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Scott Base Redevelopment CEE environmental monitoring report: Year two (December 2019 - January 2020)

An understanding of the soils and the underlying permafrost surrounding Scott Base is important to detect impacts of environmental change or human activities, such as the redevelopment of Scott Base, on the unique soil communities and on geomorphological processes. The Scott Base Redevelopment (SBR) is the largest project ever undertaken by New Zealand in Antarctica. It is a requirement of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty and New Zealand's Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act (1994) that an environmental impact assessment be completed prior to any activity taking place in Antarctica. A Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) of the project is being completed in order to support decision-making with an assessment of predicted environmental impacts linked with the redevelopment. A comprehensive monitoring programme was set up to verify the accuracy of the environmental impact assessment presented in the CEE and to detect unforeseen impacts or impacts that are more significant than expected. In year one (January 2019) 25 monitoring sites were established around Scott Base to assess current levels of biodiversity and abundance of invertebrates and microbial communities, along with soil chemical characteristics, and visual characteristics within the wider redevelopment area. These monitoring plots established a baseline against which future changes can be detected. My role in year one of the project was to determine the chemical characteristics of soil from the monitoring plots, undertake visual site assessments around each monitoring plot, measure depth to ice-cement, and install 12 passive dust samplers adjacent to the monitoring plots. In year two (December 2019 to January 2020) five control sites were established at Cape Evans, including installation of three passive dust samplers adjacent to the soil monitoring plots. Soil samples were taken and all the same parameters measured and defined in year one were replicated at the control sites. This report is to be read in conjunction with the year one report (which gives background information on the general characteristics of Scott Base soils, including information on active layer, permafrost, soil moisture, soil organisms, and evidence of natural and human induced changes to the soil-permafrost environment; as well as sampling site selection criteria, and detailed methods). This report focusses on the results and discussion on my aspect of this multidisciplinary project, including, work undertaken at the newly established Cape Evans control sites: depth to ice-cement, visual site assessments, pXRF, and soil analysis; and new work at the Scott Base monitoring plots and environs: pXRF on surface soil at monitoring plots and target sites, melt water sampling, and particle size analysis of dust (from year 1).
Type of thesis
ERI report
O’Neill, T. 2020. Scott Base Redevelopment CEE environmental monitoring report: Year two (December 2019- January 2020). Environmental Research Institute Report No. 140. Client report prepared for Antarctica New Zealand. Environmental Research Institute, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. 53pp. ISSN 2463-6029 (Print), ISSN 2350-3432 (Online).
Environmental Research Institute, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
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