Researchers from both nations will participate in an oceanographic expedition sailing from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, to take place between the 6th and 17th of November, 2019.
Andrea Navarro, IDEAL Center. For the first time in history, Chile and Argentina will conduct a bi-national scientific campaign in the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage, located at the southern end of both countries. The oceanographic expedition will take place aboard the Argentine ship Víctor Angelescus. Its main objective will be to study the effects of acidification and hypoxia on the water column, and the carbon flow that is exported to deep ocean areas, resulting from biological processes, along with study of the behavior of key ecosystem species.
This initiative, which will take place between November 6 and 17, is headed by the foreign ministries of both Chile and Argentina, through the former’s director of strategic planning, Roberto Ruiz, and the Argentine undersecretary of Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, Mateo Estremé, who together chair the Southern Marine Cooperation Commission.
At the same time, the campaign is supported by the Austral Center for Scientific Research (Cadic) and the Center for the Dynamic Investigation of Marine Ecosystems of High Latitudes (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), institutions that called together 17 researchers to participate in this expedition.
“This is a large-scale project that implies the converging of science efforts between Chile and Argentina, which started to take shape more than two years ago in Buenos Aires,” reported Dr. Gustavo Ferreyra, director of the Southern Center for Scientific Research (CADIC, in Spanish) .
The team of scientists will sail from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and conduct a transect along the Beagle Channel to describe and model the currents and movements of water bodies, and to characterize sites with low oxygen concentrations. Researchers will take samples of water at various depths in order to study the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the area.
“Chile and Argentina both share common sub-Antarctic areas. However, to date there have been no oceanographic studies that address such joint themes. For both nations, the Beagle Channel is a very important region from the perspectives of climate change and resources,” explained the director of the IDEAL Center, Dr. Humberto González.
The Beagle Channel is an area measuring approximately 280 kilometers in length. It occupies a strategic location, since it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. At the same time, it is influenced by the Circumpolar Antarctic and Cape Horn currents.
The channel, in addition to having considerable marine biodiversity and harboring freshwater reserves, has geopolitical importance. According to researchers, this is a region that could be very vulnerable to climate changes and has the potential to experience increased productivity.
The bi-national scientific cooperative effort in this sub-Antarctic area, shared between Chile and Argentina, has been promoted by the Planning Department of the Chilean Chancellery, because this is area that involves common interests for both nations, and greatly influences their national efforts in the Antarctic region.
The Chilean Chancellery considers that the claimed territories of Antarctica cannot ignore their “front yard”, but rather the Chilean and Argentine presence on the White Continent must evolve and cover a wider spectrum of actions through science. This drives the importance of this first bi-national scientific cruise.