Pioneer in Cryosphere Science shares his scientific research in Antarctica in ECNU

发布日期: 2021-04-30   作者:  浏览次数: 39

On April 18th, Qin Dahe, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the Center for World Geography and Geostrategic Research of ECNU, and Honorary Director of the State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, delivered a lecture titled “From Antarctic Scientific Expedition to the Science of Climate Change” in the Science Auditorium of ECNU. Over 200 teachers and students attended the lecture.

Qin Dahe delivered a lecture titled “From Antarctic Scientific Expedition to the Science of Climate Change” in ECNU.

As the first person to traverse the Antarctic continent on foot, Academician Qin shared his three expeditions across the Antarctica and researches in his lecture using on-site photos taken from his expeditions 40 years ago.

In 1983, Qin went to work in Antarctica for the first time. As one of the few scientists working at Casey Station, he frequently went out of the station to sample and drill ice cores, as well as sticked to the regular laboratory research.

The field work was usually carried out at night, with 6 people driving 4 tractors across the vast snowfield. Accidents happened from time to time as the Antarctic continent was covered with ice and snow and the diverse structure of the Antarctic terrain was invisible and fragile. Apart from the experimental researches they conducted, Qin also shared some of his interesting experiences and anecdotes in Antarctica. For example, he shouldered multiple duties, and he used the darkroom as his second studio where he learned how to develop films.

He prepared dumplings for all the team members at the station during a ten-day pause of work because of the heavy snowstorm, which enhanced their friendship by means of delicacies. In Antarctica, where the entertainment was hard to come by, the team members at the station shared music with Qin and enjoyed together the popular Beatles music at that time...

Qin Dahe and other scientists working in Antarctica

Qin’s second trip to Antarctica took place at China’s first Antarctic scientific research station, the Great Wall Station, which was established in 1984. Qin was working there from 1987 to 1989. He investigated the glacier dynamics, thermology material balance and theory of ice formation of the nearby Nelso ice cap. He was appointed as deputy captain and overwintering captain of China’s fourth Antarctic expedition team, in charge of the coordination of scientific research of the whole station.

Because of his previous experiences and impressive performances in Antarctica researches, Qin was selected and joined the international trans-Antarctic expedition team, composed of members from six countries, China, the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Britain, and Japan. “The Antarctic scientific expedition was mostly commercially sponsored, while the Soviet government provided great additional support. The expedition team traveled from the US base camp by the Antonov 84 transport plane to the Antarctic Peninsula, Chile, Punta by way of Cuba.”

On July 27th, 1989, the scientific expedition team initiated the journey, starting from Seal Rock on the Antarctic Peninsula, traversing the Antarctic Peninsula over the Antarctic Ice Sheet to the South Pole, across the inaccessible area. Finally, they arrived at Peace Station, the destination of the expedition, via Vostok Station.

During the 220-day journey crossing the Antarctica, the team members kept advancing from 8 in the morning to 6 in the evening, with only 15-minute break for lunch. Besides the damage caused by wind and snow, low temperature and ultraviolet burns, the more dangerous challenge was to traverse across the ice fissure zone. The surface of the ice bridge looked firm, but it could break when people stepped on it with the ice groove of several-meter-deep below their feet. When traversing the continent, as the only one of the two scientists in the scientific expedition team, Qin had to complete his research tasks in such a harsh natural environment.

When members from other countries had already rested at night, Qin still dug snow pits to get snow and ice samples. To ensure the pureness of the samples without contamination, he had to undertake this task all by himself. His great devotion paid off as he became the only scientist in the world who collected all the ice and snow specimens one meter below the Antarctic surface. His research has successfully filled the gap in the field of glaciology in the world.

Qin Dahe sharing his experience of scientific expedition in Antarctica

On December 11, 1989, the team successfully arrived at the South Pole. The team members from the six countries took group photos at the South Pole with their national flags.

The scientific expedition team arrived at Vostok Station in February and focused on visiting the most advanced Soviet ice core drilling equipment in the world at that time. Qin emphatically explained the importance of the study on Antarctic ice sheet and ice core for the cryospheric data extraction. On March 3rd 1990, the scientific expedition team successfully completed its mission and finally arrived at the destination, the Soviet Union Peace Station in East Antarctica.

A photo of the scientific expedition team

After sharing his legendary experience of traversing across Antarctica, Qin also discussed with the teachers and students about the crises and challenges caused by global warming.

At the end of the lecture, Qin mentioned why he devoted himself to the research of Antarctica during the prime time of his life. He said, “For me, the Antarctic ice sheet is there! Antarctica is a scientific arena and a battlefield for the young scientists. I hope you will go to Antarctica in the future! Go to the Arctic, and go to the places where young people are mostly needed!”


Source: School of Urban and Regional Science

Copy editor: Philip Nash

Editor: Yuan Yiwei