Antarctica is crucial to understanding the effects that climate change is having on our planet. Most notably is the melting ice sheets that are causing sea levels to rise, putting wildlife at risk for extinction. COVID-19 will end all research in the Antarctic for the next year.
As you can certainly imagine, there are some very good reasons why researchers are not allowed to travel there at the moment. If you contract coronavirus in the Antarctic, you will not be able to receive the necessary medical treatment.
Traveling to Antarctica is not easy. It is not like there is one flight to Antarctica available at every airport. Instead, it typically takes multiple flights to reach the frozen continent. This puts researchers at a high risk considering the current pandemic.
As a result, BAS will be ending research trips for the time being.
Impact on Research
Without a doubt, stopping expeditions and measurements of the Antarctic ice sheets will have an impact on research in the region.
The Antarctic is the perfect place to view the effects of climate change. Since 1994, over 4,000 gigatons of ice has melted. That is enough water to fill the Grand Canyon!
Yet, modern technology has improved dramatically. With simulations and satellite imagery, researchers can still gather quite a bit of information, so not all research will end outright. Instead, a large amount of research can still continue.
But, we are losing access to a place to accurately judge just how far climate change has come.
Expeditions Likely to Resume in 2021
It is very likely that once conditions improve, expeditions will resume.
An exact date can not be given until progress is made containing COVID-19, and a vaccination will play a major role in this. After all, there simply is no way to deal with a patient in Antarctica.