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Upcoming Events

  • SSAG Conference October 1, 2018 – October 5, 2018 UCT For any queries, please contact ssag2018@ufs.ac.za.
  • SSAG Student Conference October 5, 2018 – October 7, 2018 UCT For any queries, please contact ssag2018@ufs.ac.za.
  • Antarctica Day December 1, 2018
  • AGU Fall Meeting December 10, 2018 – December 14, 2018 Washington, DC, United Statesn
  • AGU Fall Meeting December 9, 2019 – December 13, 2019 San Francisco, CA, United Statesn

2017/2018 Field Season: Part II

Ian has been at Troll Station since 9 January waiting for his flight back to Cape Town. The flight to Cape Town is scheduled to depart tomorrow – with only 5½ hours separating Antarctica and Africa, spelling the end of another successful field season.  It is always sad to leave Antarctica. The work we do here is important. As part of international networks, such as GTN-P and ANTPAS, our work contributes to our understanding of permafrost, the active layer (specifically in the Southern Hemisphere), as well as climate studies. But our field work does take us from our families, especially over Christmas and the rest of the festive season, so knowing you will soon be home with your loved ones is absolutely priceless! We thank the DEA, the NRF, NPISANAP and countless supporting personnel, both South African, Norwegian and others, for their continued support. We cannot thank you enough! We will be back soon to the beauty, majesty and scientific realm of investigation that is Antarctica.


2017/18 Field Season

December – Departure Preparations

Operation Load Ship. Ian was in Cape Town in early December 2017 to load our equipment on the South African polar research vessel S.A. Agulhas II. Our red lady, as the Agulhas is affectionately known by those who have sailed on her before, was scheduled to depart on Thursday 7 December. Ian was not to be on her – instead he would be flying down to the Norwegian station of Troll and then on to SANAE IV on the 18th of December. As usual, Cape Town showed her beauty when loading operations were in full swing. The Volvo Round the World Yachts were also there, having completed the first leg of their trip.

19 December – Departing South Africa

A day later than expected, Ian departed for Antarctica on 19 December. It was a lovely 5½ hour flight from Cape Town on the Australian Antarctic Division Airbus A319, which had been charted by the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI).  IT was a wonderful quick and pleasant flight – very different to the usual 2 weeks spent at sea to reach Antarctica. Once safely arrived at Troll, Ian had to wait for the S.A. Agulhas II to arrive at the ice shelf and for good weather to be flown to SANAE IV. In the meantime he, with the help of Gwynneth Matcher and her field assistant Nigel Kuhn from the NRF/SANAP sponsored project Antarctic Microbial Ecology, recovered our two temperature and moisture loggers located on Nonshogda, just north of the main buildings of the station. One has been in for 11 years and it was incredibly sad to have to remove it. Removal was slightly problematic – while the ground looked easy to work with this is not necessarily the case. From about 30 cm the permafrost is like concrete, so not a very easy job to complete.

20 December – Arrival at Troll

the 20th of December welcomed Ian with a sunny and stunning day at Troll. With logger removal completed, Ian simply have to wait for the weather at both Troll Station and SANAE IV to be favourable to allow for a helicopter to fetch him, Gwynneth Matcher, and her field assistant Nigel Kuhn to the South African research station. Our thanks and gratitude go out to the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) for once again hosting us and giving all possible assistance in the execution of our work.


20 December –  4 January: Field Work at SANAE IV

Once safely arrived at SANAE IV Ian removed all other loggers we currently have deployed in the area. His flight to Troll Station, and from there onward to South Africa, was scheduled for early January so the work commenced immediately upon arrival. With the return flight from Troll Station 4 January, he was unable to pull the loggers at Grunehogna and Schumacher. Thankfully the current overwintering team offered to remove the loggers in the coming year. For that we are grateful and thank them for their assistance. unfortunately the weather moved in shortly before the scheduled flight to Troll Station and Ian missed his flight back to South Africa. What does that mean? He will remain at SANAE IV and help out the other teams with their work until he takes the next flight back home to South Africa. That is currently scheduled for 15 January. We will keep you updated so watch this space!


Happy Antarctica Day!!!

