Polish Antarctic station will be reactivated | Polarjournal
Members of the expedition in front of the “Akademik Fedorov” shortly before departure for Antarctica. (Photo W. Sielski)

The Polish Antarctic station AB Dobrowolski, abandoned 40 years ago, is to be reactivated. A team of scientists left Bremerhaven for the project on November 10, 2021, aboard the Russian icebreaker Akademik Fedorov. They will reach the site of the former station in two months.

As the researchers point out, the location of the station is unique in the world and can be considered like a Mars analogue. The area can be treated as one of the most valuable research areas in Antarctica.

The expedition was organised by the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Poland has two research stations in Antarctica: the H. Arctowski station on the South Shetland Islands, which has been in continuous operation since 1977, and the Antoni Dobrowolski station in the Bunger Oasis in East Antarctica, which has been unused since 1979.

A team of Polish scientists is to reopen the Polish research station in Antarctica, which was abandoned over 40 years ago, and restore it while carrying out important studies on the Earth’s core. (Photo: Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences)

The research station was built in 1956 by the Soviet Antarctic Expedition and was named Oazis. The station was transferred from the Soviet Academy of Sciences to the Polish Academy of Sciences in January 1959. The station was renamed after the Polish geophysicist, meteorologist and polar explorer Antoni Bolesław Dobrowolski. The station was briefly manned by Polish expeditions, which carried out a series of studies, mainly in the fields of gravimetry and geomorphology.

The last crew of the Dobrowolski station in 1978. (Photo: Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences)

The AB Dobrowolski research station is located in the Bunger Oasis on the shore of Algae Lake in East Antarctica. According to the researchers, this place is one of the largest among the very few areas that are not covered by ice in Antarctica. Its discovery from the air in 1947 was a world sensation. The inland location, which is difficult to reach, was the reason that Russian scientists used the station for only two years. However, the location is also the reason why the current group of Polish scientists considers the area one of the best places in the world to conduct complex studies.

AB Dobrowolski Station consists of two wooden houses named “Warszawa” and “Krakow”. There are also smaller pavilions. (Photo: Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences)

Professor Marek Lewandowski, leader of the expedition, said in an interview, “It is a unique place on Earth from which you can observe the structure of the Earth’s core in a way that is not contaminated by human activity or seismic waves caused by the ocean. It is simply a portal into the interior of the Earth.”

Currently, the research station consists of two wooden houses named “Warszawa” and “Krakow”. There are also smaller pavilions and a landing field located 15 kilometers from the buildings.

Professor Monika A. Kusiak will be the first Polish woman to officially reach this region. As she points out, this is a result of the unique nature of polar research, where “the presence of women is a matter of recent decades.”

Professor Monika A. Kusiak, one of the four scientists participating in the expedition, told Radio Poland, “To be honest, we don’t know what we will find there. We’ll definitely have to do some cleanup, but we’re scientists and we hope to do our own studies.”

During their two-month stay, the scientists plan to rebuild the station so that it can serve as a base for seasonal research. Fortunately, as they believe, the buildings are in pretty good shape. The researchers want to install as much equipment as possible to enable automatic measurements, including maintaining year-round geophysical stations (seismic, magnetic) on the site, which will allow the study of deep Earth structures and the generation of Earth magnetics. The area may even serve as a Mars surrogate.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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