SA Agulhas team breaking the ice on exploring global warming
ENVIRONMENTAL Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane wished the Antarctica-bound SA National Antarctic Expedition (Sanae) 58 scientific research team a safe journey and a voyage full of discovery.
The SA Agulhas II – dedicated to Miriam Makeba – left for Antarctica yesterday.
On board South Africa’s polar research and supply vessel is the 58th scientific expedition team to Antarctica.
They will spend 14 months at the South African research base, Sanae IV.
“These adventurous and brave members of the Sanae 58 team, leaving for Antarctica, on board the SA Agulhas II, will face extreme weather conditions while conducting important national research in Antarctica,” Mokonyane said.
South Africa is one of the original 12 signatories of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and the first Sanae was undertaken in 1959.
The expedition established a permanent presence for South Africa in Antarctica that still exists.
“The Sanae 58 team will collect long-term data, such as sea surface temperature, oxygen and carbon measurements, which are instrumental to further enhancing our understanding of present day global climate change, and will be used for fundamental research in a number of areas.
“For example, South African and international weather forecasts rely heavily on the availability of data inputs from this region, and having this continuous data set will enable better prediction of severe weather phenomena in the context of global climate change,” Mokonyane said.
During this voyage, the SA Agulhas II will also play a starring role in the historic, international multidisciplinary Weddell Sea Expedition.
This expedition, which will be taking place in January and February, is the most important non-governmental scientific expedition for two decades.
With funding from the Flotilla Foundation, the team of world-leading glaciologists, marine biologists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists will venture into remote regions of the Weddell Sea.
They will uncover vital new scientific data to improve the understanding of the area, using that knowledge to contribute towards the protection of the region.
Research will be focused on the Larsen C ice shelf to provide valuable new insights into the local ecosystem, documenting the rich and little-studied marine environment, surveying the sea floor and under the ice, and documenting the little-studied biological systems that lie beneath the ice shelf.
This is now possible with the use of the latest autonomous underwater vehicles that will be taken on board the SA Agulhas II.
“South African scientists and research entities, working alongside their international peers, will play a key role in the 45-day Weddell Sea Expedition.
“We hope the Weddell Sea Expedition will inspire more of our young scientists about Antarctica, its importance to our young democracy and South Africa’s presence there,” Mokonyane said.
The Sanae 58 team will collect long-term data such as sea surface temperature, oxygen and carbon measurements Nomvula Mokonyane
Minister of Environmental Affairs