Latest news

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.
The rich diversity of marine life near Scott Base in Antarctica has stunned scientists diving under the ice to set up environmental monitoring sites.
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.

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.

By analysing air trapped in ancient ice we can see how wetlands and permafrosts responded to warming periods in the past, and help predict what will happen in the future.

CFCs have damaged the ozone layer and led to higher UV levels and increased health risks. Our role is to understand the causes and effects of ozone depletion, to inform the public of the risk.

Epic Antarctic voyage complete: analysis begins

Part of a sea lily ‘meadow’ at 550 m on the Admiralty. (Photo: DTIS, IPY-CAML)

Tangaroa and 44 intrepid voyagers successfully completed the most comprehensive survey of marine life ever undertaken in the Ross Sea region. They returned to Wellington on 20 March after an epic 50-day, 7140 nautical mile voyage, bearing more than 37 000 biological specimens, and images of seafloor communities never seen before.
The focus of the voyage was to survey biodiversity to provide a fuller picture of the Ross Sea ecosystem and what makes it tick.

Epic Antarctic voyage complete: analysis begins

Applying the science: didymo

Major port biosecurity surveillance underway

What risk from alien fish?

NIWA’s ice-strengthened research vessel Tangaroa has now returned from its latest voyage to Antarctica.

Sea ice effects on Ross Sea food webs

Benthic community at Terra Nova Bay, Ross Sea, including: encrusting coralline algae, seastars, and sea urchins camouflaged with pieces of drift red algae. (Photo: Rodd Budd, NIWA)

Scientists from NIWA and the Finnish Institute of Marine Research are using novel ways to explore the effects of sea ice on coastal food webs in Antarctica.
Sea ice is a major driver of polar marine ecosystems, partly through its effect on light levels and, hence, productivity.

Prime Minister Helen Clark last night launched a major New Zealand scientific voyage to Antarctica as part of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) and International Polar Year (IPY).

Twenty-six scientists and 18 crew will leave this week on the eight-week voyage aboard RV Tangaroa.

Scott Base, Antarctica
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent. Scott Base is New Zealand's permanent Antarctic base. Sited on the coast, temperatures, although very low, are higher than those recorded inland.
Average Rainfall and Temperature
Scott Base


Write a report, with guided questions, to answer the question: “How cold is the Antarctic?”

Scientists from NIWA have made the first measurements of photosynthesis in the icy gloom of an Antarctic lake floor.

On 27 January 2004 a team of scientists set out from Wellington on board NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa bound for the Ross Sea in Antarctica.



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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