Why is the Maties TracEx-group currently on the SCALExperiment Winter Cruise of 2019?

Jean Loock and Johan Viljoen, Stellenbosch University doctoral candidates currently onboard the S.A. Agulhas II, gave some insight on why the TracEx -group is so interested in studying the Southern Ocean during winter and the particular interest in the seasonal sea-ice.

“Phytoplankton are microorganisms that help regulate global climate through carbon dioxide uptake as they photosynthesise. To do this they require nutrients but in the remote oceans food is scarce, resulting in fierce competition and poor growth of these plankton. However, within the seasonal sea-ice that grows during winter and extends northwards from Antarctica, a thriving little community of microorganisms exist.

Our team is looking to analyze the snow layer on the ice, the ice itself and the water below the ice in an attempt to understand how these nutrients are concentrating within the ice. It may be that during the summer melting phase, these nutrients are expelled from the ice and provide the food required for large scale blooms of phytoplankton and thereby improved carbon dioxide uptake. These curious cases are crucial to improving our understanding of the climate system in a changing environment”.

Follow the TracEx Group on Facebook and Twitter.

Preparing the Mini Geotraces CTD Rosette before the cruise:

On the day of the first launch, during the #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019 .

Team TracEx getting ready to deploy their new mini CTD rosette in ice conditions to collect water samples to study the trace metals in the water column below ice. Photo Credit: Johan Viljoen.

 

For more information on #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019  – click here.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 August 2019

 

Current event: SCALE Winter Cruise 2019

SCALE, WinterCruise2019

Cruise Date: 18 July 2019 until 12 August 2019.

Do you want to know more about this year’s SCALE (Southern oCean seAsonal Experiment) Winter Cruise, which is multi-disciplinary, multi-institution, multi-national research conducted in the Southern Ocean?

Click on the media brief below for more information:

For more information on this year’s scientific programme and to meet the national and international partners part the cruise – click here.

Check out the following hashtags on social media:

#SCALExperiment and #WinterCruise2019

 

The Annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting

South Africa’s permanent presence on the Antarctic continent commenced shortly after the Norwegians announced the evacuation of their Antarctic base, which was established for the International Geophysics Year (IGY), in the Dronning Maud Land region (approximately 4000 km south of Cape Town). This base was taken over by South Africa in 1959, during the first South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE), under the leadership of J.J. ‘Hannes’ la Grange (also Senior Meteorologist of the team).

1st SANAE Overwintering Team, 1960

1st SANAE Overwintering Team of 1960 (L-R: André van der Merwe, Dick Bonnema, Hannes la Grange, Marten du Preez, Blackie de Swardt).

Antarctic Treaty counties: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and USSR.

In the same year, South Africa, along with eleven other countries signed the Antarctic Treaty, hence SA is one of the founding members of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), and however South Africa never made a territorial claim in Antarctica, is seen as a “consultative party” within the Antarctic Treaty, due to its legitimate interest in Antarctica (Viall 1991).

The Antarctic Treaty can be described as “agreements and arrangements which regulate international relations and activities in Antarctica” (Viall 1991). The aim of the Antarctic Treaty was to ensure that Antarctica (the area south of 60° S latitude) would be used for no other than peaceful purposes. The Antarctic Treaty also stipulates that military activities, nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste are prohibited in Antarctica (The Antarctic Treaty, 1959). Read more here.

South Africa has certain obligations to the ATS regarding conservation on Antarctica and on its sub-Antarctic islands and form part of the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) and Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) kicked off in 1961 and was held biennially, however since 1994 it became evident that this meeting should be held annually. As stipulated by the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, ‘the meeting is hosted by Consultative parties according to the alphabetical order of their English names’.

This year the meeting in held in Prague, France.  South Africa’s delegation consists of:

  1. Chief Director: Specialist Monitoring Systems (Mr L. Fikizolo) – HoD
  2. Director: Earth Systems Strategies (Mr M. Dopolo),
  3. Acting Director: Integrated Projects and International Coordination (Mr Y. Mngxe),
  4. State Law Advisor: Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Ms R. Brammer).

