Antarctic research climate

According to a recent news, a team of scientists led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is planning to head to Antarctica to explore a mysterious alien world trapped under the Antarctic for 120,000 years.

An iceberg namely A68, which is four times the size of London calved off from the Larsen ice shelf in July 2017, revealing a marine ecosystem that has never been explored by scientists before.

“We don’t know anything about it, it has been covered by an ice shelf that is several hundred meters thick,” Dr. Katrin Linse, a marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) who is leading the mission.

The team plans to study the ecosystem by gathering seafloor animals, microbes, plankton, sediments and water samples using a variety of equipment including video cameras and sledge.

Dr. Linse said that the calving of A68 provides them with a great opportunity to study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change.

The scientists are concerned that with the passing of time, as sunlight hits the water, the area will be colonized by phytoplankton, which are tiny creatures that use sunlight for their nutrition. As these living organisms will not have been present in the ecosystem before, their presence is expected to cause fundamental changes to the creatures found in the previous ecosystem.

Dr. Linse said, “It’s important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize. We’ve put together a team with a wide range of scientific skills so that we can collect as much information as possible in a short time. It’s very exciting.”

The team is said to leave their base in the Falkland Islands in late February to spend three weeks aboard the RRS James Clark Ross, a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research vessel.

The area exposed by the splitting iceberg is the first to benefit from an international agreement set out to protect newly exposed marine regions, making them Special Areas for Scientific Study.

Apart from investigating the life dwelling in the area, the team also aims to find out if the splitting of the Larsen ice shelf happened due to climate change or some other reason. This allows them to predict the stability of the Antarctic region under climate change in the times to come.

Many may think that Antarctica’s isolation has a negligible effect on human life and the environment in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, the stability of Antarctica plays a vital role in maintaining the conditions under which humans, plants and other species survive on earth.  Scientific research in the continent is essential for the future of our ecosystem globally as the regions can provide a deeper understanding of the changes that are crucial to the entire planet.

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