We continue to maintain our Antarctic soil-permafrost monitoring network in the Ross Sea Region, which now comprises 9 soil climate monitoring stations that monitor to depths of about 1.2 m, along with 2 boreholes, each 30 m deep (Figure 1). This work is undertaken with continuing collaboration between Landcare Research (Fraser Morgan), the University of Waikato (Megan Balks) and USDA (Cathy Seybold). The boreholes are managed also in collaboration with Prof Mauro Guglielmin from Italy. Megan Balks and Dean Sandwell undertook the climate station maintenance and download in January 2015 and this summer Dean Sandwell will be returning to Antarctica and training a new tech support, Chris Morcom, so we have some back-up expertise.


Figure 1. Two of our 9 soil climate stations. Left: Marble Point, Right: Wright Valley floor.

Congratulations to Dr Fiona Shanhun who has successfully completed her PhD on soil CO2 dynamics in Antarctic soils and is now working supporting the science programme for Antarctica New Zealand. Fiona’s PhD research (at Lincoln University) investigated soil CO2 dynamics in Taylor Valley (Figure 2), and focused on understanding biological and non-biological processes associated with CO2 fluxes from soils. The ultimate aim was to provide a platform for using soil CO2 emissions as a way of detecting and monitoring changes in ecosystem behaviour as the Dry Valleys respond to global change. Prior to taking up her role at Antarctica New Zealand, Fiona was on a SCAR Science Fellowship to St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, collaborating on research which built on aspects of her PhD.


Figure 2. Fiona Shanhun installing soil temperature and moisture sensors in Eastern Taylor Valley.

Tanya O’Neill had a proposal funded by the British Antarctic Survey receiving a small grant to support her research on temperature dependence of soil respiration in cold soils. She hopes to present at the SCAR Open Science Conference in Malaysia 2016.

Report prepared by Megan Balks (m.balks@waikato.ac.nz)