Raid science “is becoming true road in Antarctica”

Source: PARIS (AFP) – 30/12/2011

Written Abdullah Al Abbadi

French scientists who are advancing since Dec. 20 on the plateau of Antarctica is gradually approaching the Russian Vostok base , they are expected to join next week, with long stops for drilling and sampling to better understand the Climate Change.

“You become real road of Antarctica,” slips Laurent Arnaud, a research engineer at the Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysics of the Environment (LGGE) in the daily diary of the expedition (www.institut-polar. en).

The first scientific and logistics, on land that has been violated by the objectives of the satellites, was mounted by several laboratories attached to the CNRS with support from the French Polar Institute.

The team – five scientists and three logisticians – moves with three tractors and a snow grooming on a plateau over 3,000 m, in temperatures of the the austral summer verging least 30 °. The tractor pulling a trailer “life” (housing) and a caravan “science” (laboratories), two containers for equipment and ice cores, and tanks of fuel, to power vehicles.

In addition to four glaciologists, a seismologist collecting the results of seismic sensors developed by airline several years ago. Weather stations are installed. At Vostok, a Russian and a Swiss researcher will join the team.

Advantage of the Franco-Italian Concordia base , the raid must retrieve ice samples to learn about changes in climate and environmental parameters over the last 300 years.

“Having both data and temperature data on the composition of the atmosphere through the bubbles in the ice, is an asset ice cores,” said Michel Fily, deputy director of the Observatory of Science from the world of Grenoble.

The team also wants to locate somewhere between Concordia and Vostok site – will be called point Barnola, in honor of a scientist gone – to retrieve an ice one day old of more than a million years ago. “A project will be at least 10 years,” said Michel Fily.

To do this, they will find particularly low snowfall, a thick shell and topography of a favorable underlying basement . With luck, after a deep drilling, to solve a puzzle “major”: the possible link between the accumulation of atmospheric CO2 and global warming occurred there a million years. The oldest ice ever retrieved at Concordia, has only 800,000 years.
The first part of the tour is led by Michel and he said the boreholes of 20m, the “spectro-albedometer” to measure the optical properties of snow, are the difficulties of progress on these pristine snow where one goes …
Wednesday 21-Dec-2011, no movement, but a “big day’s work,” said Laurent Arnaud: “Well for chemistry and isotopes”, “bottles of snow for biology and mercury,” “measurements of density and structure of the Snow, “” mercury and ozone in the atmosphere “… Conclusion: “three boxes of core and a box of samples from the well.” The atmosphere is “very good”, he said.

The next day the equipment bogged down constantly, and we need 11 hours to drive 30 km. Practically “no science”.

The days are long – more than 14 hours on December 27. On the evening of 24 is still the party.

And the next day the road again, depending on winds, snow quality and drilling to achieve. End of raid scheduled for late January.

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