x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Masdar students brave Antarctic

Students' mission will help their work at Masdar Institute.

Reem Al Junaibi and Maitha Al Kaabi have departed on their journey to Antarctica.
Reem Al Junaibi and Maitha Al Kaabi have departed on their journey to Antarctica.

ABU DHABI // Two UAE students have set off with the polar explorer Sir Robert Swan on a mission to the Antarctic.

The pair will brave temperatures as low as -5C, Maitha al Kaabi and Reem al Junaibi - both students at the Masdar Institute - on the 16-day expedition, entitled "Leadership on the Edge". They set off on February 27.

They were chosen on the basis of a 400-word essay explaining why they wanted to go, and why the mission would help their research at Masdar.

Ms Kaabi's research focuses on water treatment and desalination. She will analyse the process of temperature-induced salt precipitation in a natural environment.

"Life in Antarctica and the UAE are similarly challenged by access to potable water," she said. "In both environments, energy is required to extract drinkable water from its natural state."

Ms Junaibi, meanwhile, will focus on the reliability of renewable energy. Her research revolves around the effect of having mixed sources of energy, in particular renewable, on the electric grid.

The two students started off at the world's most southern city, Ushuaia in Argentina, before hiking up the Martial Glacier behind the city.

They was expected to pass Cape Horn yesterday before exploring the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula today, depending on ice and weather conditions.

They will also tour several islands, including the 250m-high Cuverville Island, which home to 40,000 large Gentoo penguin rookeries. They will also see Neko Harbor with its glaciers and icebergs, and Paradise Harbor, surrounded by glaciers and mountains.

They are expected to return to Abu Dhabi on March 16.

cmalek@thenational.ae