The Spirit of Mawson
THE AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 2013-2014
2013-2014 marks the centenary of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by the great scientist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. In a celebration of this remarkable endeavour, the new Australasian Antarctic Expedition (or AAE for short) will follow the route of its namesake, melding science and adventure, to discover and communicate the changes that have taken place in this remote environment over the last hundred years.
Led by Professor Chris Turney and Dr Chris Fogwill, from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, the 2013-2014 expedition will attempt to revisit the site of the original AAE huts at Cape Denison, Antarctica, the enigmatically named ‘Home of the Blizzard’. However, recent attempts to access the area have been thwarted by the presence of a large iceberg, which in 2010 lodged itself across the bay. Over the last three years an extensive area of sea ice has built up within the bay, effectively barring ships from entering the harbour at Cape Denison but potentially making it possible to access the site over its surface with all-terrain vehicles (popularly known as ATVs). We have chosen to attempt the crossing using ARGOs, unique eight-wheeled amphibious vehicles. We aim to access this scientifically and historically significant site, but to make this possible we need your help!
What We Need & What You Get
To support our attempt to cross the sea ice and access Cape Denison we have secured two ARGOs in collaboration with ARGO ATV (Aus). However, to maximize the chances of our success in this remote region we need to secure at least one more ARGO. We have selected the ARGO 8x8 Frontier, an amphibious all terrain utility vehicle designed for reliability in the toughest conditions. The main chassis has been engineered using field-proven technology, allowing for increased payloads and greater durability under the harshest of conditions. This will allow us to tow large loads across the ice to support biological and environmental science projects below, on and above the ice.
Including snow tracks, winch system and operator covers, one of these ATVs costs a total of $37,919, critical to the success of this part of the expedition. If we exceed this target we may be able to get two Argos, improving our chances of getting in and allowing us to do more science on the sea ice! If we fall under our target, we will look to purchase a smaller model.
The concept of crowd funding with Indiegogo harks back to Mawson‘s original Antarctic expedition one hundred years ago, where many expedition items — including huskies, tents and sleeping bags — were funded by schools and public donations from across the world! To attract potential supporters we are able to offer a number of unique gifts and perks, ranging from limited edition t-shirts, exclusive photographic prints and the opportunity to join us virtually on the ice; you can even have an Argo named after you, your club, society or business!
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 is all about adventure, exploration, scientific discovery, and importantly communication. The AAE aims to engage with a broad audience live from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean throughout the expedition. Through a variety of media, including Google+ Hangouts on Air, Twitter and YouTube, we will broadcast live from Antarctica using the latest satellite technology to support live streaming from the ice.
The Antarctic remains one of the last great unexplored regions on our planet. In spite of over a century of discovery – including aerial and satellite surveys – remarkably little of this great continent has been explored on the ground. Crucially this pristine southern polar region is uniquely placed to monitor the health of our planet. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) will focus its efforts on the Antarctic Commonwealth Bay and subantarctic islands to provide the first complete snapshot of this region for a century.
The AAE has identified a team of scientists who are world experts in the natural and physical sciences while also being passionate about science communication. The research programmes to be undertaken include:
1. Oceanography: The Southern Ocean plays a crucial role in global climate and the carbon cycle. 90% of the world’s excess heat trapped by the atmosphere is going into the ocean and changing circulation patterns, threatening to turn the region into a source of carbon, exaggerating future warming. The AAE will make detailed measurements on the passage south (e.g. temperature, salinity, carbon) to determine just how sensitive the Southern Ocean is to change.
2. Climate: The ‘screaming sixties’, the ‘furious fifties’ and the ‘roaring forties’ filled sailors of old with dread. And yet these fearsome westerly winds are migrating inexorably southwards taking warmer water with them, threatening the stability of Antarctic ice. The AAE will collect peat, ice and rock samples to place satellite data in the context of the past millennia.
3. Biology: Recent expeditions to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica continue to report the discovery of thousands of new species, while living and ‘fossil’ animal and plant remains provide a sensitive measure of the changing environment. The AAE will observe, document and monitor the wildlife above and below the Antarctic ice, giving new insights into this unexplored region.
By supporting our campaign and making it possible for our team to reach Cape Denison, you will be helping us to achieve our scientific goals and extend our work onto continental Antarctica. The Argos will make it possible for us to support science on the ice in this remote and hostile environment, thus providing a unique perspective for understanding and communicating the changes going on in this remote part of our planet over the past century.
Other Ways You Can Help
Whilst not everyone can contribute directly to this campaign, we would love you to join us on the AAE. For more information of how to join the expedition either virtually or in person please go to www.spiritofmawson.com. Please spread the word with your friends, either through our web page, or with the Indiegogo share tools!!!