23 scientists travelled to the white continent, in mark of the 53rd  Chilean Antarctic Scientific Expedition, with the objective of investigating the effects of global change on marine ecosystems and the communities that inhabit them.

The IDEAL Center´s first Antarctic campaign spanned 52 days. Photograph: Erasmo Macaya

The main objective of the Research Center Dynamics of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL), in their first campaign (which lasted 52 days) on the white continent, was to investigate the effects of global change on Antarctic marine ecosystems and the communities that inhabit them.

The 23 researchers who traveled to Antarctica, worked in two large areas: plankton and benthos. In this context, transects were conducted  in Maxwell Bay at KGI and South Bays at Doumer Island, with the purpose of analyzing the distribution of the physical and chemical parameters. At the same time, samples were taken and experiments were performed in which, for example, certain species were exposed to temperatures expected in future global change scenarios.

“The balance of the IDEAL Center´s first campaign was very positive. We came to know the limitation of what it means to work in the Antarctica, that is, how far we can go and what we can do. This will help us better structure our programs for the next year”, assured the Director of IDEAL Center, Dr. Humberto González.

Among the main difficulties faced by researchers was the inability to take samples in open seas, due to the lack of a ship capable of operating in those areas.

Challenges of 2018

A positive balance of the first Antarctic campaign made Humberto Gonzalez, Director of IDEAL Center. Photograph: Jorge Navarro

During the first Antarctic campaign, the scientists at the IDEAL Center focused on doing preliminary descriptive studies that will serve as a basis for investigations that will be carried out in the future.

In 2018, the emphasis will be different. “In this first instance, we concentrated on getting to know better the marine system, that is, to know for example, how abundant are certain species. In our second experience, we will study the process, the mechanisms and adaptations of these species. That is the great challenge”, concluded Dr. González.