2 book reviews are out about a biography on Edith “Jackie” Ronne

Joanna Kafarowski has published a fantastic book about the first woman who overwintered in the Antarctic in 1946/47. With her was another woman, Jennie Darlington. The situation could not be more different and difficult for both women. The biography is a good read, has great context provided to put Jackie’s life in the right perspective, and gives a fantastic insight into the development of a fantastic woman.

This biography came out in May 2022. Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne. It is available as a paperback or e-book.

One review I did in German for the Polarforschung: https://doi.org/10.5194/polf-90-37-2022

This is a famous photo of Jackie and her husband Finn Ronne when they spent a year in the Antarctic. in their little hut. The photo gives lots of content to talk about. (photo credit: https://pieceworkmagazine.com/adventurous-knitting/)

The English one has been published in The Polar Journal: https://doi.org/10.1080/2154896X.2022.2133385

The Canterbury Museum in Christchurch has still an exhibition running until 15 October about the invisible history of women in the Antarctic: https://www.canterburymuseum.com/visit/women-of-the-antarctic/ Last week, the exhibition was officially opened and it is to hope, that it will pop up soon at another suitable place after the Canterbury Museum closes its doors for the next 5 years for a substantial rebuild.

Opening of the exhibition: Women of the Antarctic, 5 October 2022. Some of the women in that picture were and are pioneers: sitting row in the middle: Margaret Bradshaw, the first woman who led a deep field party in the Antarctic in 1979! row standing: next to her portrait is Michelle Rogan-Finnemore, first Executive Secretary of COMNAP (Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes) in her third term. Same row, second from the right: Monika Kusiak, the first Polish female scientist in the Antarctic. And in the same row: me with the Antarctic Tartan, as the first history research recipient of the COMNAP Research Fellowship in 2012 (and a female). (photo credit: picture taken with my camera on 5 October 2022)

“Old Explorer’s Reunion” in Christchurch

Tuesday, 27 September 2022, was a wonderful day for the reception of the reunion of “Old Antarcticans” in Bill Nye’s Adventure Book bookshop (Christchurch). Last year, when the Lockdown happened (17 August 2021) this event has been cut short and it is a great fortune that it could be recreated. Many New Zealand Antarcticans came together who served at Scott Base and were involved in many programmes from 1958 to 1964. It is amazing how enthusiastic these men are about their time in the South. At this time, Antarctica was mainly a place only for men and it fortunately changed (better late than never). However, these men have lots of stories to tell which are a sort of hidden history of the early days of New Zealand’s actual involvement in Antarctic science, survey, and observation.

On Wednesday, Bill Nye and Frank Graveson organised a Symposium where the “Old Antarcticans” could present their experiences in these early days. One of the local Antarctic historians, David Harrowfield, encouraged his Antarctic colleagues to publish their diaries and correspondence to keep the records alive. It was an inspiring event and I am glad that Frank Graveson invited me to attend. For me as a historian, it was a dream to be part of, collecting a vast amount of information to enhance my research.

Some members of the Reunion of Old Antarcticans with the “James Caird” in the background. The boat is a replica of the film “Shackleton’s Captain” and is located now in the Arts Centre, Christchurch.
The venue is perfect for such an event. Photos with courtesy: Wolfgang Rack 27 September 2022

This event is followed from today on by Days of Ice. Check out the programme, there are lots of great events in the programme when we celebrate the Season Opening and our closeness to the Antarctic as an Antarctic Gateway City.

Moving from Julius von Haast Building to Beatrice Tinsley Building

A bit of a small sign after a long period of silence on my page. Time is running fast and it happened a lot but nothing really report-worthy.

Our institute, Gateway Antarctica, moves into another building. We got informed quite on short notice that we have to move and on Monday, 5 September, it is happening. It is quite interrupting our research. Most of the staff is away to attend conferences and workshops and in two weeks’ time, the next term is starting. I worked from home for a while after I had foot surgery and was quite slowed down when I finally was able to go back to the institute. Lots of work waited to be caught up with, but I am getting there.

