Nearly 300 people are taking part in the 35th Spanish Antarctic Campaign, which includes more than 26 scientific projects

News - 2021.12.20

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More than 26 Spanish scientific projects and other international collaboration activities are planned for this campaign, one of the most ambitious in recent years, bringing together nearly 300 participants including scientific and technical staff and crew.

The first group of Spanish participants in the campaign departed on board the ship Sarmiento de Gamboa from Punta Arenas (Chile) on 11 December, after seven days of quarantine in the country. After several days of waiting on Livingston Island due to bad weather conditions, the technical staff of the BAE Juan Carlos I was able to disembark on Friday 17 December to begin work on the opening of the base, which is now operational.

The protocol for the monitoring and opening of the Gabriel de Castilla LSA, located on Deception Island, where an active volcano is located, is expected to be completed later this week. The scientific team responsible for volcano monitoring will observe and assess the island's volcanic activity in order to proceed with the safe opening of the Antarctic base.

The Sarmiento de Gamboa is also scheduled to sail to Ushuaia in the next few days to begin the second of the four crossings of the Drake Passage to be made during this campaign. The third group of scientists will embark there to participate in one of the 26 Spanish scientific projects that will be carried out in this edition, covering disciplines as diverse as glacier dynamics, geomorphology, seismology, volcanology, rock biometeorisation, geodesy, aerosols and penguin ecology.

Specifically, a marine geophysics project will be carried out on board the Sarmiento de Gamboa, while the BIO Hespérides, which will join the campaign on 18 January, will carry out a marine geology project and another on atmospheric chemical pollutants. Both the bases and the ships will be supported by the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) for weather forecasting and the National Geographic Institute for volcanic monitoring.

The 26 planned projects include four historical Antarctic research series that have been collecting data at the bases for more than 25 years and provide data to international networks, for example on frozen soils and seismic movements.

The Spanish bases will also provide logistical support for the development of a dozen international projects with countries such as Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Colombia and Bulgaria. Two of the Spanish projects will also work at the Artigas base (Uruguay) and King Sejong (South Korea).

Spanish Antarctic Campaign

This edition of the Antarctic research campaign marks 35 years of uninterrupted scientific research projects on the frozen continent. The last edition had restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this year's campaign has also taken measures to ensure that the campaign is conducted safely.

The Spanish Antarctic Campaign is a model of cooperation between different public and private institutions at the service of R&D, within the framework of the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation.

The Ministry of Science and Innovation spends an average of 10 million euros a year on the Antarctic research campaign. Specifically, the Ministry finances the operation and maintenance of the ships Hespérides and Sarmiento de Gamboa and the expenses associated with the general logistics of the campaign, and collaborates in the expenses of the Spanish Antarctic bases Gabriel de Castilla and Juan Carlos I. For its part, the State Research Agency finances most of the research projects. The Spanish Polar Committee coordinates the activities carried out by the different organisations during the campaigns.

The entities participating in these activities are the Marine Technology Unit of the CSIC, which manages the Sarmiento de Gamboa and the BAE Juan Carlos I on Livingston Island and coordinates the general logistics of the Antarctic campaign; the Spanish Army, which manages the BAE Gabriel de Castilla on Deception Island; and the Spanish Navy, which operates the BIO Hespérides. Both the ships and the Antarctic bases form part of the Spanish map of Singular Scientific and Technological Infrastructures (ICTS), facilities, resources or services that are exceptional in their kind, with very high investment, maintenance and operating costs, and whose importance and strategic nature justifies their availability for the entire R&D community.

Non official translation