Explore the end of the world
The Korea’s interest in the Antarctic region first took form in 1978.
Starting with the construction of the King Sejong Station in 1988, Korea’s Antarctic research activities have been dramatically enhanced by continuously expanding its research areas.
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We surveyed ocean currents and density by installing a mooring system in the Bransfield Strait concurrently with the study of carbon dioxide concentration observation, ozone observation, and upper atmospheric gravity. In Patagonia we examined the sedimentation in the ocean surface.
Korea's Antarctic Research has been continuously deepening its research areas for the last 14 years. The Arctic research was initiatived by dispatching a researcher with the Chinese Arctic Research Expedition as a joint research program, and later cooperated with Russia to conduct survey in the Russian Arctic Ocean. We expect that the future of the Arctic holds immense research potential especially with the establishment of an Arctic Station, concerning research areas in the upper atmosphere, astronomy, cyrosphere research, and resource development.
Research study areas have spread from the King George Island to Marianne Sommer, Bransfield Strait, Weddell Sea, Drake Strait, Livingston Island, and South American Patagonia. Research areas include algae, phytoplankton, El nino, lithosphere and gravity anomalies through satellite data.
In the summer research on geology, geophysics, coastal environment, glaciology, general oceanography, fishery resource survey and ozone layer observation were conducted around King Sejong Station, Livingston Island, Northwestern Weddell Sea, and the Northwestern Territory of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The main studies included glacier drilling on the Livingston Island in cooperation with Uruguay, investigation of acoustic survey using sound detectors, installation of ozone spectroscopy on King Sejong Station, a geological study of Patagonia region south of Chile to study the geological relation with the Antarctic Peninsula, and a study of curren in the Weldell Sea. In addition, we began our long-term research was on coastal ecosystems, the study of the fourth terrain, oceanic elasticity and exploration.
Summer research on the sediement, marine geology, geophysical, meteorological and upper atmosphere, marine life was conducted on the coastal environment in King Sejong Station, Livingston Island, Deception Island, western Bransfield Strait, and the western Weddell Sea.
Major research includes the study of the geological evolution process of the South Shetland Sea-tidal system, the earthquake study of the Western Bransfield field, the study on the recent environmental change of the sea by sediment drilling in marine sediments, ecosystem structure and function, identification of biogeochemical mechanisms for energy flow and mass transfer, environmental monitoring around King Sejong Station related to global warming, and water depth investigation near the Station.
A female researcher participated for the first time in the 10th Korean Over-wintering Research Program.
After the establishment of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute was transferred to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Since 1996, long-term observations have been conducted on the environmental changes in the vicinity of the station, under the title "monitoring environmental changes due to human activities around King Sejong Station." We have been monitoring the atmospheric and marine environment and the effect of heavy metals pollution in soils.
During the summer research on general oceanographic surveys, geology and geophysical surveys were carried out on the South Shetland Islands, Elephant Island, and the western part of the Weddell Sea. In addition, coastal marine ecosystem, geophysical and atmospheric science studies were conducted in King Sejong Station.
Major research findings characterized the physical, chemical and biological marine environment in the South Shetland Islands and Weddell Island, identifying differences in tropical structures and nutrient levels in the South Shetland Islands and the northern areas of the Antarctic peninsula. Changes in the atmospheric seasonalization and stratospheric ozone formation was studied through oceanic seismic exploration, oceanic semi-portation of the Antarctic and the Antarctic Ocean.
We conducted research in summer on the Bransfield Strait, the western ocean of the Weddell Sea, and onshore geological surveys on Livingston Island and Gibbs Island. The monitoring of the environment of King Sejong Station showed changes of the local environment in the Bransfield Strait and the South Shetland Islands. We conducted land geological surveys, and also identified the mechanism of sediment formation and deposition in the Bransfield Strait, and the the physical and chemical characteristics of the atmospheric thermosphere.
In particular, during this study period, we collected underwater volcanic rock samples from Bransfield, and observed the Antarctic atmosphere using radio-sonde.
Summer studies were conducted in geology, biology, and atmospheric science, around the Bransfield Strait and the western North Sea.
The geophysical field studies were extended beyond King George Island for the first time to field investigations of Paleozoic volcanic sedimentary rocks and Cenozoic igneous rocks on Livingston Island.
In addition, marine surveys examined sea-ice boundaries of the waters in the western part of the Antarctic Peninsula.
In addition, to study the thermodynamics of ice in the polar engineering field we measured the water depth of the Marian Cove.
In the summer study we carried out research on microorganisms and geological surveys in the Bransfield Strait and the Weddell Sea using the Onnuri, a research ship from the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute. RV Onnuri was equipped with various cutting-edge marine scientific research equipment, with which we were able to obtain high-quality data.
RV Onnuri is equipped with geophysical instruments that can obtain multi-channel elasticity, marine gravity, and submarine geomorphological data, which allowed Korea's Antarctic research to take a large leap forward. A total of 2,400 km of geophysical surveys, including 1,000 km of elastic and siding, were carried out in the South Shetland Sea, Shackleton Fracture, and Bransfield Strait, providing valuable resources for studying the Earth's structure.
During this summer study period, general oceanographic studies, life sciences and geophysical surveys were conducted in the Weddell Sea. During this period, Korea, installed the first satellite, InkSat-1, in the King Sejong Station in cooperation with the Ocean Research Center and the KAIST Satellite Research Center, further contributing to Korean communications research
Research was conducted mainly on geological and marine biology near the station, the Bransfield Strait and the Antarctic Peninsula Gelasse Strait. We also conducted a study on the geochemical properties of volcanic rocks in Deception Island.
