The Landcare Research team, led by Dr Jackie Aislabie, have continued their "Environmental Domains" work. An ongoing soil mapping programme in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica is being led by Malcolm McLeod to improve the soil data-layer.
Malcolm recently successfully defended his PhD thesis which was focussed around soil mapping in the Wright Valley with interpretive maps of vulnerability of soil to human impacts. As Jackie is taking on a higher level management role within Landcare Research Fraser Morgan is now taking over leadership of the Antarctic Research programme. Fraser is a GIS specialist which is a key skill as the programme moves into the development and modelling phase of the Environmental Domains development.
The soil/permafrost climate station network has been added to with two stations installed on the walls of the Wright Valley, one above Don Juan Pond, and one east of Bull Pass to provide data to improve our ability to model climate across the whole landscape (Figure 1). The new stations complement the seven existing stations that range from sea level at Marble Point to about 1800 m altitude at Mt Fleming on the margin of the polar plateau. The soil climate monitoring continues to be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Cathy Seybold from USDA. Holly Goddard is currently undertaking an MSc thesis, in collaboration with Megan Balks and Cathy Seybold, analysing the now very large soil-climate database. Holly has an Antarctica New Zealand scholarship to support her work. She recently presented some of her preliminary results at TICOP (the Tenth International Conference on Permafrost) at Salekhard in Russia. Holly is grateful to the IPA and to the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District of Russia for support that made her attendance at the conference possible.
Figure 1. Holly Goddard and Cathy Seybold installing a soil-climate monitoring station on the high wall of the Wright Valley in Antarctica.
Josh Scarrow (Figure 2) is continuing his MSc write-up of work undertaken in the Central Trans-Antarctic Mountains in the 10-11 summer supervised by Megan Balks at Waikato university and Peter Almond at Lincoln University. Josh, along with Fiona Shanhun (currently completing her PhD at Lincoln University on soil carbonates in the Antarctic) spent the 11/12 Austral summer working with the Australian Antarctic Programme undertaking soil/microbial related fieldwork in the deep field south of Australia's Davis Station. Josh is including some microbial DNA analysis work in his thesis, including for the southernmost soil on the planet, in collaboration with Prof. Craig Carey of Waikato University.
Figure 2. View of series of lateral moraines adjacent to the Dominion Range, along with photo of Josh Scarrow, in the Central Trans-Antarctic Mountains, Antarctica.
Antarctica New Zealand (the NZ Govt department that looks after Antarctic logistics and related matters) are currently working to establish a new "Antarctic Research Institute" for which they are seeking both New Zealand and international funding. The proposed institute is intended to become a strong focus for New Zealand Antarctic Research.
Tanya O'Neill is in the final phases of completing her PhD study of the recovery of Antarctic soils, following physical disturbance. She is working in collaboration with Megan Balks and Jeronimo Lopez-Martinez. Tanya is presenting some of the results of her studies at the SCAR open Science conference in Portland.