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Leigh's day trip to the deep. deep south

ACT Labor’s Andrew Leigh is on a high after a lightning trip to Antarctica.

With  members of two parliamentary committees, he hitched a lift on Thursday with the regular re-supply aircraft that lands on the Wilkins runway, carved into glacial ice.

“It’s feels a lot like landing on a tarmac, just with your pulse running a bit faster,’’ he said.

Dr Leigh and the group had earlier been given a briefing in Hobart on the work being done in Antarctica by Australian scientists  who drilling down hundreds of metres through the ice to examine changes in greenhouse gas concentrations over thousands of years.

‘‘This produces some of our best records of global emission ... and it’s extraordinarily concerning,’’ he said. “Basically what you see is tens of thousands of years of flat lining and then this huge upswing over the past couple of centuries [in carbon dioxide concentration].

‘‘To find CO2 concentration of the order we’re seeing now you have to go back literally millions of years and that’s why we need to do something about human induced climate change.


‘‘It’s an astonishing spot and we were fortunate to have two hours on the ground speaking with the scientists,’’ Dr Leigh said.

‘'We even got to get a short ride in “Priscilla”, the snowbus, so named for its ability to navigate this snow-covered desert.

‘‘I left with a strong sense of the value that comes from our Antarctic research program, and a sense of the research potential of this extraordinary part of the world.

’’Although the aircraft’s engines remained running to avoid freezing, the opposite effect was happening on the runway.

“Anything that’s coloured that’s on the ice immediately starts to melt the ice because it attracts the heat of the sun,’’ Dr Leigh said.

‘‘So, after the aircraft’s wheels scrapped a little bit of rubber during the touch down, someone had to go and scratch off that rubber otherwise it starts to melt the ice and form a big puddle.’’