Brno, Dec 28 (CTK) – A 17-member team of the Brno university scientists left for an annual expedition to the university’s polar station on James Ross Island in Antarctica on Wednesday to continue research into icebergs, the climate and plants, the team’s head Daniel Nyvlt has told journalists.

“Until now, plant physiologists have studied plant communities in several selected places on the island. This season, they want to map the areas with the presence of non-vascular plants and microorganisms,” Nyvlt said.

In doing so, they will use drones with efficient cameras. This will also enable them to map some unaccessible places.

“We will use the photos and videos of the land surface to create 3D models. Apart from the non-vascular plants vegetation areas, we want to focus on icebergs, permafrost, i.e. the permanently frozen ground areas, as well as its upper active layer that unfreezes in summer,” Nyvlt said.

The team wants to thoroughly map about ten square kilometres of the island.

After a pause of several years, they will use a geo radar to check the icebergs’ mass and qualities and the active permafrost layer.

The team’s geologist will also research into the volcanic eruptions on James Ross Island in the past.

Apart from the Brno-based Masaryk University experts, the team includes scientists from Prague’s Charles University and two foreign scientists, a Slovak and a Turk, who were invited by the Czech Antarctic Foundation.

The Brno university built its polar station, named after the Czech-born 19th-century founder of the science of genetics, Gregor Johann Mendel, on James Ross Island near the Antarctic Peninsula 11 years ago.

Expeditions annually stay there throughout the southern summer seasons. This year’s expedition is scheduled to return home in mid-March.