August 30, 2022 #ChileSustentable

Antarctic Science: The 7 lines of research promoted by Chile

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Climate change, resilience and adaptation of the Antarctic ecosystem are some of the areas of study that seek to strengthen and deepen knowledge about the polar environment.

On August 30, 1916, the first action of the Chilean State in Antarctica took place, which consisted in the rescue of the Chilean Navy pilot, Luis Pardo Villalón, to the crew participating in the Imperial Transantarctic expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Today, 106 years later, our country is present on the White Continent with 14 bases and shelters in different parts of the Chilean Antarctic territory. In 1964 the Chilean Antarctic Institute was created, which has as part of its objectives to encourage the development of scientific research in the area. Currently, the National Antarctic Science Program has 7 lines of research:

  1. The state of the Antarctic ecosystem

Its objective is to understand current patterns of biological diversity in order to differentiate between the impacts of processes based on signals from the past, and to understand and develop future scenarios with a multidisciplinary approach. This research has made it possible to evaluate the contribution of environmental changes to evolutionary processes in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

  1. Antarctic thresholds: ecosystem resilience and adaptation

The Southern Ocean and the Antarctic continent are not immune to the effects of human activities. Rising atmospheric and sea surface temperatures, ice retreat, ocean acidification, changes in wind regimes, plastic pollution and increasing human presence are observable phenomena whose trends are becoming more evident year after year. This line studies how Antarctic organisms have adapted to the particular conditions of this region and how they might respond to environmental changes.

  1. Climate change in Antarctica

The threat of a global climate crisis urgently challenges both humanity's ability to understand key aspects of recent environmental changes and to take action. These research projects focus on answering questions associated with climate variability on different temporal and spatial scales, considering the characterization of cryospheric processes and variability and interactions with associated terrestrial, atmospheric and oceanic geosystems.

  1. Astronomy and earth sciences

The projects in this line of research focus on the study and understanding of the interactions between the terrestrial and cryospheric environments. They seek knowledge of the processes that occur within and at the interfaces of the terrestrial, oceanic, cryospheric and atmospheric systems of the planet. This area also integrates projects in the disciplines of space physics and astronomical observation.

  1. Biotechnologies

This line of research considers the molecular, metabolic and physiological characteristics of Antarctic organisms, in an effort to use these or their derivatives (biomolecules) for the creation or modification of products, applications or processes for specific uses. These may include proposals for innovative solutions to problems such as drought, energy optimization or battles against bacteria, among others.

  1. Human footprints in Antarctica

It promotes the study of the impact of the human footprint in Antarctica through the detection of persistent organic compounds in fauna and other harmful chemical compounds introduced through tourism, logistic operations and scientific activities. Some questions it seeks to answer are: what significant consequences will be observed from anthropogenic impacts on the Antarctic ecosystem; how will humans and pathogens affect and adapt to Antarctic environments; how will regulatory mechanisms evolve to cope with the increasing pace of Antarctic tourism; and how will the Antarctic ecosystem evolve to cope with the increasing pace of Antarctic tourism.

  1. Social sciences and humanities

These branches of study play an essential role in the reflection on the future of the country and the world with regard to Antarctica. In this line, we seek to answer simple but profound questions: how can we distinguish natural from man-made environmental changes, how does this knowledge affect Antarctic governance, how will external pressures and changes in geopolitical power configurations affect Antarctic governance and science, and how will Antarctic governance and science be affected by external pressures and changes in geopolitical power configurations?

 

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