Princess Elisabeth polar station – Canadian scientist expected in January, uncertainty about Belgians

Friday, 09 December 2016 18:29
Canadian researcher Dr. Lori Ziolkowski has been awarded the prestigious Antarctica Fellowship, from her proposal to study microbe activity and carbon accumulation around the Princess Elizabeth polar station in Antarctica, the International Polar Foundation said on Friday in a press release.
The Fellowship, worth 150,000 euros, is a joint initiative of the Baillet Latour Fund and the International Polar Foundation. Dr. Ziolkowski, a researcher at the University of South Carolina in the United States, is scheduled to go to the polar station in January and spend three weeks there using radiocarbon dating to conduct her research.

“The Baillet Latour Fellowship will enable me to collect samples and study the rates of germ activity in the eastern Antarctica, one of most isolated and most extreme environments in the world,” she was quoted as saying in the press release. ”This research, baptized REMACA, will allow us to improve our understanding of the limits of life on Earth,” she added.

The announcement coincided with a report in l’Echo daily in Belgium that there “will be no [Belgian] State mission to Antartica this year”.

"The two elements are unrelated," a spokesperson of the Polar Foundation told the Belga news agency. “There is, in fact, uncertainty surrounding the presence of Belgian scientists, but that will have no influence on the international missions that can take place there,” she added.

The daily reported that the head of Belgium’s Federal Science Policy Office, René Delcourt, had informed the International Polar Foundation in a letter dated the 1st of December that Belgium would not send any scientists to the polar station this year.

Belgium’s Council of State had suspended on the 27th of October a decision by the Secretary of State for Scientific Policy, Elke Sleurs, to organize a maintenance mission to the Princess Elizabeth Antartica polar station without the approval of the International Polar Foundation.

Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)

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