Scott Base opened in 1957. 60 years on, it is reaching the end of its functional life.
The Scott Base Redevelopment (SBR) is the largest project ever undertaken by New Zealand in Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty System requires a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) before redevelopment begins. The CEE is underway, supported by a monitoring programme to verify the accuracy of the CEE’s impact assessment and detect unforeseen impacts.
In the austral summers of 2018/19 and 2019/20, a multidisciplinary and highly collaborative team from Antarctica New Zealand, Waikato University, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Te Pūnaha Matatini, Auckland University of Technology, and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, established an environmental baseline against which future natural and SBR-related changes will be measured.
I have been involved in the soil, heavy metal, dust and melt-water aspects of this project. In 2018/19, myself, Clare Beet from Waikato University, and Pauline Sitter from Antarctica New Zealand established 25 monitoring plots around Scott Base. These monitoring plots were selected by stratified sampling. Biodiversity surveys, chemical, pXRF, and microbial DNA analysis of soils were completed. Three seals cameras and 12 dust collectors were installed. A multispectral imagery drone survey captured vegetation and surface disturbance.
In 2019/20 we revisited the plots for vegetation assessments and sampling of invertebrates, dust samples were collected, as were soil samples for microplastics analysis, and melt-water samples. Five monitoring plots were established as control sites at nearby Cape Evans. This coming 2022/23 season the monitoring plots will be revisited and reassessed.
The draft CEE and fieldwork findings will be presented to the Committee for Environmental Protection. SBR and the CEE are opportunities for NZ to demonstrate environmental best practice in the Antarctic Treaty community. For more information visit the official Antarctica New Zealand Scott Base Redevelopment page.
Below is a copy of a poster our team presented at the 2019 Antarctica New Zealand Conference in Christchurch (Note: Scott Base image depicted is not the final design).