We here at Landscape Processes in Antarctic Ecosystems wish everyone a wonderful Antarctica Day!  Today in 1959 the Antarctic Treaty System was signed, bringing together the global community in preserving Antarctica for peace, science and environmental endeavors. We wish everyone departing for Antarctica this year a successful field season!


PYRN Workshop at EUCOP5

The Permafrost Young Researcher Network (PYRN) will be organising a 2-day workshop, open to all PYRN members, in conjunction with EUCOP5 (European Conference on Permafrost). The workshop will take place on June 23-24, 2018 at Chamonix (France) and all permafrost young researchers (current students or early career, within 6 years after their PhD) are invited to attend. If you are not yet a member of PYRN please join them through their online form. The workshop is kindly supported by UFA, IPA, IASC, Petzl, Nunataryuk project, Lions club and free of charge for the participants! There are also travel grants of up to EUR250 on offer to a limited number of participants. You can apply for a travel grant here – please apply by 15 January 2018. For any queries please contact PYRN at contact@pyrn.org.

The workshop program is as follows:

  • Friday, June 22nd 2018: Welcoming ice-breaker
  • Saturday June, 23rd 2018: Introduction to PYRN activities by the PYRN ExCom, plenary lectures and breakout sessions lead by outstanding senior and junior scientists covering major permafrost topics, career planning, research perspectives, and soft-skills development.
  • Sunday June, 24th 2018: Local excursion lead by outstanding local researchers and land-planners to learn about environmental settings and land-planning issues in the Mont Blanc massif.

ANTPAS Workshop Photo

Ian, Christel, Jenna, Liezel, Nicola, and Tebogo recently attended the ANTPAS Workshop in Varese, Italy from 4-5 October. The photo of all the attendees appears below. For more on ANTPAS and the workshop have a look at their website.


Permafrost Survey


The International Permafrost Association (IPA) and the Climate and Cryosphere project (CliC) initiated a process back in 2014 to seek input on the definition of research priorities in the field of permafrost science. As many as 359 researchers from 37 countries submitted research questions and it is now time to collect your opinion on the relevance of the questions that were submitted. So the IPA and CliC are calling all permafrost researchers out there to complete the permafrost survey by 20 December! The link to the survey can be found at http://www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90050886/prp.

For any questions please contact Ylva Sjöberg, CliC fellow (ylva.sjoberg@natgeo.su.se) or Hugues Lantuit, chair of the PRP Core Group (Hugues.Lantuit@awi.de).

Antarctica Day – 1 December

Antarctica Day is fast approaching and every year on 1 December the world celebrates all things Antarctica. This year also marks 48 years since the Antarctic Treaty was opened for signature, establishing Antarctica as a place of peace and international scientific exploration. Are you planning anything exciting on 1 December? You can share your plan for Antarctic Day 2017 celebrations through the form on the Antarctica Day website. APECS would love to hear from you!

APECS is also organizing a photo competition. The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Antarctica Alive’. You can submit your photos in two categories: Antarctica Team Work and Antarctic Fauna. Submission close on 25 November at 18 GMT. From 25-30 November you can then vote for your favorite photo through the APECS website. Submit your photos today by emailing info@apecs.is. More on the competition is available at https://www.apecs.is/outreach/antarctica-day/antarctica-day-2017/photo-competition.html.

APECS 2018 World Summit

Registrations for the APECS World Summit 2018 are now open. The summit will take place just before POLAR2018 in Davos, Switzerland from 17-18 June 2018.  You can register for the summit on the summit website. Also have a look at the preliminary program here.

Registration deadlines will be:

  • 16 February 2018 for APECS Leadership and APECS National Committee leadership reps who want to attend both days of the summit.
  • 31 March 2018 for APECS members and other interested early career researchers wanting to attend the second day of the summit.

For any comments or questions about the summit, please contact world-summit-2018@apecs.is.

Polar2018 Abstract Submission extended

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POLAR2018: Where the poles come together

Abstract submission to Polar2018 has been extended to 12 November. The conference features 65 session that fall within 12 categories. Submit your abstract here.


Are you thinking of attending Polar2018? Then join the Facebook group created by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), which provides useful information on accommodation and travel to and from Davos. Also don’t forget to submit your abstracts by 1 November!