BAS Antarctic survey underway

Posted: 11/25/2011 in all marine news

Hydro International – 

On the eve of the centenary of Sir Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 20011/12 field season is underway.

The start of the season is marked by the arrival of dozens of scientists and support staff, together with tonnes of equipment and fresh supplies, at BAS’s five Antarctic research stations.

More than twenty ‘deep field’ science teams will live under canvas for weeks or months at a time to collect samples or conduct experiments that will give new insight into the Antarctic environment and try to answer big questions about global issues like climate change.

One remote and inaccessible field camp is Pine Island Glacier. Around 1,400km from BAS’s Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, two scientists and their support mountaineers will use radar and seismic techniques to find out how the most rapidly thinning glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is contributing to global sea level rise.

In the same area of WAIS, preparations are underway for a large ground-based traverse in 2012/13. Giant tractors and a custom built caboose complete with kitchen, shower and sleeping quarters will travel 450kms across challenging Antarctic terrain as part of the iSTAR Programme (the Ice Sheet Stability Research Programme).

Over 90 tonnes of equipment are heading to this remote and hostile location to prepare for next year.

The four-week traverse, which also involves a ship-borne component to take measurements and deploy moorings at the ice edge, will look more closely at how Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers are thinning, the processes involved and how they are contributing to global sea level rise.

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