On 27 January 2013, NWO officially opened the first Dutch research facility at the South Pole - the Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory. Prince Willem Alexander spoke to those present via a video message: ‘The issues you are researching are unbelievably important, because we care about this planet.’ University of Groningen researchers are playing an important role in the research conducted at the laboratory - three of the five current projects are linked to the University.
The Groningen researchers are investigating the various consequences on Antarctica of the swift warming of the Antarctic Peninsula, where the laboratory is located. Prof. Anita Buma's group (ESRIG) is studying the influence of increasing melt waters on the marine food chain - marine microalgae. Prof. Theo Elzenga's team (CEES) is examining the greenhouse gases released during an algal bloom. Prof. Hein de Baar's team (ESRIG) is concentrating on changes to iron and other trace elements and the consequences of this for the ecosystem.
In 1992, Anita Buma was the first University of Groningen researcher to gain a PhD for Antarctic research, and was also the first Dutch woman researcher to set foot on Antarctic soil. Buma: 'A permanent base immediately gives the Dutch polar community significant added value. More than ever, we now have the opportunity to embed our research in a structured way and expand our cooperation with British and other international partners. Having our own floorspace also has major logistical advantages as it makes the transportation of fragile equipment between campaigns a thing of the past. Finally, this permanent laboratory consolidates our right to vote within the Antarctic Treaty System, which regulates the protection of Antarctica, among other things. In the past decade, Dutch Antarctic research has made a strong name for itself, despite a tight budget, with the University of Groningen playing a significant role. The fact that this base has been realised is also due to the high quality of Dutch polar research.'
prof. dr. Anita Buma
dr. Annette Scheepstra
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