Cape Town – After a night of very high winds that reportedly saw Cape Town harbour temporarily closed on Saturday the Russian research vessel Akademik Treshnikov sailed into a still and steaming Cape Town on Sunday, marking the end of the Antarctic circumnavigation expedition (ACE).
The vessel departed from Cape Town three months ago with 50 scientists from around the world aboard on an intensive multi-disciplinary research mission.
Early information about the results suggests a wide variety of findings.
The skeptics fears will be confirmed in evidence, for example, of micro-plastic pollution in even the most remote places.
However, there is hope too, for example, in the discovery of pockets of air that is cleaner than the purest man-made environments, “white rooms” in laboratories.
The first results will be released on Monday when the Swiss Polar Institute runs a mini conference of presentations by scientists at a pavilion set up alongside the vessel at Jetty 2 at the V & A Waterfront.
Attendance at the conference is by invitation only but a pavilion showcasing some of the work will be open to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Excitement about the findings of the groundbreaking research trip, which included a total of nearly 150 scientists representing 73 scientific institutions over the three months, goes well beyond the scientific community.
The expedition included a wide and diverse group of skills and experience.
It was the first time such a wide range of disciplines – from biology to climatology to oceanography – had worked together to enhance understanding of Antarctica.
Also, according to information from the Swiss Polar Institute, a better understanding of the continent is critical, not just for its preservation, but for the whole planet.
The poles, which play a key role in regulating the world’s climate, are affected by climate change more than any other region on Earth.
The scientists filmed and took samples under ice shelves and as deep as 3000m, completed 3D mapping of some of the 12 island groups they visited, and took the first ice cores from others.
They took 18 968 individual samples of any sort on their 30 720km journey, which was completed over three stages.