A December fine, Chile presented the “Almirante Viel”, the largest icebreaker ship in South America. Scientific exploration navigation will even allow researchers to study Antarctica year-round, during winter temperatures.
After five years of construction, the ship was launched on December 22, 2022. “It’s already at sea! At 10:46 p.m., the time of the highest tide, the icebreaker Almirante Viel was thrown into the water at the Talcahuano Naval Base,” the Chilean Ministry of Defense detailed via Twitter.
The icebreaker Irízar, again on its way to the ice of Antarctica
And they added: “Now, the Antarctic ship is entering its final stretch, which includes tests afloat and port tests for its final delivery in 2024.” The launch into the sea meant the end of the first stage of the research megaproject. The icebreaker is scheduled to start operations in August 2024.
The new ship of the Chilean Navy was secured with fine scientists, mainly to venture into Antarctica and investigate the effects of the climate crisis in that region. With an investment of 210 million dollars and in which 800 people worked, the vessel weighs 10,500 tons and is capable of breaking one meter of ice at a speed of 5.4 kilometers per hour (three knots). “Almirante Viel” has space to receive 34 scientists in addition to the crew and was designed for various study disciplines.
further, It has the equipment for scientists to investigate on board oceanography and hydrography in microbiology and chemistry laboratories. The boat also has a multibeam echo sounder to explore the deep and medium depth seabed.
Added to this, the ship will have the capacity to store deep ice. However, it will not have the necessary logistics to process it, so this task will be carried out at the facilities of the future International Antarctic Center (CAI), in Punta Arenas.
Alberto Fernández fired the icebreaker ARA Almirante Irízar in the Port of Buenos Aires
The CAI project is a joint effort of the Regional Government of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic. The research center will begin construction in February or March 2023 and will aim to be ready in the next three years. In addition, it will be divided into three main and functional areas: scientific, logistic and museographic.
Pamela Santibáñez, renowned Chilean researcher in Antarctic science, marine biologist and doctor in Ecology, explained that the vessel could go further south than current national infrastructure allowed. The woman, who was in charge of naming the ship, also explained that the ship “has laboratories to process and store samplesbesides that it can be obtained easily”.
“The ship will allow us to better understand what will happen with the rise in sea levelwhat is happening with the different waters, because the formation of cold waters that allows the movement of the thermohaline circulation in the oceans, which distributes the heat, happens in Antarctica”, stressed the Chilean biologist in dialogue with RadioFrance International.
further, “Almirante Viel” will resist temperatures down to -30°C and will allow scientists to work in winter, work that was difficult to carry out. “Antarctica is mainly studied during the summer season,” explained the scientist. And she added: “We will be able to gather information about what happens in winter, a much colder and darker season.”
The icebreaker Almirante Irízar paid homage to the missing divers
Chile had an old icebreaker ship, also called “Admiral Viel”. However, it was technically and logistically obsolete. The vessel allowed scientists to transform, but they could not operate on board and research trips would take place alone in summer.
The role of the ship to study global warming
Due to the planet’s climate emergency, scientists are interested in studying Antarctica because it directly influences three aspects of the climate: sea level; the thermohaline circulation, which is related to large-scale ocean circulation; and the albedo effect, which is the ability of surfaces to bounce incident solar radiation.
Added to this, the region is of scientific interest as it preserves information on the quality of the atmosphere of the past, as the amount of CO2. In this regard, the Chilean biologist explained that “we have seven or eight deep ice cores. Now one of a million years is sought to have more information about the past. Ice bubbles contain past information about the atmosphere.
In that sense, The icebreaker will allow continuous and persistent monitoring, at the same time that it will complement the oceanographic information on what is happening in the Antarctic continent. Along these lines, the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy, Juan Andrés de la Maza, maintained that “it is a ship that is delivered to the national and international scientific community that is going to do science on the White Continent.”
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