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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 23.05.2018, 19:27

Latvian polar expedition to study glaciers in Antarctica

BC, Riga, 07.02.2018.Print version

Latvian polar explorers will travel to Antarctica to study historic and, possibly, future development of glaciers, as Dr. Janis Karuss from the University of Latvia's Geography and Earth Sciences Department told reporters .


Professor Vitalijs Zelcs, Geography and Earth Sciences Department, explained that this would be the first Latvian glaciological expedition to Antarctica. He reminded though that, in the past, Latvians had contributed greatly to the exploration of Antarctica. For instance, Leonids Slaucitajs, who would turn 120 next year, was the organizers of the first Argentine expeditions to Antarctica, and several University of Latvia researchers have carried out geophysical researches and studied Antarctica's magnetic field.


Zelcs wished Latvian polar expedition every success so the explorers could attain all objectives set for the expedition. The expedition will take place at a favorable time as there will be a period of ablation, or melting of snow and ice, in Antarctica. As a result, Latvian scientists will be able to observe deglaciation, similar to what could have happened in Latvia several thousand years ago, explained the professor.


The expedition's main focus will be on small glaciers in archipelagos of Argentina, said Karuss.


"Although it may seem that Antarctica is well known to scientists, serious researches on the continent only began at the beginning of the 20th century," said Karuss.


The expedition will leave Riga on Saturday, February 10, and travel to Galindez Island, covering a total of 15,430 kilometers. "Getting from Argentina to the islands will be the most complicated part of the trip. We will have to travel in motorized rubber boats, which may be rather complicated," said Kuruss. The researchers will live at Vernadsky Station there.


The scientists have been preparing for the expedition for several years - they traveled to Iceland in 2014, 2015 and last year, and to Greenland in 2016.


The expedition's supplies and equipment will weigh around 100 kilograms, including ground-penetrating radar, a drone and GPS equipment. Physical shape and mental preparedness are of major importance in polar expeditions, added Karuss. The researchers will be working for at least 12 hours a day.


Members of the expedition to Antarctica are the University of Latvia Geography and Earth Sciences Department geologists Janis Karuss, Kristaps Lamsters and Maris Krievans. The group has already been on three expeditions to Iceland and Greenland.


It is currently unknown when the expedition will return - the researchers may stay for one to two months in Antarctica, added Karuss. After the expedition returns, work on the samples will continue for approximately one year, which will be followed by scientific publications.





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