Furthermore South Africans, Richard Skinner (previously with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and a long-time participant within the South African National Antarctic Programme) and Lize-Marié van der Watt (Doctor of Philosophy at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden) are currently also at this meeting as part of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat support staff.

References:

The Antarctic Treat (1959) http://blogs.sun.ac.za/antarcticlegacy/wp-content/blogs.dir/189/files/2015/10/The-Antarctic-Treaty1.pdf

Viall JD (1991) South Africa: The Road to the Antarctic Treaty. South African Journal of Antarctic Research, Volume 21:125-128.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 11 July 2019.

SEAmester IV – photos and more

SEAmester2019, SEAmester, SEAmester IV

On the 1st of July 2019, 41 students from various universities across South Africa have set sail from the Port of Cape Town, onboard the S.A. Aghulus II, as part of the annual SEAmester course run by Prof Isabelle Ansorge from the Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town. Assisting her onboard is Tahlia Henry, programme coordinator; watch this interview with Tahlia just before departure.  Students who are in the marine field of study and who make it through the hundreds of applications get the fantastic opportunity to participate in this 11-day South African class afloat. The cruise travels up the coast to Port Elizabeth where the vessel turns into the deeper oceans in order to travel along the ASCA line. The line plots its course at certain intervals, where CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) tests are done.

While students are onboard the days are filled with a selection of lectures and practicals, run by leaders in the field of marine science. The practicals give students some hands-on experience within their field of interest, for example students get to partake in CTD observations where the CTD is lowered to different depths at different points along the cruise to measure depth, salinity and temperature. These observations are done in order to gain a better understanding of the Aghulus current. The South African Weather Service also has a meteorological technician/forecaster onboard, demonstrating the release of a weather balloon, while informing students on the data gathered from the radiosonde (box attached to the balloon gather certain data) – view this video to  learn more about weather observations from the S.A. Agulhas II. Other practicals onboard include; dissections on marine mammals, parasitology studies, seafloor sediments studies, mammal observations and micro plastic sampling.

Surrounded by the blue ocean looking left, right, backwards and forwards reminds one of the vastness of the ocean.  Sunrises and sunsets are most definitely a highlight for students as they are able to watch the sun break through the horizon from the monkey deck.

The cruise has thus far experienced some great weather in the first few days, but we did end up face to face with a cold front. It was a slightly bumpy ride to say the least as the vessel had to navigate its way through 9m swells and 40 knot winds.

The vessel is expected to back in the Port of Cape Town by morning, 11 July 2019.

S.A. Ahulhas II moving through calm waters. Photo Credit: Alex Oelofse.

All photo supplied by the photographer onboard the vessel: Alex Oelofse.

Author: Alex Oelofse, Photographer onboard the vessel. Edited by: Anché Louw, 09 July 2019.

Departure: SA’s Class Afloat – SEAmester IV 2019

The 4th SEAmester cruise departed from the port of Cape Town on the 1st of July 2019.

This year’s class consists of 41 students in total, including postgraduate students from all over South Africa and a few international students.

During this 11 day cruise along the coast of South Africa, on the S.A. Agulhas II, students will learn all about marine science through theoretical classroom learning and applying this knowledge through ship-based and hands-on research. Find out more about SEAmester here.

We would like to wish all the students and lecturers onboard the vessel another successful programme.

VIDEO: Meet the programme coordinator, Tahlia Henry.

Note: SEAmester is a Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation funded SANAP (South African National Antarctic Programme) project.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 03 July 2019

Mid-winter greetings from the three SANAP stations

Happy mid-winter from our Antarctic station (SANAE), sub-Antarctic station (Marion Island) and Gough Island.

