For the first time in 120,000 years, scientists have the chance to peer into the aquatic environs of the seabed around Antarctica, reports USA Today.
In July 2017, an enormous part of the Larsen Ice Shelf, which covers Antarctica, broke off and provided access to the watery depths below. The British Antarctic Survey has put together a team that will be arriving at the scene within three weeks. Time is of the essence.
“It’s important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize,” expedition leader Katrin Linse has exclaimed.
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The ‘calving’ of 12 percent of the Larsen Ice Shelf, weighing an estimated 1 TRILLION tons, has exposed 2,200 square miles of seabed.
The team of scientists, from a variety of fields of study, are traveling by ship and will animal and plant samples, microbes, plankton, sediments and water samples that a Green Peace remote submersible found were in plenty of supply.
“The calving of A-68 [the name of the 1 trillion-ton iceberg] provides us with a unique opportunity to study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change,” said Linse.
— Archipelago Films (@Arch_Film) February 12, 2018
“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,” Linse added. “It’s very exciting.”
Science director of the team, David Vaughan, is quoted as saying that “the calving of A-68 offers a new and unprecedented opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary scientific research program in this climate sensitive region. Now is the time to address fundamental questions about the sustainability of polar continental shelves under climate change.”
“We need to be bold on this one,” Vaughan said. “Larsen C is a long way south and there’s lots of sea ice in the area, but this is important science, so we will try our best to get the team where they need to be.”
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