A Pioneering Antarctic Expedition into the Depths of the Frozen Weddell Sea
During January/February 2019, a major international scientific expedition will explore one of the coldest, harshest and most remote locations in the world: the Weddell Sea off Antarctica. The objective of the expedition is to survey the underside of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, document the rich and little-studied marine life of the western Weddell Sea ecosystem, and attempt to locate the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’, which was trapped and crushed by the ice and sank there in 1915.
Funded by a charitable trust in the Netherlands, The Flotilla Foundation, the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 has a pioneering programme of science and exploration planned. The Weddell Sea is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world and has been nominated as a large, international Marine Protected Area. The expedition will gather vital baseline biological data on the rare and little-studied species which inhabit this ecosystem, as well as studying the key physical processes driving changes in the region’s sea ice, ocean currents and the fringing ice shelves.
The 45-day voyage will be conducted from the South African polar research and logistics vessel ‘S.A. Agulhas II’, owned by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Built in 2012, the vessel is one of the largest and most modern polar research ships anywhere in the world, has a wide range of science laboratories and facilities, and offers a powerful and effective platform for the multi-disciplinary research.
The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 hopes to inspire young people about science, engineering and technology, and the protection of Antarctica, and is partnering with the Royal Geographical Society to ensure that the expedition’s research and findings are disseminated as widely as possible to schools and students in the UK, South Africa and beyond.
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