South Georgian albatrosses on the downhill slope

Albatrosses are one of the iconic bird groups in the Antarctic. Almost no one can evade the fascination of these elegant birds when watching them sailing in the winds over the Southern Ocean. However, their numbers have made a significant drop over the last 35 years, especially those breeding on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, according to a recent study published now in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Ancient scars by icebergs tell story of ice retreat

Thousands of marks on the Antarctic seafloor, caused by icebergs which broke free from glaciers more than ten thousand years ago, show how part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet retreated rapidly at the end of the last ice age as it balanced precariously on sloping ground and became unstable. Today, as the global climate continues to warm, rapid and sustained retreat may be close to happening again, and could trigger runaway ice retreat into the interior of the continent, which in turn would cause sea levels to rise even faster than currently projected.

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Traces of ancient subglacial lake under West Antarctic ice sheet discovered

Researchers have provided new evidence that large sub-glacial lakes existed under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the last glacial period – around 20,000 years ago – a period when the ice was thicker and extended further than it does today. Using sophisticated geochemical techniques to analyse the water trapped within sediment cores recovered from the sea-floor of Pine Island Bay, the team concludes that the area once featured several sub-glacial lakes, the largest of which was the size of Loch Lomond. The results were published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

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Sighting of rare “Dragon-skin” ice in Antarctica

A phenomenon described as 'Dragon-skin' ice was observed on a research voyage in the Ross Sea in Antarctica. This rarely seen ice is produced as a result of hurricane strength winds, which remove ice from open water areas, allowing more and more new ice to be formed. Researchers are planning to study the phenomenon and the currents it causes below water in more detail

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Climate change might fertilize Antarctic Dry Valley

As climate change continues to impact the Antarctic, glacier melt and permafrost thaw are likely to make more liquid water available to soil and aquatic ecosystems in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, potentially providing a more nutrient-rich environment for life, according to a Dartmouth study recently published in Antarctic Science.

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Giant iceberg about to be born in Antarctica

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.

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Volcanic eruption threatens largest penguin colony in the world

Being a penguin isn’t easy nowadays. Changing climate, overfishing, pollution are just a number of threats which make penguin life difficult. On Zavodovski Island, part of the South Sandwich Archipelage, a new threat adds to the list. A volcano erupting there is depositing ash over one of the world’s largest penguin colonies.

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Huge never-before-seen lake spotted hiding under Antarctic ice

Antarctica holds many mysteries but a new one seems to have been revealed recently. Another large lake is hiding under its ice – second only to Lake Vostok in size. Today 370 subglacial lakes are known and they are of great interest because of the possibility that they could harbour unique life forms that may have existed in isolation, locked under ice for millions of years.

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A rapidly growing rift threatens one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves

AWI glaciologist Dr Daniela Jansen and a team of British researchers have discovered a large rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica which in time will dramatically reduce its area and could affect its stability.

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Bye bye rats: Baiting in South Georgia successfully finished

The largest ever-conducted rat eradication program on South Georgia has reached a huge milestone last Monday. The helicopter transporting the last baiting bucket filled with the blue baits to battle the rat infestation, landed at 12.50 local time at the camp and thus finishes the baiting of the Southwest of the island. During three field seasons since 2011, more than 800 buckets with bait were distributed over an area of more than 1’000 square kilometers. Now a monitoring program commences to check the result of this mammoth task.

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