Celebrating the heroes of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition – New Stamp Release

A series of three stamp issues celebrating three ‘Heroes of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’ was released on November 5th to mark the centenary of the arrival of the expedition at Grytviken whaling station.

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Abnormal feather loss observed in penguins in Antarctica

The pathological loss of plumage or feather-loss disorder has been observed in penguins in South Africa and South America since 2006. Thereby, the insulating feathers, an important protection against the cold weather conditions, are falling out in many parts of the body. The cause of this disease remains unknown to date. It is even unclear whether the disease is viral or bacterial. On the positive side, the disease seems to be not as virulent as feared. Only a small numbers of individual birds have been reported to be affected so far.

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Research icebreaker Polarstern returns from the Antarctic prematurely

The German research icebreaker Polarstern will end its current expedition to the Antarctic earlier than planned. Due to hydraulic problems in the port engine, the ship will return to Bremerhaven for repairs in mid-March.

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John Franklin’s ships bell found in the Arctic

Few expeditions are shrouded with more mysteries than the Arctic expedition by British Royal Navy officer and explorer John Franklin who set out in search of the Northwest Passage. When ice trapped his two ships all 129 men were lost. Recently one of the ships the HMS Erebuswas found nearly 170 years after the ill-fated expedition. Divers have now recovered a bronze bell from the wreck.

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New polar underwater lab to study seafloor acidification

What carbon dioxide (CO2) is doing to our atmosphere is common knowledge, but the effects it has on our oceans are not nearly as well studied. This is about to change. Scientists will simulate a future ocean floor under the sea ice off the Australian Antarctic station at Casey this summer to observe the potential impact of ocean acidification on seafloor communities.

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The Greenlandic ice sheet goes HD

The Greenland Ice Sheet is ready for its close-up. The highest-resolution satellite images ever taken of that region are making their debut. And while each individual pixel represents only one moment in time, taken together they show the ice sheet as a kind of living body – flowing, crumbling and melting out to sea.

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The first women at the South Pole

Forty-five years ago the first six women set foot at the South Pole in November 1969. These women were: New Zealander Pamela Young who worked under the New Zealand Antarctic programme as a field assistant to her biologist husband; Lois Jones, a geochemist at Ohio State University, who headed an all-female team consisting of Terry Lee Tickhill Terrell, Eileen McSaveney and Kay Lindsay to a study lakes in Antarctica's Dry Valleys and Jean Pearson, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

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South Korea opens new Antarctic cooperation office in Christchurch, New Zealand

Amongst the nations that are showing a growing interest in Antarctica are many Asian countries such as China, India, Japan and South Korea. Several new stations have been constructed and the national research efforts are increased step by step.

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The heat from the deep

Water temperatures in the West Antarctic shelf are rising. The reason for this increase lies in warmer waters rising from the deep due to climate change. Thus, it is likely to increase the melting of glaciers from below and the acceleration of glacial fluxes. These scenarios are predicted by scientists of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Oceanography in Kiel, Germany together with colleagues from the United Kingdom, USA and Japan. The results of their study have been published in the international journal Science.

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Governmental support for South Georgia and its wildlife

The UK Government has awarded the South Georgia Heritage Trust nearly £250,000 of funding, helping to secure the survival of one of the world’s most important seabird sanctuaries on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. Supporting the world’s largest rat eradication, the grant comes from the Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (Darwin Plus), an internationally renowned programme which gives funding to help protect some of the world’s most threatened species in the UK’s Overseas Territories. Ten other projects will receive grants thanks to £1.5 million of new government funding to protect biodiversity and the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

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