ANTARCTICA (November 10,2007) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Antarctica yesterday to see firsthand the impact of climate change and the melting of glaciers.
He flew from Chile's southernmost city of Punta Arenas to that country's station on the Antarctica, Chilean Air Force base, accompanied by Chilean officials and scientists.
From there, he took a 45-minute flight over the region, seeing several glaciers.
The U.N. Secretary-General also visited the Antarctic bases of Uruguay and South Korea, his home country. At the Korean base he was greeted by a small reception and offered traditional Korean food and drink. He then returned to Punta Arenas.
On Thursday, Ban Ki-moon attended the opening of the Ibero-American summit, a gathering of leaders from Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal, that is being held in Santiago, Chile.
He told summit delegates that global warming will be a central concern of his term as head of the world body.
Today, Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to visit Torres del Paine national park, where experts say the effects of global warming on glaciers are evident.
"This trip, you may call it an eco-trip, but I'm not here as a tourist," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.
"I'm here as a messenger of all the warnings on climate change.I'm here to observe the impact of the global warming phenomena, to see for myself and to learn all I can about what's happening in Antarctica and actually around the world," he said.
During the briefing, the scientists told the UN Secretary General of melting glaciers both in Antarctica and the southern end of the Andes that they attributed to climate change.
The examples included the fate of an ice cap known as the Larsen platform that melted away in just 20 days, despite its considerable size of 400 square kilometers.Hannah Point Glacier, for its part, receded 120 meters (yards) in several years.
After touring three scientific bases in the region Ban described what he had seen as beautiful but disturbing. Ban is preparing for a U.N. climate change conference in Indonesia, in December 2007, which is expected to kick off talks on a new accord to curb carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.