Antarctica – where the 58th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Antarctica, SANAE, SANAE58,midwinter

Marion Island – where the 76th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Marion Island, Marion76, midwinter

Gough Island – where the 64th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Gough Island, Gough64, midwinter

Mid-Winter greetings from DEA

Mid-Winter is celebrated right across Antarctica by all the nations & stations.  It is the 0ldest tradition in Antarctica and refers to the Winter Solstice (or hibernal solstice).  It occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky.

At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice.

The winter solstice occurs during the hemisphere’s winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the June solstice (usually 20 or 21 June).   Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment, the term sometimes refers to the day on which it occurs. Other names are “midwinter”, the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi), or the “shortest day”.

So, for Antarctic Expeditioners / Overwinterers the worst is over with regards to dark (lack of light and sunlight).

Happy Mid- Winter to all – share this email far and wide.

From all of us

Jasmine Arnold

Office Administrator to The Ship’s Operations Manager | Directorate: Southern Oceans & Antarctic Support | Office address: East Pier, Waterfront | Direct no: 021 405 9485 | Switchboard: 021 405 9400

Mid-winter Event Pretoria, South Africa – organised by Carol Jacobs :

SANAP researcher travels to NYC to communicate science during oceans week

Katherine Hutchinson (Postdoctoral Researcher, Oceanography at L’Ocean University of Cape Town) was one of the 48 expedition members, part of the Weddell Sea Expedition of 2019. During this expedition scientists did the first ever sampling on the A68 ice berg, that broke off of Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017. 

Meet all the South Africans that was part of the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019: click here.

Her research ‘explores the role of the ocean in possibly driving basal melting and thus destabilising the ice shelf making it more prone to loss via massive calving events’ like the event mentioned above.

She is currently in New York sharing her knowledge on ocean conservation (click here for more information on this event). She compares the size of ice berg A68 with Manhattan, which is 180 times the size of this part of the city and most probably the best way to create a sense of scale.

Weddell Sea Expedition

Top photo: Katherine Hutchinson, second from the left.

Tomorrow, 8 June, is World Oceans Day and is also a Commemorative event in South Africa. We need to protect and conserve our oceans. Read more about World Oceans Day here.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 07 June 2019.

Meet Marion76 (2019/2020 overwintering team)

Marion Island, Overwintering, Team

The 76th Marion Island Overwintering team training started during the second week of March and will end Friday, 29 March.

The team training is intended to give the team a good background of the South African National Antarctic Programme and the history of South Africa’s involvement in the Southern Ocean. The team will also get an idea of what to expect of their year on Marion Island, learn what they can and can’t do and get a better idea of what to pack. During training the team can mingle with each other and learn how to work together during First Aid and Fire Fighting training, during the packing of containers and the cooking class. Each member’s dental health will also be assessed and attended to, as there is no way of returning home for an aching tooth. Each member on the team will also be kitted out with the necessary protective clothing for living and working in the sub-Antarctic.

The current expected time of departure for the vessel, S.A. Agulhas II is 11 April 2019. Click here to view the S.A Agulhas II Voyage Schedule.

Marion76 (M76)

Featured Image: M76 team during the first day of training, with Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (back, 4th from left) and  Adriaan Dreyer (far right), Assistant Director – Logistics and Support of Expeditions (Southern Ocean and Island Support Division, Department of Environmental Affairs).

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 20 March 2019

 

SANAP Project News: SOCCO (follow-up)

SOCCO, SANAP, Southern Ocean

SOSCEX-Storm II Experiment Wave Gliders heading to Cape Town from the Antarctic waters

Following up on the story of the our Liquid Robotics Wavegliders returning home to Cape Town from the Southern Ocean (click here) we have now completed the first half of the journey. Waveglider WG052 will arrive at its intermediate waypoint 43°S 9°E on Saturday 2nd March.  It has completed the first 1200km of its journey in 17 days at an average of 70km per day during which it sailed through 3 storms and crossed both the Polar and Sub-Antarctic fronts (see photo below).

