Scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) have proposed building an aerodrome at the Davis research station in Antarctica.
The proposal to provide year-round access between Hobart, Tasmania, and East Antarctica is subject to environmental and other government approvals.
AAD hosted webinar workshops in Australia’s scientific community and issues discussed included higher resolution models for weather forecasts and climate projections, more detailed understanding of the southern hemisphere’s climate, oceanographic sampling devices on seabirds and seals, and monitoring marine resources across all seasons.
Dr Dirk Welsford, acting chief scientist of AAD, said that scientists wanted shorter but more frequent trips.
“Access is currently limited to the summer months via ship or plane, and travel across East Antarctica relies on complex logistics and suitable weather windows aligning which results in a range of challenges when it comes to transporting people and equipment to and from the continent,” Welsford said.
If the aerodrome is built, which is not anticipated until 2040, AAD predicts three flights a month between October and May and monthly flights in the winter.
Flights from Hobart to Davis research station would take 6 hours 30 mins with helicopters and fixed wing aircraft providing access to other stations and field sites in East Antarctica.