After successful work in the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic region, the IDEAL Center has gained approval to operate over the next five years, and its focus will be to generate knowledge about connectivity and vulnerability of the southernmost ecosystems.
In times where it is essential to understand the advances of climate change and its impact on the marine ecosystems of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic zones, the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL), of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), has obtained the approval to continue its scientific work over the next five years in the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic region.
During the first five years, the multidisciplinary researchers team stood out for the studies carried out in Patagonia and Antarctica, a joint effort that was reflected in the results: 240 high impact scientific publications, which provide new knowledge not only on the effects of climate change, but also on the political and social-human transformations that these entails.
It is in that context, after an extensive process of evaluation that considered the preparation and defense of a new scientific proposal before international experts, that the National Agency for Research and Development (ANID, by its acronym in Spanish) of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation announced continuity of the institution. The IDEAL Center was qualified with the highest score in all its indicators, being one of the best evaluations of all FONDAP centers in Chile.
“Our center has successfully completed a period marked by deep environmental, sanitary and social changes. This stage not only gave us profound satisfactions in our performance and contributions in the scientific, political and social arena, but also opened new scientific challenges to continue working in the regions of Austral and Antarctic Patagonia, Chilean and World Heritage, that need to be protected, valued and used in a sustainable manner,” said the director of the IDEAL center, Dr. Humberto González.
“The southern seas constitute a reserve of unique marine biodiversity, whose changes and dynamics have an impact that goes far beyond the regional level: They have a global influence. Both climate and biological processes that occur in this vast region of the planet are being affected by global change, and that is why we have an ethical duty as scientists to study and interpret these changes and the responsibility to make them known to society as a whole,” Dr. Iván Gómez, deputy director of the institution.
Looking ahead this new period, the research of the IDEAL Center will focus on the long-standing analysis and study, in order to evaluate the variability of marine ecosystems in year-on-year periods. In parallel, the Center will work on various topics, among which stand out: New socio-ecological models, vulnerability of primordial species and invasions of non-native agencies in the southern seas (mainly in Antarctica,) always under the concept of the effects caused by climate change.
Within the changes to be implemented in this second lustrum, is the renewal of the research programs of the IDEAL Center, which will be grouped into four lines: Environmental variability in the ocean, bio-invasions and adaptation of organisms, modulation of biological interactions, and ecosystem services, with the aim of better integrating the work carried out in Patagonia, with special emphasis on the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic region, one of the most affected areas by climate change.
Dr. Hugo Silva, administrator of the institution, comments that “the IDEAL Center has helped to position the name of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, nationally and internationally, contributing to the decentralization of our country with issues of global interest. This is why renovation is a great challenge for everyone, since we must continue on the path that shows the global and current undeniable importance of the extreme south of Chile.”
Finally, in this new period we will seek to consolidate the existing work with other institutions dedicated to the study of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic zone. This work plan also considers collaboration with international organizations and new expeditions.