The Western Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean is the regular feeding ground of a large number of fin and humpback whales of the Southern Hemisphere. Around 5,000 fin whales likely migrate to its ice-free waters during summer, along with at least 3,000 humpback whales. These estimates follow a ship-based helicopter survey of whales in Antarctic waters. A net trawl survey for krill was also conducted to see if the distribution of these whales and specific krill species are connected. The study was led by Helena Herr of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Germany, and is published in a special issue on "Antarctic Peninsula Shelf Biology" in Springer's journal Polar Biology.
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.
Four weeks of field research in the perpetual dark of an Antarctic winter in -50°C temperatures is not most people's idea of a good time. But for the Antarctic researcher Professor Ian Hawes, it will represent the pinnacle of a career visiting the ice almost every year since 1978. In a world first, five New Zealand scientists are planning to carry out research in the middle of the Antarctic winter. The project has attracted the attention of NASA, which is keen to learn lessons it could apply to a manned trip to Mars.
Just 40 years ago, on April 21 1976, six researchers and technicians together with a group of international colleagues celebrated the inauguration of the first German permanent Antarctic station near the Russian Nowolasarewskaja-Station in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica. The station itself belonged to the Academy of Science of the former GDR (German Democratic Republic or East Germany), but the logistics was coordinated and organized together with the Sowjet Antarctic expeditions. The station was named “Georg Forster” after the German scientist who had accompanied James Cook and had stepped onto South Georgia soil on January 17 1775.
Tourism in Antarctica has been on a rise more or less since it started in the late 1960s. Even small drops in number of visitors due to economic crisis were only temporarily. In order to ensure a environmental friendly and sustainable tourism, IAATO had been formed 25 years ago. This year the association will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its annual meeting. Simultaneously, it has released the latest figures on Antarctic tourism.
Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth. During the first half of the 20th century, this iconic species suffered heavy losses in the Antarctic waters due to whaling. Since then, numbers have been slowly rising but it is unclear how many blue whales still roam the Southern Ocean. An Australian research team has now presented new genetic data and was able to identify three genetically distinct populations of these critically endangered giants.
The Antarctic ice sheet and its response to climate change has received increased attention over the last couple of years. Now it becomes clear, that choices that the world makes this century could determine the fate of this massive layer of ice covering Antarctica. A study published in Nature finds that continued growth in greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades could trigger an unstoppable collapse of Antarctica’s ice — raising sea levels by more than a meter by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500.
„Below 40 degrees south there is no law; below 50 degrees south there is no God”, but even in the icy barren landscape of Antarctica, the explorers and scientists of past and present have found time for prayer and religion. With at least seven churches used for religious practice in Antarctica, these are the southernmost places in the world to worship.
So far considered “a sleeping giant” the East Antarctic Ice Sheet could melt if carbon dioxide levels keep increasing a new study warns. Carbon dioxide levels above 600 parts per million could induce a rapid melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet adding several tenths of meters of sea level rise a new study says.
For a long time, polar research was treated in a Cinderella-like way, despite outstanding and internationally renowned scientists like climatologist Professor Thomas Stocker and head of the WSL Professor Konrad Steffen. But now, Switzerland has its own polar institute, officially presented at press conference in Berne. Initiated by polar explorer und businessman Frederik Paulsen, the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) was presented to the public. At the same time, the initiates also presented the first project of the SPI: a 3-month scientific expedition around the entire Southern Ocean to assess the impact of climate change and the pollution of the Southern Ocean.