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  • Writer's pictureAPECS Belgium

Antarctica Day 2021

Today is the 1st of December and it’s Antarctica Day!!!! We commemorate the day that the Antarctic Treaty was signed, which occurred on the 1st of December 1959.The Antarctic Treaty states that the Antarctic continent should be and remain a preserve for science and peace, allow for free scientific investigation and perhaps most importantly, ban any military activity from taking place on the continent (and represents the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War!). If you’re keen to read more about the Antarctic Treaty, check out this Wikipedia page or the website of the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty!

Here, at APECS Belgium, we thought Antarctica Day was the perfect opportunity to tell you a little about which research projects involving Belgian research will be going on this year, with all the scientists on their way, or soon to be on their way, to the Belgian station: Princess Elisabeth Station!!! (By the way, you can read about all the preparations happening at the station itself too, in this blog article from the IPF!).

Photo credit: International Polar Foundation

This year, a total of seven research projects will be ongoing from the Belgian station over the next few months. Let us give you a quick overview:

  1. CLIMB: this project involves meteorological measurements around the station and nearby nunataks to better understand aerosol-cloud interactions and their influence on the surface mass balance in East Antarctica. CLIMB is coordinated by the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium with partners from Ghent University, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.

  2. ACME: this project involves launching weather balloons from the station to take daily radio soundings and measure temperature, wind speed, humidity, precipitation, and air pressure of the atmosphere. ACME is a collaboration between the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute, the International Polar Foundation, and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research.

  3. AWDA: this project will be trying to detect whistler waves, or very low frequency electromagnetic waves generated by lightning! This project is led by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.

  4. BAMM-DIABASE: this involves two projects in one! Collecting meteorites around the station and on the blue ice fields near the Sor Rondane mountains, as well as terrestrial samples on the moraines of the Sor Rondane mountains. These projects involve the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, with international partners (the National Institute of Polar Research and the Centre européen de recherche et d’enseignement de géosciences de l’environnement)

  5. Mass2Ant: this project involves collecting surface mass balance measurements in the form of ground-penetrating radar and polarimetric radar measurements, shallow core measurements, lidar scanning and snow composition sampling at the Lokeryggen ice rise, near the coast, as well as a along the way from the station to the ice rise (about 200 km away). This project is collaboration between the Université Catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Institut Royal Météorologique de Belgique, the University of Colorado and the Delft University of Technology.

  6. RECTO: this project involves studying the impact of microplastics on the snow petrel colonies, assess marine biodiversity with traps, nets and also ROVs, as well as visit the emperor penguin colony for counting. This project involves the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Université de Liège, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Universiteit Gent and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Finally, if you’re feeling in the mood for Antarctic stories and adventures, go check out the APECS’ Antarctica Day Webinar series, where researchers and staff members will share their first-hand experiences of working in Antarctica! There will also be some live interventions from the stations!!

Have a good Antarctica Day!! From all of us at APECS Belgium

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