Ukraine has joined an important international study of the Antarctic ice

Ukraine has joined an important international study of the Antarctic ice

The National Antarctic Science Center (NASC) joined the OCEAN:ICE project. OCEAN:ICE stands for “Ocean-Cryosphere Exchanges in Antarctica: Impacts on Climate and the Earth System” is a large Horizon Europe project, funded by the European Commission.

The consortium also includes partners from UK which are funded by the UK Research and Innovation.

This project is aimed to assess the impacts of key Antarctic Ice Sheet and Southern Ocean processes on Planet Earth, via their influence on sea level rise, deep water formation, ocean circulation and climate.

The loss of ice from Antarctica is enormously important for our sea level rise, and most of the loss of ice from the continent happens at the ocean-ice sheet interface, driven by warm ocean currents, so this is why OCEAN:ICE is focusing on the processes that are driving that melting.

Initially the project was implemented by the consortium of 17 partners, led by Danish Meteorological institute (DMI). In September 2023, DMI and NASC applied for and have been granted additional funding under the Horizon Europe programme to welcome NASC as new partner in the project.

What will be Ukraine’s contribution to this paramount project?

NASC will fill in some of the remaining “data gaps” around Antarctica by deploying an additional set of innovative equipment – profiling floats in the Southern Ocean. It is an oceanographic instrument platform used for making subsurface measurements in the ocean without the need for a vessel, propeller, or a person operating it.

Such floats measure the physical and chemical parameters of the ocean in detail, such as measuring the direction and water velocity or the temperature and salinity. These measures will help to understand better the seasonal exchanges between cold Weddell Sea waters and relatively warmer central West Antarctic Peninsula waters.

In addition, NASC will examine the impact of precipitation on ice shelf mass budget by snowfall and rain using high resolution regional atmospheric modelling.

Ruth Mottram, project coordinator from DMI mentioned: “NASC will enhance the existing OCEAN:ICE project by adding new observations and analysis as well as innovative numerical modelling to ocean and atmospheric processes and regions not presently represented in the project. NASC logistical support will expand existing OCEAN:ICE observations to areas not covered by OCEAN:ICE around Antarctica, allowing us to close the gap and become a truly circum-polar project”.

In addition, the additional funding will help to develop collaborations between scientists in Ukraine and internationally as well as leveraging expertise in OCEAN:ICE to develop existing NASC capabilities and new observational and analytical skill sets and extends them to applications with the Ukrainian research vessel “Noosfera”.

The project will run until 31st October 2026.

More information can be found on the website.