A team of 14 Turkish researchers left yesterday for Antarctica for the first stage of a scientific mission to study the impact of climate change.
"The mission will be the first for Turkish universities, but studies have been conducted since 1977," said Professor Bayram Öztürk, the head of the research team.
At a press conference on Monday in Istanbul, Öztürk said that the group consisted of medical doctors, botanists, surveyors, geological engineers and ocean science experts.
According to Öztürk, the team's mission is to study the effects of climate change on marine species, as well as to prepare the way for Turkish scientists to conduct long-term national and international studies on the frozen continent.
"The team will stay on the continent for two weeks, and it will be the first phase of a three-year-long study," Öztürk said.
The team has gathered under a joint convention between the National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine (NASC), the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), the Polar Research Center (PolReC) and the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TÜDAV).
Antarctica has served as a scientific preserve since the Antarctica Treaty was signed in Washington in 1959, to which Turkey is a signatory.
A total of 31 countries have scientific outposts in Antarctica, but Turkey does not.
The continent is considered to be the coldest on the earth. The lowest temperature was recorded in 1983 at -89 degrees Celsius. In the summer, the temperatures rise to -15 degrees Celsius or -5 degrees Celsius.