Argentine Antarctica: The Story of Three Researchers Doing Science in Earth’s Southernmost Region

At the Marambio base, a group of scientists tackle issues of great relevance to the planet, such as the impact of global climate change, and help us uncover information from the past that can help predict the future. In this DEF report, we ask ourselves what it means to do science in the White Continent and learn the story of three researchers carrying out their missions in the far south of our territory.

Bird and mammal observation

In an interview with DEF, biologist Facundo Álvarez explained: “The Bird and Mammal Observation project consists of work dating back to 1987. It is responsible for characterizing all that could be population dynamics and patterns of spatial distribution, of both birds such as Antarctic mammals. It consists Basically from taking censuses on board various ships.”

Passionate about biology, he studied in Cuba, where he later worked on research with sharks, birds, and turtles. Then he did it in the Amazon jungle. He also allowed himself to recall a personal anecdote: “One of the only times I got really swayed in Antarctica was during the winter at Carlini Base, in 2014. My mother sent me an audio recording of when I was learning to speak and said that, when I was growing up, I wanted to be “all inclusive” and I work in Antarctica. In fact, he explained, little Alvarez was referring to the work of a “guard of the forest.” Today he is proud of being able to make his dream come true.

Facundo Álvarez – Biologist: monitors birds and mammals that make up a work dating back to 1987 (Martín Gallino)

Earthquake and earthquake expert

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On his part, Dr. Milton Percy Placencia Linares is from Peru and studied geophysics at the National University of La Plata (UNLP). His passion for this discipline was born when he was ten years old, after he experienced a devastating earthquake in his country. “I saw that the earth behaved as if it were a sea. I lost the fixed point in my life. I think my calling was born at that time,” he sums up.

Since 1992 he has been working on projects related to the White Continent. In 2000 he settled in Italy, where he carried out his research at the Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGA), in Trieste. He is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the seismograph network at the Argentine bases. The next base will be the Petrel base, which is ready to mount. “These seismometers are so sensitive that they allow us to see large icebreaking,” he told DEF magazine. He added that “the data obtained are transmitted in real time to international seismological centers.”

Milton Percy Placencia Linares is responsible for installing and maintaining the seismograph network at the Argentinean Antarctic bases (Martín Gallino)

An old acquaintance from the Sixth Continent

Other researchers working in Antarctica include Hector Ochoa, head of the electronics laboratory at the Argentine Antarctic Institute, where he worked for 38 years. During that period he traveled 50 times. “I had the opportunity not only to enter the Argentine bases, but also to visit foreign bases,” he recalls.

Adds Ochoa, who points out that these laboratories monitor the ozone hole and work to study the ionosphere, the group of layers of the atmosphere more than 80 kilometers across. “

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These are just three of many stories from our bases in the far south of the world. Each year, the Antarctic Campaign enables the development of research that provides key information for understanding the planet’s behavior and dealing with global warming.

Hector Ochoa, Head of the Electronics Laboratory at the Argentine Antarctic Institute, where he worked for 38 years (Martín Gallino)

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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