In brief: Antarctica season starts

As the crucial weather window opened in Antarctica in spring, more than a dozen NIWA scientists were heading down for research above, on and under the ice.

Event leader Dan Smale headed there to train Antarctica New Zealand science technicians on how to use NIWA's atmospheric monitoring instruments.

"It's going to be a very exciting trip. Our measurements are an important component of an international network that measures ozone depletion and the trend of greenhouse gases," Mr Smale says.

In early November, NIWA Marine Physicist Dr Craig Stevens headed to the ice to conduct a study into ocean turbulence beneath the sea.

"My team and I will spend two weeks in insulated shipping containers, 12km from Scott Base. In conjunction with Callaghan Innovation and the University of Otago, our field experiment will look at undersea turbulence surrounding the Ross Ice Shelf  cavity," says Dr Stevens. 

"We hope to solve the great unknown: water circulation under the Ross Ice Shelf cavity. Solving this will help [us] understand a range of climate change processes."

The group cataloguing samples and conducting a range of experiments under the ice left for the Antarctic in late October. Scientists and specialist divers will study the effects of specific changes on ecosystem processes such as algal production,  nutrient dynamics and food delivery from sea ice to sea floor. 

Antarctica. [Brett Grant]