SOCCO, Gliders, Wavegliders

On Sunday 3rd March WG052 will meet up with its twin WG027 that has been making its own CO2 and physics measurements at our long term observation station SAZ-1 since early December 2018. They will return together in the second 1200km stretch of sub-polar and sub-tropical waters but separated by about 50 – 100km to test some ideas about the correlations length scales for pCO2.  Both units continue to provide almost real time observations of ocean physics and CO2.  You will see from the attached pic (earth.nullschool.net), which is derived from almost real time satellite observations-based surface ocean circulation product OSCAR of the mesoscale features around the south of Africa, that we are aiming to use one of these “jets” to propel both gliders towards Cape Town across the turbulent cauldron west of the Agulhas current retroflection.  It shows very nicely how the ocean is not made up of large homogeneous currents but a series of high speed jets and eddies.  We are exploring how the interaction of storms with these features influence the seasonal variability and ultimately the climate sensitivity of the air – sea fluxes of CO2 in the Southern Ocean.

 

– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 01 March 2019 (posted 06 March 2019)

Currently on the S.A. Agulhas II – Sea Ice Observations

Weddell Sea Expedition, Southern Ocean, Sea Ice, Sea Ice Observations

Sea Ice Observations currently conducted onboard the S.A. Agulhas II by Stellenbosch University and University of Cape Town.

As the S.A. Agulhas II is currently returning from the Weddell Sea Expedition and the SANAE IV take-over voyage (current position about S 61°12′ E 000°00′), scientist onboard the vessel are still hard at work…

Check out this video and learn more…

 

Click here to see who is onboard, returning form the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019.

Want to see more video’s? Go to Facebook (click here).

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 March 2019

Meet the Meteorological observer on the S.A. Agulhas II

SAWS, South African Weather Service, SA Agulhas II, Souther Ocean, Weather

Click on the video video to meet Thapi. She is the meteorological observer of the South African Weather Service (SAWS), currently in the Southern Ocean on-board the S.A. Agulhas II.

Check out how she releases a weather balloon and what data is gained from this operation.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 20 February 2019

Current Search for Endurance Called Off

Antarctica, Weddell Sea Expedition, Weddell Sea, Larcen C, A68

Official Communication from the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 on 14 February 2019

 

Following pioneering Antarctic scientific research, Expedition reaches wreck site, but deteriorating weather and ice conditions force searchers to abandon quest for now.

 

The Weddell Sea Expedition, which conducted a highly successful multi-disciplinary scientific research programme in Antarctica, has been forced to conclude its current search for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s iconic ship, Endurance, which was crushed by ice and sank in 1915. The Expedition’s remarkable journey has shed new light on the challenges Shackleton, his men and their wooden sailing ship faced over a century ago.

Earlier this week, the Expedition successfully reached the wreck site, as plotted 104 years ago by Frank Worsley, the Captain of Endurance. However, the historic expedition, the first to attempt to locate the Endurance, was hampered by the extreme weather conditions. The weather closed in and the sea ice conditions deteriorated, leading to the loss of AUV7, one of the state-of-the-art specialist submersible Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, which was being deployed to locate the wreck. Despite round the clock efforts to recover AUV7, and with the risk of the Expedition vessel, the South African polar research vessel, S.A Agulhas II, becoming trapped in the ice, the Expedition leaders decided to abandon the current search for Endurance.

AUV7 was on the final leg of its mission scope, nearing the end of its extensive under-ice operation, when it entered a section of sea under a vast ice floe and contact was lost with the S.A Agulhas II. AUV7 had conducted what is believed to be the longest and deepest dedicated under ice survey ever, lasting over 30 hours. It is not known whether AUV7 captured images of Endurance on the seabed before contact was lost.

The search for Endurance was part of a ground-breaking scientific research programme in the waters around the Larsen C Ice Shelf and the A-68 Iceberg. The international team of glaciologists, marine biologists and oceanographers involved in the Expedition have surveyed the seafloor and the rich and little-studied biological systems that lie beneath the ice infested sea. In addition, the Expedition has measured sea ice freeboard and snow depth in the Weddell Sea, which will help better understand Antarctic sea ice thickness and its implications for climate change and global ocean circulation.

