New Zealand is involved in a number of long term scientific projects in Antarctica with other member countries of the Antarctic Treaty.
Latitudinal Gradient Project (LGP) was operational in Antarctica from 2002 until 2011, bringing together diverse science groups in a collaborative manner to accumulate baseline ecological data along the Victoria Land Coastline. Although this project has now officially ended, results coming from LGP continue to be published and contribute to the SCAR programme Evolution and Biodiversity in Antarctica (EBA).
The LGP was based on the concept that if we place our work related to ecosystems research within a single broad theoretical base (key issue) we can maximise the transfer of information and ideas, utilise large environmental datasets, utilise joint logistic facilities and strengthen collaborations between partners in the Ross Sea region.
Full details on the LGP may be found on the LGP website
Antarctica New Zealand was project manager for the multinational ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) project, a collaboration of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from seven nations (Brazil, Germany, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to recover stratigraphic records from the Antarctic margin. The main objective was to drill back in time to recover a history of paleoenvironmental changes that will guide understanding of how fast, large and frequent the glacial and interglacial changes in the Antarctica region were.
Global and Planetary Change, volumes 96-97, Special Issue (Late Neogene chronostratigraphy and depositional environments of the Antarctic Margin: New results from the ANDRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf Project) – 2012
Full details can be found on the ANDRILL website
RICE is an international collaboration between New Zealand, USA, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Italy, China, and Sweden. In December 2012, the project team recovered a 750 m deep ice core from Roosevelt Island in Antarctica which they will use to determine the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf and West Antarctica in a warming world.
The RICE Project seeks to understand past, present, and future changes of the Ross Ice Shelf, a major drainage pathway of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ANDRILL project showed, that about 5 to 3 million years ago, the last time when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and temperatures were similar to those predicted for the end of the 21st Century, the Ross Ice Shelf disintegrated multiple times, initiating the collapse of West Antarctica. However, no high resolution data exist from this time period.
To determine the rate of change, RICE aims to provide an annually resolved ice core record for the past 20,000 years and beyond, when global temperatures increased by 6 deg C to preindustrial temperatures, global sea level rose by ~120 m, and the Ross Ice Shelf grounding line retreated over 1,000 km. Most of the Ross Ice Shelf retreat occurred when global sea level had already reached modern levels. For this reason, the precise correlation between increasing air and ocean temperatures, and the velocity and characteristics of the ice shelf retreat, provides a unique opportunity to determine accurately the sensitivity of the Ross Ice Shelf to warming.
Full details can be found on the Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution (RICE) project website
The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network is a collaborative effort run by the National Science Foundation investigating ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales. New Zealand scientists provide base data to the project. The Network promotes cooperation and comparative research across sites and ecosystems and among other related national and international research programmes.
The McMurdo Valley's LTER involves scientists working in a variety of disciplines including:
CENSUS OF ANTARCTIC MARINE LIFE (CAML) The Census for Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) is a 5-year project that will focus the attention of the public on the ice-bound oceans of Antarctica during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007/08.
For more information visit Antarctica New Zealand's International Polar Year website .
BIOROSS, funded by the Ministry of Fisheries, was a multi-disciplinary scientific investigation into the biodiversity of the Ross Sea Region. The seas around Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are a rich biological resource. Despite the extreme cold and complete darkness for about three months, the area supports high biodiversity and productivity. Like much of Antarctica, the Ross Sea is under growing pressure from human activities, particularly fishing and tourist ships. The Ministry of Fisheries leads New Zealand's research into the Biodiversity of the Ross Sea (BioRoss), with input from Antarctica New Zealand.