A new Bulgarian scientific expedition travels to Antarctica
Bulgaria is sending a new expedition to the southernmost continent, which scientists call the "climate kitchen". The team of scientists will join several groups by the end of November 2018 as part of a serious scientific program composed of 7 projects, a state subsidy amounting to BGN 500,000 and invaluable support from Bulgarian business, especially Monbat Economic Group.
The expedition is led by Prof. Hristo Pimpirev, Director of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute. He says the study of the continent is not only a question of national pride.
"It is extremely important for the future. This expedition reveals secrets that are important to all mankind. "
The significance of the mission was also emphasized by the official handover of the national flag by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev to Prof. Pimpirev on 06.11.2018. This shows that this expedition is a patriotic undertaking, both scientifically and politically. (photos or video from serving)
In a conversation with Prof. Pimpirev, it emerges that interest in the world’s southernmost continent has grown in recent years. Countries far removed from Antarctica and its program - such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and the Czech Republic - have already set up a modern base. Antarctica has been declared a scientific reserve where freedom of research is established. Military activities, the exploitation of deposits and natural resources, and the submission of territorial claims are all prohibited. The continent is governed by the 1961 Antarctic Treaty and its related agreements, which to date have been signed by 53 countries. Bulgaria has been a full member of this treaty since 1998, with means it is among 29 countries involved in deciding the continent’s current and future governance and development.
Although Bulgaria is the poorest of all countries signed up to the Antarctic Treaty, the Bulgarian mission is equal to any other. The expedition has a long-running serious scientific program with projects focusing on biology - especially marine organisms and geological research. From this year there will also be a humanities angle[U1] . Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski"’s history faculty will study the years of Bulgarian arctic research in order to create an archive. The aim is to help schools expand their teaching materials because Antarctica is expected to grow ever more important in the future. The scientific projects and life at the Bulgarian base are not only a source of knowledge but also of future interest.
On the Livingston Island base the day-to-day problems are similar to any other place of habitation. Heat, water, electricity, sewage, supply of food, medicine, medical care and transportation - even a taxi service to serve scientists – are all indispensable. Most available expenditure goes towards ensuring the settlement has suitable equipment and is able to function well. So any help to facilitate this is invaluable.
Thanks to Monbat's decision to once again provide rechargeable batteries, the outlook for the next 5-6 years is "secure", according to scientists leaving for Antarctica. The base has photovoltaic panels and the new batteries will cover 70-80% of energy needed on an average day. This is not only a contribution to the scientific base but also to the entire scientific program because when the energy problem is solved, any remaining resources can go towards pure science. This makes the support of business invaluable.
"In order to provide all these programs, first and foremost energy is needed for everything. Thanks to the installation of the batteries we received as sponsorship years ago, we have saved an average of 40-50% of the fuel consumption for each season. If this is considered in tons of waste, carbon dioxide is a lot. We spent 5-6 tons of naphtha a year but now our cost has fallen to 2-3 tons.
Solar panels are very easy - you take the plate and carry it there, there is sun, there is electricity. The battery is the heavy element in such a system as a buffer. And we have batteries. Spaniards also have one field of solar panels, but they have fewer batteries. Other bases, such as the Belgian, are based on the current views of an energy-independent base. But it was built about 5-6 years ago, by a whole new technology. Here there are cottages from the 90s, containers from the 80s[U2] , the others were made in 2008-2010.
But in this respect, I would say, we are quite at the vanguard with this method of energy extraction (of energy). And there is a wind generator, and solar collectors for hot water there. This year we will employ a heating one. All these things have been taken seriously." Yordan Yordanov, Logistics Manager and Board Member of BAI, said that Monbat’s production, which will be installed this season, has been developed under advanced technological specifications for solar installations under such conditions. The team of scientists also concluded that the previous batteries functioned very well for 10 years and remained in good condition despite the unforgiving nature of the surroundings.
Pr. Pimpirev, whose 27th expedition this is, maintains that the Bulgarian presence in Antarctica is not only a matter of national pride but is extremely important for the future. Bulgaria has embarked upon a study of a continent that unravels the secrets of all mankind.
You can hear the conversation with Yordan Yordanov here (link to podcast)