Antarctica

Latest news

The New Zealand ship Janas has recently returned from a six-week winter research voyage to the Ross Sea where scientists made the first observations of developing Antarctic toothfish embryos.
While most New Zealanders were settling into their summer break, some scientists were double-checking their survival gear before heading to work deep in the Southern Ocean.
Part of the world’s largest ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than the overall average and solar-heated waters beneath the ice shelf are to blame, NIWA research has found.
After travelling almost 12,000km in the past six weeks, a group of scientists returns to Wellington at the weekend with new knowledge about life in the Ross Sea of Antarctica.

Our work

Climate Present and Past is a core-funded project under NIWA's National Climate Centre. It aims to explore historical climate data and track past changes in climate through a range of approaches.
NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.

Acidification of the world’s oceans from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reduces the availability of carbonate required by some marine organisms to build shells and skeletons, and potentially affects their ability to maintain existing structures.

NIWA’s Antarctic fisheries research is allowing us to investigate possible effects of the longline Antarctic toothfish fishery on the toothfish population and on the local ecosystem.

Latest videos

2018 - Antarctic Voyage Update #3
2018 - Antarctic Voyage Update #3
2018 - Antarctic Voyage Update #1
TAN 1802 - Antarctic voyage leader Dave Bowden on the phone from the Southern Ocean.
Dolphins farewell RV Tangaroa - 9 February 2018
RV Tangaroa is farewelled by a pod of dolphins as it heads off on its 12th voyage to the white continent. Footage courtesy of Kareen Schnabelke.
Researching NIWA's Antarctic sea ice

NIWA marine physics technician Brett Grant gives a tour of our Antarctic field camp and explains how we are conducting research into sea ice in the coldest place on the planet.

In his last update, NIWA project leader Dr Richard O’Driscoll talks about the challenging search for whales in foggy and icy conditions.
Water, Water Everywhere
Over the last 50 years the atoll of South Tarawa, in Kiribati has experienced large increases in population.
Pod of Orcas visit RV Tangaroa
NIWA research vessel Tangaroa, down in Antarctic waters, received some welcome visitors yesterday
Antarctic trawl nets deep data
NIWA scientists aboard RV Tangaroa have been trawling the central Ross Sea calculating the abundance of the prey species.
Balleny humpback whale research
The region around the Balleny Islands is a known foraging area for humpback whales. Objective one of the Antarctica voyage aimed to determine why the Islands are such a popular spot for humpback whales.
NIWA scientists aboard RV Tangaroa have been trawling the central Ross Sea calculating the abundance of the prey species.
It has been another amazing week here on the Tangaroa. On Saturday we saw Antarctica which was an absolutely breath-taking experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
Today marks the halfway point in our journey and we have started the demersal trawling part of the voyage. Each day has been full-on with excitement and new things to learn and see. The highlight of the last few days was holding one of the biggest fish in the Southern Ocean in my arms - an Antarctic toothfish.
Favourable weather has provided excellent photographic conditions for NIWA's photographer Dave Allen, who has accompanied the 6 week voyage.
Through the cloud a large dark shadow appears in the distance. I look at Blake and ask him, “Could that be it?” We both wait with anticipation, fizzing with excitement, and eyes fixed on the horizon.
Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division explain the blue whale research they are leading onboard the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage 2015.
It’s now day 18 on board the RV Tangaroa and spirits are as high as ever. After seven days of amazing weather and a lot of successes with the blue whale work in the northern Ross Sea we have decided to put the last three days allocated to this scientific objective on hold for later in the trip, and to head south to start our third scientific objective which is the demersal trawl survey.
NIWA voyage leader Dr Richard O’Driscoll updates the Tangaroa’s encounter with the planet’s largest living beings – the Antarctic blue whales – and discovers what’s on their menu.
We have now said goodbye to the towering cliffs and vast glaciers of the Balleny Islands and have been heading southeast tracking blue whales by following their low frequency calls. Yesterday we broke into the polynya that is the Ross Sea. The fantastic weather is following us - making it easy to appreciate this surreal part of the world.
The first objective of the New Zealand- Australia Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage was successfully achieved with the completion of the research at the Balleny Islands.
It’s now day 8 at sea and day 3 at the Balleny Islands. The Balleny Islands are a group of volcanic Antarctic Islands situated at 67 degrees south. They are mostly barren rock, with steep cliff faces and covered by massive glaciers, but they are also home to some incredible marine wildlife!
On day five at 9:07 am we all held our breath as we passed 60 degrees south.
Scientists and crew on board Tangaroa are getting their first taste of the deep South’s breath-taking environment as the vessel crosses the 60th parallel, the northern limit of the Southern Ocean.
Voyage leader Richard O'Driscoll reports on voyage progress so far as RV Tangaroa enters the CCAMLR zone.
It’s day three at sea and things are all humming along nicely. We’ve just passed 50 degrees south and any faint sighting of the mainland is long gone. The next time we will see land will probably be the Balleny Islands in a couple of days.
Our 42 day adventure to Antarctica aboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa is just beginning! My name is Blake Hornblow and I am a 2014 Blake NIWA Science Ambassador.
Being selected as one of the two 2014 Blake NIWA Science ambassadors is the most incredible opportunity ever. I still remember the phone call at uni late into second semester last year.
NIWA photographer, Dave Allen, has captured this time-lapse footage of RV Tangaroa departing Wellington yesterday morning.
New Zealand’s news website Stuff.co.nz has created a stunning interactive feature profiling the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Ecosystems Voyage 2015.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Antarctica New Zealand and the Australian Antarctic Division are undertaking a six-week research initiative in the Southern Ocean on areas of importance to humpback and blue whales and Antarctic toothfish.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Fisheries
Principal Scientist - Climate
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Marine Biogeochemistry Technician
Marine Mammal Acoustician
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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
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Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Atmosphere and Climate
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
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Marine Physics Modeller
Principal Scientist - Marine Physics
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Marine Ecology Technician
Principal Technician - Marine Biology
Algal Ecologist
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