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  • Antarctica is the world's greatest remaining wilderness area. It plays a significant role in many global environmental issues such as wind and water currents and world weather patterns. State of the Environment Reporting: - provides a 'snap-shot' of the status of the Antarctic environment - relies on long-term monitoring of environmental and other variables - allows the detection of trends and patterns, which may be due to natural variability or human-induced (anthropogenic) pressures Why are we interested? State of the Environment Reporting allows us to: - assess the quality of the Antarctic environment - identify threats to the Antarctic environment - monitor the pressures we exert on it and track the impact and efficiency of our activities in the Antarctic. How do we do it? State of the Environment Reporting is based on environmental indicators. Indicators: - are data that summarise physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic factors which best represent the key elements of the environment - are grouped into themes We have developed a web-accessible computer system called SIMR that manages the indicator data, metadata, and custodian information. The system automatically prompts custodians for data and evaluations when required and can produce reports on indicators via the web whenever requested.

  • 1987/88 Field Season at Heard Island. Harry R. Burton. Field Leader, Antarctic Division. The 1987/88 ANARE to Heard Island was the last of a series of three summer programs there (1985 and 1986/87); and with five and a half months on the Island. It was also the longest. Earth science had been the primary focus of the 1986/87 program. In 1987/88 the focus of the work was again biology, as it had been in 1985; and island transport (other than pedestrian) was by LARC. Nella Dan delivered the party of 17 from September 18 to 20 1987, with four at Spit Bay and the remainder at Atlas Cove. About a month later, on October 18 and 19 she returned: four of the party left and there were two new arrivals, so that 15 people were on the Island until Lady Franklin picked up the party and left on March 2 1988. A major task of the Expedition was to carry out a complete census of Heard Island's breeding population of Southern Elephant Seals. This task was done in the middle of October, when the numbers of cows hauled out to pup on the beaches were at a maximum and counts made at that time were sensibly referable to other years and other islands. It was the first total census ever completed on Heard Island although one made in 1985 was nearly so. The party was able to walk to Long Beach and census that area. and the availab1l1ty of a helicopter for two days allowed the total photographic coverage of Spit Island, a sedimentary island little more than a metre above sea level and about a kilometre to the east. This island is home to several thousand seals. The one photographic run over this island on October 18 produced a 70mm film record. and thus the whole Island census was completed. Although strong winds during the photography prevented complete overlap of all the aerial photographs. allowance for the small proportion of missed ground was made in censusing. The final total for Spit Island was 3,200 plus or minus 150 cows. A number of other whole Island Southern Elephant Seal counts (excluding Spit Island) were made at intervals of approximately a month so that seal numbers at particular sites and dates could be compared to historical records for these same places at equivalent seasonal times. These counts also gave quantitative measures of 'seal abuse' to coastal vegetation. A daily count of all Southern Elephant Seals in the Four Bays area was maintained for two months. This work enabled the day of maximum numbers to be calculated with precision, as well as providing a detailed record of the haul-out pattern for comparison with other years and islands. The day of maximum numbers, 17 October, was two days later in 1987 than in 1985. The results also indicated a further small reduction in the pup production of the Four Bays area, compared to 1985. However a complete enumeration of the seals on all island beaches still waits on a careful checking of all data. Another Southern Elephant Seal study was the weighing of weaned pups. About 400 pups were weighed at each end of the Island. The total (821) is a considerable data set and it demonstrated the variation in sex ratio and weight through the weaning period. Male pups had a mean weight of 116.5kg (408 animals), and female pups had a mean weight of 111.6kg (413 animals). These data allow real comparison with weaned weights from other islands and thus may provide insights into the reasons for the decline of seal numbers on some islands (the Indian Ocean Sector) and not others (South Georgia). Sixty Southern Elephant Seals. newly arrived at the beach to moult, were anaesthetised, measured and weighed before having their stomach contents flushed out by water through a soft rubber hose. These collections contained obvious examples of squid beaks and stomach worms but await analysis. This will provide the first detailed information on the diet of these seals in the Heard Island area. Leopard Seals were counted whenever they were seen, and at times (late February) they out numbered Southern Elephant Seals on some beaches. Thirty five animals were anaesthetised. measured and weighed before being tagged and their blood sampled. A surprise was the discovery of two Subantarctic Fur Seals bearing tags from Marion Island. This was the first record of this species on the island. Also surprising was the very large number (in excess of 10,000) of Antarctic Fur Seals hauling out in late February. They are not a rare Sight on the Island any more! A detailed study of the attendance patterns of lactating cows and the corresponding weight gains of their pups was carried out. An archaeological survey of the Corinthian Bay sealer's shanty and a botanical study of pool complexes in the north west of the Island were studies undertaken in the first month on the Island. A great deal of effort was also put into censusing birds. A thorough survey of the distribution of all burrow nesting seabirds was completed for the Island and the population of Gentoo Penguins was counted (16,500 pairs in 60 colonies) as well as having the breeding success of their chicks recorded. The colonies of King Penguins were recorded regularly, and appear to be continuing to increase in numbers. 1987/88 was a good season for the Heard Island Cormorant too, as 94 chicks were fledged, compared to six in 1986/87. A large number of banded seabirds were resighted. These Included Subantarctic and Antarctic Skuas, Wandering and Black-browed Albatrosses and a Cape Petrel. Many of these birds had been banded on other islands, away from Heard Island. Nearly all colonies of Southern Giant Petrels were visited and the counts of these colonies showed a near 50% decline compared to 1963. However, 19 breeding birds, banded as chicks in 1963, were resighted. These 25 year old birds give evidence of the long life capabilities of this species. The breeding success of a colony of Black-browed Albatrosses was also recorded. The vegetation of the Island was mapped in detail, and growth studies carried out at a number of dispersed sites. The recognition of another possible species of grass in some newly exposed morainal areas suggests that the retreat of glaciers on the Island is creating new areas suitable for colonisation. Comparison of the vegetation of Heard Island with that of climatically less rigorous Macquarie Island promises to throw up a number of ecologically interesting insights. Many minor projects were also completed (particularly in view of the extra month on the island due to the loss of the Nella Dan) and these included a tethered kelp experiment to discover the plants capabilities as platforms for long distance transport of marine invertebrates. A comparison of the Collembollan (insect) populations in different habitats and the collection of funnel extracted invertebrates in some quantity may extend the species list for the Island. Five more sealers' shanties were discovered around the Island and the artefacts in their vicinity were recorded. A detailed study of casks remaining from sealing days was undertaken, and showed that most originated from the period (1881) when the shipwrecked sailors of the Trinity were living on the island. A windlass was uncovered at low tide, after a storm on Spit Bay Beach, and was returned to Australia. The lengthy period on the Island and enthusiastic assistance from the passengers of relief ships enabled a significant volume of debris from the old station to be picked up for return to Australia for disposal. The tide gauge lost in 1985 was washed up on the beach and was recovered still in a watertight condition. Twelve oceanographic drift cards were found on the beaches and a complete collection of all ocean debris (other than wood) was made from the beaches. East European fishing floats were still dominant items, and indicate the fishing effort in the area up-current from Heard Island. The 1987/88 ANARE was a long expedition for 'a summer', as nearly six months were spent on the island. But this considerable period allowed a very thorough and unusually comprehensive assessment of the status of vertebrate populations and of the distribution of plants.

