The Antarctic Science Platform is planning an ambitious, dedicated research voyage to the Northern Victoria Land coast to reveal the undersea biodiversity and biogeography of Antarctica’s nearshore coastal ecosystems. Understanding the links between environmental conditions and the distribution of coastal marine organisms is important to assess their vulnerability to climate change. This is particularly important as the coastal habitat is largely unexplored, poorly understood and highly sensitive to changes in sea ice and ocean temperature, freshening from subglacial melt, and wind-driven changes in nutrient fluxes. The voyage, planned for 2022, has seven main research themes from nearshore benthic biodiversity, to top predators and genetic structures of coastal communities. The interdisciplinary team will include a high proportion of early career researchers to train the next generation of scientists in this important field. The team will employ state of the art research techniques, including isotopic analysis, genescaping, eDNA, machine-learning approaches to habitat and community classification, gathering of key environmental measurements, and deployment of ROVs, camera sleds and ocean gliders. While coastal biodiversity is a focus of the voyage, access to the coastal environment and optimal use of vessel time in the region, means we’ll also collect physical data to enhance aligned research. This month we have begun our search for partners. Check out our video here.
The high performing team of four fellows are well integrated into the research community now, having presented at a range of conferences and workshops both in New Zealand and internationally (online of course!) The Memorandum of Understanding between NeSI and the Antarctic Science Platform was signed in 2020, to recognise the importance of the supercomputing resource and outline expectations of the partners. NeSI and its fabulous staff have been an invaluable asset to the platform modelling community enabling the development of highly complex, interdisciplinary modelling experiments that are well on the way to address some of humanity’s most urgent scientific questions. As the Hub has evolved, the team has been so productive that even the supercomputer capacity is being pushed. Several researchers in the Hub are also submitting Marsden proposals as Principal Investigators, and/or are included as Associate Investigators in others’ (Standard, Fast-start, and Council Award).