South African scientists explore climate change in Antarctica

In South Africa, a team of scientists has departed on a 14-month research expedition to Antarctica. The crew left Cape Town aboard the S.A. Agulhas II – the country’s newest polar research vessel. They will be studying the impact of global warming on the marine environment.

South Africa has been sending research teams to Antarctica since the sixties. The country has one of the oldest and most established Antarctic research programmes – which provides crucial information on the largely untouched environment.

The impact of global warming and climate change are among the key focal points for the team of scientists.

“There are parts of Antarctica that are showing some breakage, some glacier movements, there other parts that are increasing, so there’s definitely movement, how that will effect South Africa and the Southern Ocean,” Ahsley Naidoo, Oceans Research Head at the Environment Affairs Ministry told CGTN’s Travers Andrews.

The recent Larsen C ice shelf break illustrates what’s unfolding on the white continent.

“Not only are the atmospheric temperatures increasing, but we are now also seeing the oceanic temperatures increasing. We are seeing warm water approaching the ice shelves on West Antarctica, so the warming is both from the atmosphere and beneath the ice shelves,” Nalan Koc, Research Director at the Norwegian Polar Institute said.

Family members and friends came out to bid farewell to the S.A. Agulhas II. The vessel is carrying tons of science equipment as well as building materials.

The ship is expected to take around two weeks to reach Antarctica – which means the crew will get to enjoy a traditional white Christmas.

Find out more from Travers Andrews’ report: