November 04, 2022 #SustainableChile

Antarctica, sensor of climate change

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On Chilean Antarctica Day, we tell you why the White Continent is a key territory to study the effects of global warming and prevent future climate scenarios.  

At the beginning of the year Chile launched the Climate Change Observatory, a platform that collects and makes available data from a network of sensors strategically located throughout the country, from Visviri in the north to Antarctica in the far south, with the aim of gathering information to formulate public policies based on scientific evidence.

The South Pole is a crucial part of this project, as it is a regulator of many climatic events that occur in Chile. For example, the high temperatures recorded in Antarctica in March 2015 coincided with the floods in the Atacama region on the same date. To understand the relationship between these phenomena, understand the effects of global warming on the White Continent and prevent future climate scenarios, 20 sensors will be installed inside the Chilean Antarctic territory.

In December 2021, the first sensor was installed at the Glaciar Unión base. To date, 4 sensors have already been installed at the Profesor Julio Escudero, Yelcho and Teniente Luis Carvajal bases.

"The importance of the project to provide the Antarctic Peninsula with a network of latitudinally oriented sensors connected to a brain in Punta Arenas is basically to measure the effects of a phenomenon that has various physical expressions. The stations will measure many parameters through highly complex sensors that will be recording and transmitting in real time temperature, pressure and more complex parameters such as albedo and solar radiation. This large number of sensors will collaborate to build images of a continent for which we have very little data and we know that it has a very powerful influence on the global climate, but particularly in Chile," said the director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute, Marcelo Leppe.

The backbone of the Antarctic sensor network includes 2,118 linear kilometers, from the aforementioned Professor Julio Escudero bases to the Union Glacier Joint Polar Station, thus becoming the southernmost permanent sensor network that the country has installed so far in Antarctica.

These devices are capable of measuring wind speed and direction, solar radiation, air, water and soil temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, snow depth, and sea level and temperature, among other climatic factors. For these reasons, sensors are a tremendously valuable tool to better understand the dynamics of Antarctic ecosystems and, in turn, devise future development models based on quality scientific information.


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