Winter School

Published on 17.08.14


The Thin Blue Line: Understanding the Antarctic Atmosphere

Science Communications Workshop

Lauder Atmospheric Research Station, Central Otago

Fri 12 May, to Sun 15 May


While Antarctica is out of sight, what happens there matters to us all.

This year, WinterSchool will focus on the Antarctic atmosphere – the thin blue line above the frozen continent that plays a key role in weather patterns, climate, and ocean processes. Important global climate change questions can only be answered by making measurements in Antarctica, one of the most isolated and hard to reach places on Earth. Join us to learn about how the atmosphere works, what influences it, and how human activities are altering the natural system. You’ll hear about the recent scientific discoveries, gleaned from state of the art measurements that are solving puzzles in Earth’s climate system, and how NZ is leading research into what the future might hold.

WinterSchool seeks to bring together New Zealand’s communications experts eager to tell the story of our changing climate. This boot camp on Antarctic atmospheric research seeks to expand your knowledge, through presentations, discussions and hands on demonstrations, but also encourages you to help the science community with tricks and tools to get their story heard. The workshop’s primary objective is to support communicators in playing an active role in demystifying Antarctic science to the public. WinterSchool 2017 will be held at NIWA’s Atmospheric Research Station at Lauder, in the heart of Central Otago. Lauder is widely regarded worldwide as an essential component of the global atmospheric research community. Surrounded on each side by a mountain range, its geographical isolation and clear skies provide the perfect location for making atmospheric measurements, and is also a stunning place to hold a WinterSchool.


Who should attend?

  • Media and influencers invested in understanding Antarctica’s role in the global climate system, ozone and climate change
  • Those involved in or interested in policy development and communications around Antarctica, its atmosphere and climate change
  • Key stakeholders supporting the advancement of New Zealand’s leadership position in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean


What to expect!

WinterSchool is now entering its third year, following on from successful workshops at Lake Ohau (“What does it take to melt and ice sheet?”) and Great Barrier Island (“Antarctic Ecosystems in a Changing World”).

Each year a different theme is discussed to build on the existing knowledge of the key stakeholders and communicators, giving them confidence to lead public conversations about the challenges faced by Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

The programme is designed to be interactive, with ample time for questions and discussions. We will use hands on demonstrations to illustrate key concepts. Expect a little homework in advance of the workshop – the more you understand in advance, the greater the quality of discussions.

Expect a small group (around 20) of talented people to be part of this experience. Learn from some of the top minds of New Zealand Antarctic Research and share your insights to overcoming the challenge of communicating complex ideas to everyday New Zealanders. This meeting of minds offers a unique opportunity to build relationships and share experiences.


What does the WinterSchool weekend look like?


Friday 12th May, evening


Session 1

Who are we? Why are we here?

Evening session

Quick summary - What are we researching in Antarctica and why does any of this matter?

Saturday 13th May


Session 2

Antarctica, its atmosphere and climate change

Sessions 2, 3 and 4

Science in action: In these sessions we will describe and discuss the gases in the atmosphere, their importance in Antarctica and beyond, and how Antarctic science informs understanding of global scale processes

Evening session

Special Guest Speaker

Sunday 14th May (morning)


Session 6

Where to from here? Q and A

Session 7

Help us! What more can the science community do? Key messages, challenges and actions


How do I apply?

Application is by emailing an Expression of Interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before 5pm 31 March 2017.

EOI should include one paragraph about how your attendance can contribute to the success of WinterSchool and the communication of Antarctic research. A short personal biography should also be included.


Places are strictly limited.

All costs associated with travel to Lauder (via either Dunedin or Queenstown) will be covered by NZARI. This includes flights, travel, accommodation and meals. Accommodation may be shared.

Applicants must be available to attend the entire workshop.


More info at


This is an incredible weekend. Here’s what previous participants have said…

“WinterSchool was fantastic - A weekend-long speed date with Antarctic science,” Jason O’Hara. Visual design artist and 2016-17 Community Engagement Programme recipient (#60shadesofwhite)


“NZARI Winter School got me up to speed on the critical science underway at Scott Base, introduced me to most of the key players and helped me understand the ethos of Antarctica NZ's effort on the Ice. Winter School has informed my reporting since.” 

Senior Reporter, Fairfax Media, The Press




Antarctic Ecosystems in a Changing World

Science Communications Workshop

Antarctica is often thought of as a barren, lifeless place. But dip beneath the icy cover of the ocean and the surface of the land and you will find an abundant and diverse range of life…..but for how long? Changing climates are being more strongly felt in the Polar Regions than anywhere else in the world. This will alter the habitats of many Antarctic species. This year’s Winter School will highlight the vulnerability and possible resilience of Antarctic ecosystems as the environment changes. With a focus on marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and via discussions and practical demonstrations, Winter School presenters will describe pressing issues for Antarctic species and the ecosystem as a whole. They will address the questions of what the future might hold, the consequences of anthropogenic change, and, how New Zealand research is contributing to a better understanding of these fragile ecosystems.


Who should attend?

  • Media personnel interested in climate change and Antarctic ecosystems
  • Those involved in or interested in policy development around Antarctica, climate and ecosystems
  • Those involved in or interested in policy and planning around Antarctic species, marine and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Educators interested in climate change and Antarctic ecosystems
  • Current and potential sponsors of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research

Course outline:

The course is designed to be interactive, with ample time for questions and discussions, and inclusion of demonstrations to illustrate the key concepts.

Friday 20th May Evening

Session 1

Introductions and setting expectations.

Evening Session

Talk from Te Radar: Te Radar’s Antarcticology, an illustrated comedic lecture on all things Antarctic.

Saturday 21st May

Session 2

Climate change predictions - what increased CO2 emissions mean from an Antarctic perspective.

Sessions 3, 4 and 5

In Sessions 3, 4 and 5 we will describe and discuss the current understanding of Ross Sea Antarctic ecosystems, and knowledge of how they might respond to a changing environment. These sessions will focus on land based systems (terrestrial and fresh water aquatic) and coastal marine environments.

Evening Session

Overview of the 2016/17 Antarctic Science programme and current expeditions.

Sunday 22nd May

Session 6

General discussion, Q and A.

Session 7

Feedback from participants - what are the key messages, challenges and required actions?