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Greenturf-ASPA135-2008SARJPG

In late February there were reports of record-breaking high temperatures from scientists working on the Antarctic Peninsula. At the time Diana King and I were in NSW in Australia having spent the summer experiencing smoke pollution from the Australian bushfires along with extremely hot days. Our colleague Dana Bergstrom was sending us reports of rain at Davis Station in East Antarctica. Given that almost all precipitation falls as snow in Antarctica, these were strange reports. Our Chilean colleagues, Marisol Pizarro Rojas and  Gustavo Zúñiga were also reporting that there was no snow around the Escudero research station on King George Island and that every day was perfect for field work, a most a worrying development. There is always bad weather sometime in Antarctica!

Because of the news stories about extreme heat in Antarctica, I was asked to write a letter to the editor for Global Change Biology discussing these temperature extremes and what they might mean for Antarctic biodiversity. So, I reached out to Dana, Gustavo and Marisol for the insiders guide to the 2019/20 summer field season and in Australia, Diana and I started looking at the climate data. We decided we really needed a meteorological expert and so we asked Andrew Klekociuk if he could explain what was going on.

Antarctica-heatwave

What we didn’t expect to find was a heatwave at Casey (the station where we do most of our work). This had actually occurred in late January and our analysis showed that the whole summer season was characterised by heatwaves rolling around the continent from November to February. Unfortunately, we did not have a team at Casey this summer. We had planned to go in early February to continue the long-term monitoring that we started there in 2000.  One week before our team was due to go to Casey our trip was cancelled because of the risk that scientists would take COVID-19 to Antarctica. So, no one was there to see if our Casey moss beds were flooded by extra melt water, got heat stressed or both. However, the good news is that Antarctic winter teams appear to be free of coronavirus.

RedShedgloriousgreens2008SAR

At the end of March, the paper was published online in Global Change Biology. You can read it here, or check out the excellent synopsis written for the Conversation by Dana. We will be really interested to see what reports of biological changes arise from these extreme summer events in Antarctica.

As we see the world pivoting to manage the COVID-19 crisis, I am hopefully that we can use the same ingenuity, resolve, care and compassion to take action on climate change, so that these Antarctic summer heatwaves do not become our new normal. 

Published in News

In late February there were reports of record-breaking high temperatures from scientists working on the Antarctic Peninsula. At the time Diana King and I were in NSW in Australia having spent the summer experiencing smoke pollution from the Australian bushfires along with extremely hot days. Our colleague Dana Bergstrom was sending us reports of rain at Davis Station in East Antarctica. Given that almost all precipitation falls as snow in Antarctica, these were strange reports. Our Chilean colleagues, Marisol Pizarro Rojas and  Gustavo Zúñiga were also reporting that there was no snow around the Escudero research station on King George Island and that every day was perfect for field work, a most a worrying development. There is always bad weather sometime in Antarctica!

Because of the news stories about extreme heat in Antarctica, I was asked to write a letter to the editor for Global Change Biology discussing these temperature extremes and what they might mean for Antarctic biodiversity. So, I reached out to Dana, Gustavo and Marisol for the insiders guide to the 2019/20 summer field season and in Australia, Diana and I started looking at the climate data. We decided we really needed a meteorological expert and so we asked Andrew Klekociuk if he could explain what was going on.

What we didn’t expect to find was a heatwave at Casey (the station where we do most of our work). This had actually occurred in late January and our analysis showed that the whole summer season was characterised by heatwaves rolling around the continent from December to February. Unfortunately, we did not have a team at Casey this summer. We had planned to go in early February to continue the long-term monitoring that we started there in 2000.  One week before our team was due to go to Casey our trip was cancelled because of the risk that scientists would take COVID-19 to Antarctica. So, no one was there to see if our Casey moss beds were flooded by extra melt water, got heat stressed or both. However, the good news is that Antarctic winter teams appear to be free of coronavirus.

At the end of March, the paper was published online in Global Change Biology. You can read it here, or check out the excellent synopsis written for the Conversation by Dana. We will be really interested to see what reports of biological changes arise from these extreme summer events in Antarctica.

As we see the world pivoting to manage the COVID-19 crisis, I am hopefully that we can use the same ingenuity, resolve, care and compassion to take action on climate change, so that these Antarctic summer heatwaves do not become our new normal. 

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:36

From the Poles to the Tropics in Kuala Lumpur

We have just got back from KL where the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research held its biennial meeting. Mel and I went via Singapore so we could catch up with Jessica on the way. We got to see the Singapore Botanical Gardens as well and meet some VIP orchids. Diana and Mick met up with us in KL. Xurxo Gago who is visiting our lab for a few months came from Spain. We also met up with our Antarctic collaborators Todd from Portland, USA and Angelica from Concepcion, Chile as well as several hundred other Antarctic Scientists. We were surprised to find that fashion week was on in KL but we couldn’t find a red shoe to pose in (see news from SCAR 2014 in NZ).

Published in News

Many ecological questions require information on species' optima in relation to environmental gradients. These attributes can be important in determining which species will coexistence and how this may vary with climate changes. However, existing methods do not quantify the uncertainty in the attributes or they rely on assumptions about the shape of species' responses to the environmental gradient. To remedy this, Mick Ashcroft and the team recently developed a model to quantify the uncertainty in the attributes of species response curves and allow them to be tested for differences without making assumptions about the shape of the responses.

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:36

The K-Axident

by Dr Laurence Clarke

Just over 10 years ago, Sharon and I got within 12 nautical miles of Mawson station when we came to Antarctica to collect moss samples as part of my PhD project. At the time the sea ice was too thick and we had to turn back, but we already had enough samples from Casey and Davis so it wasn’t a big deal.

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:36

Dr Laurence Clarke using DNA to identify life

Ex Lab member Dr Laurence Clarke has been on the Kerguelen (k)-Axis Marine Science Voyage aboard the Aurora Australis for about 6 weeks now. He was collecting samples to barcode marine life and wrote a guest blog about his research here.

There is also a news feature on the Australian Antarctic Division web site.

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:36

Dr Jess explains why she loves her PHD

Recent PhD graduate Dr Jessica Bramley-Alves has written an article for the Guardian Higher Education section Why I love my PhD.  Like Laurence she worked in Antarctica. She writes “My PhD takes me to one of the last truly wild places on earth. I thought a PhD wouldn’t suit me or I’d find the lab work tedious. But it’s actually been a great adventure”

Read more here

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:35

Important visitors to Escudero Station

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:34

Spreading the word about Antarctic research

On Monday I gave a class on Antarctica and our research to a second year Plant Physiology class at Bowdoin College in the US. This was my first experience of doing a remote class and I was glad that I was at the University of Santiago de Chile and could do the class at 12.30pm instead of the middle of the night in Australia.  

Published in News
Friday, 23 September 2016 17:33

Moss – tiny plants, huge potential

While I was at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Birmingham last year I met Juliet Coastes and Dan Gibbs who also work on mosses. Juliet and I have written a short article on why mosses are so cool which you can read on Ian Street's the Quiet Branches blog. 

Moss – tiny plants, huge potential.  

Hope you learn something new about marvelous moss.

Published in News
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