The difference between life and death usually is a thin line. The same goes for the very existence of Arctic sea ice and all the animals which depend on it, according to a new study by a researcher from the University of Colorado. Her analysis shows that already half a degree more of climate warming will lead to a more certain ice-free Arctic ocean in the future.
During Scott’s famous Discovery Expedition 1901 – 1904, the team collected numerous samples to enhance the scientific knowledge on Antarctica. More than 100 years later, scientists from the UK and the USA have now analyzed some these valuable samples. Their findings give a sneak peek into Antarctic ecology prior to the extensive human activity there and the rest of the world.
Singing whales? Forget the humpback and spot on to bowhead whales. The longest living marine mammal in the world has a broad range of vocalizations, or songs, at least the ones in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. A study published by scientists from the University of Washington has come to this conclusion after eavesdropping on bowhead whales for four years.
What sounds like an April‘s Fool joke is in fact a true story: Russia plans to establish a research platform at the North Pole, similar to the Amundsen-Scott Station at the southern end of the world. The new station eventually will replace the Russian drift ice stations that have been around since the 1930s.
Despite the harsh conditions, Arctic plants grow in a multitude of forms, colors, and sizes in the tundra. However, Arctic tundra soil is known to be nutrient-limited, especially in terms of nitrogen. An international research team has now challenged the general notion that Arctic plants have no need for nitrate. Their results obtained in the tundra region of Alaska show that Arctic plants can absorb nitrate at comparable rates to any vegetation in nitrate-rich areas
Adélie penguins are the southernmost breeding penguin species and iconic to Antarctica. Numerous colonies are found along the Antarctic coast and on nearby islands. Until now, they were thought to come to their breeding places only in summer. Now, remote sensing cameras set up at various colonies have captured Adélies returning to their breeding sites during winter time. A comparison between colonies in West and East Antarctica, however, clearly showed that Western Adélies are the ones returning in winter while Eastern Adélies stay away until spring time.
On the seafloor of the shallow coastal regions north of Siberia, microorganisms produce methane when they break down plant remains. If this greenhouse gas finds its way into the water, it can also become trapped in the sea ice that forms in these coastal waters. As a result, the gas can be transported thousands of kilometers across the Arctic Ocean and released in a completely different region months later. This phenomenon is the subject of an article by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, published in the current issue of the online journal Scientific Reports. Although this interaction between methane, ocean and ice has a significant influence on climate change, to date it has not been reflected in climate models.
Totten Glacier is one of the largest and fastest flowing glaciers in Antarctica. It is assumed to be one of the main ice drainage systems in the east of the Antarctic continent, flowing out over the Totten Glacier tongue. However, little is known about the tongue and its size. An international research team has now seismologically surveyed the tongue and found that it is even longer than assumed. This could make it more vulnerable to melting.
Scientists have confirmed what native Alaskans have observed for centuries - winds influence the travel patterns of northern fur seal pups. New research shows that strong winds can displace seal pups by hundreds of kilometres during their first winter migration.
Antarctic sea ice has shrunk to its second lowest extent on record, with the latest satellite data showing a total 2.15 million km2 surrounding the icy continent. This year's summer low sea ice extent almost broke the existing minimum record of 2.07 million km², set in March last year when the extent was approximately 27% below the average annual minimum since 1979.