Scientists to brave stormy seas for 90-day trip around Antarctica

Scientists to brave stormy seas for 90-day trip around Antarctica

The Russian research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov will host the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition.

A three-month scientific voyage to explore the ocean around Antarctica will bring together 55 scientists from 30 countries in a first-of-its-kind mission this month.

Known as the "Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition," researchers will study the impact of climate change and pollution in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

"A better understanding of Antarctica is critical, not just for its preservation, but for the whole planet," the expedition said in a statement.

The ship, the Russian research vessel Akademik Treshnikov, will depart from Cape Town, South Africa, on Dec. 20. On board will be experts in glaciology, climatology, biology, oceanography and other disciplines. Some 22 different scientific projects will be undertaken.

“The poles are essential for climate balance, but they are also the regions where changes are most apparent,” said Philippe Gillet, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, one of the groups that sponsored the mission.

Scientists to brave stormy seas for 90-day trip around Antarctica

A fin whale surfaces near Antarctica. The mission will study marine life around the continent.

The expedition also aims to spark the interest of a new generation of young scientists and explorers in polar research.

Though there were some missions around Antarctica in the 1950s, this will be the first to explore some of the little-known islands around the continent and their role in the region, said David Walton, the expedition's chief scientist.

"We hope to link some of the well-known areas to some of the largely unknown, to promote new ways of looking at the Southern Ocean and the islands," Walton said.

The mission will mainly study the ocean and islands around Antarctica. Work on the continent will only occur near the Mertz Glacier Tongue, where the team will use a sophisticated Canadian underwater vehicle to examine marine life under the ice shelf, Walton said.

The mission is organized by the newly formed Swiss Polar Institute, a group of scientific institutions and universities based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Scientists to brave stormy seas for 90-day trip around Antarctica

Seas could get a little rough as the ship makes its way around Antarctica. This is aboard another ship from a prior mission.



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