Recently, a 21-member research team from the CASEarth Poles Project, led by Prof. LI Xin, head of the project, conducted an Antarctic expedition to explore the environmental features of the South Pole.
The three poles (the North Pole, the South Pole, and the Third Pole - Tibetan Plateau), with their unique geographical locations, play important roles in the study of global change and earth system science. CASEarth Poles, a project within the framework of the “CAS Big Earth Data Science Engineering” program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, aims to construct a big data platform for the three poles for investigation into the climate, water cycle, and ecosystem dynamics and the interactions among the multi-spheres in the Polar Regions and their global effects.
The Antarctic expedition focuses on the atmosphere, cryosphere, ecology, micro-organisms, and marine environment of the Antarctic Peninsula, hoping to increase the knowledge and scientific understanding on the Antarctic environment, and establish cooperation with the Antarctic scientific research station and related research units in China and the neighboring countries of Antarctica.
Started from Argentina, the scientists visited the research stations established by China, Argentina, and the United Kingdom. They also visited such places as the Drake Strait, the Danco Island, Kuwoville Island, Damo Point, Lockroy Port and Yusfall Island, obtaining relevant measurement data of snow and ice fissures, meteorological data of navigation, and ground-based data of aerosol optical thickness. The data is helpful for scientists to better understand the climate, snow cover, frozen soil, ice sheets/glaciers, organisms, atmosphere of the region, and the link of changes between Antarctic cryosphere and low- and mid-latitude climates, and therefore to explore its impact on global biological cycle.
This expedition contributed to technology development of Antarctic observation such as high-resolution remote sensing mapping of ice fissures/icebergs, long-term continuous deep-hole observations of Antarctic permafrost, and deepen the understanding of the scientific issues such as investigation into the underground ice in terms of its distribution, age and stability, the mechanism of how Antarctic microbes adapting to extreme environments and their genetic evolution process, and the process of its landscape and life evolution. Big Earth Data can play a key role in the research of the above scientific issues.
A number of cooperation intentions have been reached between the CASEarth Poles and the University of La Plata, the National Science and Technology Commission of Argentina, China’s Great Wall Station in Antarctic, and the Brown Station of Argentina.