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Chilean scientists study climate change at ‘end of the world’

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Crew members of the Chilean navy scientific research ship Cabo de Hornos take pictures at the glacier Fouque, in the region of Magallanes, Chile.
Crew members of the Chilean navy scientific research ship Cabo de Hornos take pictures at the glacier Fouque, in the region of Magallanes, Chile.

CHILE: Chilean scientists studying organisms in one of the most remote places on Earth are urging regional leaders to step up efforts to tackle climate change.

A recent expedition, which was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, sought to investigate harmful organisms and how they are impacting climate change.

Chile’s Magallanes region — on the southern tip of South America where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet — is known as the “end of the world” and extends from Punta Arenas through the Magallanes Strait to the Beagle Channel.

Sailing through peak-lined straits past glaciers and soaring birds, the scientists on board the oceanographic research vessel Cabo de Hornos had their focus trained on the water, which has lower levels of acidity, salt and calcium than other seas and oceans, especially in their shallowest parts.

Scientists believe the conditions found in the water will appear in other parts of the world in the coming decades as the impact of climate change mounts.

“The regional plans for mitigation and adaptation to climate change are out of date with respect to what is happening in the environment,” said Jose Luis Iriarte, who headed the expedition.

“The environment is changing quicker than we as a society are responding to it.”

The scientific mission paid special attention to the “red tides” — harmful algal blooms that can turn the sea red.

They were first recorded in the Magallanes region half a century ago and have since been responsible for the deaths of 23 people and poisoned more than 200. The expedition stopped at 14 places, each time taking water samples at different levels up to a depth of 200 meters using a piece of equipment called a rosette.

Another piece of equipment was used to collect soil samples, sometimes at a depth of more than 300 meters. The scientists also combed the shores for algae and molluscs.

From the highest point on the boat, marine biologist Rodrigo Hucke, one of 19 scientists on the expedition, spent hours scanning the surface of the water. Hucke says there has been a historical lack of action by governments when it comes to the oceans, which cover 70% of the planet’s surface.

– JAPAN TIMES

Friday, December 31, 2021 – 01:00











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