New research has found methylmercury -- a potent neurotoxin - in sea ice in the Southern Ocean. The results are the first to show that sea-ice bacteria can change mercury into methylmercury, a more toxic form that can contaminate the marine environment, including fish and birds.
A remnant population of woolly mammoths on a remote Alaska island was likely pushed to extinction by rising sea levels and a lack of access to fresh water, according to a newly published study.
Living and working in the remote areas of Antarctica is not only fun and excitement, but also risky and dangerous at times. Medical services are far and basic and medical practitioners need a lot of various skills to ensure adequate service. Recently, five Australian Antarctic Division doctors have undertaken an eight-day Winter Expedition Medicine course at Bronte Park, Tasmania.
Until now, most expeditions for tourists into the Antarctic used ships to visit penguins and massive icebergs. But now, a new way to travel, which had been reserved for station and scientific personnel will be available also for tourists: regular scheduled flights to Antarctica.
Scientists from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) and the University of Hamburg have succeeded in realistically simulating the emergence of large channels in the Artic sea ice in a computer model. Two approaches were decisive for this success: On the one hand, the researchers had increased the spatial resolution of the FESOM AWI sea-ice ocean model. On the other hand, they were able to improve the numerical solution to the equation so that the simulation of the lead formation holds up well when compared to real sea-ice satellite data. They reported this success in a study that appeared online in the professional journal, Geophysical Research Letters.
Being a penguin isn’t easy nowadays. Changing climate, overfishing, pollution are just a number of threats which make penguin life difficult. On Zavodovski Island, part of the South Sandwich Archipelage, a new threat adds to the list. A volcano erupting there is depositing ash over one of the world’s largest penguin colonies.
On the current Polarstern expedition, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute have deployed a multicopter with a high-resolution camera to quantify marine litter floating on the sea surface. The deep-sea researchers had recorded a marked increase of man-made litter on the Arctic seafloor over the last ten years. That was the reason to now start the programme for the quantitative analysis of waste-entry on the sea surface.
Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of Adélie penguins across Antarctica for millions of years. The geologic record tells us that as glaciers expanded and covered Adélie breeding habitats with ice, penguin colonies were abandoned. When the glaciers melted during warming periods, this warming positively affected the Adélie penguins, allowing them to return to their rocky breeding grounds. But now, University of Delaware scientists and colleagues report that this beneficial warming may have reached its tipping point.
The Siberian permafrost regions include those areas of the Earth, which heat up very quickly in the course of climate change. Nevertheless, biologists are currently observing only a minimal response in forest composition. In the places where, when considering the air temperature, pine and spruce forests should be growing, Siberian larch trees are still thriving. The cause of this paradox has been tracked using million-year-old bee pollen by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Cologne, and international partner institutions. The results suggest that the intensity of the ice ages determined how quick the vegetation adapted to warmer climate periods. In our case, that means: Because the last ice age was very cold, the vegetation of the Taiga lags behind the climate by many thousands of years. A surprisingly long period, as the researchers in the open access journal Nature Communications report.
Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out towards the open ocean. A new study published today in the journal Nature Geoscience shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.