Portuguese scientists set off to Antarctic as “major ice chasm” looms

In a week when a massive crack has appeared in the ice shelf forcing British research scientists to abandon their base, a large team of international experts are on their way for a trip to the Antarctic, among them 19 Portuguese.

The news is presented by Lusa today, saying the 19 are made up by polar investigators from the Universities of Beira Interior, Porto, Coimbra, Aveiro, Algarve and Évora.

As Portugal does not have infrastructures in the Antarctic, the Portuguese campaigns are based on “strong international cooperation” with countries like Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, China, Spain, the Korean Republic and Uruguay, explains Lusa.

Investigator in charge of “Propolar”, Teresa Cabrita highlighted the “spirit of collaboration among polar scientists and the difficult conditions” under which they will be working.

Lusa cites “climate and isolation”, without alluding to the fact that the Antarctic has been on everyone’s mind this week as a massive fissure, moving at apparently impressive speed (18 kms just in the last two weeks of December) is threatening to send a block of ice into the sea “the size of some countries”.

According to one science website: “Now, only 20 kms of ice still connects the iceberg to the shelf”.

The situation prompted British scientists working at the Halley VI Research Station to relocate as a precautionary measure, wrote the Guardian newspaper on Monday, “amid concerns that it could fall into a giant ice chasm”.

Propolar, meantime, for the Antarctic on Thursday.

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