Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Scientists to retrace explorer’s Antarctic route to track changes in region

expedition by Liam Quinn via flickr

An Australian team of 46 people will repeat the journey that Sir Douglas Mawson made in Antarctica from 1911-14 in order to register the changes that have occurred in the region.

The expedition, led by Prof Chris Turney and Dr Chris Fogwill of the University of New South Wales’ Climate Change Research Centre, will start in November and will take six weeks.

They want to repeat the journey of Australian geologist Mawson, and track changes in the ocean, wildlife, weather, geology and ice cover, thanks to modern technological tools.

Turney said, “Antarctica remains one of the last, great unexplored regions on Earth. It is a unique place to monitor the health of our planet. We want to discover just how much has changed since Mawson’s time.

He added to the Sydney Morning Herald ”They generated a vast amount of data and things like the saltiness of the water is today a very useful measure of how much of the ice is melting.”

The exploration, which will cost $1.5m and be funded privately, will allow the researchers to sample the ice sheet to detect relevant changes in its composition.

The crew will experience severe weather conditions such as strong winds, temperatures below 20C and 24-hour daylight.

Antarctica is one the most affected areas of the world by climate change. Studies have shown that ice is melting quickly because of warming oceans, while increasing quantities of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is causing an increase of sea levels.

Further reading:

Antarctic region melting twice as fast as first feared

Comprehensive study shows extent of ice loss increase

British and Chilean Antarctic research centres set for collaboration

Warm ocean currents melting Antarctica

Thin Ice: inside climate science

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