Enhancing safe navigation in Polar waters

Despite modern technologies, seafloor in Arctic and Antarctic waters is still inadequately mapped or not know at all. This poses a high risk for expedition vessels cruising in these areas. The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association for Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), in cooperation with Lindblad Expeditions, have found a way for cruise operators to share years of depth soundings from the Arctic and Antarctica.

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Successor for the German ice breaker “Polarstern”.

This spring Reederei F. Laeisz G.m.b.H. received the contract award for consulting services concerning design and construction of a future German research icebreaker. Today, Tuesday, 22 July 2014, representatives of the shipping company and the Alfred Wegener Institute additionally signed a contract for ship management in Bremerhaven.

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New biogeographical atlas for the Southern Ocean and its marine life.

A new atlas, providing the most thorough audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean, is published this week by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Leading marine biologists and oceanographers from all over the world spent the last four years compiling everything they know about ocean species from microbes to whales.

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Greenhouse Gases in the Southern Ocean: First Evidence of Active Methane Emission at the Antarctic Seafloor

During an expedition with the German research vessel Polarstern off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, an international team of scientists discovered more than 130 active methane seeps at the seafloor. According to chief scientist and MARUM researcher Gerhard Bohrmann, this is the first report of greenhouse gases seeping out of the seabed in the Southern Ocean. The finding was recently published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

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Ice loss moves the earth – even hundreds of miles beneath

At the surface, Antarctica is a motionless and frozen landscape.  Yet hundreds of miles down the Earth is moving at a rapid rate, new research has shown. The study, led by Newcastle University, UK, and published this week in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, explains for the first time why the upward motion of the Earth’s crust in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula is currently taking place so quickly.

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Russian Pacific Fleet stations naval base on Wrangel Island

Sailors of the Russian Pacific Fleet have stationed a fleet base on Wrangel Island on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet said Wednesday. "Sailors of the Pacific Fleet, who arrived at the Arctic island on board the Marshal Gelovani ship for a hydrographic research, have raised a Russian naval flag on the island, which heralded stationing of a first ever fleet base on that territory," said Pacific Fleet spokesman, Captain First Rank Roman Martov.

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Investigation into walrus disease closes with culprit

A few years ago, scientists found sick walrus and other seal species along the coast of Alaska. While seals suffered heavy losses from the mysterious disease, infected walrus did not seem to die that easily. Examination of the so-called “unusual mortality incident” began in 2011. Infected animals showed symptoms like bleeding skin lesions, respiratory problems, lethargy, and loss of hair. But the good news now are, that no walrus with symptoms has been found for over a year. Thus, investigations in walrus were stopped according to both NOAA and Fish and Wildlife Service. But the cause for the disease still remains a mystery.

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Guided and still confused

Many of the ships cruising in the Arctic have their own staff of lecturers and guides on board. They are hired to teach the passengers about the many faces of the Arctic and to guide them on shore. Also in Greenland, this practices are applied. But this could wind up problems for the local tourism industry.

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Fur seals are hit hard by climate change

Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring,* has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards ‘fitter’ individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.

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New Report Calls for Protection of the Weddell Sea Region

As part of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance’s (AOA) proposal to designate marine protected areas (MPA) and marine reserves across 19 regions around Antarctica, the AOA today launched its new report titled Antarctic Ocean Legacy: Towards Protection of the Weddell Sea Region. The findings of the report aim to contribute towards ongoing scientific and policy work – currently led by Germany and Russia – on the region, which is located south of the Atlantic Ocean. The Weddell Sea region is renowned for having one of the most intact ecosystems left on earth and for being a major engine of global ocean circulation.

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