A team of scientists from the University of Helsinki and New Zealand are now in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica to complete a six-week diving expedition on the sea floor of the Ross ice shelf.

The expedition aims to study how climate change has affected the rare ecosystems on the seafloor beneath the floating ice shelf. They will for the first time document an entire research expedition in 360 degree Virtual Reality so that the general public can get a glimpse of what scientists actually do.

There were some tense moments in the beginning of the voyage when the team flew out on their first leg from Finland to Singapore and on to New Zealand and from there on to the final destinations, including delayed flights, and lost cargo. Finally the team flew in with a military cargo plane.

Bad weather conditions kept the team in the Scott base for a good week. Team members Professor Alf Norkko, Dr. Joanna Norkko and explorer Patrick Degerman are into their daily routine, which includes eating, sleeping, diving, filming and research.  Patrick "Pata" Degerman,  is the photographer in the team.  Some of his stunning photographs can be seen here:

 

 

Who is eating  who?

"It is a great pleasure working in crystal clear waters with lots of fascinating life on the seafloor," says Alf Norkko.  A big experiment at 16 m depth in New Harbour is now up and running.

Twenty chambers, which each enclose a 50 x 50 cm area of the seafloor are deployed in two rows. 

"The samples will be analysed and they will tell us who eats who. This can reveal if some species have changed their diets over the last 15 years. We can then start assessing what this will mean for the future of these unique ecosystems," Norkko explains. 

The trailer for the expedition has already built up 1,500 views.

The Facebook page has nearly 3,000 active followers who have been the expedition members asking questions along the journey.

Science under the ice has also caught interest of the international media.

Follow the expedition on the Science Under The Ice Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #scienceundertheice.

For more background on the expedition, read about the preparations: Film­ing un­der wa­ter: life in Ant­arc­tica in 360° Vir­tual Real­ity