Sunday, 3 August 2014

Congratulations to Monash University's Professor Steven Chown who has been awarded the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s (SCAR) 2014 Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research. 

 Over the past 20 years Professor Chown's work has provided considerable insight into the effects of climate change and biological invasions on Antarctic species and ecosystems. 
Professor Chown's research has is helping to ensure better conservation of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic, through changes to regulation of the region. In addition, his contributions in this area, were recognised in 2009 when he was awarded the inaugural Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Great opportunity for anyone interested in science communication at Oceanians' doorstep:

In the scope of the upcoming 2014 SCAR Open Science Conference in August, APECS and the Polar Educators International (PEI) will be jointly running a full day workshop on Science Communication on Sunday 24 August at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand.

The workshop is for free and open to everyone - regardless whether you are attending the conference or not. However, the number of participants is limited to 60 people - first come, first serve.

You can register for the workshop either through the general conference registration ( or by filling out this online form (

More information is available at If you have further questions, please contact Sira Engelbertz ( or

We are looking forward to seeing you in Auckland!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

On Wednesday 15th of January most of the team left the Aurora Basin camp, with 11 of us heading back to Casey Station. We packed most of the scientific equipment before we left but there are plenty more things to pack, such as polar pyramid tents, the processing tent, and the kitchen tent. The four last people staying at the camp – Sharon, Mark, Jason and Bloo – will deal with this stuff.
It was an adventurous trip back to Casey. Eleven of us were spread across two flights in the Basler and the twin otter. I was in the twin otter. When we took off, I looked at the Aurora Basin camp from the window. Many memories crossed my mind. It was a fantastic three weeks. The flight was nice and warm. We saw a round rainbow with a plane shadow in its centre. The Basler flew with the boxed ice cores so they couldn’t turn on the heater. They had a freezing two hour flight.
We saw Casey station clearly from the air. But we couldn’t land on the skiway because of fog. This is Antarctica; how rapidly the weather changes, how different the weather is even at a close distance! So the twin otter landed on Mitchell Peninsula skiway, and the Basler landed on Wilkins runway.
There was a hagglund waiting for us. We jumped on it and half an hour later we were at Casey. We arrived at Casey at 11 pm and the chef kindly made us some sandwiches. We had a nice warm shower, a proper toilet, and a warm bed after a few weeks in field. Unfortunately for the Basler people, they took more time to land at Wilkins and they had to stay overnight.
Now I’m sitting in a corner in Casey station, thinking of the rest of the people at Aurora Basin; Sharon, Mark, Jason and Bloo. I hope they make it back by Australia day.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all members up in the field, Mark, Sharon, Tas, Noel, Malcolm, Simon, Trevor, Jerome, David, Chunlei, JP, Andrew, Meredith, Jenny, Tonny, Joe, Wang, Bloo, Jason, Olivia, Nerilie, Holly, Chris, Olivier and Tessa; all the people who supported us from Casey, Kingston, Hobart and all over the world; and all friends and families back home. Thank you very much for your support. Without your support, we couldn’t achieve our goals. I had an amazing, awesome, wonderful time at Aurora Basin. This experience is priceless and cannot be exchanged with anything else. And personally, a special thank you to Mark. I am very happy that I am your student.
  • 303 m four-inch main core (drilled by Simon and Trevor using the Danish Hans Tausen drill system, dry head to 132 m, reamed, wet drilling (Estisol) from 132 m; logged by Mark and Meredith, with a cameo appearance by Jen.
  • 116 m three-inch shallow core (drilled primarily by Tas, with a few metres by Mark and Meredith using the Australian Eclipse drill system, and some expert advice from Trevor; logged by Tas, David, Jerome, Chunlei, Mark, Meredith and Nerilie.
  • 103 m four-inch shallow core (drilled primarily by Olivier, with help from Jason and Nerilie, using a combination drill of French and Danish components; logged primarily by Nerilie. Chips from each drill run were collected for Chunlei.
  • Firn air pumping, sampling and insitu SARA (CH4) and LICOR (CO2) analysis, in the three inch eclipse borehole by David and Jerome.
  • Drilling three 10 m Kovacs ice cores (for overlap with the main cores). Captained by Joe with Wang and Mana.
  • 2.5 m snowpit dug under difficult weather conditions and sampled for 10 different parameters, led by Holly with the team Olivia, Chris and Mana. A second pit was dug to allow backlit stratigraphy (Meredith, Olivia, and Holly).
  • Automatic Weather Station, erected primarily by Meredith, with assistance from a number of people.
  • All sites were located using accurate GPS by Jason. GPS base station erected by Andrew and Tas.
  • Core processing equipment setup by JP, Joe, Wang and Mana (including ECM, horizontal bandsaw, vertical bandsaw, laminar flow bench).
  • Core density measured on main core by JP, and the processing team (Olivia, Mana, Chris and Holly), and on the four inch shallow core by Nerilie and Jason.
  • Cores processed to 80 m led by Olivia and her team Mana, Chris and Holly, including all 'pie' subsampling, ECM, stratigraphy, AAD trace chemistry sticks scrapped, melted and refrozen, and Picarro samples prepared for 20 cm resolution stable isotopes.
  • Picarro setup by Andrew, and samples analysed by Andrew, Holly and Olivia, with expert advice from Olivia and Trevor.
I’d like to finish my blog with some words from Jerome (actually from his wife). Even while he had a hard time dealing with the problem of his precious machine SARA, he never got upset. He was always calm and smiling and he told us these words, which made our day: 'Do your best and always remember that life is beautiful'.

