5 Jan 2011

Researchers head for new glacier

3:31 pm on 5 January 2011

Nearly 40 Australian and international scientists are on their way from Hobart to deploy underwater cameras, moorings and sensors at the Mertz glacier in eastern Antarctica.

The expedition comes 100 years after explorer and geologist Sir Douglas Mawson (1888-1958) led the first Australasian expedition to Antarctica on the Auroa. He barely survived.

The ABC reports the team will be testing the Southern Ocean for changes in salinity, temperature and carbon as their ship, the Aurora Australia, heads towards the Mertz Glacier ice tongue, which "calved" in February, forming an iceberg that was about 80km by 40km wide.

The Australian Antarctic division says the break-up provides exciting research opportunities.

The ABC reports the area around the Mertz glacier is important for the ocean currents that influence the Earth's climate system.

The Aurora Australia is due back at Hobart in February.