Subantarctic Islands

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France possesses three groups of islands situated at the edges of the Indian and Southern Oceans: Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam-Saint Paul.

These islands are organized administratively into three districts and designated as Overseas Territories. State-level representation is ensured by the administration of Terres Australes and Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. There is no permanent population in each of these districts, but a scientific research station:

  • Port-aux-Français Station – 49°21’S/70°13’E- in the Kerguelen Islands
  • Alfred Faure Station – 46°25’S/51°51’E – in the Crozet Islands
  • Martin-de-Viviès Station – 37°41’S/77°31’E – on Amsterdam Island

The TAAF administration is responsible for the operational management of these bases; IPEV is charged with maintenance of the scientific laboratories, installation of new research facilities and equipment, supplies and upkeep and renovation of remote shelters used for the different programmes.

Port-aux-Français StationSub-Kerguelen-Base-ThibaultVERGOZ-2009-IPEV-214

  • 48°27 -50°00 S, 60°27’-70°35’E
  • 1800 m altitude (Mont Ross)
  • 1st overwintering in 1949
  • About 50 winterers and up to 100 personnel in summer

Research programmes

Internal Geophysics

  • Seismology: very broad band observation and large-scale dynamics of ground movements (global seismological observatory network)
  • Magnetism: Recording of variations in the Earth’s magnetic field, processing of data and dissemination to the world centres through the INTERMAGNET network.
  • Sea-level measurement and study of secular variations in sea level: processing and validation of satellite altimetry measurements, tsunami watch.

Planetary and Spatial Geophysics

  • Observation of the nucleon components of cosmic radiation: study of proton acceleration in solar eruptions, understanding of cosmic radiation propagation in the heliosphere
  • SuperDARN Programme (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network) using coherent HF radars: continuous observations of convection of the ionospheric plasma in the high latitude regions, auroral zones and polar ice cap.

Ecology, ecophysiology, response to environmental variations

  • Spatio-temporal variations of the environment and ecology of marine birds and mammals, long-term monitoring of marine bird and mammal populations.
  • Study of viral and hyperthermophile microbial communities of hydrothermal vents on the island.
  • Biodiversity and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Impact of climate changes and the introduction of new species.
  • Communication of marine birds and mammals: olfaction, optic signals, acoustic signals (role in individual recognition in penguins, choice of partner in petrels and elephant seals)
  • Immunological and ecotoxicological assessment of water and Salmonidae in the Kerguelen Islands
  • Energy strategy at sea of predators that feed by diving (penguins, cormorants, seals). Remote-sensing ecophysiological study of food-seeking movements, energy quantification, potential bio-indicator of diving predators. Utilization as an investigation platform for physical oceanography.

Atmospheric chemistry

  • Long-term surveillance of the stratosphere (NDSC and WMO networks), climatic impact of PSCs, ozone trends, validation of satellite missions

Alfred Faure StationSub-Crozet-Paysage-ChristopheGUILLERM-IPEV-1

  • Alfred Faure Station
  • 46°25’S – 51°51’E
  • 934 m altitude (Pic du Mascarin)
  • 1st overwintering in 1962
  • About 25 winterers and up to 50 personnel in summer

Research programmes

Internal Geophysics

  • Seismology: very broad-band observation and large-scale dynamics of ground movements (network of global seismological observatories).
  • Magnetism: recording of geomagnetic field variations, processing of data and diffusion over the world centres through the INTERMAGNETIC network.
  • Sea-level measurements and study of secular variations of sea level: processing and validation of satellite altimetry measurements, tsunami watch.

Ecology, ecophysiology, response to environmental variations

  • Spatio-temporal variations of the environment and ecology of marine birds and mammals, long-term monitoring of marine birds and mammal populations.
  • Cold-adaptation mechanisms in Antarctic endotherms and ectotherms, integrated approach looking from the whole animal to tissue level and gene expression.
  • Physiology, energy capacities and behaviour in the king penguin.
  • Biodiversity and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Impact of climate changes and the introduction of new species.
  • Energy strategy of marine predators (diving birds). Study of behavioural and physiological adaptations enabling penguins to withstand environmental constraints (seasonal and inter-annual climate variations) and and ensure reproductive success.
  • Communication of marine birds and mammals: olfaction, optical signals, acoustic signals (role in individual recognition penguins, choice of partner in petrels and elephant seals).
  • Energy strategy at sea of predators that feed by diving (penguins, cormorants, seals). Remote-sensing ecophysiological study of food-seeking movements, energy quantification, potential bio-indicator of diving predators. Utilization as an investigation platform for physical oceanography.

Atmospheric chemistry

  • Study of the atmospheric cycle of sulfur. Role of tropospheric aerosols in the Southern Ocean climate system. Quantification of the role of sea salts and impact on atmospheric chemistry
  • Long-term monitoring of greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6

Martin-de-Viviès StationSub-Amsterdam-Base-PierreCHARTIER-2014-IPEV-13

  • Martin de Viviès Station
  • 37°50’S – 77°32
  • 881 m altitude (Mont de la Dives)
  • 1st overwintering in 1950
  • About 25 winterers and up to 50 personnel in summer

Research Programmes

Internal Geophysics

  • Seismology: very broad-band observation and large-scale dynamics of ground movements (network of global seismological observatories).
  • Magnetism: recording of geomagnetic field variations, processing of data and diffusion over the world centres through the INTERMAGNETIC network.
  • Sea-level measurements and study of secular variations of sea level: processing and validation of satellite altimetry measurements, tsunami watch.

Ecology, ecophysiology, response to environmental variations

  • Physiology, energy capacities and behaviour in the king penguin.
  • Spatio-temporal variations of the environment and ecology of marine birds and mammals, long-term monitoring of marine birds and mammal populations
  • Biodiversity and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Impact of climate changes and the introduction of new species.
  • Study of viral and hyperthermophile microbial communities of hydrothermal vents on Amsterdam island.

Atmospheric chemistry

  • Study of the atmospheric cycle of sulfur.
  • Role of tropospheric aerosols in the Southern Ocean climate system. Quantification of the role of sea salts and impact on atmospheric chemistry
  • Long-term monitoring of greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6: Amsterdam Island is the global reference point in the RAMCES programme (Réseau Atmosphérique de Mesure des Composés à Effet de Serre).

All Subantarctic islands are dotted with shelters, temporary shelters for researchers and logisticians, that allow them to work in the most remote corners. ..

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