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.
Antarctica still holds many mysteries and secrets for scientists to discover. One of the latest branches of Antarctic science is the search for microbial lifeforms under the massive ice sheet. In the latest quest, a group of US scientists will head down to the seventh continent and search for ancient bacteria in one of the driest and apparently most lifeless areas of the world. The researchers hope to find clues to understand how life can endure extreme cold and dry conditions, not only on Earth but also on other planets.
With increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, levels are also increasing in the oceans, leading to ocean acidification. In recent years environmental scientists have been dedicating much effort to predict the fate of marine calcifiers, organisms which build their shells from calcium, under future ocean acidification scenarios. A team of European researchers used a range of new technologies to look at the molecules and cells involved in shell production of the Antarctic clam (Laternula elliptica). Their results identified seven proteins from the lustrous mother of pearl shell layer, including two which were totally unique to this species.
The iconic icebergs in Greenland are not just scenic photo motives. They are a sign of changes which happen along the entire coast, the melting of the Greenland glaciers. These icy leviathans, consisting of fresh water, break off and slowly float into the adjacent waters, slowly delivering their fresh water into the salty oceans. A research team has now concluded that icebergs contribute more meltwater to Greenland’s fjords than previously thought, losing up to half of their volume as they move through the narrow inlets, according to the teams findings.
The rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is one of the most direct indicators of the ongoing climate change on our planet. Over the past forty years, the ice cover in summer has shrunk by more than half, with climate model simulations predicting that the remaining half might be gone by mid-century unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly. However, a number of studies have indicated that climate models underestimate the loss of Arctic sea ice, which is why these models might not be the most suitable tools to quantify the future evolution of the ice cover. A new study explains the underlying issues and allows for the first time to calculate individual contributions to Arctic's shrinking sea ice.
A team of European scientists heads to East Antarctica to locate the oldest ice on Earth. The team’s goal is to search for a suitable site to drill an ice core to capture 1.5 million years of Earth’s climate history. Such a core will answer important questions about big shifts in the past record of Earth’s climate and ultimately improve our knowledge of future climate.
A French North Pole expedition was terminated prematurely by the Governor of Spitzbergen in Duvefjord near Nordaustland. The adventurers Gilles and Alexia Elkaim had planned to freeze their yacht Arktika into the ice and drift to the North Pole following in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen.
Giant snowballs have appeared on the Arctic coast of Siberia. Special environmental conditions created this natural phenomenon. Residents of the village Nyda, north of the Arctic Circle, have been enjoying the unusual sight.
Pevek, a small Russian town near the Bering Strait above the Arctic Circle, will get the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. Construction of infrastructure has started in the beginning of October with a ceremony that put the first pile into Pevek’s waterfront.
The Ross Sea region is one of the most pristine environments in the world. After five years of failed negotiations, conservationists worldwide have now reason to celebrate. During the Antarctica conservation meeting in Hobart in the end of October delegates from 24 countries and the European Union have finally agreed that the Ross Sea in Antarctica, will become the world's largest marine protected area. The new protected area will cover 1.55 million square kilometres.