Last December, a team of glaciologists and climate scientists of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) and the University of Colorado conducted fieldwork for the Mass2Ant project in Antarctica. Partners from the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) joined them on the trip. The aim of the mission was to acquire greater insight into climate change in previous decades at higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere, along with their long-term impact.
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean play a key role in climate dynamics. Should the ice cap on Antarctica melt, sea levels would rise by about 60 metres. Therefore, any change to the ice cap in the Antarctic has major consequences throughout the world. Most of all, scientists wish to find out how snow affects the mass balance of the ice cap on Antarctica. They are therefore looking at how snowfall is distributed in spatial terms in an area between the Princess Elisabeth base and the coast, how weather conditions fluctuate over the course of the year, analysing certain snow characteristics, such as density and structure, and taking samples of ice cores for further research.
This approach should allow scientists to determine whether changes are caused by human activity and/or natural variations in air and water currents on our planet. This should provide greater insight into global climate dynamics and help refine the evaluations destined for political decision makers.