Christmas break

After a challenging year and busy year – again – I will have a Christmas break from 20 December 2021 to 10 January 2022. Looking back, I have achieved many things; however, I could not gain some funding (almost all applications have been rejected this year – or the more used term: were unsuccessful). That does not stop me to continue my research projects.

I wish us all that Covid’s grp eases and that it let us work as we did before 2020 in having meetings face-to-face and visiting archives overseas.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Looking forward to working in the Antarctic again – next season – with my colleagues on the Silver Cloud 🙂

ServiceIQ certificate for museum practice course arrived

I am very glad to announce that I have now officially received the certificate that I have finished my course for museum practice, which I finished within a year. 7 modules and some practical units are involved in this course. It is a great opportunity to get a study place in this course as a museum volunteer. It was a lot of work but I learned valuable details about museum work. My awareness about some processes within a museum gave me more confidence for my position at Te Ūaka/Lyttelton Museum. I hope we can build our museum soon – after the 2010/2011 earthquakes, our building was destroyed and the collection is stored away safely until we get our new building up. For that, we need a great amount of money that we currently try to achieve with fundraising events.

This is the certificate for the museum practice course.
This is our donation poster, one of many opportunities to fund our museum building. Unfortunately, I cannot turn it around but I think you get the idea. If you see this poster, please donate, each contribution counts. 🙂

Antarctic Day – 1 December

On 1 December 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was signed and that is the reason we celebrate Antarctic Day annually on that very day. The Treaty is a “living” document and has developed and adapted over the decades. However, some paragraphs of the Treaty are the backbone that we still work internationally, peacefully, and collaboratively on the White Continent. A series of protocols have been added that makes the ATS (Antarctic Treaty System) strong and many countries next to the 31 National Antarctic Programmes see it as the proofed framework for the work we undertake constantly. I am a Polar historian and work with climate scientists together. Looking back in history, international collaboration was the most productive way to recognise global climate issues. For me personally, the ATS is a great document and the 1 December is a great reminder to not forget its value for now and the future.

This photo was taken at Gonzales Videla, Chilean Station at the Antarctic Peninsula in February 2020 from Ceili, in the middle. Nationalities in our group of expedition staff: USA, Canada, 2 Austrians :-), South Africa, Canada, China, Spain, Australia, Argentina, UK,

Global problems – melting ice

I got a request from a journalist today about facts of global climate change and ice in the Antarctic. Because ice is increasing in some parts of Antarctica does not mean that we have not to care about the rest of the continent. I gave the journalist this link about the Twaites Glacier There are enough facts to think about the situation we are currently in.

Social media can be a great resource but it shows also how much nonsense is spread via certain “platforms”. It is not only about the climate, it is also alarming, how much non reflected comments are around when it comes to history and climate research. However, in the late 19th century beginning 20th century, scientist already realised the global link of weather events. Robert Mossmann (1870-1940) realised through his research the correlation between extensive ice extend in the Weddell Sea and the increased rainfall in South America. This article gives really a great insight of his research outcomes.

Social media helps climate deniers and conspiracy theorists to find their rabbit hole and so they are not open for a real constructive discussion (as we also currently see in anti-vaccine campaigns, etc.). I work with climate scientists, but I am not a scientist myself. However, even as historian, I can contribute to a broader understanding when it comes to the climate discussion. That makes my work so interesting.

An Adele Penguin near Esperanza Station, photo taken December 2018 on my first Zodiac cruising working as lecturer for Antarctic history on the expedition cruise ship Silver Cloud.

Research and Quilting

I do lots of research, but sometimes it is also nice to do something different. My hobby is quilting and crafts-work. There is an exhibition coming along and I handed in two of my quilts. The show starts on 13 October and ends on 17 October. It is in Papanui High School, 30 Langdons Road, Christchurch (New Zealand). There is also the opportunity to participate in the viewer’s choice to make one quilt a winner. There are approximately 25 quilts presented in different categories. If you are in Christchurch at this time, come along and have a look. Raffle tickets are also there to win a quilt or other great prizes.

Talk at the Media and Communication Department, UC

Natalia Chaban, Professor at the Media and Communication Department invited me to present on the Cafe Scientific held in June 2021. I talked about the concept of a Cafe Scientific, presented a short version of my talk on Dumont d’Urville and his connection to the Antarctic and New Zealand and how a historian fits into a Cafe Scientific. The presentation should be 20 minutes for a face-to-face audience (limited due to Alert Level 2 restrictions) and Zoom. In the end, there was a time limit of 30 minutes for lively discussion. It was a great opportunity to present my work to an audience from a complete different discipline.

Lockdown and other inconvenient matters

Since 17 August 2021, 11:59pm, New Zealand is – again – in lockdown. In that time, the majority of people try to work from home (if the home comfortable is a matter to discuss) and so do I. My home is comfortable, warm, and established to work from home but when two people try to get space in the study, it is a bit of negotiation and adjusting in order.

Everything runs smoothly so far, but I miss my corner at Gateway Antarctica, where all my material is placed to work efficient and focused, and two computer screens. I am sitting in the living room, with my laptop and the material I gathered from Gateway, and hope to get stuff done (as long as the internet can cope with two people’s needs to go into the net). One thing I could finish, is Module 6 from ServiceIQ for the museum training I am currently undergoing. The Module is about Collection Management. The practical part was done on 9th August, and that was a very hands-on one – I liked that very much.

