Eight Malaysian scientists to conduct research in Antarctica

PETALING JAYA: Eight Malaysian scientists will be spending three weeks on a vessel during a research expedition to Antarctica, seen as the first Malaysian journey of its kind.

Coming from six universities here, they will be sailing from Jan 22 to Feb 4 to eight places on the continent to do their research on topics ranging from electromagnetism to medical studies.

“We will be spending three weeks on a yacht,” said Universiti Tekno­logi Mara’s (UiTM) Dr Mohamad Huzaimy Jusoh, the trip’s lead scientist.

Previous expeditions to the southern continent, said Dr Mohamad, had seen Malaysians being flown there and based at one research station at a time.

Setting off from Malaysia for Argentina on Jan 13, the team will make its way to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America. The yacht they will be on is known as the Australis, which sports both sails and a diesel engine.

On Jan 18, they will sail for four days from Ushuaia to Antarctica across the Drake Passage, an area known for unpredictable weather, rough seas and its 5m-high waves.

“It’s a mixed feeling for me (going there) ... We have to prepare for the worst. Everyone of us has to prepare a will in case anything happens,” he said, adding that it was his first trip there.

The Antarctica, he added, would be at the peak of summer then, with temperatures of -20°C at the worst.

“It’s like visiting the US during winter,” laughed Dr Mohamad.

From Jan 22, the scientists, who will be joined by three non-Malaysian crew, will hop from coast to coast, with each carrying out his or her own research on the continent, some of which will be on land.

Dr Mohamad’s own research will cover electromagnetism on Earth due to space weather and its effects while others will include subjects from climate change to medical studies. The eight will make their way back to Argentina on Feb 5.

The trip is expected to cost about RM400,000, funded partly by the Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation and the Science, Tech­nology and Innovation Ministry.

Science Technology , antarctica