Southern Chile, a natural laboratory to combat climate change

By Patricia Nieto Mariño

Punta Arenas, Chile, Jan 24 (EFE).- Punta Arenas, a city on the Strait of Magellan in the far south of Chile, used to be a contributor to rising global temperatures due to its coal mining fields.

But today, thanks to the development of green hydrogen plants and sensors to detect global warming, it has become a natural laboratory to combat climate change as part of a project by the International Antarctic Center.

“Magellan is a place where the past, present and future of scientific research on issues such as climate change, biodiversity and sustainable economy meet,” Chile’s minister of science, technology and innovation, Andrés Couve, tells Efe.

As well as being a gateway to Antarctica, Magellan’s rich biodiversity makes it the ideal place for scientists.

Cetaceans, penguins, pumas and a myriad of microscopic life make up its landscape, attracting experts from all over the world.

“It is a pristine ecosystem, the only place in the world without stressors for fauna and flora such as pollution, over-exploitation of soil or the massive use of pesticides,” says Elie Poulin, a French researcher at the Millennium Institute for Biodiversity of Antarctic Ecosystems.

The area’s biodiversity is being used to anticipate global warming in a pioneering research on the only colony of King penguins on the American continent, in Tierra del Fuego, south of Punta Arenas.

“Magellan is an extraordinary geographical experiment where the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean meet, but at the same time it is a very fragile place that is susceptible to climate change,” Valeria Souza, a biologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and leader of the study, tells Efe.

Souza analyzes the microbes that live on the feathers of the King penguins.

“The microbes react to changes in the temperature and salinity before the animals themselves. In this way, they warn us of signs of climate change before the rest of us can feel them,” she says.

The strong winds of Chilean Patagonia are another ingredient that is guiding the region to become a forerunner in the fight against climate change.

With wind speeds of over 90 kilometers per hour, the currents are an ideal source of clean green hydrogen and wind power.

Latin America’s largest green hydrogen fuel plant is currently being built near Punta Arenas, aiming to produce 130,000 liters of green fuel per year.

“We have all the ingredients to make this country a leading producer of green hydrogen worldwide and an engine to curb climate change,” Chile’s minister of energy and mining, Juan Carlos Jobet, said. EFE


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