Ukraine is expanding the study of Antarctic ice

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Antarctic ice

The National Antarctic Science Center (NASC) has joined the large international project OCEAN:ICE – “Ocean-Cryosphere Exchange in Antarctica: Impacts on Climate and the Earth as a Whole”. It is being implemented within the framework of the Horizon Europe program funded by the European Commission.

The consortium also includes partners from the United Kingdom, funded by the UK Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Project goal

The main goal of the project is to assess the impact on the Earth of key processes taking place on the Antarctic Ice Sheet and in the Southern Ocean. These include sea level rise, the formation of deep sea currents, and changes in ocean circulation and climate.

The loss of Antarctic ice is leading to sea level rise, and much of this melting is occurring at the ocean-ice sheet interface under the influence of warm ocean currents. In fact, OCEAN:ICE investigates the processes that cause this melting.

The project was originally implemented by a consortium of 17 partners led by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). In September 2023, the DMI and the NASC applied for and received additional funding under the Horizon Europe program to add the NASC as a new partner.

Ukraine’s contribution to this crucial project

The NASC will fill some gaps in field data by using an additional set of innovative equipment in the Southern Ocean – profiling (argo) buoys. These are autonomous oceanographic instrument platforms for underwater measurements. They have no engine and do not require constant maintenance by a ship or a person.

These buoys measure in detail the physical and chemical parameters of the ocean, such as current direction and speed, temperature and salinity at different depths. This data will help to better understand the seasonal exchange between the cold waters of the Weddell Sea and the relatively warm waters of the central-western part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

In addition, NASC researchers will study the effect of precipitation (snowfall and rain) on the ice mass balance of the shelf glacier using a high-resolution regional atmospheric model.

New research

“The participation of the NASC will expand OCEAN:ICE by adding new field observations and their analysis, as well as innovative numerical modeling of ocean and atmospheric processes in regions not currently represented in the project,” says Ruth Mottram, project coordinator at DMI.

In her opinion, the logistical support of the NASC will increase the existing OCEAN:ICE observation network in the unreached areas around Antarctica, allowing us to fill in the gaps and become a truly circumpolar project.”

The benefits of the project for Ukraine include additional funding to develop cooperation between our and foreign scientists, as well as the development of the research capabilities of the Ukrainian ship Noosphere.

The project will run until October 31, 2026.

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