Antarctica

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Latest news

NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa leaves soon on a six-week voyage to Antarctica, making it one of the few full scientific expeditions to the continent since the global outbreak of COVID-19.
At the bottom of the Southern Ocean, near Cape Adare in East Antarctica, lies an undersea ridge which until this month was only known by its co-ordinates: -71.2132 latitude, 172.1649 longitude.
Five specialist NIWA divers were left ‘gasping’ during their recent plunge under the ice near Scott Base.
New measurements from the ocean under the centre of the Ross Ice Shelf have significantly improved our understanding of the complex processes that drive melting in Antarctica.

Our work

The Southern Ocean is under-sampled. Data collected continuously during the Antarctic Ecosystems Voyagehelped fill an important knowledge gap about oceanographic and atmospheric processes in this important region.
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.
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.

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.

Exploring Antarctic Deepsea Life

Most of the Southern Ocean outside of the narrow Antarctic continental shelf is more than 3000 m deep. This poses a real challenge for scientists studying the assemblages of animals living on the seabed.

Ocean Acidification

The oceans are an important sink for atmospheric CO2, but as they take up increasing amounts of CO2 they are becoming more acidic.

The Decline of Subantarctic Wildlife

Populations of rockhopper penguins, elephant seals, and grey-headed albatrosses in the subantarctic have declined quite markedly in recent decades.

Current and Future Management of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet explains what makes the Antarctic toothfish fishery one of the best managed fisheries in the world.

Ecosystem Effects and Mitigation of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet describes the guiding principles that CCAMLR (the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Life) applies to the Antarctic toothfish fishery.

The Antarctic Toothfish Fishery

Antarctic toothfish are fished using longlines in southern Antarctic waters. NIWA fisheries scientist Alistair Dunn describes the history of the fishery and how it has been monitored.

Iron Fertilisation

Iron dissolved in the ocean is an important trace nutrient for phytoplankton – the microscopic plants that support marine food webs.

Southern Ocean Productivity

Phytoplankton – microscopic plants that drift in the sunlit waters of the world's oceans – are the engine that drives all of Antarctica's marine food webs.

The Southern Ocean and Antarctica have high levels of primary productivity for three months of the year, based on the growth of phytoplankton. These microscopic plants are highly adapted to this unique environment and survive despite the lack of iron – a key nutrient – in these waters. 

Phytoplankton and Climate Change

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains how the Southern Ocean plays a key role in controlling the world's climate, by drawing large amounts of CO2 from Earth's atmosphere into the ocean depths.

Antarctic Coastal Marine Life

Dr Vonda Cummings, benthic ecologist at NIWA, explains the special characteristics of seafloor communities living in Antarctica's coastal waters and the importance of understanding what makes them tick.

Antarctic Seabed Biodiversity

It's a common myth that the oceans surrounding Antarctica hold the most diverse array of animals on earth, but they are home to a collection of species found nowhere else.

Subantarctic Oceanography

NIWA physical oceanographer Dr Mike Williams talks about the world's largest current – the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – and its influence on the 'oceanography' (ocean characteristics) south of New Zealand.

Seabird Diversity in the Southern Ocean

The New Zealand archipelago, particularly its subantarctic islands, is a global seabird hotspot. It's home to 25 per cent of the world's breeding seabird populations and a very diverse array of penguin, albatross, petrel and shearwater species.

Rob Murdoch is gving a few talks during the Our Far South voyage, and his talks will include a number of videos which help to contextualise his presentations.

Antarctic & Southern Ocean Climate

NIWA climate scientist Dr James Renwick explains what's unique about the Antarctic/Southern Ocean climate system, the forces that influence it, and how it's changing.

Antarctic Sea Ice

The sea ice that forms around Antarctica in winter effectively doubles the size of the continent, and its extent has increased over recent years.

The Iron Hypothesis

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains the iron hypothesis: what it is, its history, and some recent experiments in the Southern Ocean.

Southern Ocean Gas Exchange

The Earth's oceans – particularly the Southern Ocean – play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other trace gases from the atmosphere.

NIWA scientists have worked for many years on Antarctic atmospheric processes and aquatic ecosystems.

Polar ecosystems face physical constraints that set them apart from their warmer counterparts. The greatest constraint is the impact of prolonged periods of winter darkness and sub-zero temperatures.

All aquatic ecosystems are strongly driven by physical processes, and nowhere is this more true than in Antarctica.

Short articles and related news.

All aquatic ecosystems are strongly driven by physical processes, and nowhere is this more true than in Antarctica.

The science team includes plant and animal ecologists with expertise in a range of fields.

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All staff working on this subject

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