US scientists from Antarctic base visit expedition members’ vessel


View of the US Palmer Station base in Anvers Island in Antarctica, which was visited on Jan. 9, 2019, by the Homeward Bound expedition on board the vessel Ushuaia and comprised of 80 female leaders in the STEMM fields. EFE-EPA/ Rachael Bice

Anvers Island, Antarctica.- The scientific spirit was felt more than ever on Wednesday on board the Ushuaia, the vessel on which 80 female professionals in a variety of fields are making a tour of Antarctica and on which they were visited by a group of researchers from Palmer Station.

On the seventh day of their Antarctic journey, the members of the Homeward Bound female leadership expedition, supported by Spain’s Acciona company, were preparing to arrive at Palmer Station on Anvers Island but ice surrounding the base prevented them from disembarking.

Palmer Station, almost all of which is painted blue, is a US research station established on Anvers Island in 1965, and since then it has become well known for its research work, especially on Antarctic fauna, given that around the base are colonies of assorted penguin species, as well as seals.

But scientists at the station also engage in biological, engineering, mathematical, physics and even economic studies – that is, in all the fields that are of interest to the Homeward Bound expedition members.

That was why the visit by the Palmer Station researchers was so exciting for the 80 professionals on board the Ushuaia.

To solve the unexpected problem presented by the ice, a group of 10 people from the base, headed by station chief Bob Farrell, came to the ship.

«This is an ideal spot to study the polar marine environment,» the members of the base research team told the Homeward Bound participants.

Station researcher Natasja van Gestel said that the work being carried out at Palmer also includes oceanographic and atmospheric studies, and that sparked numerous questions from the audience and an exchange of opinions about the condition of the planet amid global warming.

Van Gestel told EFE that the study of the plants and the glacier near the base, the Marr Ice Piedmont, has enabled scientists to begin new research projects looking into recent changes in the Antarctic environment.

The high point of the day came when Costa Rican expedition member Christiana Figueres, one of the drafters of the Paris Accord on climate change, spoke up and – through tears – thanked the station researchers for their commitment to science related to the environment.

The Homeward Bound expedition, founded by Fabian Dattner, set sail on Dec. 31 from the far-southern Argentine port of Ushuaia and is scheduled to make more than 10 stops in and around Antarctica through Jan. 19, including at Ukraine’s Vernardsky Base and Pleneau Island, which is adjacent to an iceberg «graveyard.»

Homeward Bound is a global initiative for women from the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) fields with an eye toward increasing their visibility as leaders on matters of world import.

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