An international agreement is now in place to give special protection to the area of ocean left exposed when one of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke free from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in July this year. The iceberg – known as A68 – is starting to move north, and it will leave behind a 5,818 km2 area of seabed exposed to open marine conditions. Much of this area may have been ice-covered since the last inter-glacial period around 120,000 years ago, providing a unique opportunity for scientists to study how marine life responds to this dramatic change.
This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres, as was determined by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Bremen and Universität Hamburg. Though slightly larger than last year, the minimum sea ice extent 2017 is average for the past ten years and far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. The Northeast Passage was traversable for ships without the need for icebreakers.
Australian expeditioners will have new wheels when they travel across Antarctica this summer, with an upgraded bus destined for Australia’s Casey research station. The new bus will share the name of its predecessor, ‘Priscilla’, named by expeditioners after the iconic Australian movie about a road-trip across the Simpson Desert by a bus of the same name.
On October 1 - 4, more than 90 representatives from the Arctic and Antarctic expedition cruise industry will gather in Iceland for the second AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference. The topic of the conference is evolution and new challenges in the polar tourism industry.
Previous news about possible life forms under the ice of Antarctica had been published over the last few years. A new study by scientists from the Australian National University now found further evidence for this hypothesis. Previously undiscovered animals and plants may live in warm caves under Antarctica's glaciers. Forensic analysis of soil samples from caves on Ross Island revealed traces of DNA from algae, mosses and small animals.
The most advanced space weather radar in the world is to be built in the Arctic by an international partnership including the UK, thanks to new investment, including in the region of £4 to £6m from NERC. The EISCAT_3D radar will provide UK scientists with a cutting-edge tool to probe the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space, helping them understand the effects of space weather storms on technology, society and the environment.
The industrialized whaling era had a significant impact on whale populations around Antarctica. Almost all species of baleen whales had been severely decimated and by the end of the 1960s, a moratorium on whaling was decided to give populations time to recover. This moratorium heralded the protection of whales in the Southern Oceans. Today, the populations slowly recover, albeit not as quickly as hoped for, according to a new model presented by Australian scientists.
Scientists have reported that a core drilled in Antarctica has yielded 2.7 million year old ice. Bubbles in the ice contain greenhouse gases from the Earth’s atmosphere at a time when glacial advance and retreat just had started, thus offering the potential to investigate what had triggered the ice ages. This makes the core the only sample of ancient Earth’s atmosphere at the time being.
Penguins are sociable. During breeding, these birds gather in large colonies on the coasts of Subantarctic islands and on the main land. Their multi-vocal calls are usually loud and heard over the entire colony. But what is their behavior while at sea foraging? To solve this mystery, Korean biologists applied video cameras on Gentoos to film and eavesdrop on the animals while at sea. The results were stunning: Even while swimming and diving, Gentoos communicate amongst each other using short calls. However, the exact nature of these calls is yet to be determined.
The Norwegian Polar Institute counted 1374 Svalbard reindeer in the Adventdalen around Longyearbyen this year. Many calves were observed and only a few dead reindeer found. This is a trend that has been observed for years: The reindeer population has been growing slightly in this region for years.