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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Solar heating as a suitable alternative for Arctic countries

According to researchers at Aalto University, by using suitable systems, more than 80% of heating energy for Finnish households could be produced using solar energy. As the price of heating energy obtained from solar heating systems needed to be competitive with the currently used heating alternatives, calculations made by researchers showed that renewable energy could be used to cover 53-81% of annual domestic heating energy consumption depending on the technical implementation method.

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Antarctic expeditioner receives award for preserving history

Antarctica is unique in many ways. Thanks to the harsh, dry and cold environment, things often are perfectly preserved for a long time and decay only slowly. For anyone interested in polar history, this feature is perfect in the search of items and goods that had left behind by old polar explorers. One of these people enamored by polar history is Australian Dave McCormack who now has been awarded the prestigious Phillip Law Medal.

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How much carbon can be stored in polar sea floors?

One of the best-known impacts of climate change is the loss of sea ice in the Arctic, but also in parts of the Antarctic: the poles are increasingly turning from white to blue. However, in the shallow seas near continental landmasses, the colour green also enters the picture: with the ocean ice-free for longer periods, the growing period for algal blooms also grows longer. These algae, in turn, provide food for seafloor-dwelling organisms, who use the carbon from their food to grow their bodies and shells.

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Water colour painting from Scott’s expedition discovered in Antarctic hut

The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has discovered an almost perfectly preserved 118 year old watercolour painting by Dr Edward Wilson in an historic hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica.

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Tsunami hits West Greenland coast

Since 2004, tsunamis have received a much bigger attention after several of these big waves had hit coastal areas in Asia killing more than 200‘000 people. However, these waves are not bound to the tropical or subtropical areas. On Saturday, June 17th, waves had struck the western coast of Greenland, causing havoc and destruction and presumably leaving four people dead.

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AWI finds reasons for fluctuating krill population

It is only six centimetres long, but it plays a major role in the Antarctic ecosystem: the small crustacean Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill). It's one of the world's most abundant species and the central diet of a number of animals in the Southern Ocean. For a long time, scientists have been puzzled why the size of krill stocks fluctuates so widely. In a new study headed by Prof. Bernd Blasius and Prof. Bettina Meyer, a group of scientists from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and the Bremerhaven-based Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have shown that the competition for food within the population is responsible for the variability.

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How the salt got into the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic. With the help of a climate model, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute have demonstrated how this process took place, allowing us for the first time to understand more accurately how Atlantic circulation as we know it today came about. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Whale cams reveal ocean giant's feeding habits

Electronic tags with ‘whale cams’ deployed on humpback whales in Antarctica have revealed the secret feeding habits of the ocean giants. The small camera tags were placed on the backs of humpback whales by Australian and United States scientists working off the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Gerlache Strait.

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Scientific expedition to explore the Arctic underwater world

Despite the warming of the Arctic Ocean, vast areas are still covered with ice and hides an unknown world from scientific research. With the ice retreating, this world can be investigated and previously inaccessible parts of the Arctic open up and maybe reveal new life forms. A French expedition named “Under The Pole III” will try to fill this gap on a three-year expedition around the globe.

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