Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies

PCAS 2017 posterThe Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies (PCAS) is a 14-week, in‐depth, multi‐disciplinary programme of study that critically examines contemporary scientific, environmental, social and political debates focused on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Jointly developed by the University of Canterbury and Antarctica New Zealand, this unique summer programme is the only programme in the world to take students to experience life in the Antarctic – at Scott Base, New Zealand’s station on Ross Island, and at a field campsite on the Ross Ice Shelf.  The 10-day visit to Antarctica is supported by Antarctica New Zealand, and participants undertake a mix of analytical and interpretive field projects and environmental monitoring projects in the vicinity of Scott Base.
The programme provides a unique Antarctic experience that is valuable for:

  • Future Antarctic researchers;
  • Employees and managers within National Antarctic Programmes;
  • Employees within government agencies involved in Antarctic policy or environmental management;
  • School teachers and university lecturers; and
  • Antarctic enthusiasts.

The programme can be used as part of a Master’s Degree.  While the University of Canterbury does not offer scholarships for PCAS, financial support may be available for participants from National Antarctic Programmes and through external funding bodies.
Please note that applications for PCAS close on 1 August 2017.
For further details, please visit the PCAS website.

- read more

If the ice caps melt - Animated map of what Earth would look like

Sea level rises as a result of climate change are predicted to reach 1m or more by the end of the 21st century. The video below shows the impact of all the ice on land melting and draining into the sea.

The largest contribution is from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains over 7 million cubic miles of ice and if it melted completely would lead to a sea level rise of over 50 metres.

Based on the maps produced by the National Geographic in 2013, the video shows the resulting sea level rise as it dramatically reshapes the continents and drowns many of the world's major cities.




- read more

Polar Educators International

PEIFor the past few months our colleagues in Polar Educators International (PEI) have been contributing helpful resources that scientists can use in classrooms and other venues when sharing infomration about their Antarctic research. This month PEI is hosting their International Conference in Rovereto, Italy so we thought it would be a good time to give them a break and tell you more about PEI.

PEI is a vibrant network promoting polar education and research to a global community. By fostering dialogue and collaboration between educators and researchers, PEI aims to highlight and share the global relevance of the polar regions with the broader community.  

PEI is looking for scientists to work with, so take a few minutes and learn more about this important partner.

- read more

How do we know what we know from Coring?

Contributed by Julia Dooley, MEd., Artist, and Teacher of the Gifted and Talented

1IMG 5319Data from ice and sediment cores provide climatic and geologic history. The science of telling the story of time through sediment and ice coring might not seem that complicated, but it can be very confusing to student, and non-scientific audiences. Even explaining that uppermost layers tell the most recent history, and deeper layers recording older periods, does not go far enough to clarify concepts. Since it is impossible to take field trips to the polar ice sheets, or in ocean drill ships, I developed the Life Cores Sci-Art activity.

This activity has students creating a model core of a period of time in their current activities. Students are given plastic tubes 2’ long and 2” in diameter and add a daily layer of materials from their everyday life, for a set period of time. Students choose materials important to them personally, and keep journals, reflecting on items’ significance, and/or relationship to life and world events. Students use core logging sheets to make observations of each others’ life cores, noting layer colors, textures and deposition rates as some of the characteristics researchers use in ice and sediment core interpretation.

The passage of time, as recorded with recognizable, personal indicators, allows for better understanding of the question, How do know what we know from coring?

How/when to use it: This activity works best to introduce coring. If time allows, have students make their own Life Cores in advance and bring to a workshop, or class. You may also construct your own core as a way of introducing yourself, as well as the science. Students love to hear your personal stories!

- read more

ROV Design Challenge

SeaPerch HolmesCo4H- Contributed by Nell Herrmann, Science Teacher, Blue Hill Consolidated School, Blue Hill, Maine

Remotely-operated, underwater vehicles are complementing ship based science to aid long-term ocean exploration over a wide range of temporal and spacial-scales. These instruments survey regions and collect information by providing data and high definition visualizations of areas hard-to-explore by humans. Given the importance of the ocean in human history and its role in regulating climate, utilizing technology has become indispensable in providing valuable information to solve some of the most complex environmental issues around the world.

This activity involves building small Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) from Sea Perch kits, produced and distributed by the Office of Naval Research. The activity describes the differences between an ROV and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and explains the scientific applications of each.  This link also has a brief background on the use of underwater vehicles in Antarctica. 

- read more

The History of Antarctic Exploration from 1810-1917 Resource

Hurtigruten explorers- Contributed by Victoria Chase on behalf of Hurtigruten

Following in the footsteps of the great Antarctic explorers, The History of Antarctic Exploration 1810 - 1917 is a timeline of the discovery of the continent. Hurtigruten (a Polar Tourism company) have taken an in-depth look at the Golden Age of Antarctic Exploration and the heroic explorers who strived to be the first to reach the South Pole. This in-depth content piece lets the reader explore the discovery of the Antarctic coast at their own pace. This content was created to celebrate the epic expeditions of ground-breaking explorers Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Mawson, and encourage readers to learn more about them.

