One of the projects to head down this season is my project: the microbiology of the Bratina Island Ponds (or K025 to Antarctica New Zealand). Background information about this project can be found on my webpage http://ictar.aq/bratina%20ponds.php but throughout the next couple of months I will be giving you a blow by blow account on what a scientific trip to Antarctica entails.
For me preparations for this season started more than a year ago with the Antarctica New Zealand bidding round to which my supervisor Prof. Craig Cary and I submitted a proposal for logistical support. At that time I was still finishing off my masters (I have been to Antarctica through my masters to study the Bratina ponds 2 seasons ago) and deciding where I wanted to go to do my PhD. I submitted the 20ich page proposal outlining what I wanted to do in Antarctica, how and why then re-vamped it to go into the scholarship round (5 page proposal) in March.
Now I am starting to confuse even myself but basically I did a ridiculous amount of paperwork until about April this year ultimately resulting in funding from Antarctica New Zealand for two years of logistical support in Antarctica and some science related funding as well as funding from the University of Waikato to cover my living expenses. Once it was confirmed that I was going down to Antarctica it meant I got to do more paperwork!
This paperwork involved me filling in two major forms. The first to specifically indicate what resources I needed in Antarctica and when so Antarctica New Zealand can be ready for me when I go down. The second form is a preliminary environmental evaluation (PEE) that outlines what I am going to be doing scientifically, where, what if any damage I will be doing to the environment (none thank you very much) and what samples I will be collecting. Since Antarctica is another country importing scientific samples needs to be regulated to make sure we do not bring any nasties back with us.
So now the planning is done, the paperwork is filled in and I am ready to go right? Wrong! The path to Antarctica is a long one so bear with me, I still have to get my medical clearance sorted and send my equipment down but that is a story for another time!