Czech scientists explore site of future Czech polar station


Earlier this year we reported on an unprecedented project by Czech scientists - the Czech Republic is going to build a polar station in the Antarctic. The station will be located on the north edge of James Ross Island, off the northeast coast of the Antarctic. A group of Czech scientists recently spent five weeks on James Ross Island, exploring the ground where the station is to be built. Radio Prague spoke to the head of the expedition, Pavel Prosek, from Masaryk University in Brno. He said that now the crucial thing is to transport the building materials to the site.

"Transportation is a very important part of our project because we have a long way for transportation of all building material, of the scientific equipment and so on. We will start the transport operation in autumn this year. I hope we will reach the site of the building at the beginning of December and after this moment we will start disembarking all the material on the coast and the building operations."

The station will be built on a spot which 20,000 years ago was covered by a thick layer of ice. As the glacier was receding, the landscape underwent significant changes, including the arrival of life-forms. The Czech scientists will now study all possible ways in which the changes affected the landscape.

"The proposed scientific project is a multidisciplinary programme with the participation of geology, physical geography, including hydrology, climatology, geomorphology and so on, and a group of biological disciplines: plant ecology, plant physiology, stress physiology and so on."

According to Pavel Prosek from Masaryk University in Brno, at least for the few first seasons the station will operate only in the summer. Up to 15 scientists will be able to work at the station at one time. Compared with huge US stations, it will be one of the smaller ones, but Pavel Prosek says that as far as technology, energy production and building materials are concerned, the Czech station will be very up-to-date in comparison to others.

Some people may wonder why scientists from the Czech Republic of all countries should be interested in researching the Antarctic. Here is the answer of the head of the Antarctic expedition, Pavel Prosek.

"This question is the same one as the question asked in Finland or in Sweden or in Norway, in other small countries. But I think we have a place for realisation of concrete scientific programme in Antarctica. Because Czech science is able to work here and to participate in the research of world scientific problems together other countries because the influence of Antarctica are influences on the macro-scale, influences on other continents of the world, including Europe. For example, the climate in Europe is very much influenced by the Antarctic continent. The distance between Antarctica and us is too big. What to do here? We have something to do here. The development of Czech science is on a good level for us to be able to work here."