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Homeward Bound voyage pointing the way for women in Antarctic science

This summer will see the second voyage of the Homeward Bound project – an initiative designed to boost the role of women in science and decision-making.

Selected from applicants worldwide, 80 women with a science background will sail for the Antarctic in mid-February on a voyage designed to develop their leadership and strategic skills.

Among the participants will be IMAS scientists Dr Karen Alexander and Justine Barrett (Pictured, r-l, above right), with Associate Professor Mary-Anne Lea again joining the teaching staff.

The IMAS Homeward Bound voyagers are among a number of women from IMAS who’ll spend this summer in the Antarctic.

ICECAP Project

The ICECAP project (International Collaboration for Exploration of the Cryosphere through Aerogeophysical Profiling) is an international collaboration investigating how and why the East Antarctic ice sheet and ice shelves are evolving.

Involving scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Australia, ICECAP began in the International Polar Year, 2008.

Each year the project brings together Australian researchers from organisations such as IMAS, ACE CRC, the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Antarctic Gateway Partnership (AGP), and the Australian Antarctic Division.

ICECAP teamThis year’s Australian team is led by Dr Lenneke Jong (ACE CRC/AGP) and includes Dr Felicity Graham (IMAS/AGP) and IMAS/AGP PhD student Wilma Huneke.

Dr Graham said ICECAP is researching the processes driving change in East Antarctica, particularly in vulnerable places like the Totten Glacier, to allow better understanding of how the region will respond to climate change.

(Pictured, l-r, Wilma Huneke, Dr Lenneke Jong & Dr Felicity Graham)

“We fly in a Basler, a converted 1940s DC-3 aircraft, that’s been set up for airborne geophysical surveying with instruments like radar, a magnetometer and gravity meters,” Dr Graham said.

“We follow designated flight paths and measure things like the surface elevation, how thick the ice is, the depth of the bed beneath the ice and whether there’s liquid water present, and we also characterise the bed topography.

“For the grounded portion of the ice we’re looking at how thick the ice is, which will play a big role in how it’s flowing and where.

“Over the floating portion of the ice sheet we’re looking at basal melting, how ocean currents are interacting with the ice and causing thinning over the ice shelf.

“There’s also a component this year that’s looking at the ocean currents and temperatures near the front of the ice shelves,” Dr Graham said.

TIDE Project

IMAS PhD student Madelaine Rosevear (AGP) will also spend summer studying change on the Totten Glacier as part of the separate TIDE (Totten Glacier Ice Dynamics and Evolution) project, along with Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi from ACE CRC, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Gateway Partnership.

Madi RosevearsMs Rosevear (Pictured, right) has undertaken explosives training so she can work on seismic tests which study the glacier’s structure.

“I have a shot firer’s licence for the seismic work, which use explosives as the source,” she said.

“We’ll also be downloading data from instruments installed last year to measure ice flow speed and melting at the base of the ice shelf.

“I’m really excited about going down. I’ve been to Antarctica before but not to an Antarctic base, so I’m looking forward to seeing Casey Station and doing some glaciology.”

Miranda Nieboer’s Antarctic traverse

University of Tasmania PhD student Miranda Nieboer’s summer expedition to the Antarctic is arguably the most unusual.

Ms Nieboer (Pictured, below) is a qualified architect who’s current PhD studies straddle the humanities and IMAS.

Miranda NieboerShe’ll join the French icebreaker L’Astrolabe for a voyage to the French Antarctic station at Dumont d’Urville, followed by a 22-day return traverse to resupply the Concordia Research Station, a French-Italian research station 1100 kilometres inland.

Throughout the trip Ms Nieboer will be studying the notion of interior space in Antarctica.

“As an architect I’m interested in space and there’s plenty of space down in Antarctica!” she said.

“My research topic is interior space, and interiority in the extreme environment of Antarctica."

“Interiors are on different scales in the Antarctic. We have the interior of the continent, the interior of the stations, and the interiority of all the people who have been there.

“Joining the traverse is moving in a nomadic interior towards the continental interior and to a permanent, more stable interior of Concordia station."

“After I return my video and audio recordings, photographs, field notes and sketches will form part of a mixed media presentation/installation in addition to my thesis.”

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
December 20, 2017