Re­becca has the world’s coolest job

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - JIM CHIPP

Al­though fly­ing ice to Scan­di­navia may seem about as use­ful as send­ing coal to New­cas­tle, it’s an im­por­tant part of Re­becca Pyne’s job.

The ice she packs and dis­patches around the globe is price­less and al­most ir­re­place­able be­cause enor­mous re­sources have gone into ex­tract­ing it from be­neath the sur­face of Antarc­tica’s Ross Ice Shelf.

Pyne is the ice core fa­cil­ity co­or­di­na­tor and tech­ni­cian of the Roo­sevelt Is­land Cli­mate Evo­lu­tion pro­ject at GNS, Grace­field.

It’s her job to send the sam­ples to the pro­ject’s far-flung part­ners to do their part of the ice anal­y­sis.

The ice cores stored at GNS froze tens of thou­sands of years ago and care­ful anal­y­sis of their chem­istry and struc­ture can of­fer knowl­edge of the cli­matic and ocean con­di­tions at the time they froze.

It can also al­low con­clu­sions to be drawn about the causes of global tem­per­a­ture changes and pre­dic­tions about what is to come.

The pro­ject has nine in­ter­na­tional part­ners – New Zealand, Aus­tralia, China, Den­mark, Ger­many, Italy, Swe­den, Bri­tain and the United States.

Each has a dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ity and a dif­fer­ent in­ter­est in the sam­ples.

The ice chem­istry is stud­ied in Perth, car­bon diox­ide lev­els in Copen­hagen, dust is an­a­lysed in Mi­lan, the Scrips In­sti­tute in Florida and Ore­gon State Univer­sity study dis­solved gases.

At Maine Univer­sity, re­searchers an­a­lyse the frozen magma from volcanic erup­tions.

At GNS the ice is stored in a freezer main­tained at mi­nus 36 de­grees cel­sius.

For trans­port the ice is packed in chiller boxes with cold packs and, if they are not to be used for gas anal­y­sis, dry ice.

The jour­ney can be a stress­ful time for Pyne so it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­body in­volved to read the doc­u­men­ta­tion care­fully.

‘‘Each time I set this up with a com­pany I tell them ‘this is so im­por­tant’, be­cause if they take a per­sonal in­ter­est in it, they’ll do the best they can do, ‘‘ she said.

‘‘My big­gest fear is that it’s go­ing to melt. Some­body hasn’t read the pa­per­work and they don’t put it in the freezer on the stopovers, and they lose it.’’

PHOTO: JIM CHIPP

Re­becca Pyne with her spe­cial Antarc­tic ice.

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