The ACCIONA team ends its 3,500km crossing of the South Pole using only a wind-drawn sled.
The expedition members took a number of ice and air samples to scientifically determine the effects of climate change.
Today at 11.30 a.m. (CET), the scientists and team-members of the ACCIONA Windpowered Antarctica Expedition reached the final destination of their crossing, exactly one hundred years after the arrival of Robert Falcon Scott and his men at the South Pole.
After reaching the Geographic South Pole on January 1st, the team led by Ramón Larramendi traveled a further 1,000 kilometers to their final destination. Shortly after their arrival, they will be picked up by a light aircraft and flown to the Union Glacier ice station before flying on to Chile.
The expedition completed the final 300km in just 36 hours despite appalling weather conditions which forced the sled, in Ramón Larramendi’s own words, “to undergo all kinds of tremendous contortions throughout the entire expedition”.
The members of the ACCIONA Windpowered Antarctica team-Ramón Larramendi, Ignacio Oficialdegui, Juan Pablo Albar, and Javier Selva-successfully carried out a number of scientific projects conducted in collaboration with Madrid’s Universidad Autónoma, Spain’s national research institutes CSIC and CNR and France’s J. Fourier University (Grenoble). The expedition took ice and air samples along the crossing to analyze the changes in atmospheric conditions across the centuries (reflected in ice samples obtained at several depths beneath the surface of the ice); detect and measure the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs for short) in the air, caused by industrial activity; and detect the existence of composites in the ice that point towards the existence of some kind of life form.
The members of the ACCIONA Windpowered Antarctica Expedition travelled a total 3,500km on board a wind-powered catamaran/sled drawn exclusively by a range of kites of up to 80m2. For the first time ever in the hundred years since the arrival of Amundsen and Scott at the Geographic South Pole, the same location has been reached by vehicle powered entirely by non-polluting energy. This achievement also serves to show that this is an extremely useful means of transport ideally suited to this frozen continent.
The crossing carried out by the ACCIONA Windpowered Antarctica Expedition team has set a milestone in the introduction of technological innovations in the optimization of the use of sleds as mobile ice stations.