Polar explorer Alain Hubert receives Belgica Prize

Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert has won the International Polar Foundation's Belgica Prize for his contributions to polar research. The award recognises his record-breaking expeditions to the poles, realising the world’s first zero-emission polar research station, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, and helping to establish important scientific programmes there.

Hubert - the founding president of the foundation - was awarded the prize alongside French glaciologist Jérôme Chappellaz. Chappellaz received the award for his analysis of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, which have made it possible for scientists to reconstruct atmospheric methane concentrations over the past 800,000 years.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to have been able to contribute to the tradition of Belgian polar exploration and international polar research begun by Adrien de Gerlache, and to have helped Belgian polar researchers to benefit from a platform that fully exhibits their very considerable scientific prowess,” Hubert said at the award ceremony, held at the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium in Brussels.

This is the 12th time the five-yearly Belgica Prize has been awarded. Since 1963, it has recognised the work of polar scientists active in Antarctica. It was established in 1904 to commemorate the first overwintering expedition to Antarctica aboard the Belgica research vessel, led by Belgian Navy Lieutenant Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery in 1897-99, which was also the first international research expedition to Antarctica.

“In this 125th anniversary year of the overwintering of the Belgica in Antarctica, we wanted to recognise a modern explorer who has contributed so much to polar research, not only to the Belgian scientific community, but also to the international scientific community,” said a spokesperson for the Royal Academy of Sciences.

Alain Hubert at the Princess Elisabeth polar station in Antarctica © PHOTO AFP / PHILIPPE SIUBERSKI

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