This is from the practical for Module 6 – nesting a cup, write an Object Receipt for an item and store it properly. Labelling different items was also a part of the work – it was fun and interesting.

Another constant companion is the ZOOM meeting thing. Some are nice, but I prefer the face-to-face meetings. Online meetings are a substitute in emergency situations; however, it seems that some people prefer this in the future. In that case, I am a bit more traditional. With 8 September, we are back in Level 2 (down from Level 4 – strict lockdown), and from Monday on, it is possible to go back to University. I am looking forward to it.

However, to see things positive, I have done lots of work, and we (my husband and I) are the lucky ones who can still try to work from home (means, one of us has paid work), and we live in a comfortable home, and we can still laugh together and enjoy peaceful moments in the garden with a cup of tea and good conversation, and keeping the moral high. I hope, we can beat the virus or at least we can cope with it in the future to go back to our previous, so-called normal, lives working from an office (even when it is an open plan one), and meeting people face-to-face, travelling and attend conferences, and seeing loved-ones overseas. So, we hang in there, do our best to keep up with work and keep sane.

The latest publication on “best practice using climate indices for historical climate reconstruction” is out

Some time ago, I have been invited to contribute to a paper about “climate indices in historical climate reconstruction : a global state of the art.” Fifteen authors were involved, globally. Martin Bauch, whom I met via the platform: is a climate historian. Once I downloaded an article of his via this page and it is a usual procedure that one writes to the author why you got interested in his/her writing. After some emails I got this invitation for that paper. It is not easy to organise a global authorship but David J. Nash did a wonderful job as an editor.

It took some time but finally the paper was brought over the finish line. We authors hope that this paper will give a more advanced approach for climate history researchers and scientist to make historical weather and climate data more understandable and comparable. Because all areas of the world are covered (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia, the Antarctic is covered under the category “oceans”) different approaches developed. To keep everybody on the same page, this paper developed over two years in the making and the COVID pandemic did not make things easier. this is the link to the paper: Nash, D. J., Adamson, G. C. D., Ashcroft, L., Bauch, M., Camenisch, C., Degroot, D., Gergis, J., Jusopović, A., Labbé, T., Lin, K.-H. E., Nicholson, S. D., Pei, Q., del Rosario Prieto, M., Rack, U., Rojas, F., and White, S.: Climate indices in historical climate reconstructions: a global state of the art, Clim. Past, 17, 1273–1314,, 2021.

This paper is an approach towards best practice using climate indices for historical climate reconstruction (pp 1299 – 1302).

This is a page from Eduard Dallmann’s logbook when sealing and whaling along the Antarctic Peninsula in 1873-1874 – Logbooks of ship journals are a valuable source for historical climate research. I transcribed this journal/logbook and published it with my former PhD supervisor under:
Eduard Dallmann

Table Talk

Wolfgang and I have been invited by a member of The Village Church (Presbyterian Church in Papanui) for a Table Talk on the Antarctic (20 June 2021).

My talk was about my time as a tutor for PCAS (Post Graduate Certificate for Antarctic Studies) around Scott Base and in the field and my current work as lecturer for Antarctic history and expedition staff on expedition cruise ships along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Wolfgang talked about his work in remote sensing and climate change. The audience was very astonished about the rapid changes within twenty years when Wolfgang has shown photos from 1997 when he was traveling on a skidoo on parts of the Larsen ice shelf and in 2019 he was passing the same area by ship – the ice was gone.

The discussion after the presentations was lively and inspiring. We were spoiled with a very delicious supper before and a present after our talks. We both had a very good time.

My entry slide for the talk: Antarctica – a passion
Traveling on parts of the Larsen Ice Shelf in 1997
The same area is only accessible via a ship in 2019

Cafe Scientific – a success

The event was a success with more than 70 people in the audience. Wolfgang talked about the changes through observations of the Larsen Ice Shelf and the ice flows which could not be known some 20 years ago because technical development advanced so rapidly the last decades as well as the methods of modeling. Mathieu explained the modeling aspects with the data Wolfgang delivers to him and his team. My part was to introduce Dumont d’Urville and his influence on New Zealand and Antarctica. The French connection is maybe stronger than many in New Zealand are aware of. Antarctic exploration, surveying and mapping of new Zealand is strongly linked. D’Urville was a scientist, navigator, cartographer, botanist and careful observer. He wrote the first book on New Zealand and its indigenous people, the Maori. The people and their way of live fascinated him deeply. It is even the assumption that he could communicate with them, meaning, he could speak some basic Te Reo Maori. However, d’Urville was a great explorer and his traces are still strong here in Aotearoa: French Pass, D’Urville Island, D’Urville river, seaweed is named after him and some grass as well as flowers.

Guests at the UC Staff Club were interested in the talks that was reflected in the many questions and ongoing discussions after the presentations. The French Embassy contributed Champagne and four very engaged and committed UC Communication students, organised a wonderful catering. Everything a Cafe Scientific should have was provided: a relaxed atmosphere, good presentations (as far as the feedback came back to us), some food and some drinks and the opportunity to mix and mingle to catch up, make new connections and discuss some points of the presentations in more detail.