Posted on Sep 28, 2023

Michelle Rogan-Finnemore - a thought provoking overview of Antartica

Michelle Rogan-Finnemore gave us a very interesting and thought provoking overview of Antarctica last Thursday.
 Michelle works at the Canterbury University Antarctic Programme as the science administrator and is currently the Executive Secretary of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes. Originally from the USA Michelle became sick of travelling back and forwards and made the big decision to stay in Christchurch some 20 years ago.  She showed us some extraordinary photos of the Northern Lights and the modern research stations in Antarctica she had taken when in Antarctica in 2018.
She works with 33 of the 54 countries where many of them collaborate with scientific and research knowledge as all 54 countries involved in research have to sign the Antarctic Treaty which states that the continent of Antarctica should be used for peaceful, scientific purposes.
Antarctica covers an area over 5.5million square miles and 17,300 of that is ice free and you can add winter ice of extra 2 million miles. Less than 1% of the total area of the Antarctic continent has people.
There are 117 Antarctic research stations with 40 that stay year-round, which is called “wintering over” and the rest are seasonal so they come in summer only.
The population rises to 15,000 in summer and they are scientists, astronomers and support staff whereas the population drops to 1,000 in winter.
They have discovered that Antarctic is the best place in the world to do astronomy and cosmetology.
It is the place that has the “oldest Ice” and are drilling through the ice to discover scientific facts from millions of years ago. It  has the cleanest marine environment anywhere in the world, so we learn about marine life and marine chemistry.
About 125,000 tourists will visit Antarctica this summer as it is a popular destination to see sea and wildlife in their natural habitat. Michelle noted that the whale population has grown considerably but the Emperor penguins are facing extinction by the end of the century based on current global warming trends, and a dramatic loss of sea ice.