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Brazil resumes Antarctic research

Brazil has dispatched its first research mission to the Antarctic since February, when a fire destroyed its base in Admiralty Bay on King George Island, killing two soldiers.

Five ships and 200 researchers arte involved in the operation initiated by three ministries: science, technology and innovation; environment; and defence.

They will work on 19 research projects coordinated by the science, technology and innovation ministry and the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development. Among them are joint projects with partner countries including Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Poland, Spain and Uruguay.

Rear admiral Marcos Silva Rodrigues said that logistically it was Brazil’s largest Antarctic operation, with ships carrying not only scientific apparatus but also equipment to rebuild the Comandante Ferraz base.

The base has been cleared of toxic and perishable materials and sealed to stop it polluting the environment. During the research mission the remains of the base will be removed and a study conducted on the environmental impacts of the fire, Portal Brasil reported. A new base is planned to be fully operational by the end of the Antarctic summer, in March 2013.

Carlos Nobre, secretary of research and development policies and programmes in the science, technology and innovation ministry, said, “The Brazilian Antarctic programme has been promoting scientific investigation at an international level in the area under jurisdiction of the Antarctic Treaty, guaranteeing Brazil’s active role in decisions regarding the environmental management and political future of the continent and the Southern Ocean,” Portal Brasil reported on 15 November.