Press release archive: 2010

A new research expedition to the Antarctic ready to depart

17.11.2010 8:48

The Finnish research expedition FINNARP 2010 will set off for Antarctica on 25 November and will return in early February 2011.

Photo: Mika Kalakoski

Photo: Mika Kalakoski

This year, research will focus on meteorology and the surface layer of the continental glacier. This research expedition setting out for Antarctica is the 17th from Finland. This time, the group comprises ten people: five scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki, a physician, an engineer, a cook, the leader of the expedition, and a specialist planner from FINNARP Logistics. In addition, two Swedish scientists from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics will participate in the expedition as FINNARP’s guests. They will use a movable radar that observes movement in the upper atmosphere to carry out measurements.

The expedition’s supplies weigh nearly 3,000 kg. Scientific research instruments account for 650 kg of this and the rest are safety equipment, supplements for the station and food. The group members will first take regular flights to Cape Town, South Africa, from where they will continue on a freighter plane to Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. The final 1,000 km leg of the trip to the Finnish research station Aboa will be taken on a skiplane. Apart from the research conducted on site, the expedition will service the automatic measurement systems at Aboa – i.e. the weather observation station, the seismometer and the GPS – and will collect the data recorded by the instruments.

At the beginning of 2009, tasks pertaining to the arrangement of expeditions and the maintenance of research stations were transferred to FINNARP Logistics at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. “The members of the expedition have been preparing for the trip for almost a year. They have passed a comprehensive aptitude test and a medical examination, have refined their cooperation skills at a finishing camp, and have practised the correct behaviour in the event of emergencies,” says Mika Kalakoski, leader of the expedition.

Research on meteorology and the surface layer of the continental glacier

At Aboa, the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s team of three scientists will conduct research pertaining to meteorology in the Antarctic. The research will focus on wind conditions over the glacier, the thermal economy of the atmosphere, heat exchange between the snow and air, the physical properties of snow, and solar radiation and long-wave thermal radiation. The impacts of the Basen nunatak, the summit of a mountain emerging from the ice, on the atmosphere will also be studied. The research project will utilise three unmanned airplanes, measuring instruments carried by balloons, an acoustic radar, weather masts, and turbulence and radiation meters. Never before have meteorological measurements been conducted with equally diverse research instruments in Antarctica. The results will help improve the models used for weather forecasting and the climate.

During the expedition, the research team of the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki will concentrate on the 10-metre thick, active surface layer of the continental glacier. This layer changes with the seasons and is in direct contact with the atmosphere, thus reflecting the interaction between the climate and the continental glacier. The structure, conversion and heat balance of snow is investigated along a 400 km line going inland from the edge of the glacier shelf. The mass balance of snow in Queen Maud Land is also studied by means of observations. Another topic of research consists of supraglacial lakes formed in the region of blue ice during the summer of Antarctica. The evolution, hydrology and ecology of these lakes will be studied in areas close to Aboa. The studies are mostly basic research, but the monitoring of these lakes also improves our understanding of the interaction between the continental glacier and the climate.

Finland joined the international Antarctic Treaty in 1984. Membership requires that Finland conducts scientific research in the Antarctic. During the coming season, research will be carried out mostly from the Finnish research station Aboa. The field trips to the coast and inland, required by scientific projects, will extend to about 200 km from the station.

Additional information:

Development Manager Mika Kalakoski, expedition leader, tel: +358 50 3592792, mika.kalakoski@fmi.fi

Meteorological research
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Docent Timo Vihma, tel. +358 50 5646 836, timo.vihma@fmi.fi
Dr. Priit Tisler, tel. +358 50 415 2868, priit.tisler@fmi.fi

Continental glacier research:
University of Helsinki, Department of Physics
Prof. Matti Leppäranta, tel.+358 50 415 4752, matti.lepparanta@helsinki.fi
Onni Järvinen, Ph.D. student, tel. +358 44 3740969, onni.jarvinen@helsinki.fi

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research: http://www.scar.org
http://www.antarctica.fi