Authored by Kirsten Maclean


It is 6 a.m. I am grateful to be an ‘early riser’ given it’s a glorious morning in Antarctica. I stand on the deck of the Island Sky, rugged up in my multiple layers and enjoy the feeling of the crisp morning air on my skin. It is 0’c (32’F). There is no wind. The light is clear and bright. The Island Sky makes gentle ripples in the surface of the ocean as it moves quietly towards Wiencke Island, our next destination. We are surrounded by icebergs. Stunning mountains of ice. Blues and whites that are reflected perfectly in the calm surface of the Southern Ocean. I am in complete awe of this magnificent place.  I feel humble, proud, awe-struck, moved. I take a breath, my heart beats, I have no words to express the beauty of this moment in time.

At Palmer Station (a US research station located on Anvers Island), our volunteer guide points to the nearby glacier and explains that, at present, it recedes at approximately 10 meters (30 feet) per year.  He joins with us to enthuse about the beauty of the icebergs that we can see from our vantage point and reminisces that this time last year there were none.

I send a message with photographs to my family in Australia. They exclaim about the beauty of the icebergs. I am grateful that the Island Sky has sufficient connectivity to share part of this experience with them in real time. Yet, I can’t capture in words the emotion of bearing personal and direct witness to the effects of our changing climate.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Maclean


Homeward Bound teaches us the centrality of emergent, adaptive, and distributed leadership to approach uncertainties of changing social ecological systems.  I make a personal commitment to work with the women of Homeward Bound to share the emotions we experience in Antarctica with our spheres of influence. I make this commitment to ensure, as articulated by Antonio Gutierres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on his recent trip to Antarctica in advance of COP28, that “What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica”.