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.
Please scroll down.
The recent international interest and economic importance of Arctic resources and routes, has also led Korea to expand the scope of its research from the Antarctic to the Arctic. Korea participated in the NEEM (an international joint research project with 14 countries) glacier drilling project in Greenland which identified an abnormally high temperature phenomenon during the Eemian interglacial period. An international joint research project on the Arctic Ocean with IBRV Araon also led to the discovery of the formation of ice sheets in Siberia during the fourth ice age.
Furthermore, we are aslo under the process of launching and commercializing cosmetics derived from antioxidants extracted from Antarcic lichens. The first genome map of Actinomycetes, found in Antarctica, can produce new antibiotics and anticancer drugs. During the Antarctic voyage of 2012- 2013, Korea became the first country to find a lunar meteorite, which provided a basis to better understand the moon.
A large-scale international research program was launched in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Arctic countries with the IBRV Araon. This was a part of the "K-PORT Project for Understanding and Utilizing Environmental Change in the Polar Resions", which included the collaborative research teams of Korea, the US, and Canada. A joint research activity titled the “Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System” was also conducted with the cooperation from the EU.
The launch of IBRV Araon greatly broadened our research areas. A considerable amount of international collaborative research was conducted, and research efforts based in King Sejong Station have expanded through the IBRV Araon. Moreover, research activities have spread to the transit points in the Western Pacific to King Sejong Station. Twenty research projects were carried out in the Antarctic, for example, securing frost-free organisms and acquiring genes.
In particular, on site surveys were conducted to evaluate the structure of the station in harsh conditions, leading to the advancement of technology and to synthesis of a safety assessment method. In addition, King Sejong Station was designated as a WMO GAW Station, providing the data which contributes to better understanding the global environmental change. In addition, we predicted climate change (cold wave) on the Korean Peninsula through the theory of Arctic Vibrations and identified periodic Antarctic climate change through the Little Ice Age cycle theory.
Field survey concerning dissolved organic matter was conducted nearby King Sejong Station, together with 22 other research projects. Notably, the geological map was greatly amended from its original version published in 2002, and the research environment was improved by reinforcing the antenna on the Arirang satellite and setting up a new satellite communication network.
In addition, the 'Penguin Village' near King Sejong Station was designated as Korea’s first Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA No.171) where cold polar anomalous organisms with anti-freezing function from microalgae in the Antarctic sea ice were discovered. Also, the IBRV Araon, Korea’s first icebreaking research ship, successfully completed its maiden voyage of Antarctica.
A geological field survey and 18 other research projects such as the Antarctic Ocean Geological Survey were carried out. In particular, structural geological data were collected for kinematic interpretation of the surrounding faults and an underice imaging study by GPS measurement and exploration was conducted. In addition, performance evaluations of energy quality, such as a grid-connected operation tests were conducted after the replacement of an existing wind turbine.
Field research was conducted on eleven research themes including paleoclimate, paleo-environmental and marine cove environmental monitoring around King Sejong Station. A camera system to observe atmospheric gravity waves was installed and the existing meteorological radar and atmospheric optical spectrometer were re-installed with improvements and repairs.
A meteor radar was installed to observe the thermal mid to upper atmosphere in collaboration with Chungnam National University. A feasibility study of wind power generation was conducted together with Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, and a detailed survey of the station was done using GPS in cooperation with Pai Chai University, while also investigating volcanic and hydrothermal activities nearby Sussex Island.
Underwater acoustic research was continued as part of an international collaborative effort. Volcanic rocks and hydrothermal sediments were collected for hydrothermal studies. King Sejong station improved the performance of its geomagnetic system, and some of the major research findings included characterization of the diversity of lichen species.
An investigation of the residual organic contamination of the atmosphere near King Sejong Station was undertaken and underwater sound observation was performed through international collaborative research. In addition, Korea’s Antarctic Research Team conducted studies on climate characteristics related to the fourth phase and formation of sedimentary phenomena and the study of topography and structural areas near the base. A measurement of the absolute gravity was conducted in King Sejong Station through cooperation with China.
KOPRI analyzed the changes of organic carbon in lake sediments from King George Island, and a study was conducted to uncover the origins of sediments from the adjacent continental shelf by analysing the elements and structures. In addition, there was a test study on underwater acoustics to observe microscopic sea floor activity.
As the Michelson interferometer was transferred to the Arctic Dasan Station, an alternative atmospheric spectrum measurement system was installed. Existing seismometer was replaced with a more wide-range seismic system. Furthermore, we would like to highlight the significance of the GPS top view observation and the important role King Sejong Station play as an observatory. In addition, research projects for the Antarctic was integrated and restructured into comprehensive research of sea ice, primary production power, krill, and greenhouse gases. Observation of ice melting in the Weddell Sea was conducted through remote sensing, using microwaves.
The marine survey expanded the research area to the South Orkney Islands, and the AMOS 2 automatic weather observation system was installed in the King Sejong Station, enabling the scientists to monitor land-atmosphere-energy exchange of water and carbon fluxes. We also studied flowering plants related to global warming in the vicinity of King Sejong Station. Studies on the effects of gross primary productivity, the breeding of penguins, and the geology of the Baton and Weaver Peninsula were conducted.
Surveys on global environmental change, the ecosystem, ozone layer, meteorology and upper atmosphere, geology, marine and useful biomass, and sampling of seabed rocks were conducted in the surrounding waters of King Sejong Station, Elephant Island and Magellan Basin. Through the ARGO mooring, it was also possible to observe physical characteristics of the ocean and the effect of greenhouse gas in the polar waters. In the Livingston Island, useful mineral research and full-scale vegetation survey were performed simultaneously with the investigation of time, altitude and topography of sea ice.