Sunday, 19 January 2014


We are now close to finishing of the season (Jan 13). Kenobi the new heater is having a problem since being installed. He behaves well during the day time but not at night. Every morning, the kitchen tent is so cold and we find he is still sleeping. Waking him up becomes Bloo and Malcom's routine work in the morning.
We had a few days of strong wind and white out days, and now again we have clean beautiful blue skies. We saw a beautiful halo, rainbow and diamond dust at the same time. The environment here is so cold and harsh, but just awesome and amazingly beautiful at the same time. My vocabulary isn't good enough to explain this awesomeness.

Weather has been a problem for the flight since beginning. The first group of us got stuck in Casey for 3 weeks at the beginning of the season, and now Tessa has been stuck there for 10 days. Considering this lack of flight chance, station leader Sharon decided to start packing up and sending people back. Thus our process team finished our work on Wednesday and packed up our equipment on Thursday. We will fly back to Casey with the next available flight. We processed till 80 m depth of ice core. We had good team work.

While the process team are waiting for the flight, we worked on sampling snow pit, helping to set up Automatic Weather Station (AWS), and finding buried cargo and tents. All work mostly involves digging. Just digging. Keep digging. Digging digging digging. Finding buried cargo is actually fun. It's like treasure hunting!

Meanwhile, the main drilling team (Mark, Simon, Trevor and Meredith) reached 300 m, and French drilling team (Jason, Olivier and Nerilie) reached 100 m. We are now getting less ice core boxes, less drilling liquid and time is running out. On Sunday 12th January, considering our situation, Mark and Sharon decided to stop drilling. We got 303 m of ice core from main drill, 116 m of ice core from Eclipse drill, 103 m of ice core from French drill and 3 x 10 m of ice core from Kovacs drill. 
 APECS Oceania in Antarctica
  APECS Oceania in Antarctica
Setting up AWS
 Toby cleaning up
Snow pit sampling by Olivia 
Snow pit wall

Monday, 13 January 2014


Another week in Aurora Basin.
It was busy and quite a lot of changes in camp this week. It was not only a New Year,

but we had a changeover in our members, with nine people returning to Casey and six new members flying in to camp on December 30th. It was a sad moment saying goodbye to those leaving, with hugs, jokes, photos and promises shared. But it was exciting to have new people coming in. Our camp now became younger, and half of us are girls. We are waiting for our final member, Tessa, to join us and our camp population will be 16.

