A few days ago the RV Joides Resolution left Lyttelton Harbour for the Ross Sea. The ship is sailing south on the International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP) Expedition number 374.
The scientists on board, lead by co-chief scientists Rob McKay (Victoria University Wellington, NZ) and Laura De Santis (OGS, Italy), are hoping to recover climate records dating back to 20 million years before present. To do this they will spend 9 weeks at sea drilling six boreholes, each recovering geological records from as deep as 1 km below the ocean floor.
The scientists will use the geological records to understand how the ocean and ice sheets interact. By understanding this interaction, the processes involved, and the resultant changes during previous warmer climates, the scientists will be able to better understand how Antarctica may respond to future warming.
This expedition is the first time in 45 years that the an IODP expedition returns to the Ross Sea. In 1973, the Joides Resolution’s predecessor, the Glomar Challenger, sailed south on Leg 28. The cores recovered from this trip allowed the shipboard scientists, which included the New Zealand Antarctic Society’s Peter Barrett, to re-shape our thinking about Antarctic glaciations, discovering that ice had existed on Antarctica for at least the past 25 million years. This year also marks 50 years since the very first IODP expedition in 1968.
If you would like to see the ship on its return to New Zealand, it will be in Lyttelton’s port around the 8th of March.
A video of their progress can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK2rA6Le0Zc
To track their progress check out the JR webpage: http://joidesresolution.org/expedition/374/