Base supports 15 research projects
By Second Lieutenant (RM2-T) Leonardo Sá – Brasília, DF
The thick layers of ice and snow that cover Antarctica preserve the history of the planet. The White Continent is a natural archive containing information on the climatic, biological, marine and geological changes that have taken place over thousands of years. With extremely low temperatures and unique climatic conditions, the region offers an ideal environment for scientific studies in various fields of knowledge.
In that polar area, the Brazilian Navy (MB) maintains the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station (EACF), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this Tuesday (6). Located on King George Island in Admiralty Bay, the EACF brings together military personnel and researchers dedicated to deciphering the enigmas of the Antarctic ecosystem, in search of scientific discoveries that could only be made in the region.
The station currently supports 15 of the 24 research projects of the 42nd Antarctic Operation (OPERANTAR XLII), organized by the Brazilian Antarctic Program (PROANTAR). Among scholars in biology, oceanography, medicine and other fields, the Brazilian station is expected to host 63 researchers by the end of this edition of the operation. Five of these scientists are foreigners, three of whom are women from Chile, Ecuador and Iran, respectively.
According to the Head of the EACF Base Group, Frigate Captain Wagner Oliveira Machado, the base is essential for boosting Brazilian scientific research worldwide. “Over the last 40 years, the work carried out at the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station has been consolidated in transdisciplinary and inter-institutional research, allowing science to be carried out in a collaborative and participatory manner, in national and international cooperation.”
Maintaining state-of-the-art facilities at the southernmost tip of the planet is an indispensable factor for the continuity of national scientific production in the region. “Brazil has been one of the world’s great references in terms of publications in high-impact journals and media. This leading role is fundamental to maintaining our status as a Consultative Member of the Antarctic Treaty System,” added Frigate Captain Machado.
Defending scientific progress
One of the projects that uses the EACF as its main research base is the Mephysto Project, which investigates the distribution of organisms in the Brazil-Malvinas Confluence, as well as the flow of plastics through the Drake Passage, between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The program’s scientists are also trying to understand how water and pollution are transmitted between Admiralty Bay and the Bransfield Strait.
“The existence of the Antarctic Station is fundamental for us to be able to have support for the collection and analysis of our samples. So it acts as a safe haven for carrying out our studies. With its advanced facilities, the EACF guarantees that the work can be carried out on site,” said Moacyr Araújo, Coordinator of the Mephysto Project and Vice-Rector of the Federal University of Pernambuco.
MB is responsible for ensuring the efficiency and safety of the expeditions. In addition to setting up scientific camps, the Navy transports researchers, equipment, supplies and materials collected in the field by means of the Oceanographic Support Vessel “Ary Rangel” and the Polar Vessel “Almirante Maximiano”.
“The Brazilian Navy’s logistical support is the main pillar that sustains the research carried out in Antarctica. It is absolutely necessary that we continue to have this support for the continuity of the Brazilian Antarctic Program,” added Moacyr Araújo.
The EACF underwent a major restructuring and opened its doors again in January 2020, when it now has 17 laboratories, 14 of which are in the main building and three in isolated modules, as well as technical, living and operational areas. Today, the station is considered to be the most modern and safest among the others installed on the Antarctic Continent.
After reconstruction, the EACF now covers more than 900 m². Powered by clean energy, the new station is made of fully recoverable material that can be transferred to other locations. The space can accommodate 66 people in 45 modules adapted for working in the polar environment.
Brazil joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1975 and the EACF began to take shape in 1982, with the first edition of OPERANTAR. The expedition was essential for acquiring information about the location, logistical constraints and the most suitable techniques for building the scientific base.
The Antarctic Station was inaugurated two years later, on February 6, 1984, on King George Island, during OPERANTAR II. During the summer of that year, for 32 days, 12 soldiers from the Base Group manned the structure made up of 8 modules totaling 150 m².
*** Translated by DEFCONPress FYI Team ***