POLAR WRITING

‘EVERYTHING PLAYING OUT IN THE ARCTIC MUST COME HOME TO ROOST IN ANTARCTICA’

As the first South African female reporter to oversummer in Antarctica, I work at the leading edge of covering the issues shaping Far South — and North.

Spanning two decades, my polar reporting has appeared in Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet, the American Polar Society’s Polar Times, the Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica, the Sunday Times and more.

My field assignments have helped to animate life at both poles. This work includes:

  • The moment in January 2021 when Russian LNG vessels crossed paths on the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route for the first time in winter without icebreakers.
  • Also in 2021, my investigative series showed that Russia had combed the Antarctic for fossil fuels and minerals since the 1998 mining ban kicked into force.
  • I have spent three months at South Africa’s Antarctic station and visited Norway’s Troll station in the Antarctic hinterland; reported on extremophiles from polar mountain tops; joined defence force personnel on a 400km cargo haul; and sailed the Southern Ocean to cover news/science events.

In the words of polar law expert Donald Rothwell, ‘The issues playing out in front of us in the Arctic must — subject to challenges like available markets — come home to roost in the Southern Ocean.’

Whether on Earth or in the outer realms, the human story is deeply embedded in the poles, as my reporting on global change, the climate crisis, the natural sciences and space sciences helps to show. Browse my latest features for more.

Exclusive | Heatpocrisy: Inside the rich and powerful nexus sizing up Earth’s last unmined frontier

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

IMG-5901
Potential exploitation of Antarctic mineral resources appears to be hardwired into Russia’s current natural resources action plan. Source: Daily Maverick

Talks to create Antarctic marine parks have hit fatal waters, yet again. Now Daily Maverick can shine a spotlight on a major treaty that churns out top climate science — while also letting the rich and powerful probe Earth’s last unmined frontier for Southern Ocean fossil fuels. Read the full story

Exclusive: Using Cape Town as launchpad, Russia boasts of supergiant oil fields in Antarctic wilderness

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

IMG-5900
There are 500 billion barrels of Southern Ocean oil and gas, says Russian geological exploration holding company Rosgeo. Source: Daily Maverick

As Antarctic Treaty nations release the Paris Declaration, a new climate manifesto, Daily Maverick can reveal this international investigation: Russia has combed the fragile Southern Ocean for oil and gas on a staggering scale after Antarctica’s mining ban formally entered into force more than two decades ago. Read the full story

Making heaven in a lab: Scientists solve aurora mystery

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Aurora Alaska
Electrons are living their best lives as they barrel through the magnetosphere at speeds up to 20,000 km/s. Source: Daily Maverick

Wave-driven electrons prove key to celestial light show’s stunning signature over poles. Read the full story

Exclusive: ‘Young people are in big trouble’ if the future is gas — James Hansen, father of climate change awareness

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

James Hansen Tiara-January-27-main-option-3
Hansen is a proponent of modular fourth-generation nuclear power. Source: Daily Maverick

A Russian LNG mission has congratulated itself on smashing through the melting Arctic for the first time in January, raising temperatures within the science community. Read the full story

Breaking: For the first time in an Arctic winter, commercial vessels traverse Far North from opposite sides

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Container ship in the sea at winter time
The shipping demonstration — entirely without ice-breaking help — marks a watershed moment in climate politics. Source: Daily Maverick

Gas tankers meet at New Siberian Islands in a historic Russian test voyage, as polar mercury hits record highs. Read the full story

‘Red Seas’ of Mars: discovery of polar ‘salt lakes’ shifts planetary frontiers

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit


The bombshell detection of a stable patchwork of liquid-water bodies tips our knowledge of Mars into new and exciting territory. Source: Daily Maverick

Beneath the Martian south pole lurks a network of liquid-water bodies, hailed as a breakthrough insight into our sister world – and maybe even life beyond Earth. Read the full story

Antarctica: A mysterious continent filled with teeming life in need of our protection

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit

Ahlmannryggen, Queen Maud Land
The Ahlmanryggen of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Photo: Tiara Walters

A major conservation study on Antarctica urges polar powers to stop, collaborate and listen — but will resource-hungry governments care enough about seals, penguins and whales to do so? Read the full story

Historic climate expedition shatters polar records

For Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet unit, with the Alfred Wegener Institute

Arktis.MOSAiC_2019-20_SteffenGraupner_5101-1600x1066
The icebreakers Polarstern (Germany) and Kapitan Dranitsyn (Russia) on the Arctic ice for the multi-country, year-long MOSAiC polar expedition. Photo: Ernst Stürmer

Taking its blueprint from Fridtjof Nansen’s ‘Arctic Drift’ mission 130 years ago, a new quest for science ventures farther north in winter than ever before. Read the full story

Other polar highlights

Download ‘Lava at first sight’, SAA’s inflight magazine

Inside South Africa’s Prince Edward archipelago in the sub-Antarctic and the environmental challenges facing this relative geological newcomer.

Tiara Walters Marion Island

Download ‘The silence of the sirens’, House and Leisure

During this expedition to the world’s ‘driest, windiest, coldest and highest’ wilderness, I found Antarctica’s soul in its all-encompassing quiet.

2014 JUNE HOUSE AND LEISURE

Download ‘A feeling for snow’, Sunday Times

Braais, 18-ton old ladies and nude slumber parties in mummy bags — I reveal the nuances of a South African expedition to Antarctica, and my place in it.

Polar diesel guys

Download ‘Sailing to the sirens’, Sunday Times

On becoming the first South African female journalist to spend a summer at the bottom of the world.

Pole Dancing - Tiara Walters

PLUS:

ENGINEERING NEWS: ‘An inside account of the trials behind building South Africa’s emergency Antarctic base’

TIMES LIVE: ‘Warm welcome for an ice maiden: South Africa takes delivery of its R1-billion polar vessel’

DAILY MAVERICK: Peer-reviewed study in Nature sounds alarm about new ways in which humanity’s favourite material, plastic, is spreading to Earth’s remotest oceans

Banner image: Tiarawalters.com