Dutch royal couple to visit Antarctica

To underscore the commitment of the Netherlands to the management of the Antarctic region, Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima will spend three days next month in Antarctica.

The royal couple will be accompanied by Ronald Plasterk, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, and by Jos Engelen, Chairman of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW). As there is no Dutch research station in Antarctica, the Dutch visitors will be the guests of the British at the Rothera Research Station on the island of Adelaide. It has about 100 residents, and is located about 1,600 km south of Punta Arenas in Chile.

Consultative status
Dutch interest in Antarctica is to do, amongst other things, with concern about the dangers of the melting ice near the South Pole, and the consequent rise in sea level. The management of Antarctica is in the hands of 28 countries which have a so-called consultative status under the South Pole Treaty.

The Netherlands was given consultative status in 1990, after fulfilling its obligations of carrying out “large scale scientific research” in the South Pole region. The Netherlands has never had a South Pole base of its own due to a lack of money, but works in partnership with the Belgians, Poles and British, amongst others. The consultative status gives voting rights within the select group of countries that takes decisions, on a unanimous basis, about the future of Antarctica.

International Polar Year
The visit will take place from 6-9 February as part of the International Polar Year (IPY). The IPY is intended to stimulate internationally coordinated scientific research and cultural projects. The guests will get a picture of Dutch scientific research in Antarctica. The press will not be permitted to accompany the royal couple on this occasion. Instead, the plan is that the Crown Prince will report on the visit himself via a Weblog.

The Dutch delegation will also study the effects of climate change on the ice caps of Patagonia in the south of Chile. They’ll visit a glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park which is rapidly shrinking in size due to global warming.

For more information: www.radionetherlands.nl

Dutch royal couple to visit Antarctica
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