SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s icebreaker embarked on its ninth Antarctic expedition Thursday to explore the marine ecosystem and study how climate change is affecting the planet.
The Araon departed from the western port of Incheon for its journey that will last 227 days, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
The 7,487-ton research ship will head to Australia before anchoring at Jang Bogo Antarctic Research Station in Terra Nova Bay in Antarctica before starting its research from mid-December.
The Araon, which measures 111 meters from bow to stern and can cut through 1-meter thick ice, will first cruise the Amundsen Sea in western Antarctica to examine the melting speed of ice bergs and ocean currents.
The vessel able to accommodate around 85 crew and researchers, will then move to the Ross Sea, a deep bay of the Southern Ocean, to study the changing environment of the oceans and glaciers. Researchers plan to install an underwater seismometer to regularly monitor earthquakes.
Lastly, the ship plans to navigate the Weddell Sea to explore the Larsen C ice shelf, the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica spanning an area of about 55,000 square kilometers, half the size of South Korea.
Unlike thin layers of sea ice, ice shelves are floating masses of ice, hundreds of meters thick, which are attached to grounded ice sheets.
The Southern Ocean produces about three-quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in the rest of the world’s oceans. The region is also home to most of the world’s penguins and whales.
The research ship will return to South Korea’s Gwangwang Port on the southwestern coast on June 10, the ministry said.
The ice-breaking vessel explored the South and North Pole regions on eight missions since 2009 as part of global efforts to examine the cause of global warming and study the Arctic ecosystem.