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Mysteries of the Antarctica Solved Soon
June 19, 2007 14:14


The southern continent as seen from space

Many mysteries of the Antarctic continent have been already solved, but even more of them are waiting for an answer to be found. For example, scientists still fail to calculate balance of the Antarctic ice sheet, i.e. its annual snow income and iceberg and melting losses.

For finding solution for this task and many other questions this spring scientists have launched a massive scientific project “International Polar Year 2007/2008”, uniting polar explorers from more than 60 countries. Think-tanks from all over the world have united their effort for obtaining new facts about Earth’s nature.

“International Polar Year”, which is the Russian initiative, has a common scientific programme, supporting about 200 Russian research projects. Studies are expected to result in complex data on various components of Arctic and Antarctic natural environment and to develop a system for obtaining information about polar territories. Experts will be able to make reliable estimations of current and future changes of polar climate and natural environment and produce some scientific advice for further practical applications.

 

Several projects are aimed at exploring very important part of polar territories – icebergs, which reflect current state of Arctic and Antarctic glaciation. Arctic icebergs threat navigation and marine oil-and-gas producing platforms, and Antarctic ice hills are possible source of fresh water.

Data of World Meteorological Organization show that about 30% of Earth’s population lives under conditions of permanent lack of fresh potable water, which tend to reach 60% in 2025. Every year the Antarctica throws thousands of cubic km of ice to the oceans as icebergs, some of which are as big as hundreds of kilometers. Large icebergs live about 8-12 years and travel northwards, reaching 40-50 degrees of southern latitude. They can be transported via natural migration patterns to Africa’s coast by means of towboats.

 

70% of Earth’s fresh water reserves are inside Antarctic glaciers – the storage of our planet’s most fresh and clear water receives additional 2500 cubic km every year and returns 2000 of them back in icebergs 70%, being constantly resuming source of ideal potable water. There exist two main ideas on using icebergs for getting fresh water, first of which is iceberg transporting. Powerful towboats can transport small icebergs, covered with special coating to prevent melting, via their natural migration patterns. Second idea is transporting water itself. Icebergs can be crushed, and ice fragments can be shipped by special tankers to consumers.

The idea of using icebergs as a source of fresh water is by no means new. In 1773 the crew of famous James Cook had collected 15 tons of potable water from icebergs for “The Resolution” ship. There were no crucial changes since that time, now people drink melted icebergs as an exotic drink.

However, we should remember that during last world water consumption has grown seven times, and the process cannot be stopped. Soon developed countries will come across the lack of fresh water, and economical situation will lead to extraction of water from icebergs.

Sources:
    RIA Novosti
Kizilova Anna


Tags: Russian scientists Russian science Russian nature ecology  

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