Research mission to Larsen C Ice Shelf thwarted by sea ice

Emperor Penguins on the sea ice in front of RRS James Clark Ross. (Picture: BAS)

Heavy sea ice conditions have thwarted a science mission from reaching the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica from which a large iceberg broke off in July 2017. A team of scientists, led by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), are on board the RRS James Clark Ross.  Sea ice, up to 4-5 metres thick, made progress for the ship very slow and the ship’s captain made the difficult decision not to continue.

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Penguin feathers and eggshells tell Antarctic climate history

Both penguin feathers and eggshells offer insights into what penguins have eaten and how their environments are changing. (Credit: Kelton McMahon)

Penguins preserve records of Antarctic environmental change. The birds’ feathers and eggshells contain the chemical fingerprints of variations in diet, food web structure and even climate, researchers reported recently at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

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Australian seed collection bound for icy Doomsday Vault in Norway

In the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham in Victoria Different seeds are labelled for identification purposes. (Credit: ABC News, Kerry Staight)

Australia has made its largest deposit into the global seed vault in Svalbard, Norway, as part of the 10th anniversary of the facility dubbed the "Doomsday Vault". In February 2018, more than 30 crates containing 34,000 different types of grain and pasture seeds were delivered to one of the most remote places on Earth for safekeeping.

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Marine habitat maps important for Antarctica’s biodiversity

Remotely-sensed data collected over decades of collaborative research in Antarctic can be compiled to help create maps of the physical environment on the seabed around South Georgia. (Credit: British Antarctic Survey)

The UK government is committed to the long-term protection of over four million square kilometres of the world oceans that fall within the UK’s Overseas Territories. Prioritising which parts of the ocean are most important to protect depends on scientific information to help decide upon the size and location of these marine protected areas (MPAs). However, many of the UK Overseas territories such as the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia are very remote and have limited scientific data. Very often habitat maps made using large-scale physical environmental data (such as depth, submarine terrain and water temperature) are used to help predict patterns in marine biodiversity where biological records are either poor or lacking.

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Sea ice algae blooms in the dark

Algae grow under the sea ice in the Arctic. Until now, it has been assumed that they only become active in the spring when the ice melts and light penetrates into the depths. As ice melts, the liquid water collects in depressions on the surface and deepens them, forming these melt ponds in the Arctic. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA, uploaded by PDTillman)

Researchers have measured a new world record: Small ice algae on the underside of the Arctic sea ice live and grow at a light level corresponding to only 0.02 percent of the light at the surface of the ice. Algae are the primary component of the Arctic food web and produce food far earlier in the year than previously thought.

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Ozone at lower latitudes is not recovering, despite Antarctic ozone hole healing

The atmosphere is only a thin film when you look at earth from outer space. The protecting ozone layer is recovering at the poles, but unexpected decreases in parts of the atmosphere may be preventing recovery at lower latitudes. (Credit: NASA)

Global ozone has been declining since the 1970s due to human-made chemicals. Since these were banned, parts of the ozone layer have been recovering, particularly at the poles. However, new research, recently published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, showed that the bottom part of the ozone layer at populated, lower latitudes is not recovering. The exact cause is currently unknown.

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King Penguins need to move due to climate change

King Penguins are the second largest penguin species and are found on the subantarctic islands in the Southern Ocean. They are more slender and lighter than their relatives, the emperor Penguins. Credit: Michael Wenger

More than 70 percent of the global King penguin population, currently forming colonies in Crozet, Kerguelen and Marion sub-Antarctic islands, may be nothing more than a memory in a matter of decades, as global warming will soon force the birds to move south, or disappear. This is the conclusion of a study published in the current issue of the prestigious journal Nature Climate Change and performed by an international team of researchers from France, Monaco, Italy, Norway, South Africa, Austria and US.

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Russian Arctic region desires to clean up Soviet era wrecks

In many areas of the Russian Arctic, loads of junk and debris litter the environment and pose a considerable threat to plants and animals. In many cases, this junk is a left over from the Soviet era. Credit:

In many areas of the Russian Arctic, the silent witnesses of the Soviet era are waiting for their removal. Thousands of tons of junk are still strewn all over the region of Murmansk. In a recent meeting, which was held in Murmansk the regional Parliament’s Ecology Committee has raised the discussion about state funding to remove this hazardous materials.

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Belugas change feeding behavior in a changing Arctic

Beluga whales spend their foraging times along the sea ice edge or in fjords near glaciers to find fish, crustaceans, and other marine organisms. Credit: Michael Wenger

The changes faced by Arctic animals due to the global warming are huge. Loss of sea ice, increasing temperatures, invading species, and dietary changes pose a considerable threat to the iconic polar bear and other marine mammals like beluga whales. This high Arctic whale species spends its summers foraging the Arctic Ocean. Now they have to dive deeper and longer to find food compared to earlier years according to a new study by scientists from the University of Washington.

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Australian citizenship awarded in Antarctica

The Australian station Davis is situated in East Antarctica directly on the coast of the Vestfold Hills, an ice-free area. It consists of 29 buildings, many of which are not in use anymore but counted to the Commonwealth Heritage list. Credit: AAD, Matt Low

Antarctica has no owner and no country can lay any claims on the continent. However, Antarctic bases are under the jurisdiction of the appropriate country making these remote places always a bit like the homeland. Recently, penguins living near the Australian Antarctic station Davis became witness of an unusual ceremony: The Australian Citizenship Ceremony.

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