Climate change scientist makes Sabah proud in Antarctica, says Hajiji


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is honoured by Prof Dr Justin Sentian, who is the first Malaysian to carry out a long-term research expedition on climate change in the extreme cold winter of Antarctica.

Prof Justin, a Ranau native with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), has made Sabah very proud by his achievement to carry out seven months of research in Antarctica, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said.

"I say well done and congratulations to Prof Justin because he is the first Malaysian scientist to carry out the research in Antarctica. His achievement makes us very proud.

"What makes it even more special is that the Sabah flag (along with the Malaysian flag) is also flown in Antarctica", he said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 24).

Prof Justin, together with UMS assistant vice chancellor (strategic) Prof Dr Mohammad Saffree Jeffree and Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation chief executive officer Abd Shukor Jamaluddin paid Hajiji a courtesy call at his office in Menara Kinabalu here recently.

In a symbolic gesture of the successful completion of the research expedition, Prof Justin returned the Sabah flag to Hajiji which the Chief Minister presented to him on March 10, 2023 before he left for the coldest continent.

Prof Justin, who is with the UMS Faculty of Science and Natural Resources, had conducted his research in the extreme cold Antarctica winter from March 21 to Oct 27, 2023, making him the Malaysian scientist who spent the longest time in the continent.

He carried out his research at the Julio Escudero Station on King George Island.

The expedition, the first of its kind, was organised by Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation with the Antarctic Research Institute of Chile (INACH).

Prof Justin was given a RM150,000 special research grant from the foundation for a research project related to climate change entitled "Variation of Troposphere Ozone and Halocarbons in the Antarctic Peninsula in Conditions Extreme Weather".

Prof Justin said throughout the expedition in Antarctica, he faced many challenges, especially mentally and physically due to the extreme weather conditions.

"There were times when the air temperature reached -44°C and the wind speed of 120km/h that triggered snow storms," he said.

He hoped the results of his research would have a significant impact on the understanding of ozone variations and hydrocarbon and halocarbon species in extreme weather conditions during winter.

"It can contribute to the generation of new knowledge, not only among atmospheric chemical scientists but also to the whole community - local and global - to better understand the complex relationship with the current events such as climate change and ozone depletion," he said on his research experience in Antarctica.

A three-year study conducted in collaboration with INACH and the University of Santiago examines the role of halogenated reactive halocarbons in surface ozone chemistry and meteorological conditions under extreme winter weather conditions.

Halocarbons are greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change and it is also responsible for the loss of stratospheric ozone in recent decades.

During his research, Prof Justin gathered data that records variations in surface ozone concentrations and some hydrocarbon gas species such as isoprene during winter in Antarctica.

He also managed to take 197 gas samples from air, snow, sea ice and sea water for the study of the content of halocarbon species such as bromocarbon, among others.

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