Southern storms prompt ‘rethink’ of sub-Antarctic station renovations 26 September 2022

Australian Antarctic Division

Upgrade and repair works will continue to modernise Macquarie Island station, while some recent weather events have focused the need for future-proofing the station for the next 30 years.

A major storm in June caused erosion damage to a low-lying road that connects the 74-year-old research station with the beach used for landing supplies. A storm surge last year also affected the station, and there remains the ever-present potential for seismic activity.

AAD Director Kim Ellis said protective measures were needed for the long-term sustainability of the station.

“Our station needs to be resilient to weather events and climate change for at least the next 30 years,” he said.

“We are absolutely committed to keeping Macquarie Island station open well into the future and are continuing with priority repairs and upgrades.

“A recent project review has provided an opportunity for us to revisit our budget requirements as part of a strategic assessment to ensure the best outcomes for the future of the station.

“The strategic assessment is underway to address how we will ensure a modern, resilient and fit-for-purpose station that will serve us for the next 30 years,” he said.

Construction activity on the island will continue focusing on critical safety and environmental issues.

The strategic assessment of future requirements will be finalised later this year, with budget requirements and project plans developed from there.

350 tonnes of construction materials were delivered to the island in March 2022. The next station resupply is planned for March 2023, where additional materials will be sent to the island, and the construction teams swapped over.

34km long and 5km wide, Macquarie Island is a World Heritage-listed island in the Southern Ocean halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, managed by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.

1500km south-east of Tasmania, the sub-Antarctic island is an important global site for scientific research including monitoring Southern Hemisphere weather and climate.

First established in 1948, the AAD research station supports science by a number of agencies including the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Tasmanian Government.

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