The World, a private residential yacht, has broken the record for the most southerly navigation reaching 78°43.997´S and 163°41.421´W at the Bay of Whales in Antarctica’s Ross Sea during her recent 22-day Ross Sea Expedition.
2016 will be remembered for many things, one of them being the heat. Globally, it was the hottest year since instrumental records began, but Arctic temperatures during 2016 were truly exceptional. As the year drew to a close, the high-latitude Arctic was blistered with extended periods of record-breaking heat. Surface temperatures during October–December were, on average, ~5 °C above expected in an area spanning the Arctic Ocean, from Greenland across the North Pole to far eastern Russia.
Increased meltwater influx from the glaciers of Antarctica are considered one of the most pressing consequences of climate change on the Southern Ocean. However, the fate meltwater which flows out from underneath the glaciers was unknown until now. An international team of researchers has discovered why this fresh water is often detected below the surface of the ocean, rather than rising to the top above denser seawater. The team found that the Earth’s rotation influences the way meltwater behaves – keeping it at depths of several hundred metres.
One of the major problems in the Arctic is nuclear waste from submarines, ice breakers and other nuclear powered vessels and stations. These legacies of the past Cold War era are still looming. Storage and treatment are cost-intensive and technically difficult. However, in Saida Bay near Murmansk, a brand-new radioactive waste treatment and storage plant is a brilliant example and symbol of what is possible if east and west invest into cooperation instead of arms race. Now, Murmansk governor Marina Kovtun has invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit the complex.
The changing climate has detrimental effects on many polar species, especially in the Arctic, which warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Numerous studies have shown that traits like reproduction are negatively impacted. However, a long term study conducted by researchers of the University of Washington has found that one of Alaska’s most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change. This could impact the ecology of northern lakes, which already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Six weeks ago, news of moving the award-winning British Antarctic research station Halley VI were published by BAS. Due to a huge crack in the ice shelf, BAS had decided to relocate the station 23 km further east of its current position. Now, as the relocation is in its final stage, it has been decided to close the station for the winter for safety reasons and remove all personnel before the onset of Antarctic winter.
In 2017 New Zealand will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Scott Base in Antarctica. To mark this occasion Antarctica New Zealand hosted a first-of-its-kind on ice broadcast around the world: TEDxScottBase. TEDx events are independently events organised around the globe and represent a diversity of views on many different issues. Although each event is unique all are devoted to “ideas worth spreading”.
For some time, a conflict rumbled on in the South Atlantic between Argentina and the UK over the status of the Falkland Islands. This conflict, which burst in a bloody war in 1982, is decided mostly politically and socially. Argentina had issued an embargo on vessels and planes on their way to the islands. Now, this embargo could be lifted: The Argentinian charter airline American Jet has applied for a direct route between Argentina and the Falklands.
The thawing and erosion of Arctic permafrost coasts has dramatically increased in the past years and the sea is now consuming more than 20 meters of land per year at some locations. The earth masses removed in this process increasingly blur the shallow water areas and release nutrients and pollutants. Yet, the consequences of these processes on life in the coastal zone and on traditional fishing grounds are virtually unknown. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, urge to focus our attention on the ecological consequences of coastal erosion in the January issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. According to the scientists, an interdisciplinary research program is required, and must involve policy-makers as well as inhabitants of the Arctic coasts right from the onset.
Approximately two years ago, a huge rift was detected on the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastside of the Antarctic Peninsula. Now, scientists have discovered that the crack has increased rapidly and only another 20 km of ice are left to crack before one of the largest icebergs ever recorded will be born. Satellite observations from December 2016 suggest that the iceberg with an area of up to 5,000 km² is likely to calve soon.