Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands and his wife Princess Maxima of Orange will visit British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station from 6-10 February 2009. The fact-finding visit celebrates a partnership between BAS and Dutch scientists. The Netherlands Antarctic research programme does not have a permanent research station on the continent. For the last 20 years Dutch researchers have used BAS facilities at Rothera Research Station to conduct collaborative research into biodiversity and climate change.
The Royal couple will be accompanied by Dr RHA Plasterk, minister of Science and Education of The Netherlands and Prof. J Engelen, Chairman to the board of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Royal visit takes place in the closing stages of the international Polar Year (IPY).
The Royal couple will have an opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to live and work in Antarctica. They will hear how Dutch meteorologist Michiel van den Broeke and engineer Wim Boot from Utrecht University recently deployed monitoring equipment on the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula to determine it might respond to the regional warming in this area. The region has seen an increase in temperature of 3°C over the last 50 years. Neighbouring Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in 2002 with Larsen A in 1995.
The Royal couple intend to keep a blog of their trip at: www.koninklijkhuis.nl
The Netherlands became consultative member of the Antarctic Treaty in 1990 but the country has no territorial claim on Antarctica.
The visit is organised by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
Royal House (RVD), Hans Kamp, deputy head communication department tel. 00 31 7 356 41 43.
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Hein Meijers, director of communication or David Redeker deputy head information, tel. 00 31 7 344 07 13.
Ministry of Science and Education, Hans Van Den Broek or Freek Manche, both spokesman minister Plasterk, tel. 070 – 412 22 43