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South Korean icebreaker returns home after more than 6 months in Antarctica


SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) — The South Korean icebreaker is on its way to the southeast port of Busan after completing a 195-day international exploration mission in the Antarctic Ocean, the Department of Oceans.

The Araon, South Korea’s first icebreaker vessel, launched its mission to the South Pole on October 20 last year and will return to Busan on Tuesday, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

The 7,487 tonne research vessel explored the sea below the Eastern Thwaites Ice Shelf, one of West Antarctica’s largest ice shelves, with helicopters and devices attached to seals in part of global efforts to examine the cause of global warming and study the Antarctic ecosystem. .

Little exploration of West Antarctica has been done so far due to the difficulty of access as the melting of the Eastern Thwaites Ice Shelf accelerates, the ministry said.

An ice shelf is a huge floating ice shelf that forms where a glacier or ice cap flows toward a coastline and onto the surface of the ocean.

The Araon also examined the ecology of penguins and seals, two top predators in the Antarctic marine ecosystem, and collected seawater from West Antarctica to analyze the ocean’s capacity Antarctica to store carbon.

The ministry said the research vessel also conducted on-site exploration of the January Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcanic eruption, the world’s first such study, to collect data. crude that could be used to shed light on a volcano eruption.

After calling at Busan, the Araon will move to the southwestern port of Gwangyang for repairs and maintenance and embark on a voyage to the North Pole in July this year, according to the ministry.