When Ballarat teacher Colleen Filippa signed up for an icy expedition to Antartica she was expecting to see plenty of snow.
What she was not anticipating was the extent of the effect of climate change on the ice-covered landmass.
“I saw some examples of climate change, such as melting glaciers, sites that should be covered with snow were bare and (there was) rain – you don’t expect rain on the driest continent in the world,” she said.
Ms Filippa, who is a teacher at Ballarat’s Earth Ed, was one of 76 women with backgrounds in science who were chosen for the women-only exhibition which focused on learning more about global challenges, including climate change.
“It was an amazing 21 days at sea with 76 women of science from all fields including krill experts, meteorologists, climate scientists and geologists,” she said.
“I learnt about climate change from the women on board the ship and also from scientists I met at the Antarctic stations.”
Ms Filippa, who was joined on the voyage by Federation University scientist and climate change researcher Jessica Reeves, said while she was aware of environmental issues, she was still shocked by the examples of climate change on the mostly uninhabited continent.
“I was reminded what we are fighting for when it comes to climate change action. I’ve come home with a renewed purpose to up the ante on living more sustainably and taking the message of climate action into the community via presentations and my classes,” she said.
“Climate change is real, 97 per cent of climate scientists say it is happening and we can see the evidence ourselves.
“People need to simply care about our planet and make sustainability an integral part of their lives.”
Ms Filippa will this month visit schools to talk about her experiences.
As part of the Homeward Bound Expedition, the 76 women also took part in leadership development work to help heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background to influence policy and decision making processes.
With a current lack of women in leadership roles in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field in Australia, Ms Filippa is urging younger generations to consider a career in science.
“Science can take you anywhere you want to go,” she said.
“If you are inquisitive and want to make a real difference in this world, consider a science career.”
Applications for the next exhibition are currently open, and will close on February 20.
For more information visit www.homewardboundprojects.com.au
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