I finished two book reviews and just finalising the third one. I write proposals for projects and write articles. So I am busy as ever. Soon, the Antarctic Season starts again, so more work is on the horizon. By the End of September are also Days of Ice – lots of events to highlight Antarctica and the Season Opening. That is the time when the overwinterer from last season are coming back and the new group goes down to overwinter. I will write more about it when a final programme has been confirmed.

Whale in Pleneau Island, Antarctic Peninsula, January 2020. Humpbacks are my favourits amongst the whales.

Publication: A Century of Observed Temperature Change in the Indian Ocean.

A new publication in the Geophysical Research Letters is out with the title: A Century of Observed Temperature Change in the Indian Ocean. I have been approached by the lead author Jacob Wenegrat from the University of Maryland, US, almost one year ago, if I could assist with German scientific reports from the expedition ships Gazelle 1874/76; Valdivia (1898/99), and Planet (1906/07). It was an interesting project and I loved working with Jacob and his team.

My work was to translate the reports and explain the instruments that were essential to gather the data on the Indian Ocean. This research was very fascinating to search systematically for the pros and cons of these instruments. That was important to verify the data quality of the reports. One finding stands out: “Even with some uncertainties about the accuracy of the data one interesting finding stands out: the increase in ocean temperatures is already so significant that it can be seen over 100 years despite the larger uncertainties in the 19th century measurements.” This is quite alarming considering the area where 1/3 of the human population lives and which implication that has for the people, environment, and wildlife there.

In the press release, my contribution to the paper is pointed out. https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/4946

Have a read, it is an important contribution to climate change research.

These are some of the thermometers the Planet Expedition used (Forschungsreise S.M.S “Planet” 1906/07, edit: Reichs-Marine-Amt, vol1 Reisebeschreibungen, 1909)

2022 – commemorating Historic Antarctic Key Dates: From Shackleton’s death to the smallest ever Antarctic Expedition and beyond.

Last Wednesday, I gave a presentation for the Canterbury Historical Association (CHA) under the title above. I started with Shackleton’s death and the Quest expedition that successfully fulfilled their scientific goals even under tragic circumstances. It is not easy for an expedition group to lose the leader.

At the same time, in 1922, the British Imperial Antarctic Expedition has been finished. A group of two men overwintered at Waterboat Point and studied for the first time a full breeding cycle of Gentoo penguins.

I continued with the development of the First International Polar Year (IPY) in 1882/83 and the following first international collaboration in the Antarctic in 1901 – 1905. At the Second IPY, New Zealand was heavily involved in meteorological and magnetic observations in the Southern Ocean with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, New York. in 1957/58 was the “Third IPY” but it was called Internation Geophysical Year (IGY). An international collaboration between the Eastern and Western blocks was possible because of the complex nature of the scientific questions. New Zealand participated a great deal in the IGY. 103.660 km2 were charted and many glaciers were explored.

It followed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 which builds the framework for a peaceful international collaboration. We still work under the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and the Treaty has proved its purpose over many decades now.

50 years later, in 2007/07, the Fourth IPY was working with new concepts. Instead focusing on disciplines, wider research themes have been introduced such as “status, change, global linkages, new frontiers, vantage point and the human dimension” to understand the behaviour of the Earth system and “understand the roles of the poles in global change“. Education became a strong theme as well to introduce to the wider public, beginning with small school children, the importance of understanding the linkages and outcomes of such research. APECS (Association of Polar Early Careers Scientists) has been established and this is the framework where the new generation of scientists and researchers continues the work that started decades before. The problems we face brought already scientists together to discuss the next IPY already in 2032/33.

The collaboration between New Zealand and the USA developed strong bonds from the mid-1950s onwards. We will celebrate 2025/26 the 70 years anniversary (Operation Deep Freez One) here in New Zealand. There are already great events in the planning.

