My main objective whilst in Antarctica was to undertake an environmental monitoring project on the world's most southernmost windfarm development. The Crater Hill windfarm is a collaborative project between Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian Energy that will supply renewable energy to New Zealand's own Scott Base and the U.S McMurdo Station through a linked electrical grid. The windfarm will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of both bases (1,242 tonnes of CO2 annually) and cut diesel fuel consumption by an estimated 11% (463,000 litres). In addition, this initiative will reduce the environmental risk associated with the transporting, handling and storage of diesel fuel in Antarctica. This season the foundations have been installed and next summer the turbines themselves will be erected and commissioned.
Whilst on the continent I also worked alongside the Environmental Team from Antarctica New Zealand accompanying Renee Burns, an Environmental Officer on a visit to the McMurdo Dry Valleys to conduct environmental audits of field parties. The McMurdo Dry Valleys, located southwest of Ross Island, have a unique ecosystem and landform that is very sensitive to disturbance. The visit to the Dry Valley's is unlike anything you would expect to see in Antarctica; largely void of ice except for massive glaciers that scour the valleys. They are barren, cold and massive, but without any indicators of scale. We visited camps of scientists in the Miers and Garwood Valleys to see how they live in these remote locations and to ensure they were taking appropriate measures to protect this special environment and keep themselves safe.
I joined Renee on a visit to meet the U.S Environmental Team at McMurdo Station. We had a tour of the station's facilities including the waste water treatment plant, Creary Laboratory, garbage and recycling procedures and discussed potential combined initiatives to help reduce the impacts of both bases on the continent. The proximity of the U.S and New Zealand bases ensures they retain a close working relationship and have shared incentive to protect the local environment in McMurdo Sound.
My time at Scott Base coincided with the annual U.S versus New Zealand rugby match for the Ross Island Trophy. It was a great day and provided real insight into the spirit of both nations and the individuals on ice. The match was held on the one year anniversary of Sir Edmond Hillary's death. It was special to share in the remembrance of such a fantastic New Zealander with the individuals who strive to carry on his legacy in Antarctica.