Eleven women and men with four transport vehicles and 60 tons of cargo are preparing to set out on a 3000 kilometre-long expedition to previously unexplored parts of the Antarctic. Here they will drill ice cores, which will provide information on how the climate was 1000 years ago, gather meteorological data, map lakes under the ice sheets, measure the exact thickness of the ice and movement of the masses of ice, collect reference information for satellite data and use unmanned aircrafts with radars to study the ice's properties. They will stay a total of three months in the ice field.
"This is one of the least explored areas in the world, where we lack registrations of crucial parameters such as temperature, ice movements and precipitation. We hope to provide some answers to one of the great climate issues: What is happening to the ice in Antarctica?" says director Jan-Gunnar Winther at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Winther heads the Norwegian part of the expedition. At the moment he is at the Troll Station with the rest of the crew, making the last preparations before departure.
The team has spent two and a half years preparing for the expedition. They have had health and dental check-ups, they have met as a group several times to make plans, carry out tests and prepare themselves. A lot of things have to be in order when you are going into unexplored areas like this.
By January 28 they have to be at the South Pole to deliver samples taken to an American ship. In order to make it on time, they need to keep a tight schedule. Work days will be 12 hours, seven days a week. Scientists and technicians will be living in special containers on the transport vehicles, which also contain small laboratories. The team will keep in contact with the outside world by means of satellite communication; an important part of the expedition is to communicate what they are doing. Their Internet pages will be updated on a daily basis.Good chemistry
"It's extremely important that we work well as a team. After all we are on top of each other for a long time and under very special conditions. If we are not in tune, psychologically and socially, our work may suffer," Winther says.
Therefore, selecting the scientists and technicians was a meticulous process, he explains.
"First and foremost we had to have a crew which was widely experienced with polar issues, in addition to their technical skills. We needed people with knowledge and skills to operate the massive, highly advanced instruments we carry. We have also tried to balance the number of men and women and the number of American and Norwegian scientists, and we've considered personal qualities and abilities.No freak accidents
"We are completely isolated. Help is days away, should an accident happen. Under these conditions small injuries may quickly turn serious. The crew is prepared to keep a strong discipline to avoid accidents at work," Winther says.
What happens beneath the ice?
An important part of the trip will be to form an impression of the ice's thickness, its features, change and movement.
"The sea level is expected to rise by approximately half a metre this century. In today's situation the main single reason for this is that water expands when it is heated. Furthermore, ice melting from glaciers is a contributing factor. So far glaciers outside Greenland and Antarctica have contributed to this. These glaciers represent a mere 0.3 percent of all the earth's ice, while 7.9 percent of it is in Greenland and a formidable 91.8 percent in Antarctica," Winther says. He is concerned that mechanisms such as changes in the ice movement patterns or dynamics are not included in today's climate models.
Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences