On Why Polish Scientists Head Off to Antarctica

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© Форпост Северо-Запад / Данил Сербин

Representatives of the Polish Antarctic Research Expedition talked about the tasks they face. And their Russian colleagues shared their observations of ocean pollution.

On Thursday, November 25, scientists on the board of the Akademik Fedorov vessel headed for the coast of the White Continent, contacted the editorial office of Forpost. They told us that they had already crossed the equator and planned to arrive at the port of Cape Town, as planned, on December 1.

One of the most striking, but unfortunately negative impressions, according to Danila Serbin, a leading engineer of St. Petersburg Mining University, who is sailing as part of the seasonal team to the Vostok research station, was the level of pollution in the world ocean. The problem, sad as it is, is glaringly obvious.

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© Форпост Северо-Запад

“The ship’s oceanographers take turns on watch, counting the amount of debris overboard. But we are talking about a huge number anyway. Frankly speaking, we did not expect the environmental situation to be so bad. There are even large floating islands of garbage, 30 by 40 meters. But there are positive moments, of course. For example, such are flocks of Exocoetidae flying fish, which jump out of the water and float in the air very close to the deck. We’ve also seen sea turtles. In addition, there is an owl on the ship, it came to live with us in Germany,” said Danil Serbin.

The peculiarity of this voyage was the presence of Polish scientists on the ship. Their main task is to reactivate Dobrovolskaya station in the Banger oasis, located on the coast of Antarctica, in the western part of the Wilkes Land. It was built by Soviet scientists, but in 1959 all the buildings were transferred to the Academy of Sciences of the Polish People’s Republic, which at the time was a friendly state for the USSR. However, the last expedition there organized by Warsaw was back in 1979.

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© Екатерина Анисимова / на фото: участники Российской и Польской Антарктических экспедиций

“The Banger Oasis is a unique territory, the study of which will make a great contribution to understanding the structure of the Earth’s crust,” said Marek Lewandowski, head of the PAIE team, Doctor of Geophysics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “We plan to install an automatic IRIS seismic station for continuous monitoring of tectonic activity. Data will be collected without human impact for two years and will be compared with data from other stations around the world.”

As Dmitry Vasiliev, a postgraduate student at St. Petersburg Mining University noted, the Russians have established friendly relations with their Polish colleagues. They “shared business contacts” and intend to discuss “prospects for mutually beneficial scientific cooperation in the future.”

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St. Petersburg Mining University researchers, being aboard the vessel heading to the Vostok Research Station, share their impressions of how the 2nd week of the expedition went