With a long history sailing polar waters, Hurtigruten launched their first voyage to Antarctica in 2002. Their ship the MS Fram is named after the original Fram used by Roald Amundsen on his successful journey to be the first to reach the South Pole.

- read more

How do snowflakes become ice without melting?

Glacier Dynamics Activities:

Contributed by: Gary Wesche, Polar Educators International, PEI and member of the Cresis expedition team to Byrd Surface Camp, Antarctica, 2009 as a PolarTREC teacher.

As scientists in any number of fields of research in Antarctica it is likely you have been asked to speak to a variety of audiences about your work and often about Antarctica itself. For many groups their knowledge of this icy continent is limited.

Snow2ice educ activityDepending on where they are located they may have limited knowledge of ice and snow and the dynamics of glaciers.

Whether you have 15 minutes or 45 minutes the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, (CRESIS), has developed a number of activities on Glacier Dynamics in there extensive curriculum, Ice Ice Baby! These hands-on activities utilize easy to obtain items to allow your audience to participate in their own understanding of glaciology.

If you are fortunate to have an ongoing relationship with an audience or group of students the 9 activities in Glacier Dynamics get progressively more advanced giving you a chance to increase your audiences understanding.

Especially helpful are the lesson plans, which can be left with a classroom teacher for their continued use with their students. They contain a basic background, directions, discussion questions, a materials list, vocabulary list, evaluation tools and links to related activities within the Ice Ice Baby! curriculum.

Check out the first lesson, How do snowflakes become ice without melting? You don’t even need snow. All you need is a few marshmallows!

- read more

Objects in Antarctica - Movies and Teacher Packs

Transport Antarctica vid- Contributed by Naomi Chapman, Scott Polar Research Institute Polar Museum Education and Outreach Assistant

Explore a wide range of objects from Antarctica in the new short films from the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). Designed for use in a classroom with primary age (7-11 year olds) students, though also accessible to older children, each film follows a theme: food, transport, navigation, science or clothing. As well as featuring beautiful photography and detailed shots of objects from the SPRI collection, each film is introduced by experts on the theme and an expert from the Polar Museum at SPRI.

As well as the films themselves, you can download accompanying teacher packs, brimming with brilliant ideas and resources to get your students thinking in new ways across a range of subjects areas, and high resolution images of the objects for use in the classroom.

Visit for more information.

- read more

How does melting ice affect sea level: A simple demo

Contributed by: Louise Huffman, Director of Education and Outreach for the US Ice Drilling Program Office, Dartmouth College

When presenting to a large audience, or if you are looking for an easy hands-on activity to do with a classroom, this activity works well.

It is a common misconception with non-science audiences regardless of age, that ALL melting ice will raise sea level. This is a simple demonstration that can be used in almost any venue with almost any audience to demonstrate the difference between melting land-based ice (glaciers, ice sheets, etc.) and floating ice (sea ice, ice bergs, etc.). Audiences will consider how melting ice affects sea level by observing two models that are identical except for one factor: one will have ice on “land” and the other will have ice in the “sea.” Directions for using the activity as a demonstration can be found on the ANDRILL website.

Land Ice Sea Ice activityIf you have the opportunity to visit a classroom, this can easily become a hands-on activity that the students create by using two smaller sandwich-sized clear containers for each group of four students following the same directions in the link. Set-up this demo at the beginning of your presentation, have the audience predict the answer to the questions (how will melting land-based/floating ice affect sea level? Raise it? Lower it? Stay the same?) and then revisit the models at the end of your presentation to discuss the results.

Lessons learned from less-than-successful demos:

  1. Stack as much “land-based” ice as possible on the rocks not touching the water to be sure the melt water is enough to raise the “ocean” level noticeably.
  2. Be sure the lines drawn to mark ocean levels are drawn accurately and AFTER ice is added to the water
  3. Put as much “floating ice” in the “ocean” water as possible but be sure it is truly floating and not grounded to the bottom.
  4. If you have a short presentation and need the ice to melt quickly, place the containers near a window and/or add salt to the “ocean” water and “land” rocks and use small ice cubes or crushed ice. If you want it to melt slower (for example at a museum or all day event), use larger ice blocks and no salt.

If you have any questions, please contact Louise Huffman.

- read more

Children's Book: Celebrating Antarctica - A Treaty Protecting a Continent

Celebrating Antarctica bookcoverLooking for a great resource to help young people learn about the Antarctic Treaty? “Celebrating Antarctica - A Treaty Protecting a Continent”, authored by Julie Hambrook Berkman and Allen Pope, presents the Antarctic Treaty in a book illustrated by schoolchildren from around the world. The book has been produced as a pdf in over 19 languages and can be downloaded for free at

- read more