The Expedition is funded by the Netherlands-based marine charity, The Flotilla Foundation.

Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration on the expedition, said:

“As a team we are clearly disappointed not to have been successful in our mission to find Endurance. Like Shackleton before us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as ‘the worst portion of the worst sea in the world’, our well laid plans were overcome by the rapidly moving ice, and what Shackleton called ‘the evil conditions of The Weddell Sea’.

“We are pleased to have brought the story of Shackleton and Endurance to new audiences, and to the next generation, who will be entrusted with the essential safeguarding of our polar regions, and our planet more broadly. We hope our adventure will have engaged young people about the pioneering spirit, courage and fortitude of those who sailed with Endurance to Antarctica. We pay tribute to the navigational skills of Frank Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance, whose detailed records were invaluable in our reaching the area where she was lost. I would like to thank The Flotilla Foundation for enabling this extraordinary expedition to take place, as well as Ocean Infinity for their technology and technicians, and the whole team of dedicated experts who have been involved in this important scientific and exploratory expedition.”

Oliver Plunkett, CEO of Ocean Infinity, said:

“Everyone at Ocean Infinity is deeply disappointed that at the eleventh hour, we were not able to produce the images of what is without doubt the most challenging shipwreck in the world to locate. We understood the risks of pushing the boundaries of what’s been done before with technology operating in the harshest environment on the planet. Our team worked tirelessly throughout and are rightly entitled to celebrate what they achieved in advancing knowledge and understanding. Not only were Ocean Infinity’s AUVs deployed in the search for Endurance, but also over the previous weeks, we have played a central role in gathering the critical data which will be used by scientists as part of their important work understanding the polar regions and the impact of climate change.

“These varied uses of our technological tools within a single project demonstrates the power of Ocean Infinity’s approach. Having participated in the world’s largest subsea searches in 2018, we have now spent more time operating under the ice than any other organisation. This pioneering spirit is at the heart of Ocean Infinity’s desire to be the world’s leading underwater autonomous robotic company.”

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, the Expedition Chief Scientist and Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge University, said:

“Through the scientific data gathered during the Expedition, we have deepened our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a critical role in our understanding of Antarctic ice shelves and sea ice and, importantly, the changes that are occurring here today.

“The world-wide interest in Shackleton’s Endurance will also serve to convey the importance of the Expedition’s scientific and educational work. This is something we will be taking forward in our Museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, where we already display the sextant used by Worsley to fix the final position of Endurance in 1915.”

Dr John Shears, polar geographer and Expedition Leader, said:

“The Weddell Sea Expedition team are truly disappointed that after such a huge effort, and overcoming several major setbacks, we have not been able to find Endurance. We are, however, very proud of our other achievements over the past weeks in Antarctica. We have greatly surpassed our primary Expedition objective of undertaking pioneering scientific research at the Larsen C Ice Shelf. We have also conducted an unprecedented educational outreach programme, allowing children from around the world to engage in real time with the Expedition and our adventures from the outset.

“We will shortly begin our return leg to Cape Town, after an expedition which has been my great privilege and honour to lead. The Expedition team, and the officers and crew of the S.A. Agulhas II, have been simply outstanding. I would also like to thank The Flotilla Foundation, and all of our partners who have all played a key role in supporting this incredible expedition.”

