Physical Challenges For Ice Agency ANTARCTICA NZ LEADING KEY RESEARCH PROJECTS

The 2002/03 season held the kind of physical challenges only the Antarctic can pose most notably the formation of thick sea ice in McMurdo Sound says Chris Mace, chairman of Antarctica New Zealand in the organisation's annual report.

For the third year running, two ice-breakers were required to carve a channel for the supply ship servicing Antarctica NZ at New Zealand's Scott Base.

"These kinds of challenges emphasis the vital importance of co-operation between key partners in the region," says Mace, acknowledging the contributions of the US and Italian teams during the season through the joint logistics pool "and as colleagues ensuring our respective programmes remain successful."

Scientific research remains at the heart of Antarctica NZ's programme. Over the course of the year, a leading role was taken in two research projects:

the Antarctic drilling project known as Andrill and the Latitudinal Gradient project.

The year saw planning and preparation advanced for what will be "the largest single construction project undertaken since the commissioning of Scott Base." This is the proposed Heated Field Store to be constructed over the next two years. It will effectively complete Scott Base.

Antarctica NZ's research scholarships, artists, education and media programmes continue to develop, "broadening the awareness of our organization and the importance of work on the continent."

Ongoing support was provided to the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the organization dedicated to preserving historic sites in the Ross Sea region.

"Our efforts this year demonstrate that Antarctica NZ continues to use its limited resources to best effect, supporting quality science and building the constituency of understanding and support.

"Internationally, there is a growing acknowledgement of the critical role Antarctica plays in the Earth's ecosystem and the contribution that study of the region makes to understanding the physical and biological processes which effect us all.

"We face an ongoing challenge of balancing the protection of this unique and important environment with in-

CEO Lou Sanson during a recent visit to New Zealand operations at Scott Base.

creasing requirements for access. Neither wholesale access nor complete protection is an acceptable solution but the long-term management and stewardship of the region demands debate."

Mr Mace retired as chairman and is succeeded by Paul Hargreaves.

Chief executive Lou Sanson, who was appointed during the year, says Antarctica NZ achieved significant successes on a number of levels. In particular, the support of a record number of events, including 34 science events, three educational programmes, and a range of other promotional and media opportunities.

Last season saw the biggest yet marine programme. NIWA's research into the aquatic ecosystems of inshore marine areas investigated the potential of regional climate variations impacting upon ecosystem structure and function.

The multi-national (Germany. Italy, NZ and US) project preceding ANDRILL successfully drilled holes through the 180m thick McMurdo Ice Shelf, keeping the holes 'open' for several days to allow data on sea currents and bottom sediments to be gathered. The data will help determine ANDRILL drill sites.

Support was provided for the University of Canterbury's Gateway Antarctica Bio-prospecting Conference, held in Christchurch in April 2003.

A revised Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Strategy was developed

in consultation with policymakers, funders, NGOs and researchers. It centres on three key areas: Antarctic Physical Environments, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctic Ecosystems.

Antarctica NZ participated in several international forums and established a framework for long-term management of the science programme.

Significant improvements were made to Scott Base. Awastewater treatment plant was installed, using a biological system to process wastewater.

"Planning has been completed for a new two-storey, 1800 sqm Heated Field Store (work was scheduled for the current season with completion set for October 2005). This important building will improves our ability to handle large field science events and will signify the final completion of Scott Base as a world class Antarctic research facility."

Internal systems were another focus, with the adoption of Navision systems designed to improve financial management as well as coordinate operations at Scott Base.

Antarctica NZ remains the major provider of logistics support for New Zealand scientific work in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. In the year under review, it spent $4.3m supporting the logistical needs of science providers (total funding agency science expense $1l.86m excluding NZ Defence Force spending associated with Antarctic Support).

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