  • The SCAR Spatial Data Model has been developed for Geoscience Standing Scientific Group (GSSG). It was presented to XXVII SCAR, 15-26 July 2002, in Shanghai, China. The Spatial Data Model is one of nine projects of the Geographic Information Program 2000-2002. The goal of this project is 'To provide a SCAR standard spatial data model for use in SCAR and national GIS databases.' Activities within this project include: 1. Continue developing the SCAR Feature Catalogue and the SCAR Spatial Data Model 2. Provide SCAR Feature Catalogue online 3. Creation and incorporation of symbology 4. Investigate metadata / data quality requirements 5. Ensure compliance to ISO TC211 and OGC standards Source: Spatial data are increasingly being available in digital form, managed in a GIS and distributed on the web. More data are being exchanged between nations/institutions and used by a variety of disciplines. Exchange of data and its multiple use makes it necessary to provide a standard framework. The Feature Catalogue is one component of the Spatial Data Model, that will provide the platform for creating understandable and accessible data to users. Care has been taken to monitor the utility of relevant emerging ISO TC211 standards. The Feature Catalogue provides a detailed description of the nature and the structure of GIS and map information. It follows ISO/DIS 19110, Geographic Information - Methodology for feature cataloguing. The Feature Catalogue can be used in its entirety, or in part. The Feature Catalogue is a dynamic document, that will evolve with use over time. Considerable effort has gone into ensuring that the Feature Catalogue is a unified and efficient tool that can be used with any GIS software and at any scale of geographic information. The structure includes data quality information, terminology, database types and attribute options that will apply to any GIS. The Feature Catalogue is stored in a database to enable any component of the information to be easily viewed, printed, downloaded and updated via the Web.

