Off to explore ice shelf in Antarctica

Professor Isabella Ansorge flanked by ocean technicians, Michael Hanson, left, and Olivier Peden.

The university’s head of oceanography, Professor Isabelle Ansorge, will be exploring the Larsen C ice shelf, which broke off from Antarctica late last year.

Other scientists from UCT, Nelson Mandela University (NMU), the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) as well as other parts of the world will join Professor Ansorge on the SA Agulhas II research vessel for the Weddell Sea Expedition from December to February next year.

Planning for the expedition is under way, and Professor Ansorge will visit Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, in the UK next month for a planning meeting.

Professor Ansorge will fly out with UCT lecturer Dr Sarah Fawcett and Dr Tommy Bornmann, of SAEON, to Antarctica where they will board the SA Agulhas II.

The scientists will investigate the ocean environment around the Larsen C iceberg to see what caused the split in the ice shelf and understand its impact.

Professor Ansorge and her colleagues will spend 45 days on board the SA Agulhas II.

“The ship is equipped with many laboratories and offices and allows for scientists to work in normal warm environment and wear normal clothes while working on board, while thick polar fleece jackets and water proof gear are always available for outside deck operations,” said Professor Ansorge.

A handful of UCT and NMU students will also join the expedition.