My talk has been recorded and will be available at PlainFM on 18 June, 6pm NZ Time. A podcast will be available after that with that link: https://plainsfm.org.nz/Programmes/Details.aspx?PID=a9543a75-b734-4f35-ad90-dfc85870b464 and this can be downloaded from the Apple store and via Spotify. So, there is a chance to listen to the talk and I hope the technique is “with me that time”.

Learn New Skills – NZ Sign Language

On 2 June, I finished an introductory course for NZSL New Zealand Sign Language. I was quite committed to it and would like to continue to have a basic conversations with Deaf people. The culture to communicate with hard hearing people or completely Deaf people is another language with its own grammar and very specific signs – depending on where you live – there are differences between North and South Island of NZ, but also big differences between the Australian and US American sign language. However, it is very interesting to learn another language because that includes also the culture, history, and brings more awareness about the diverse world we live in – and that is very inspiring.

Upcoming talk about anniversaries in 2022

On 14 June, I will give a presentation for the CHA (Canterbury Historical Association) on 2022 – Commemorating Historic Antarctic Key Dates: From Shaletons to the smallest ever Antarctic Expedition and beyond.

When: 14 June 2022, 6 pm – 7 pm

Where: Rehua 002, University of Canterbury

Zoom: https://canterbury.zoom.us/j/98009661265, Meeting ID: 980 0966 1265, Passcode: 423844

The best thing is still to come: it will be recorded for Radio PlainFM. The re-broadcast will be on 25 June 9-10PM and later it will be available as a podcast. So no pressure ๐Ÿ™‚

Julius von Haast Symposium in Christchurch

On 30 April and 1 May will be the Haast Symposium. 1 May is the 200 anniversary of the birth of Julius von Haast. He founded the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. Because he held a life-long friendship with Ferdinand von Hochstetter, an Austrian scientist. He named the Franz Joseph Glacier and the Hochstetter Glaciar to honour the Austrians who came with the ship Novara to New Zealand during their circumnavigation in 1857-1859. Hochstetter was, as Haast, a geologist. Haast donated Moa bones to the newly founded Austrian Natural History Museum in Vienna and for that, he earned the knighthood from Austria and was now Julius VON Haast.

Six Austrian researchers will present their work on Haast over the two days via Zoom. On 1 May, I will give, in my role as Austrian Honorary Consul, a welcome speech in German and English to acknowledge the historical relationship between Austrian and New Zealand researchers. It will be an interesting symposium with many new aspects and critical approaches to how to celebrate anniversaries in the future to be more inclusive in many aspects.

Find more information on the flyer below.

What’s for dinner tonight? Cooking classes

I am for quite a while involved in the Risingholme Adult Learning Community. For some time now, I take quilting classes and did 3 Mฤori courses there. Now, I will be one of the tutors for cooking classes. The title is: What’s for dinner tonight? If you have a bunch of sad vegetables and a bit of chicken leftover and half an onion, I will show you that this is still worth making a meal out of it. All the information about it, you can find in this announcement. I learned cooking at school for big events and hotels and I have also cooking experience in the Antarctic.

Go to “Risingholme” and you will find the course under cooking – I am the last on the list, so I am easy to find ๐Ÿ™‚ What’s for dinner tonight?

Endurance – continuing

Last Saturday, I got a Twitter message with an invitation to a conversation on talkRadio in the UK. I accepted after some hard thinking.

On Monday, 14 March, I gave the live interview/conversation at lunchtime. 10 minutes after I delivered my Antarctic history lecture (ANTA 102), I was “on-air”. This is a strange feeling until one starts to talk, especially when one is doing it on the phone. 20 minutes passed quickly and it was done.

If you want to listen to the podcast, send me an email: ursularack@gmail.com

This is the Deutschland, Filchner’s ship for the Second German Antarctic Expedition. It is the sistership of the Endurance. It was trapped in the Weddell Sea 1911-1912 but it was not crushed. The ship was then sold to an Austrian Antarctic Explorer, Felix Koening, and named Oesterreich. After WW One it was named San Rocco. It sank in 1923 when it hit a sea mine in the Mediterranean sea.