The expedition team will experience physical hardship and the dangers of cold exposure and crevasse falls to obtain rare data. Research stations on the shores of the western Antarctic Peninsula and islands minimise the risk to researchers by focusing on survey sites that can be reached with relatively safe available transport means. Some questions, however, can only be answered with data and samples collected well away from the regular human activities and at central, high-altitude locations. These include: Have microplastics reached the Antarctic Peninsula via long-range atmospheric transport? What is the balance between ice melt and snow deposition in the Antarctic Peninsula summer? Will increased snow melt increase primary productivity through supply of limiting micro-nutrients to the Weddell Sea? What does the cryptogram and meiofauna community of the pristine eastern Antarctic Peninsula look like?
The scientists leading the projects mentioned above are provided here, although there are a total of 7 projects supported by the expedition:
- Prof Michiel van den Broeke, Utrecht University, Netherlands (Projecting Sea-Level Rise: from Ice Sheets to Local Implications)
- Dr Simon Ussher, Dr Angela Milne, University of Plymouth, UK (Processes Influencing Carbon Cycling: Observations of the Lower Limb of the Antarctic Overturning)
- Dr Imogen Napper, University of Plymouth, UK (Long-Range Atmospheric Transport of Microplastics)
As scientific advisor to the Antarctic Quest 21 expedition , I coordinate between the scientists and team on the ice, which gives me access to all parts of the project, as well as to video footage and still photography. The team has just completed a training week in the French Alps, from which fantastic footage is also available.