The study highlights that volcanic rocks of the Filades Peninsula have been formed in the third period of the Cenozoic era, and volcanic activity has shifted from the south to the north and the west to the east. The research team performed a precision sounding survey over an area of 4 square kilometers in front of the station. The deep bottom seabed, 150 to 200 meters near the shore, was drastically deepened, showing a typical fjord terrain.
It was a meaningful study that contributed to the safe operation of ships in the Antarctic Ocean by revealing underwater topography around the station.
"Polar Research by Korea" was published in an Antarctic scientific journal to introduce Antarctic research.
The 2nd International Antarctic Scientific Symposium was held in Seoul in September 1990 where there were 16 participants from 9 countries including the U.S., the U.K., Soviet Union, Chile and Brazil and 20 domestic scholars.
Korea became the 22nd member of the Scientific Committee on Arctic Research (SCAR) in the 21st meeting that was held in São Paulo, Brazil.
The third summer research area was located near the previous station to observe penguins.
In addition, we discovered silicified wood fossils in Barton Peninsula for the first time, unveiling important clues to environmental change. We continued upper atmospheric research and established a multi-color photometer in January and February 1990, further advancing atmospheric research.
This was also an eventful research season where an elementary school principal, two middle school students and one high school student also encountered the nature and environment of Antarctica.
In the second summer research we studied the upper atmospheric, seals, and chemistry of ice. The location of the King Sejong Station, 55°48’ latitude and 19°12’ longitude, makes it an ideal site for observing the upper atmosphere. In conjunction with the New York State University, an interferometer was installed in the station from January to February of 1989. Through this, we discovered that the massive solar activity was causing temperatures to increase and expand the atmostphere 230~250km above the ground. The average temperature was assumed to be 280~465K lower during regular geomagnetic activity, and that the estimation of the thermosphere based on solar geomagnetic changes was less. The historical study of seal ovaries and male reproductive organs proved that seals were closer to land mammals than marine animals. A seal sperm revelaed that a high percentage of it (23.9%) was abnormal.
The high rate of the abnormal sperm may be because the study was conducted after their breeding season in February, while their breeding season is typically from November to January. The hormone rates in the blood were also studied.
Sulphates and chlorides, the main anions in the ice of the Fildes Peninsula, showed very similar charges while nitrates were not related. The drilled ice samples were short, but showed intruging results. During the second summer study, the research contents were broadened to include the geological studies of the South Shetland islands and the Bando peninsula. We also conducted atmostheric studies, inclduing suspended particulate matter on the Maxwell Coast, the circulation of amino acides, zoobenthos distributions, etc.
In late January of 1989, an Argentineian Arctic supply vessel, the Bahía Paraíso, ran aground approximately 300km south of the station. Korea sent her research team to rescue the survivors in the Chilean vessel.
These research experiences in the King Sejong station was globally acknowledged and on October 18, 1989, Korea became a member of the Antartic Treaty Consultative Party.
The Korean Antarctic research team carried out studies on the land, sea, and air surrounding the Antarctic station during the summer season (December to February).
To form this research team, marine researchers from research institutes in collaboration with other university research teams gathered to create the first Korean Antarctic research team. There was a commencement ceremony on January 20, 1988 at the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The summer study team carried out general marine observations, and observations of marine biology, submarine erosion and geological structures near the Maxwell gulf.
On land we studied the geophysical surveys and tectolineameant, wildlife and natural environments near the station.
Two marine researchers joined the 7th krill catching test research vessel (1987.12.01~1988.01.23) and studied the salinity, temperature, environment, nutritive salts, cholorophyl concentration and distribution near the study area (59°~62° latitude, 45°~65° longitude).
In October 1988, the 1st international Antarctic academic symposium was held in Seoul.
This symposium included 10 countries involved in the Antarctic research including the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Poland where 40 research papers were presented.
Korea was the 33rd country to join the Antarctic Treaty.
North Korea had applied to join the treaty at the same time as South Korea. The intervention of the US led South Korea to be the 33rd country to join the Treaty, followed by North Korea who later joined as the 35th country.
In the following year of 1987, the Korean government decided to construct an Antarctic station.
To construct the station the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute started preliminary research in collaboration with Hyundai Construction and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They performed an on-site survey around King George Island during April and May of 1985, staying for 3 weeks at the Chilean Frei air base.
The Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute created an Antarctic research lab and formed a small Antarctic research team. The Korea National committee on Antarcic Research (KONCAR) was also formed to enable research in Antarctica.
Hyundai Engineering finished the designs for the buildings and facilities of the station. A vessel HHI-1200 was loaded with construction material and departed from Ulsan port, arriving at King George island on December 15, 1987.
The construction team took advantage of the long summer days to push forward with the construction, completing Korea’s first Antarctic research station in the following year on February 17, located on the King George Island of the South Shetland islands (62°17’ latitude, 58° 47’ longitude).
Ever since 1988, the King Sejong Station has been making meteorological, earthquake and ozone observations. In addition, tidal movement, interometers for high atmospheric observations, etc, were installed.
Professional mountaineers commissioned by the Maritime Youth League succeeded the challenge of Vinson Massif (4,897m), by climbing to the highest peak in Antarctica, to explore the Antarctic Ocean for Korea.
The Korea Maritime Youth League became the Korean Antarctic observations Team. To prepare for the design, construction and operation of an Antarctic station, two explorers from the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute (Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute) participated in the expedition. They stayed in Antarctica for three weeks on King George Island, collecting data on the construction and operation of foreign bases in the natural environment of King George Island.
The Department of Fisheries supported the research on krill in the Southern Ocean for the first time. They first caught 511 tons of krill in the Southern Ocean at the end of the Antarctic Enderby land and during the period from 1978 to 1979.