NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa leaves port on Thursday, February 8, and will take about seven days to reach the Ross Sea shelf break east of Cape Adare, about 3400 km south of Wellington, for the first large-scale experiment of the voyage. This is Tangaroa’s 12th Antarctic voyage.
The research aims of the voyage are to better understand:
- Climate change effects on oceanographic processes
- Marine microbial community structure and function
- Influence of marine aerosols on cloud formation and properties of Antarctic clouds
- Seabed habitats and fauna inside and outside of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area (MPA)
- The role of whales in the Antarctic ecosystem
- Abundance and distribution of mesopelagic fish found between 200 and 100m deep, krill, and zooplankton
One of the key outcomes of the research will be to generate baseline data required to determine whether the objectives of the MPA are being achieved. The MPA covers more than 1.55 million square kilometres and came into existence in December.
The ship will carry 23 scientists and 17 crew. Together their work ranges from taking atmospheric and oceanographic observations and samples, to whale spotting, maintaining the vessel, and cooking meals around the clock to service the 24-hour operation of the ship.