  • Heard Island Expedition, 16 November 1986 to 21 January 1987, report written by Rod Ledingham, Officer in Charge. Taken from the report: The 1986-87 expedition was the second in a series of three consecutive expeditions planned to conduct new scientific work and to check on changes since the early wintering years from 1948-1954 and more recent sporadic visits by various government and private expeditions. We were dropped off at Heard Island on the 14th November 1986 by the Nella Dan. The main thrust of this expedition was originally to have been geological but this was later expanded to cover biology and archaeology. Transport was provided by three Hughes 500 helicopters, old faithfuls VH-BAD piloted by John Robertson and VH-BAG piloted by Doug Crossan, and a new arrive from NZ, VH-HED flown by Phillip Turner, to provide speedy access to all areas of rock, either coastal or at high altitude on the mountain. Of particular interest to the geologists were the lavas of the January 1985 Big Ben eruption spotted by observers including Dick Williams, on the French vessel Marion Dufresne. Despite some initial doubts about the possibility of flying, or even holding, aircraft at Heard for any length of time, and numerous relatively minor problems with weather and wind blown volcanic sand, the operation went very well and a great deal of new ground was covered, including several flights to the summit of Big Ben and the discovery of a new active crater and the expedition lava flows on the south-western slopes at Cape Arkona. Two geologists accompanied the expedition, Jane Barling and Graeme Wheller. Geological mapping of the whole island was carried out by Jane where access was not too difficult or dangerous. Jane had previously worked on the samples brought back from Long Ridge and the summit by the Heard Island Expedition (private) on Anaconda II in 1983. The original map produced by Ainsworth in 1947 will be greatly improved when the material has been studied in more detail. The second geologist Graeme studied the relationships of the more recent lavas and attempted to get samples from the summit vent. The failure to do so was somewhat ameliorated by the finding of the new lava which it appears had emanated from the summit vent pipe and samples of summit rock were therefore available from 700m above Cape Arkona. Further information about the botanical and biological work is available in the report.

  • This record relates to the Australian component of the Latitudinal Gradient Project. The LGP is largely a New Zealand, US and Italian venture, but a small contribution has been made by Australian scientists. The Australian component of this work was completed as part of ASAC projects 2361 and 2682 (ASAC_2361, and ASAC_2682). Data from this project were entered into the herbarium access database, which has been linked to this record. The list below contains details of where and when samples were collected, and also the type of sample and the method of sampling. Cape Hallett and vicinity (2000, 2004): Biodiversity assessment of terrestrial plants (mosses, lichens); Invertebrate collections (mites, Collembola); plant ecology and community analysis; photosynthetic physiology of mosses and lichens; molecular genetics of mosses and lichens. Random sampling for biodiversity studies; point quadrats, releves for vegetation analysis, field laboratory experiments for physiological studies. Dry Valleys: Taylor Valley (1989, 1996), Garwood Valley (2001), Granite Harbour (1989; 1994, 1996) - plant ecology; plant physiology; biodiversity; invertebrate collections; molecular genetics of mosses. Random sampling for biodiversity studies; point quadrats, releves for vegetation analysis, field laboratory experiments for physiological studies. Beaufort Island (1996) - plant biodiversity; molecular genetics of mosses. Random sampling for biodiversity studies; point quadrats, releves for vegetation analysis, laboratory studies for molecular genetics. Darwin Glacier (1994): plant biodiversity; molecular genetics of invertebrates and mosses (random sampling for biodiversity; laboratory studies of invertebrate and moss molecular genetics). Project objectives: 1. Investigate the distribution of bryophytes and lichens in continental Antarctica 1a). to test the null hypothesis that species diversity does not change significantly with latitude; 1b). to explore the relationships between species and key environmental attributes including latitude, distance from the coast, temperature, substrate, snow cover, age of ice-free substrate. 2. To continue to participate in the Ross Sea Sector Latitudinal Gradient Project and develop an Australian corollary in the Prince Charles Mountains, involving international collaborators, incorporating the first two objectives of this project. 3. To develop an international collaborative biodiversity and ecophysiological program in the Prince Charles Mountains that will provide a parallel N-S latitude gradient study to mirror the LGP program in the Ross Sea region as part of the present RISCC cooperative program (to be superseded by the EBA (Evolution and Biodiversity of Antarctica) program) to address the above objectives. Taken from the 2008-2009 Progress Report: Progress against objectives: Continuing identification of moss and lichen samples previously collected from Cape Hallett, Granite Harbour and Darwin Glacier region. Lecidea s.l. lichens currently being studied in Austria by PhD student. Field work in Dry Valleys significantly curtailed by adverse weather. Field work planned for Darwin Glacier region and McMurdo Dry Valleys, particularly Taylor Valley and Granite Harbour region was severely curtailed due to adverse weather, helicopter diversions due to a Medical Evacuation, and other logistic constraints. 10 days of field time were lost. Limitations on field travel in Darwin Glacier region restricted the field work to a biologically depauperate region. The Prince Charles Mountains N-S transect, the only continental transect possibility for comparison with the Ross Sea area, unfortunately appears to have been abandoned through lack of logistic support. Taken from the 2009-2010 Progress Report: Identification of samples collected from AAT and Ross Sea Region continued during the year, interrupted significantly by the packing of the collection and transfer of specimens to the Tasmanian Herbarium. Work is now proceeding at the Herbarium with sorting, databasing and incorporation of packets into the Herbarium collection. The merging of the collection provides long-term security of curation and significantly boosts the cryptogam collections (35000 numbers) of the Tasmanian Herbarium.

  • The snapshot (originally produced on CD for a conference) was produced by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre for distribution to Heard Island expeditioners in the 2003/2004 season. The snapshot contained all publicly available data held by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre related to Heard Island at the time of production. The snapshot also contained all metadata held by the AADC at the time of production. Furthermore, information is also included from: AADC's gazetteer biodiversity database satellite image archive gis shapefiles heard island wilderness reserve management plan Finally, freely available software needed to browse some of the data are also included.