Fotografía de INACH

Sensors will measure the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of water in Antarctica.

Verónica Carreño, La Tercera. Yelcho base is a Chilean Antarctic station located on Doumer Island, about 1,366 kilometers south of Punta Arenas. Because of the climate in this area, it is only available in summer, prompting scientists to look for alternatives means of performing studies in the area.

There, for the first time, a group of Chilean researchers installed a sampling station that will allow them to measure the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of water in the sector. The implementation is within the framework of the Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ECA) 54 carried out by scientists from the Research Center Dynamics of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Universidad Austral de Chile, and with the logistical support of the Navy and the Chilean Antarctic Institute (Inach).

Humberto González, director of the IDEAL Center, explains that the station is a system composed of a line with several sensors.

The installation of this sampling station will allow scientists to obtain information about ocean characteristics such as temperature, salinity, and the presence of oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2). Gonzalez adds “our hypothesis is that water in this area is possibly functioning as a CO2 sink.” That is, water draws CO2 out of the atmosphere and acts as a large reservoir of greenhouse gases.

The sampling station was installed on february 6, and its first results will be collected in january and february 2019, when the next ECA -the 55th- returns to Yelcho base to retrieve the results and redeploy the station. “The idea is that it will be there for many years, with each period’s data complementing the prior years’,” says González.