CECs, Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies) is a private, non-profit corporation, devoted to the development, promotion and diffusion of scientific research. CECs was founded in 1984 as the Center for Scientific Studies of Santiago and has since been directed by physicist Claudio Bunster.

Team of CECs scientists begin second expedition to the Antarctic PDF Print E-mail

On December 9th, 2014, after 7 days of preparation and awaiting favourable weather conditions, our team of glaciologists left Union Glacier and set off towards the West Antarctic continental Ice Divide, to begin a new glaciology research campaign using long-range land resources. The crossing was made with a convoy of land vehicles: a Pisten Bully tractor and the CECs1, our mobile station for ice research on inland Antarctica.


CECs scientists Sebastián Cisternas, Andrés Rivera, José Andrés Uribe y Rodrigo Zamora, make up the glaciology research team, supported by ALE logistic operators, Chris Jacobs and Tom Nonis. Being mobile, the CECs1 station allows for huge flexibility in doing Antarctic research, permitting crossings of hundreds of kilometres, making it possible to access areas of great scientific interest that are practically impossible to study remotely.


In light of the progress in our studies, it is increasingly evident that mobility is the strategic key to Antarctic exploration and research. CECs1 is equipped with the newest geophysical instruments available, including several radar systems: a ground-penetrating radar for measurements of total ice thickness; a radar that measures snow accumulation over the first 200 m of the Antarctic ice sheet; a radar to detect ice cracks and superficial snow accumulation, plus a magnetometer, several GPS receivers, an automatic weather station that gives continuous records and despatches data via satellite, in real time, and a drill for extraction of ice cores of up to 10 metres in length.


This campaign is the second to take place using CECs1, thanks to funding for a five-year project that aims to study the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet in response to climate and oceanic changes that are affecting the planet. Some of the largest glaciers in Western Antarctica are found in the region we are exploring. These include Pine Island Glacier that drains into the Amundsen Sea and which is experiencing an accelerated dynamic thinning, and the Institute Ice Stream that drains towards the floating Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf and which is considered to be potentially unstable. Both glaciers share an extensive ice divide that is susceptible to migration in response to ongoing changes in the Amundsen Sea.


Our research aims to establish the characteristics of this continental ice divide and to determine, in particular, the subglacial topography and internal structure of the ice. What is the thickness of the glacier? What type of topography lies beneath the ice? Are there sediments or subglacial lakes? What role does water play in the ice base? These are some of the questions that we hope to be able to answer with this study.


This second campaign will run until the end of this year, by which we hope to have made a detailed coverage of the area, having travelled almost 1000 km aboard our mobile station.