Explorer and Independent Biologist

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Maalie in Antarctica

During the early 1970s I was privileged to serve as the Leader of a remote Antarctic field station in the Ross Dependency, administered by the then New Zealand Antarctic Research Programme (now known as  Antarctica New Zealand. The Ross Dependency lies due south of New Zealand and transport there was by flying  from Christchurch, New Zealand directly to McMurdo Sound.

 The Ross Dependency, Antarctica. 
Arrival was at McMurdo Sound and then to Scott Base (far right). 
Vanda Station is a helicopter ride to the Wright Valley (left).

My station, Vanda Station, was a small field station housing 3 - 8 scientists, normally for a summer season, located at the east end of Lake Vanda in the Wright Valley (see map above). The Wright Valley is within a system of essentially snow-free valleys in Victoria Land known as the Dry Valleys.
(There are many excellent pictures of the Dry Valleys here).

 Lake Vanda in the Wright Valley, Victoria land, Ross dependency, Antarctica
Vanda Station is at the end of the frozen lake, bottom right.
(For internet picture source click here)

The remaining images are scans of my own prints, taken in Antarctica nearly 40 years ago. 

The ice-free Dry Valleys of Victoria Land resemble more of a moonscape 
than a conventional image of Antarctica. 
The tiny Vanda Station is arrowed

Vanda Station is a collection of wooden huts - 
formerly JCB packing cases!

Vanda Station team 1972-73 Summer Season
Mike Miles (Technician); Jim Fowler (Leader); Ian Brown (Meteorologist)

Meteorology was one of the prime research investigations at Vanda Station.
Maalie records observations at the station's Stevenson Screen

Hydrology and glaciology  are also important. 
The summer sun causes glacial melt-water to form the Onyx River 
that flows along the valley floor into Lake Vanda. 
Measuring glacial melt and the river flow provides 
vital evidence about climate change.
Note that the hanging glaciers on the sides of the valleys 
in the background almost reach the valley floor .

Maalie examines a seal that has lost its way from the coast 
and has become dessicated and mummified

A present-day picture of the Wright Valley 

Notice how the hanging glaciers (projecting in from top and bottom) 
scarcely reach into the valley itself.

Compare with the picture of the river (above) that was taken 40 years ago.
Tangible evidence of climate warming?


  1. Wow! You had a good head of hair on you, like me at that time. Interesting pics. I wonder how much warming has affected Antartica and the wildlife there since that time.

  2. Thanks Ted. The retreat and decline of the glaciers is dramatic for all to see. I believe there is potential threat to some penguin colonies that nest on the ice shelves.

  3. Nice one Maalie. The rumours are true. You were young once - so very long ago. Good post.

  4. What a very handsome maalie you were! Very interesting, I haven't seen these before.

  5. Very, very interesting!
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. No doubt in my mind mate about it being evidence of global warming..;but as one scientist of note taught me- its been warming since the first ice began to melt, its the rate of change that concerns us and whether its mans influence that has caused the accelleration. ( did i get that right???)

  7. Badger, Lorenzo and May, thank you :-)

    Simon, yes, the increase in average annual global temperatures is scientific fact. The evidence that Man is responsible for it through carbon emissions is becoming overwhelming.

  8. Thanks for prompting me to come by and see what you're up to these days, Maalie. I see you've had an upgrade! Lovely also to see pics of the younger and hairier you. :)

    (Posting as myself these day but still always Magdalene as my alter ego.)

  9. Wonderful post. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
    I happen to disagree with the "global warming" advocates. Politics plays a role in all this methinks. Al Gore raises a big red flag for me.


  10. Thank you Donsands. The best policy is to ignore the politicians and newspapers and let the evidence speak for itself.

  11. I agree. I shall seek the facts and truth.

  12. This seems like evidence and is compelling really.

  13. LOL! Donsands, that is a propaganda site, hardly evidence :-)
    I suggest you try some of the peer-reviewed climatological journals :-)