Eastern Cape researcher returns from stint in Antarctica

FROZEN SLOPES: Eastern Cape chemical technician Lonwabo Nettie during his research mission in Antarctica
FROZEN SLOPES: Eastern Cape chemical technician Lonwabo Nettie during his research mission in Antarctica
Image: Supplied

An Eastern Cape chemical technician, Lonwabo Nettie, recently returned from his environmental research quest to change protocol and prevent pollution in Antarctica which, among other things, will help in global efforts to reduce climate change.

The results of the environmental research quest conducted at the SA Antarctic research base  in Vesleskarvet, Queen Maud Land, are aimed at rooting out any source of pollutants near the SA National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE IV) base.

Nettie is a chemical technician at Walter Sisulu University, probing heavy metal and entrapped organic compounds around the SANAE IV base that are part of the SA National Antarctic Programme operated by the SA National Antarctic Expedition.

The expedition’s mission is to increase understanding of the natural environment and life in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean through appropriate science and technology.

  “SA’s continued participation in Antarctica will allow for continued collection of data by the SA Weather Services and SA National Space Agency, which goes a long way in predicting the day-to-day weather in our country and understanding natural phenomenon,” Nettie said.

In line with global efforts to reduce climate change, Nettie’s research will go a long way to adding to the world’s concerted effort towards a greener approach to science and industrialisation.

“We are basically investigating if there are any types of chemical pollutants, often in the form of heavy metals and organic compounds, around the SANAE IV base.

“SA is a member of the Antarctic treaty, which also commits to the use of the continent for research purposes and keeping the environment as pristine as when we arrived,” he said.

He said visual evaluation had been and was still being done, but none that could actually tell scientists what the pollutant was and how much of it was in the area.

The department of environmental affairs funded the project and signed a memorandum of understanding with Walter Sisulu University to host the National Pollution Laboratory as part of  Operation Phakisa projects.