Prof Dr Justin Sentian first Malaysian to conduct winter research in Antarctica


Prof Dr Justin Sentian, the first Malaysian to conduct winter research in Antarctica and to have spent the most time - seven months - in the icy continent. Photo credit: Universiti Malaysia Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR: Prof Dr Justin Sentian of the Faculty of Science and Natural Resources, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), has been recognised as the first Malaysian to conduct winter research in Antarctica and to have spent the most time - seven months - in the icy continent.

The atmospheric scientist arrived safely at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Friday (Oct 27) after conducting research on climate change entitled "Tropospheric ozone and halocarbon variations in the Antarctic Peninsula under extreme weather conditions".

Through the research, Justin collected 197 gas samples from air, snow, sea ice, and sea water to study the content of halocarbon species such as bromocarbon.

He also obtained data that recorded variations in the concentration of surface ozone and several hydrocarbon gas species throughout the winter in Antarctica.

"The data is essential in the chemical study of atmospheric ozone, particularly in the troposphere and stratosphere, as well as its implications on the increase in tropospheric ozone levels and the long-term effects of climate change.

"Since surface ozone is a secondary pollutant and a significant greenhouse gas in the issue of global warming, this ozone has the ability to trap heat 1,000 times better than carbon dioxide," Justin said in a statement issued by the Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation on Saturday (Oct 28).

According to Prof Justin, research on halocarbons such as bromocarbons could have significant implications not only for the atmospheric ozone chemistry but also for their role as an ozone-depleting agent.

"These halocarbons are naturally occurring substances that can cause ozone depletion. If this occurs, global as well as Malaysia's efforts to restore the ozone layer through the implementation of the Montreal Protocol will be hampered," he said.

On the challenges he faced, Justin cited unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, with temperatures reaching -44 degrees Celsius and snowstorms with wind speeds of up to 120km per hour which made it difficult for him to collect research samples.

"I hope this research will have a significant impact on our understanding of ozone variations and hydrocarbon and halocarbon species in extreme winter weather conditions," he said.

The seven-month expedition was conducted alongside Chilean researcher Prof Julio Escudero at the Chilean Antarctic research base on King George Island, Antarctica.

It was also organised by YPASAM in collaboration with the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) and the Chilean Embassy in Malaysia.- Bernama

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