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Tara, Marine Geophysicist

Joining the Survey from Australia, Tara had already participated in two research cruises to Antarctica and sub-polar waters. She has completed a PhD in Geophysics at the University of Sydney and Research Fellowship at Macquarie University and now wants to undertake more fieldwork in polar regions.

The science

“I use scientific techniques to remotely sense the character of the sea floor on the Antarctic continental shelf. This allows me to develop estimates of when the polar ice caps retreated at the end of the last global ice age, which gives us a greater understanding of present climate change.

Being able to use random pieces of data to produce images that describe the continental shelf is fascinating. It’s always exciting to watch the data unfold and reveal their mysteries one by one. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in polar science. Most of my work has been ship-based, acquiring data on the continental shelf. This means that I’m not always able to see the continent, but can often see pack ice and if we’re really lucky, wildlife.

Antarctica is hard to describe, it’s like nowhere else. It’s really dry, the only colours are blue and white, and there are few smells. But it’s also a peaceful place — somewhere the soul doesn’t feel the pressures of modern life. That makes it like a big, cold, white desert.”

Onboard

“You miss your loved ones, of course. The weather can be extreme and you work long, hard days sometimes, but at no time have I ever thought that I didn’t want to be there. Working on the deck to acquire the data is really rewarding, especially when you start to see the results.”

Pioneers

“Marine geophysics is an exciting area to work in, because the remote sensing we use is a way to develop knowledge about places that no-one will ever actually see (such as the sea floor). In that way we’re pioneers like the original explorers. This is even more true in Antarctica — sometimes we’ve been to places where no one, or very few people, have ever been before. And once you’ve acquired the data, working it up is rewarding as you can look at a map you’ve created and think ‘I made that, and now it’s going to help someone else’.”