“Science is oriented towards national goals”
Investigating geological connections between South America and Antarctica or observing commercially exploited fish populations are just two examples of the “strong inclination” that “priority national science projects must advance our sovereign rights” in Antarctica, the head of the National Antarctic Directorate, Patricia Ortozar.
“The Argentine flag in Antarctica is directed towards our national goals. For this reason, the priority research projects have to do with the promotion of our sovereign rights in the region,” said Ortozar when interviewed by Tellam aboard the ARA icebreaker “Admiral Irízar” within the framework of the Antarctic Summer Campaign 2022-2023.
As an example, the official mentioned “Lines of research having to do with the geology of the Andes mountain range and the Antarctic Peninsula, which are the basis of the geological continuity of our sovereignty”.
He added, “We also have scientific research that allows us to be protagonists in decision-making in the forums of the Antarctic Treaty System, such as contributing scientific information to the management of living marine natural resources. And there are long-term monitoring projects in which the evolution of those resources that have a commercial interest is regulated Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.”
In this sense, Ortuzar considered, through this observation, “Argentina contributes to the fact that the catch limits set by the Convention are based on scientific evidence. A country that does not provide information does not have the same weight in these forums compared to another that has submitted scientific data for decades under international standards and with prestige recognized by all parties..
Depending on its DNA, the Argentine Institute of the Antarctic (IAA) is the Argentine governmental body with the authority to define, control, coordinate and disseminate Argentine scientific and technological activity in the White Continent since 1951, the year it was created. Its mission is to support national interests in the region in coordination with the national and international scientific community.
The IAA “is also creating trends internationally, as it did a few years ago when it advanced a series of cross-disciplinary research to monitor the presence of microplastics, something of international interest that we quickly adopted.” National Director of Antarctica.
The challenges posed by climate change constitute, according to Ortozar, “another baseline of research” because it “helps us influence decision-making in the context of the Antarctic Treaty to mitigate its effects.”
“To the extent that Argentina provides useful and necessary information – he added – it is clear that we are an active country in governing the continent and have interests and influences in the region.”.
“At the beginning of Argentina’s history in Antarctica, more than a hundred years ago, climate change was not part of the agenda. At that time, the goal was to discover an unknown area, while now we are interested in understanding the changes that are taking place there.”
The DNA chief insisted: “Argentina should be the country that sets the ‘thermometer’ where science is headed in Antarctica and it should also be able to respond to scientific information needed by the international community. For example, the Antarctic Treaty System has five-year plans for targets An administration that determines the scientific information that must be produced for each side, and it is important that the Argentine Institute of Antarctica remains at the forefront.
“In recent years, young scientists with interests in new lines related to data management, genetics, or bioinformatics, among other things brought by new generations, have been integrated,” he said.
The official confirmed thatWith joy and relief we can say that this summer has been a fairly normal campaign in Antarctica after several expeditions that were conditioned by the protocols imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.; All activities can be carried out, all planned staff deployed, all summer bases open, this puts us in a semi-“normal” state that allows us to refocus all our energies on the development of investigations and not on what it was like in previous years when we had to align our goals with prevention measures “.
“This is a campaign where we are beginning to see the fruits of various collaborative projects such as new laboratories and shelters, the network of seismometers that we are building on Deception Island with Segemar, or the satellite antennas that Conae is installing at the Belgrano base to promote Saocom satellites; they are all initiatives that we will know the fruits of in the years Coming from the opportunities that arise from there,” Ortozar completed.
The Argentine Annual Antarctic Plan 2022-2023 includes approx 50 scientific research projects in cooperation with different institutions and universities Among others, they work on marine ecosystems and resources, microbial communities, apex predator biology, environmental physiology and ecotoxicology, terrestrial ecosystems, human biology and psychology, geography, geophysics, climate change, pollution and atmospheric studies.