A glimpse of life on the ice

A glimpse of life on the ice

Those who believe that meteorologists in Australia face significant pressure to accurately predict the weather should consider the challenges encountered by those working in the extreme cold with the Australian Antarctic Program. Lieutenant Holly Boubouras, a Navy meteorologist from the Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit, spent four months at Casey Station during the summer, joining a tradition of Navy meteorologists in this role dating back to 2009.

In addition to providing daily forecasts for Australian stations like Casey, Mawson, and Davis, the on-duty meteorologist supports field science projects, marine forecasts, and operational activities. Lieutenant Boubouras highlights the added complexity of Antarctic meteorology, dubbed the 'A-factor,' which involves limited observation tools, unpredictable weather patterns, and sporadic internet access. Blizzards are frequent, requiring advance warnings to secure equipment and ensure safety.

The team also manages aviation forecasts for local flights and those from Hobart to Wilkins Aerodrome. Lieutenant Boubouras specifically assisted the Million Year Ice Core Project traverse team, offering route forecasts for their 1200km journey inland from Casey Station.

Given the demanding workload, the meteorologist office at the station operates from 4 am, with a rotating roster of forecasters supported by one stationed in Hobart. Despite the challenges, Lieutenant Boubouras finds Antarctica to be the pinnacle of a meteorologist's career, where the absence of traditional transportation necessitates crucial aviation operations. She notes that her deployment significantly honed her skills and expanded her capacity to communicate forecasts effectively.

Returning to Navy forecasting, Lieutenant Boubouras brings with her invaluable experience gained from Antarctica, where she underwent survival training and experienced firsthand the unique environment, including encounters with early Antarctic exploration history and wildlife such as penguins. Reflecting on her time there, she describes Antarctica as more than just a frozen landscape but a testament to resilience and enduring fascination.