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CECs, Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies) is a private, non-profit corporation, devoted to the development, promotion and diffusion of scientific research. CECs was founded in 1984 as the Center for Scientific Studies of Santiago and has since been directed by physicist Claudio Bunster.



Progress made on the second Antarctic expedition PDF Print E-mail

On December 9th, we travelled almost 90 km, from the ALE base camp, 650 m above sea level at Union Glacier, to a point on the inland plateau, 1700m above sea level, at the headwaters of the Institute Glacier to the south of the Ellsworth Mountains. All systems functioned according to plan. We detected ice thicknesses of 1500 m in the blue-ice area of Union Glacier where large freight aircraft land.

 

Before reaching the plateau, we travelled through several glaciated valleys surrounded by steep mountain ranges, which had very beautiful sedimentary and metamorphic rock formations. We collected rock and sediment samples from the surrounding areas, where lichens were also found. These samples will be forwarded to Valdivia for genetic analysis by CECs biologists to better understand how these life forms live under such extreme environmental conditions, spending more than six months of the year in complete darkness and subject to extreme wind speeds and average annual air temperatures of less than -27 °C.

 

December 10th dawned with bad weather, a snowstorm with winds of more than 45 km/hr, the sky completely overcast, temperatures of less than -23 °C and snow blinding. Because of this, we had to wait until mid-afternoon to resume our crossing, which we completed at approximately 4 am on Thursday Dec. 11th, after a trajectory of about 84 km.

 

December 11th began with clear skies, though windy and with low temperatures (-25 °C). However, we installed an automatic weather station that included the following sensors; GPS to monitor its position, wind (direction and speed), relative humidity, atmospheric pressure and temperature of the air, snow temperature (at two depths; 0.5 and 1 m) and snow albedo (reflected and incident shortwave radiation).

 

The station is powered by a solar panel and a battery. Structurally, it is comprised of a 5 metre long galvanized steel tube. An electromechanical drill that perforates snow to 3 metres deep is used to install the station. The sensors thus stand at a height of 2 metres above ground and measure every 30 minutes.

 

Data is transmitted every 2 hours to a server in Valdivia, where it is displayed on a website similar to that we currently use for the data from the weather station that has been installed in the CECs1 module since January 2014 (http://www.cecs.cl/awsm/antar). During the day, radar data obtained in recent days was processed and modifications were made to the capture systems.

 

At the end of a long, cold working day, we had dinner: lamb with rice, accompanied by a true delicacy at these latitudes - a mixed salad of lettuce, advocado, tomato and celery.

 

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