Mawson’s expedition was a complete scientific exploration of what many suspected to be an entirely new continent, lying in the ‘Australian quadrant’. While exploring on the ice, the expedition vessel, the Aurora, would traverse the Southern Ocean collecting ocean and biological samples alongside depth soundings. Mawson was in no doubt about the importance of his mission: ‘The early glimpses of the Antarctic continent, and its history, illustrate how little is yet revealed of the wealth of scientific data locked up within its icy ramparts, and calls for the united efforts of scientific bodies throughout the world to banish this ignorance, which stands as a reproach in this enlightened twentieth century.’
The continent might be better placed on the world’s maps today but many of the same issues remain. Just as Mawson recognised 100 years ago, the Antarctic region south of Australia is of global significance and a number of vital scientific questions remain unanswered. How quickly is the Southern Ocean warming? What is the impact of these changes on wildlife? What are the feedbacks between Antarctic ice, the oceans and the climate system? These and many other questions can only be answered by heading polewards.
Our vessel – the MV Shokalskiy – will be leaving Bluff, near Invercargill, southern New Zealand, on the 27 November for the first leg. Less than three months to go! If you’d like to see just where we’re going and get a taste for the sort of science we’re doing, we’ve produced a short movie showing the route and timeline for the expedition. It’s brilliant what you can do with Google Earth.
If you would like to learn more and perhaps join the expedition team (no experience necessary), check out our website www.spiritofmawson.com.