A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and the University of Auckland have arrived in Antarctica ahead of the start of a major expedition there. Over the next few months, the team will conduct a survey of how climate change affects marine biodiversity in and around the frozen continent, as they spend several weeks at a time at various campsites and even go diving beneath the ice to search for signs of how our warming planet is changing the ecosystem there.
Part of the team arrived at New Zealand’s Scott Base a few days back, and have been busily preparing for the start of their actual expedition. That includes packing their gear and supplies, preparing food, and completing last minute tasks before they depart for their first stop out on the ice. They’ve already been posting daily updates to the Science Under the Ice Facebook page, where we’ve learned that a nasty snow storm has socked them in over the past couple of days. That has delayed some flights out of Christchurch which would have brought the remaining members of the team, but this is not uncommon for this time of year, as the Antarctic winter is still subsiding and the weather will be fairly unpredictable for a few more weeks.
The team plans on making regular updates from the field, sharing video, photos, and blog posts about their findings. To that end, they have brought 32 cameras, three drones, one remotely controlled submarine, and five 360 degree VR cameras with them. That should allow them to capture some interesting images and video clips of the journey, and making it fun to follow along from a nice, warm place back home.
This will be one of the first comprehensive survey’s of the impact of climate change on the creatures that inhabit the waters around Antarctica. Members of the research team will be making multiple dives beneath the ice, where they will observe a unique ecosystem that is surprisingly teeming with life. There are a host of creatures that have adapted well to these frigid environments, but as the ocean warms they could face sever challenges.
Follow the squad on Facebook to get regular updates on their progress and checkout the video below that is a teaser of what they’re up to.
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