For further information / resources:

Photographs from the expedition are available for download at www.weddellseaexpedition.org

A video clip of Director of Exploration, Mensun Bound, speaking from S.A Agulhas II can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/317146403/dd8de74aa7

Background footage of the Expedition can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/317151349/b77f1f919a

The Expedition daily blog can be viewed at https://weddellseaexpedition.org/expedition-blog/

 

Celicourt Communications

Mark Antelme / Joanna Boon / Ollie Mills Tel: +44 (0) 207 520 9264

info@weddellseaexpedition.org

 

List of partners involved in The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019:

African Marine Solutions (AMSOL)

Atlantic Productions

Celicourt Communications

Constantia Consulting

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)

Deep Ocean Search Ltd

DP & Marine Assurance Norway AS

Eclipse Group Inc

Flotilla Foundation

KEA Projects Group (Pty)

Kongsberg Maritime

Nekton Foundation / University of Oxford

Nelson Mandela University

Netherlands Institute of Marine Research (NIOZ)

Ocean Infinity

Reach the World

Royal Geographical Society (RGS)

Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Shears Polar Ltd

The Explorers Club

The South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

University of Canterbury, NZ

University of Cape Town

University of Stellenbosch

White Desert

 

Official Communication, Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, 14 February 2019

The S.A. Agulhas II visits King George Island

During the first week of February 2019 the S.A. Agulhas II, which is currently chartered for the Weddell Sea Expedition, made a stop at King George Island. This island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands. This stopover was necessitated by the need for extra mechanical and electronic parts for the ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) team involved in the search for the Endurance wreck after an implosion of the electronics housing during a test dive. The parts were to be flown in from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the airstrip on King George Island.

One of the views while entering Ardley Cove, King George Island.

The stopover provided an opportunity for the expedition members to stretch their legs on land—a unique opportunity for the South African contingent who never get to visit these parts on the usual SANAE relief voyages. The island hosts a large number of research bases operated by Chile, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as China, Russia, South Korea and Poland. A tour of Base Prof. Julio Escudero was arranged with the Chileans where all the scientific and recreational station facilities were displayed. The team was also invited in for tea at the Russian Bellingshausen station while waiting for the zodiacs to return the expedition team to the S.A. Agulhas II. The favours were then returned to the Chilean and Russian teams and they were invited aboard the S.A. Agulhas II and toured through the vessel. A joint Chilean-Argentinian naval patrol’s officers were also invited aboard and treated to some finger snacks with the S.A. Agulhas II’s officers in one of the vessel’s lounges.

King George Island also holds the Antarctic Treaty Monument which commemorates the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty and displays a plaque commemorating South Africa’s involvement as one of the original signatories. The monument is listed and protected as an Antarctic Historic Site or Monument.

Unfortunately, weather conditions prevented the designated plane with supplies from landing while the expedition was waiting at King George Island. The aircraft took off three separate times and had to turn around each time. The expedition couldn’t afford to lose more time and had to leave for the Endurance wreck site without the spares.

The team S.A. Agulhas II reached the wreck site on 10 February 2019 (read more here). The fact that the ROV will not be used for any further exploration did not stop the team, as they built a new frame fixed with lights and a camera which can be ‘trawled’ above the seafloor.

More Photos

South Shetland Islands. Photo Credit: www.travelwild.com

Written by: Hermann Luyt, Oceanography, University of Cape Town, 14 February 2019

Photo Credit (all): Hermann Luyt

South African scientists on the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019

Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Weddell Sea Expedition, Science, Oceanography, University of Cape Town, Fawcett Lab

Meet Dr Sarah Fawcett

Antarctica, Antarcticlegacy, Weddell Sea

Dr Sarah Fawcett on the S.A. Agulhas II (CTD in the background). Photo Credit: Hermann Luyt

Dr Fawcett is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town. She is a P-rated scientist (National Research Foundation Rating), who is the Principal Investigator of a South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) project titled “A nitrogen cycle view of atmospheric CO2 sequestration in the Antarctic Ocean“. She was also elected to the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) towards the end of last year (Read more here).

We are very proud that Dr Fawcett is part of the scientific team on the Weddell Sea Expedition that is currently underway. She represents South Africa as part of the UCT/SAEON/NMU team. Other institutions involved in this expedition includes the Scott Polar Institute (Cambridge, UK), the Nekton Foundation (UK) and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). Read more about the Weddell Sea Expedition here.

Watch this video (low quality as it came directly from the Weddell Sea) where Dr Fawcett tells us more about the physical oceanography sampling conducted during the scientific leg of the exhibition and the use of this specific type of sampling.

