Chile is planning to double Antarctic scientific research funds this coming season 2007/08 revealed this week in Punta Arenas Jose Retamales, director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute.
Chile has been doubling the financing of Antarctic research since 2004 and several programs extend until 2010, "which give us a comfortable cushion for scientific activities", said Retamales during the 60th commemoration of Chile's first Antarctic expedition and the 43 anniversary of the founding of the institute he leads. The successful programs, some of them with matching funds from the World Bank, includes "Geological links between Western Antarctica and Patagonia" and the most recent "Glacier stability and recent activities in the Antarctic Peninsula" which monitors glaciers on both sides of the Larsen and Wordie ice shelves. These programs are being executed with the support of the Chilean Navy, Valdivia's Scientific Research Center, Chile's Meteorological Office and several Chilean universities. Furthermore with Chile's Science and Technology Endowment the Antarctic Institute is organizing contests in Chilean education centers to promote interest in Antarctica. Finally Retamales revealed that plans for the building of a Museum on Antarctic Science in Punta Arenas are advancing and towards the end of June the feasibility plan, almost finished, and financing will be addressed together with the terms of contract for the undertaking. In related news it was announced that the Chilean Antarctic base Arturo Prat, which was closed down in 2004, could be reopened this coming season. The project will be jointly shouldered by the Chilean Navy, the Magallanes Region government and The Chilean Antarctic Institute. Arturo Prat base has a strong historic component since it was Chile's first permanent undertaking in Antarctica back in 1947 and was under the administration of the Chilean Navy. However the new Project contemplates the creation of a "scientific space and museum" open to Antarctic visitors, taking advantage of the growing number of tourists, plus creating a marine biology laboratory for students from the University of Magallanes. The agreement for the joint administration of Arturo Prat base is to be signed in the second half of this year, according to press reports from Punta Arenas.