Compilation and critique of PCAS environmental monitoring fixed point photo survey and visual assessment of ground disturbance
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Since 2004, environmental monitoring has been undertaken in the vicinity of Scott Base by students participating in the Postgraduate Certificate of Antarctic Studies (PCAS). This is performed on behalf of Antarctica New Zealand (AntNZ) and, as a part of a wider environmental impact assessment scheme, fulfils monitoring obligations under national and international regulations. PCAS students have gathered a range of information for five projects; a fixed point photo survey, a waste audit, visual assessment of ground disturbances, vegetation monitoring, and litter surveys. A selection of these projects is performed annually and the results and recommendations supplied to AntNZ. To date there has been no compilation of data collected each year and therefore a lack of meaningful results showing temporal trends. There has also been no administrative review of the projects since the pilot in 2004/05 and the reports and recommendations provided to AntNZ annually range in quality and utility. This report compiles the data from the fixed point photo survey and visual assessment of ground disturbance projects. A critique of each project is also included including suggesting changes to project design in the future. The compiled fixed point photos show little change in the Scott Base environment since 2006. The majority of the changes track the movement of temporary storage around the base. This information is superficial and of little use to AntNZ. It is recommended that the project include more photo points looking away from Scott Base to track growth in the Scott Base footprint. To allow better comparison of photos a database of original photos should also be established. Data from visual assessment of ground disturbances has limited usefulness in its raw form. Location of monitoring has differed each year and so analysis of temporal changes is not yet possible. There has also been variation in the quality of observations in past years so the assessment form has been changed to provide clear criteria for future observers. Geographic Information System (GIS) software was used to analyse compiled data and the maps created suggest that, as would be expected, disturbance decreases with distance from Scott Base facilities and infrastructure. If this data is used as a baseline to monitor changes over time, this project has the potential to effectively track cumulative impacts in the Scott Base environment.