In 2017 New Zealand will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Scott Base in Antarctica. To mark this occasion Antarctica New Zealand hosted a first-of-its-kind on ice broadcast around the world: TEDxScottBase. TEDx events are independently events organised around the globe and represent a diversity of views on many different issues. Although each event is unique all are devoted to “ideas worth spreading”.
For some time, a conflict rumbled on in the South Atlantic between Argentina and the UK over the status of the Falkland Islands. This conflict, which burst in a bloody war in 1982, is decided mostly politically and socially. Argentina had issued an embargo on vessels and planes on their way to the islands. Now, this embargo could be lifted: The Argentinian charter airline American Jet has applied for a direct route between Argentina and the Falklands.
The thawing and erosion of Arctic permafrost coasts has dramatically increased in the past years and the sea is now consuming more than 20 meters of land per year at some locations. The earth masses removed in this process increasingly blur the shallow water areas and release nutrients and pollutants. Yet, the consequences of these processes on life in the coastal zone and on traditional fishing grounds are virtually unknown. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, urge to focus our attention on the ecological consequences of coastal erosion in the January issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. According to the scientists, an interdisciplinary research program is required, and must involve policy-makers as well as inhabitants of the Arctic coasts right from the onset.
Approximately two years ago, a huge rift was detected on the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastside of the Antarctic Peninsula. Now, scientists have discovered that the crack has increased rapidly and only another 20 km of ice are left to crack before one of the largest icebergs ever recorded will be born. Satellite observations from December 2016 suggest that the iceberg with an area of up to 5,000 km² is likely to calve soon.
Scientists on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island have used satellite tags to track the foraging behaviour of a threatened sea-bird, the grey petrel, for the first time. The grey petrel weighs one kilogram and is a burrowing seabird which breeds on Macquarie Island, half way between Australia and Antarctica.
Nestled alongside Scott Base in Antarctica, is Hillary's Hut - a small building that's played a big role in New Zealand's history. Hillary's Hut was the first building constructed at Scott Base. It was built by a team led by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1957 and it was from here that Sir Ed later led the historic expedition to the South Pole. Sadly, the hut now has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing, melt pools under the floor boards and the artefacts within it are showing signs of damage and corrosion. But work is now underway to save it.
Svalbard is like the entire Arctic in a nutshell. Especially, reindeer, which are often portrayed as pulling Santa's sleigh, are an iconic species. The Svalbard reindeer is smaller and more sturdy than the average mainland reindeer. Now, ecologists have found that exactly these Svalbard reindeer are shrinking due to the impact of climate change on their food supplies.
Scientists plan to fly 10,000 live krill from Antarctica out to Australia as part of a ground-breaking study to monitor the effects of climate change. Working with the Australian Antarctic Division, the researchers are the first to attempt such a project in the world. The Royal Australian Air Force will transport the valuable freight in special containers from Wilkins Aerodrome, near Australia’s Casey research station, to Hobart in Tasmania.
The Arctic regions are considered to be the most prominent resource for fossil fuels. Up to 1/3 of the world’s remaining sources of oil and gas are thought to be hidden under the Arctic Oceans. Therefore, a large dispute about the exploitation of those resources had been ignited between environmental groups and exploration companies. Especially in the US and Canadian parts of the Arctic, the dispute became a major political issue. Now, both US president Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have acted and have declared large areas as protective zones, thus banning all exploration activities.
Covered in ice for much of the year and with seawater temperatures below zero, who would guess that beneath the surface, the Ross Sea is a world teeming with life? A new series of stamps celebrating the creatures of the Antarctic Sea Floor in the Ross Sea was issued by the New Zealand Post. Penguins feature on a new set of stamps, released in November by the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands in order to celebrate the remote Zavodovski Island in the South Sandwich Islands.