We have been having an unexpected problem with the temperature in our processing tent. Its not as cold as we expected - It has actually been too warm for us to work, with the temperature rising above 0 degrees during the day! Therefore the processing team Olivia, Chris, Holly and me are working evening till late night. Unfortunately that means we miss out on the chance to relax after dinner and join in the valuable sharing time with friends, but the work has to be done.

So far, on 5th Jan, we have drilled 193 m of the main core and 116 m using the Eclipse drill, processed 56 m of ice, scraped 27 m ice and analysed 16 m of ice for stable isotopes. We will begin drilling another core tomorrow!

I have one piece of sad news. Our precious, hottest friend Toby the heater passed away on the night of 4th Jan. He wasn't well for last few days but still working hard for us. The night, after dinner, his condition became unstable. Yet, he was waiting for us night workers to finish (Thank you, Mark and Meredith for fire watching!). When we came back to the kitchen tent at 1 a.m., he was in last stage. He was mumbling, puffing, suffering. Then suddenly, his little lid popped off and it was time to shut him down. This is how he died. We were sad and cold!

But next morning when I woke up, there was already new heater in the kitchen tent (Thank you Bloo!!). Toby 1 is now replaced by Kenobi (Jason 2014). So, we have a warm nice kitchen tent again.

 Bubbles trapped in ice core depth 130m
 Group photo Tas Camera tripot 1
  Group photo Tas Camera tripot 2
 Ice Core drill
 Joe trying to pull out ice core
 Mark logging ice core
 Process Tent
 Toby the heater

Sunday, 5 January 2014

We had nice weather on this weekend at Aurora Basin, blue sky with no wind.
Main and firn air drilling team are doing well with some minor problem. 

Both team reached ~100 m depth. Saturday, our process team drilled 2 x 12 m shallow ice
core. Sunday was quite warm day that temperature goes up till -1.5 C. Inside process 
tent temperature becomes positive degree that we have to stop working in there. 
Otherwise all our precious ice cores will melt! We didn't expect this warm at ABN. 
As we cannot work on our ice core, we decided enjoy this warm. Some people went to ski,
others went to walk on skiway, had a cup of tea under sunshine. When it’s cool down 
again in late afternoon, we back to work. Process team drilled another 10 m of shallow 
core, main drilling team reached 132 m, and firn air drilling team reached 104.5 m. 
They also extracted air from two levels. They are finding that the bubbles are closing 
more quickly than expected. We finished a day with nice dinner and few glasses of wine 
in cosy kitchen tent. It was beautiful warm nice day.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Finally, all of us made it into Aurora Basin on Christmas day. It was less than 2 hrs 
flight with basler airplane. Field leader Sharon and Noel were waiting for us at skiway 
and took us to the camp.
In the ABN camp, we have 1 kitchen/living tent, 2 ice core drilling tent, 1 ice core 
process tent, 1 power and equipment (PE) tent, 2 toilet tent, 1 med tent, and 18 
sleeping tent. The camp is already in good shape that all tents are set up except 
process tent which will be my working place. We have only one heater in our camp named 
Toby. He is our best friend, he is hot and nice. He is always in the kitchen tent, 
working hard to keep us warm. PE tent is important tent. There are 3 generators, 
ice melter for making water, and shower! These generators provide all power in our 
camp. We use electricity for drilling, processing, analysing ice core, communication,
cooking and making water. The shower is not really proper shower but we can use hot 
water for washing ourselves occasionally which seldom happen.
After short break in cosy kitchen, we start setting up our ice core process tent to 
complete our camp setting. It was windy day that difficult to put all cover on frames.
We took 2 days to set up our all process equipment.
Meanwhile, we had to postpone Christmas until the 26th Dec. That was quite experience 
having a Christmas in middle of nowhere and it was completely white Christmas! We had 
nice dinner (Thank you, Jenny!), we had Santa Clause, we had gift, we had laugh, we had
very special good time.