Macquarie Station will be renovated | Polarjournal
Macquarie Island is located about 1500 km southeast of Tasmania and about 1300 km north of Antarctica. The 128 km² island is about 5 km wide and 34 km long. Opened on May 25, 1948, Australia’s Macquarie Station serves as a research base for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). (Photo: AAD, Kim Kliska)

A detailed study of Australia’s Macquarie Island research station has found that renovating rather than replacing the current station delivers the best value for money within the budget and meets the long-term needs of the Australian Antarctic Program. This was announced by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) in its March issue of “Antarctic Insider”.

The research station on Macquarie Island in 2020 (Photo: AAD, Brendan Barnes).

The project to upgrade the sub-Antarctic island’s station began in 2016, when the Australian federal government committed $50 million to secure the future of the facility and scientific research on the island.

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) director Kim Ellis said a two-year planning period has concluded the preference is to renovate existing buildings and decommissioning older infrastructure.

The lack of a pier makes supplying the station a logistical challenge. Boats and amphibious vehicles are used to bring the material from the supply ship to shore. A factor that has been taken into account in the cost calculation. (Video: Australian Antarctic Division)

“The cost of building an entirely new station would have been greatly in excess of the budget due to the complexities of working in a remote and largely inaccessible sub-Antarctic location,” Mr Ellis said.

Australia’s Environment Minister Sussana Ley is also in favour of renovation, which is also in the spirit of recycling rather than building new. “The team of highly skilled tradespeople are prepared for all eventualities; they will be reusing and recycling as much of the infrastructure they can,”.”

“The island is an important global site for scientific research including monitoring Southern Hemisphere weather and climate.”

“Renovating the current buildings will ensure the Macquarie Island station remains operational and able to support long-term science for all key stakeholders, including the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Tasmanian Government,” adds Minister Ley.

Kim Ellis outside AAD’s headquarters in Kingston, Tasmania. (AAD, Simon Payne)

“The renovation will ensure a safe and comfortable operating environment for our expeditioners living on Macquarie Island for at least the next two decades.”

The renovation of the 73-year-old station is also a huge priority for the Australian government. “Macquarie Island’s position between Australia and Antarctica means that it is a pivotal piece in our cache of scientific research, including the monitoring of weather in the southern hemisphere,” says Assistant Minister for Industrial Development, Jonno Duniam. And Tasmania’s Senator Eric Abetz added: “This UNESCO World Heritage site has been an integral part of Australia’s exploration and monitoring of the region since the early 19th century. I am pleased to be able to say that it will continue to operate with new, fit-for-purpose infrastructure.”

Work on Macquarie Island is not expected to start until 2022. It is planned that the renovation of the station will take up to 7 years.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

Source: Link to “Antarctic Insider”

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