Also listen to Dr Fawcett on Cape Talk radio and read this for more information regarding the physical oceanography leg of this scientific exploration in the Weddell Sea.

Cover photo and video credit: Hermann Luyt

Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 07 February 2019

 

Meet the South Africans on the Weddell Sea Expedition, Antarctica

Antarctica, Weddell Sea Expedition, Weddell Sea, Larcen C, A68

The international Weddell Sea Expedition to one of the most remote regions of Antarctica has entered its fifth week. The expedition reached the Larsen C Ice Shelf on 10 January 2019 and commenced sampling of the ocean (video coming soon), surrounding ice floes, bathymetry and seafloor sediment to better understand one of the least explored ocean regions of the world.

The expedition chartered the S.A. Agulhas II and over and above the all South African crew, a large contingent of South African scientists is also onboard. The scientists include Dr Sarah Fawcett (Chemical Oceanography – University of Cape Town) and UCT students Raquel Flynn, Jessica Burger, Riesna Audh, Shantelle Smith, Kurt Spence and Hermann Luyt; Dr Katherine Hutchinson (Physical Oceanography – University of Cape Town); Prof Tommy Bornman (Biological Oceanography – South African Environmental Observation Network and Nelson Mandela University); Prof Annie Bekker (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering – University of Stellenbosch) and her students James-John Matthee and Christof van Zijl; Tahlia Henry (Scientific operations – Nelson Mandela University/University of Cape Town); Thapi Makgabutlane (South African Weather Services) and Dr Colin de La Harpe (on behalf of the CSIR).

South Africans on the Weddell Sea Expedition posing on the helideck of the S.A. Agulhas II with the trillion tonne Iceberg A68 in the background (photo by Holly Ewart)

Stay in touch for more on this expedition team – who will only return to Cape Town middle of March 2019.

Written by: Prof Tommy Bornman, Biological Oceanography – South African Environmental Observation Network and Nelson Mandela University, 30 January 2019

Thanks to Tahlia Henry, Prof Tommy Bornman, Hermann Luyt and Dr Sarah Fawcett for coming in contact with Antarctic Legacy of South Africa.

Also visit – www.weddellseaexpedition.org | For more information also read this article.

VIDEO: SANAE58/Weddell Sea Expedition currently underway

S.A. Agulhas II, Captain Bengu

Earlier this year Prof Annie Bekker of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, also director of the Sound and Vibration Research Group, organised and hosted the S.A. Agulhas II mini-seminar. This seminar covered the full scale measurement capabilities of the S.A Agulhas II and the measurements to be taken this Antarctic season.

Captain Knowledge Bengu, who will be the Captain of the S.A. Agulhas II for the 2018/2019 Antarctic Expedition, attended this seminar. This gave him some insight of what is planned by the scientists for the season and how to prepare for the SANAE58/Weddell Sea Expedition and all the operations involved.

South Africa’s ice breaking vessel, the S.A. Agulhas II, is currently on her way to Antarctica on a 96 day cruise (almost a month longer than usually) – what does the captain say about this? Anche Louw of the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa interviewed Captain Knowledge Bengu – see interview below.

The first stop for the S.A. Agulhas II is Penguin Bukta. Here the SANAE58 team, cargo and other research personnel will be offloaded and then transported to SANAE IV.
The ship will then depart to the Weddell Sea (after fuel pumping) for the 45 day Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, on search for The Endurance and also if possible scientific exploration.

For more information about the Weddell Sea Expedition – click here.

Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 18 December 2018

Antarctica Season Launch 2018

The first three days of the South African Antarctica Season Launch consisted of Exhibitions by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA), The South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), The Port of Cape Town (Transnet Port Terminals), African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Meihuizen International Logistics and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Invited schools had the opportunity to visit this exhibition. This gave students the opportunity to understand more about South Africa’s involvement in Antarctic Research, how we get to the Antarctic (onboard the RV S.A. Agulhas II) and the large number of careers involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme.

