DATA COLLECTED BY THE WINDSLED PROVES ORGANIC CONTAMINATION IN THE INTERIOR OF ANTARCTICA.
May 14, 2014. Scientific data collected by the WindSled in its previous expedition (Acciona WindPowered 2011-2012) will be presented tomorrow, the 15th, at the Annual Congress of the European Society of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry (SETAC 2014) that takes place these days in Basel (Switzerland).
The results, which show pesticide contamination in the Antarctic plateau have been directed by Ms. Ana Cabrerizo (Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the European Commission), and will be presented by Mr. Jordi Dachs (IDAEA –CSIC, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research).
The article also listed as signatories the polar explorer, Mr. Ramón Larramendi who led the expedition, Mr. Juan Pablo Albar, from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) who conducted the data collection, and Ms. Gemma Caballero (IDAEA -CSIC).
The work presented by Mr. Dachs in the morning session, shows that the WindSled, at present gathering new scientific data on the first Greenland circumnavigation, is a vehicle with a great potential for research in polar lands.
In his presentation, Mr. Dachs reminds us that Antarctica is perceived as a very distant, pristine frozen desert, with natural barriers such as ocean and atmospheric circulation which in theory protects it.
However, this situation does not preclude the fact of detection of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in air, snow, water, vegetation or the trophic networks of organisms in the maritime Antarctic. These are man-made chemicals that are one more example of how human beings are disturbing the Biosphere.
The researchers note that these long life contaminants, move from temperate regions to remote and cooler ones, where they are trapped in the snow, previously thought to delay their arrival to the Antarctic plateau.
However, these facts were not known until the WindSled Expedition, as most of the available studies of the Antarctic atmosphere on these compounds were based on data collected in coastal areas. This is where one may find most of the international scientific bases and where it is not so easy to take atmospheric sampling from a wide expanse of the interior of the continent.
“As a result, there was a definite lack of information on the levels of PCBs and other contaminants in the Antarctic plateau” they remarked, to later indicate that the WindSled has detected the pollutants presence “on a route from Novolazarevskaya Station, 47 mi (75 km) from the coast, to the Union Glacier, crossing the South Pole in thirty five days, a total of 2175 mi (3500 km).”
The expedition members remember having used a passive sampler attached to the vehicle. “This WindSled, which progresses exclusively by kites and aeolian energy, developed by Mr. Ramón Larramendi, could be a useful tool for research in Antarctica,” the speakers conclude.
The 2014 SETAC Congress, held from the 11th to the 15th May, reunites, in Basel, leading scientists of the world, experts in environment and sustainability, as well as representatives of governments and industry.
Meanwhile, the WindSled Expedition is on their way to northern Greenland. After three days of standstill due to strong headwinds, they have restarted their route early this morning.
The waiting time they have utilized to collect data on the characteristics of the snow in the interior of the island. The data will be useful for future scientific findings by the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE- CSIC).
The GREENLAND 2014 Circumnavigation Expedition, sponsored by Tasermiut South Greenland Expeditions, Tierras Polares and supported by the Spanish Geographical Society and Acciona Co., will travel 3106 mi (5000 km). The crew consists of five people: three Spaniards, a Dane and a Greenlander.