Focus on Antarctica

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on January 30, 2020

TWO Albany scientists who each spent time in Antarctica studying viruses, bacteria and krill will discuss their experiences and stories at a panel talk next week.

Talking Antarctica will commence at 5.30pm on February 7 at the Museum of the Great Southern and feature Dr Harriet Paterson and Dr Jacqui Foster.

Dr Foster visited the frozen continent for five weeks in the 2004/2005 season and again for 11 weeks in the summer of 2005/2006.

Her interest in studying Antarctica piqued from her grandfather’s involvement in an Antarctic voyage when he was a parliamentarian in the 1970s.

“The first voyage was when I was a volunteer for CSIRO Marine, taking water samples for studying the chemical composition of deep ocean waters,” Dr Foster said.

“For the second voyage, I went as a krill biologist for the Australian Antarctic Division to undertake sampling of krill swarms, to provide biomass estimates to the international commission that regulates krill fishing in Antarctic waters, as well as conduct various studies into krill biology.”

She said the time away from her family was difficult but that it was fantastic to work with world-class scientists.

“It’s great to be able to raise awareness of the realities of what it takes to operate in Antarctic conditions to collect invaluable scientific data to support policy makers,” Dr Foster said of Talking Antarctica.

Dr Paterson completed the first full annual cycle study of sea ice in Antarctica in 2008.

She was there to study viruses and bacteria and as a result, published two papers on her research.

Instead of working from a ship like Dr Foster, Dr Paterson was based on land at Davis Station.

Isolation was one of the challenges she faced, and she has a great story to tell about that.

Dr Paterson was with one other person when she went out into the field to collect samples.

There was an issue with the equipment, so her associate headed back to the station to fix the problem.

She was all alone.

You can hear the rest if you go to the talk.

The cost of the panel talk is $10 per person or $20 if you wish to view the virtual reality documentary Antarctica Experience prior to the discussions.

RSVP to 9841 4844 or by emailing greatsouthern@museum.wa.gov. au