Numerous icebergs drift along coast of Newfoundland

The coastline of Newfoundland in eastern Canada has received increased attention due to a large number of unexpected visitors. For weeks, a larger than usual amount of icebergs and drifting sea ice has been washed up along the shores of the islands. For tourists and locals alike, the bergs and ice pose a spectacular photo motive while sailors and International Ice Patrol worry about the impact on shipping lanes and marine traffic.

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Volcanic eruptions decimated Gentoo colony near Deception Island

Gentoo penguins are tough generalists and are capable to withstand the harsh Antarctic climate. However, the tremendous force of volcanic eruptions, as had happened on Deception Island, had put colonies close to extinction several times over the last 7,000 years. This is the result of a study conducted by researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which they published recently in Nature Communications.

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Russia’s latest military base opens its doors

The Franz-Josef-Land archipelago is the northernmost landmass and is part of Motherland Russia. Considered as the western gateway into the Northeast Passage as well as to the North Pole, it is strategically important to the government in Moscow. With the renewed interest in the Arctic and its resources by Russia, authorities had made the establishment of a military base on one of the archipelago’s islands the highest priority. Now, after 3 years of construction, the complex at Nagurskoye Base on Aleksandra Island has opened its doors and was visited by president Putin and a high profile delegation.

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This year’s Antarctic sea ice 'obliterates' previous minimum record

Antarctica has about 10 per cent less sea ice this year compared to the previous record minimum - a stunning reversal after an all-time high was recorded in 2014. In March 2017 the sea ice extent around Antarctica has shrunk to 2.1091 million square kilometres.

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Gene flow between bear species is easier than expected

The mixing or hybridization between polar and brown bears appears to be easier than previously expected. Senckenberg scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species, making it now possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level. It shows that gene flow, or gene exchange, between species by extensive hybridization, is possible between most bear species - not only polar and brown bear. The DNA samples of different bear species came from different European zoos, underlining their importance not only for conservation, but also for research. The study published today in "Nature Scientific Reports" also questions the existing species concept in general, because other genome studies too have, frequently found gene flow among species.

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Polarstern returns from Antarctica with precious cargo

The research vessel Polarstern entered its homeport with the early-morning high tide on Thursday, 20 April 2017, marking the end of a five-month season in the Antarctic for the icebreaker and her crew. Many geoscientists in Bremerhaven can’t wait to see the samples that were collected during a six-week foray into the Amundsen Sea this February and March, which are expected to help decode the glacial history of West Antarctica and improve the accuracy of prognoses for future sea-level rises. Once the samples have been unloaded, preparations will begin for the “Open Ship” event on 22 and 23 April, when the Polarstern will open her doors to the public.

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New temperature extremes for Antarctica

Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest and windiest continent on earth. The lowest temperature yet recorded by ground measurements for the Antarctic Region, and for the whole world, was -89.2°C at Vostok station on 21 July 1983. But how warm does it get? That was the question posed last year to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations funded body that oversees meteorology and weather observations worldwide. A New Zealand scientist was part of an international group of experts who have identified the highest temperatures ever recorded in Antarctica.

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‘Insightful’ approach to aging Antarctic krill

For the first time scientists have been able to determine the age of Antarctic krill by counting the growth bands in their eyestalks.

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Make science, not war: Civilian nuclear submarine for the Arctic

Nuclear submarines in the Arctic always have been a military issue, especially during the Cold War Ear and now with the increasing militarization of Arctic nations. However, there also is a peaceful and scientific utilization of this technique possible, according to Russian engineers. Surprisingly, the Design Bureau that came up with the idea of civilian nuclear submarines is the same that had designed all Russian military subs.

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Without sea ice, polar cod go hungry

Polar cod fulfil a key role in the Arctic food web, as they are a major source of food for seals, whales and seabirds alike. But the polar cod themselves might soon be the hungry ones. Under the ice of the central Arctic, the juvenile fish are indirectly but heavily dependent on ice algae. As a result, retreating sea ice could have far-reaching impacts on the food web. Though researchers have long since suspected this relation existed, an international team of researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, have now successfully confirmed it.

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