The Arctic probably is the fastest warming region on this planet. It never was as apparent as this winter. Several heat waves had struck the High Arctic and temperatures rose up to 5°C above the 30-year average. This and the fact that less sea ice had been formed last year as well had led to a new record low of Arctic sea ice extent in winter. Only 14.4 million square meters of the Arctic Ocean had been covered with sea ice. The unusual warming period als has led to strange weather phenomenas on the entire northern hemisphere this winter.
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.
Unless the world stops burning fossil fuels that are fuelling global warming, irreversible changes in the Arctic could have disastrous effects for the people that live there and for the rest of the planet, researchers warned in a five-year study. The Arctic's ecosystems are fundamentally threatened by climate change and other human activities, such as oil and gas extraction, they said in a report for the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum working to protect the region's environment.
Some Antarctic research stations have to endure not only harsh environmental conditions but also an unstable and moving underground when being built on ice shelves. British Antarctic station Halley VI is ready to move from its current location to a new spot, 23 km away. The station which has been standing since 2012 at its current position, has been built especially for being moved to other spots instead of being abandoned
In many areas, winter still hasn’t settled in and snow and ice are rare sights. In the north, unusually high air temperatures and a warm ocean have led to a record low Arctic sea ice extent for November, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice extent also hit a record low for the month, caused by moderately warm temperatures and a rapid shift in circumpolar winds.