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A team from Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand recently visited Antarctica as part of efforts to better understand climate change and protect important heritage sites.

Image of the team setting up a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver on sea ice to calibrate the Cape Roberts tide gauge.

Setting up a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver on sea ice to calibrate the Cape Roberts tide gauge.

Dave Collett, Karl Wilton and Lyndon Telfer from Toitū Te Whenua recently travelled to Antarctica as part of our ongoing work on the continent.   

At Scott Base and Cape Roberts, the team undertook work to repair and calibrate tide gauges managed by Toitū Te Whenua.  

These tide gauges – which can provide linked datasets dating back to the 1950s – provide vital and authoritative data on Antarctica’s sea levels, helping scientists understand the extent of climate change.

The team also conducted surveys for new ground infrastructure as part of New Zealand and Australia’s SouthPAN project.  

SouthPAN will improve the accuracy and reliability of global navigation satellite systems such as GPS in New Zealand and Australia, resulting in such benefits as safer air travel and rescue services, precision agriculture and environmental monitoring. New infrastructure and equipment will provide critical information about satellite signals before they rise above the horizon in New Zealand and Australia.  

Image of a member of the team doing survey work at Cape Evans.

Survey work at Cape Evans.

As part of a collaboration with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the team also carried out monitoring surveys of heritage sites including Sir Edmund Hillary’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition hut, Captain Scott's Discovery and Terra Nova huts, and Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition hut.  

Surveying these landmarks helps ensure they remain intact, preserving the memory of early polar explorers and allowing future generations genuine insight into their expeditions.     

Toitū Te Whenua’s Antarctic work also provides support for Antarctica New Zealand’s operations. This includes monitoring the stability of wind turbines that provide power to Scott Base and McMurdo Station, and undertaking survey work which will contributes to the Scott Base Redevelopment Project.  

Image of a seal inspecting the repaired Scott Base tide gauge.

A curious visitor inspects our repaired Scott Base tide gauge. Image courtesy of Anthony Powell

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