Environment

The nzTABS project focuses on the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, possibly one of the driest places on earth. This vast landscape appears devoid of life, windswept and barren. Katabatic winds that sweep down from the polar cap carve the rocks into fantastic shapes. The dry air pulls the moisture from anything that dares to visit this area. Despite this, moist patches during the brief summer thaw, and sheltered places beneath rock, harbour a breathtaking array of microbial life.

Antarctica Ross Dependency Scott Base Historic Huts of Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent, and is completely surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is the fifth largest continent in the world, with an area of 14 million km².

Ross Dependency

The Ross Dependency is New Zealand’s wedge shaped territorial claim of an area of Antarctica including the Ross Sea, Ross Ice Shelf, Ross Island, and the Transantarctic Mountains, extending to the South Pole.

Scott Base

Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic base, is located at Pram Point on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound. It was originally built in 1957, and rebuilt to be a suitable permanent base from 1976 to 1977. Today, it is a modern facility well suited to science support.

Historic Huts of Antarctica

Huts were built for expeditions from 1899 and some still stand making Antarctica the only continent where original human habitation structures remain. Of the 22 original sites, only seven huts remain intact today. Others remain as ruins or have disappeared completely.

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Environmental Protection Dry Valleys Dry Valleys Biology Dry Valleys Geology

Environmental Protection

Antarctica New Zealand is committed to the protection of the Antarctic environment, and as a signing member of the Antarctic Treaty has a duty to ensure that all activities under its programme are carried out in an environmentally responsible manner.

Dry Valleys

The Antarctic Dry Valleys are located to the west of McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea Region. Covering approximately 5000 km², the Dry Valleys make up the largest ice-free area in Antarctica.

Dry Valleys Biology

Life is incredibly resilient. We may be tempted to think that an environment as desolate and hostile as the Dry Valleys, being completely incompatible with human existence (without Antarctic gear, anyway), must also be devoid of all life.

Dry Valleys Geology

Although the geology of Antarctica goes back over three thousand million years, the oldest rocks found in the Dry Valleys are (only!) about 650 million years old.

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nzTABS Partners


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