On 22 April, amidst the isolation of the lockdown, the U.S. Embassy Youth Councils in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day via an online meeting. Thanks to the wonderful team at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate here in New Zealand, we were privileged to have the opportunity to listen to Dr. Kiya Riverman. She is an Antarctic scientist who has been analyzing the flow of glaciers to better understand the planet and to ensure we can make the right decisions in the near future to protect our communities around the world.
Dr. Riverman’s presentation highlighted two important points. The first, is the breadth of knowledge and the understanding of interrelated programs, in different fields, necessary to comprehend the full scope of the science in the Antarctic. The fact that Dr. Riverman, who studies the melt rate of glaciers in Antarctica, must also understand subtle atmospheric wind changes happening half a world away in the tropics shows just how interconnected our planet is.
The second point Dr. Riverman demonstrated is just how closely the United States Government works, not only with scientists from the various groups collaborating with the U.S. National Science Foundation, but also with the New Zealand Government program at Scott Base. It was amazing to see how broad and complex the logistical operations are to support these Antarctic expeditions. New Zealand can count itself very fortunate to be able to have our researchers directly benefit from the access to the large American support structure.
On a final note, given science is all about discovery, it would be wrong to leave out the cool new discovery hiding under (and within) the ice. Dr. Riverman showed us photos of the newly discovered anemones living on the underside of the glacial ice. These “glacial” anemone would enter the water to feed and then go back home in the ice shelf, a true innovator of living in extreme environments.
– Chris Ramsay