB)
    Lionel Carter, Barbara Manighetti and Helen Neil
    Although an ocean apart, Antarctica exerts an icy control on the waters flowing past New Zealand, with effects that are felt from the coast to the deep ocean.
    Ever since James Cook sailed deep into Antarctic waters on his second voyage of 1772–75, New Zealand has kept close ties with the “White Continent”. Ross, Shackleton, Scott, Hillary and others relied on New Zealand to help them mount expeditions to the ice.
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    Aquatic ecosystems of the McMurdo Dry Valleys

    PDF of this article (164 KB)
    Ian Hawes, Anne-Maree Schwarz, Donna Sutherland and Clive Howard-Williams
    Only a few kinds of aquatic organism can survive the extreme conditions in the streams and lakes of the Antarctic Dry Valleys.
    The ice-free dry valleys adjacent to Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound have formed where the ice flowing outwards from the Polar Plateau of the continental interior is diverted away from a cluster of valleys by high inland mountain ranges.
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    Ministry of Fisheries

    The New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries has a significant research interest in the Southern Ocean, and particularly in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. The Ministry’s activities are directed towards protecting the health of the aquatic environment and enabling New Zealanders to get the best value from the sustainable and efficient use of fisheries. Two themes are covered: Fisheries and Biodiversity.
    Antarctic fisheries
    There is still much to learn about New Zealand’s Antarctic fisheries, on scientific, economic, social and cultural fronts.
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    NIWA news forum

    On this page
    Winter science at Scott Base Giant marine bloodsuckers New ocean current studies Environment Watch on CD Huge undersea avalanche A manager for the NIWA Marine Biology collection
    Winter science at Scott Base Though the amount of science done in Antarctica over the winter is generally limited by the dark and the cold, NIWA’s programme of remote sensing of stratospheric trace gases is one activity that continues through the winter.
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    Antarctica New Zealand supporting quality science

    Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean are very special places to humankind and stand at New Zealand’s back door.
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    Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

    Antarctic researchers worldwide are familiar with the acronym SCAR – the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. SCAR has facilitated and coordinated research in Antarctica for the past 45 years and in doing so has become a model for international collaboration in science. A symbol of its standing is that in 2002 SCAR was awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for International Co-operation.
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    NIWA's science in Antarctica

    Plans are now underway for an “International Polar Year” in 2007/08 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58. The IGY launched a global scientific study to understand the world’s environment, particularly in the polar regions.
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    Pond life on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, one of the world's strangest ecosystems

    PDF of this article (71 KB)
    Ian Hawes and Clive Howard-Williams
    Ponds on a permanent ice shelf provide a perfect laboratory for studying primeval life.
    Standing near Bratina Island on the McMurdo Ice Shelf in the southwest corner of the Ross Sea (see map), it is difficult to imagine you are on floating ice in Antarctica.
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    Fishing in the ice: is it sustainable?

    PDF of this article (77 KB)
    Stuart Hanchet, Peter Horn and Michael Stevenson
    A better knowledge of the biology and habits of the Antarctic toothfish is needed to manage a sustainable fishery for this species in the sensitive environment of Antarctica.
    In recent years an exploratory fishery for Antarctic toothfish has developed in the Ross Sea and in the Southern Ocean to the north. Fisheries in Antarctic waters are managed by CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources).
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    RV Tangaroa

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    Over the last decade we have seen substantial advances in our understanding of the seas around New Zealand. Many of these advances have been made possible with the research capabilities of RV Tangaroa.
    With the declaration of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 1978, New Zealand took on responsibility for a huge new ocean area with many new resources, including deepwater and offshore fisheries. However, provision of the science necessary for robust resource management was a challenge.
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    Tides in the Ross Sea

    PDF of this article (124 KB)
    Derek Goring
    Why aren’t tides in the far south the same as they are in other places?
    Comparing Foveaux Strait and Ross Sea tides. Click for details.
    The tide in the Ross Sea is completely different from the tide around New Zealand, or indeed in most parts of the world. For a start, there is only one tide per day compared with two in most places. And there is no relationship whatsoever with the Moon’s phase.
    This means there are no spring tides at New and Full Moon and no neap tides at First and Last Quarter.
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    Voyage on the Italica

    PDF of this article (50 KB)
    This summer (2003/04) marine ecologists from NIWA will join researchers from Italy, Spain, Germany and the USA on an expedition on the Italian research vessel Italica. Working from Terra Nova Bay to Cape Adare (see Ross Sea map) the expedition will undertake integrated sampling of the seafloor and water column along transects at depths from 15 to 500 m.