European Scientists 'Quickly' Head to Site of Antarctic Ice Shelf Break

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After a piece of the Larsen C ice shelf broke off last summer, British Antarctic Survey scientists knew they had a limited window to prepare for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime study.

A United Kingdom team of scientists chose to join the exploration of the ecosystem of the seabed of a region in Antarctica which was exposed during the rupture of a huge iceberg that occurred in 2017. The research mission The mission will begin on February 21 and last for three weeks.

The team from nine institutions leaves Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, on February 21, heading south on the RRS James Clark Ross. The scientists will travel by ship to collect samples from the newly exposed seabed, which covers an area of around 5,818 km2.

"We've put together a team with a wide range of scientific skills so that we can collect as much information as possible in a short time". To navigate the ice-filled water to the remote location, the ship will rely on satellite data, according to the BAS. Video cameras which will be set up along the seafloor which will record those tiny marine creatures, along with the ecosystem changes, meaning that it will observe any new marine mammals or birds that could move to that area.

And this month, a team of scientists will venture to the long-ice-buried expanse to investigate the mysterious ecosystem that was hidden beneath the Antarctic ice shelf for so long.

Once they arrive, the team plans to collect samples of life (seafloor animals, microbes, plankton and any other inhabitants) as well as sediments and water.

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British Antarctic Survey marine biologist Dr. Katrin Linse, who is leading the mission, said that the calving of A-68 provides the researchers with "a unique opportunity to study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change".

The expedition is somewhat fortunate - it's the first to benefit from an global agreement signed in 2016 by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Vaughan called the ice calving an "unprecedented" chance to establish interdisciplinary science in the Antarctic, especially in the wake of the 2016 special agreement made by the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. This research saw rare squid, starfish, and more that probably won't survive when the waters change with their new exposure to surface light and different species that may settle into the new marine real estate. The agreement came following a European Union proposal to CCAMLR, led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists.

"We need to be bold on this one".

While the iceberg calving event itself has not been blamed on human-caused global warming, there are fears that it left the Larsen C Ice Shelf in a weaker state than it was in before, making it more susceptible to increasing air and sea temperatures. "Now is the time to address fundamental questions about the sustainability of polar continental shelves under climate change", said Professor David Vaughan, Science Director at BAS.

According to NASA, Larsen C is the fourth largest ice sheet in the world.