Svalbards reindeers keep shrinking

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.

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Antarctic flights deliver live krill to Hobart

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.

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USA and Canada protect their Arctic regions

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.

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New stamps show the colourful side of Antarctica

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.

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Dramatic shifts in the Arctic are ahead

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.

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British Antarctic station ready to move on

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

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Where has the sea ice gone?

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.

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Where to find ancient life in Antarctica

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.

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How molluscs build their shells in the sub-zero waters of Antarctica

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.

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Greenland’s icebergs deliver more meltwater than glaciers

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.

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