First expedition to newly exposed Antarctic ecosystem - News - British Antarctic Survey

The edge of A-68. Credit NASA

The newly exposed seabed stretches across an area of about 2,246 square miles (5,818 square kilometers), according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which is leading the expedition.

The team needs a lot of perseverance and courage to get where it needs to be because the Larsen C glacier, from which the iceberg ruptured in 2017 is situated in the Antarctic Peninsula which is an area with lots of sea ice. The split between the two is visible at 1:20 and at several other points in the video.

According to the BAS, the team of scientists hails from nine research institutes, and will spend late February through March aboard a research ship operated by the agency.

"It's exciting to think about what we might find", said British Antarctic Survey senior biodiversity biologist Katrin Linse.

Linse said that they have to get there before the underwater environment changes as sunlight starts to enter the water and new species start to colonize the area.

The team will investigate the area previously under the ice shelf by collecting seafloor animals, microbes, plankton, sediments and water samples. The exposed marine ecosystem, though recently discovered, was tucked in beneath the ice shelf for more than 100,000 years.

However, in 2007 satellite-based data revealed that the mass of ice shelves in Antarctica is over the ice sheet is completely negative. Of interest also is the documentation of any birds or animals that may have moved into the newly-freed area.

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Linse, who will lead the mission aboard the research ship RRS James Clark Ross, also said funding and accelerated planning allowed this trip to become reality in a relatively short period, adding, "Everyone is pulling out the stops to make this happen".

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.

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).

The A68 calved off from Antarctica because of rising temperatures in the region, so as these scientists study how these changes in the environment are affecting local wildlife, we'll get a better understanding of the effects that our consumption of fossil fuels will have on the world as a whole, including (and especially) polar regions with their unique, freaky ecosystems.

"The calving of A-68 offers a new and unprecedented opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary scientific research programme in this climate sensitive region".

We need to be bold on this one. And with further ice shelf destabilization expected in the coming decades, more species could suddenly be exposed to unfavorable living conditions around the continent's edge, which could expose thousands of sea creatures to an untimely death.

The shelf is divided into 4 sectors determined by four letters A, B, C and D. Since the mid-90s Larsen B has been collapsing into the sea and revealing a thriving chemotropic ecosystem half a mile (800 meters) below the sea.

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