As from today the SA-Norwegian Polar Seminar 2018 will be held at the TNPA Building, Port of Cape Town – see the program below.

Day 4, Thursday 06 December 2018

Theme - Heritage Presentations : Chair J. Beaumont 09:00 – 13:00
1. SA Antarctic Legacy left by Humans Presentation - R Olivier( 10min)
2. Human Spirit Achmat Hassiem - H Valentine (10min)
3. Amundsen’s expeditions, about everything but the South Pole - Susan Barr (45min)
4. Exploits of Sibusiso Vilana - M Matutu (10min)
5. Ocean and Antarctica conservation Lewis Pugh -M. Mayekiso (10min)
6. The Norwegian cultural heritage in Antarctica - Susan Barr (45min)
7. History of Dronning Maud Land History - Olav Orheim (45min)
LUNCH
Theme – Research Exchange : Chair Aaidoo – Floor 2 (Seminar)
1. Presentation - A. Makhado
Top predator at the Prince Edward Islands and southern ocean- implication to their trophic position (30min)
2. Presentation – S. Somhlaba (30min)
3. Progress in the fisheries research in Subarea 48.6 (30min)
4. Presentation – T Makhalanyane (30min)
5. Presentation – T Mtshali (CSIR) (30min)
6. Nansen-Tutu (Local Director)
S.A. AGULHAS II Departure at East Pier, Port of Cape Town 16:00 – 17:00

Day 5, Friday 07 December 2018

Theme – Polar Gateways - Chair A. Miya/ C. Birkenstock (TNPA)10:00 – 13:00
Gateway Centers
1. Cape Town Antarctic Gateway Center - M Matutu (30min)
2. Polaris Climate Change Observatory-M’ de Wooters (20min)
3. Arctic Gateway Aspects - Olav Orheim (45min)
4. SA Antarctic Heritage as a gateway to Antarctica - ALSA (10min)
5. MRCC – Jared Blows (10min)
6. ARCC – S. White (10min)
7. Antarctica and Flying - White Desert (10min)
8. Antarctica and shipping – P. Meihuizen (10min)
LUNCH13:00 - 14:00

South African Delegates attending the 37th Annual CCAMLR Meeting

What is CCAMLR?

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

The role of CCAMLR?

International relations with respect to Antarctica needs to be regulated and this is done means of the Antarctic Treaty and related agreements (referred to as the Antarctic Treaty System). The Convention on the CCAMLR was signed in 1982 and forms a key part of the management of the Antarctic marine ecosystem and fishing industries operating south* of the Antarctic Convergence.  Watch this video for more information about CCAMLR.

* rough boundary where warmer waters from the north meet the colder Antarctic waters below 60° South (www.ats.aq)

Where does South Africa fit in?

South Africa is not just one of the first signatories of the Antarctic Treaty, but also one of the nations very much concerned about the conservation of Antarctic resources.

South Africa is part of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and as a member of the commission South African representatives attend these meetings, contributing to the discussion and implementation of policies. The 37th meeting of the Commission is currently underway and attended by about 300 delegates including South Africa’s Dr Monde Mayekiso (meeting convener), Dr A Makado and Mr L Fikizolo (Department of Environmental Affairs).

Dr Mayekiso – Chair/Convener, thirty-seventh annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

 

37th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR):

22 October – 02 November 2018 | Hobart, Tasmania.

Click here for more information.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 24 October 2018

Day 2 of the S.A. Agulhas II Mini-seminar

SA Agulhas II

Today is the second and last day of the S.A. Agulhas II Mini-Seminar, held in Stellenbosch.

We aim to dig deeper into the technical side of things today, looking at: ice measurements and navigation, vibration and vessel motion. The proposed Polar Observatory as well as robotics and related topics will also be tackled.

Follow ALSA on social media (#DIGSAA2)

S.A. Agulhas II Mini-seminar

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 18 October 2018