Travel to Antarctica is hip: You can go by yacht. You can come and go in a single day. You can even book a fly-around for New Year's Eve. And now you can stay in a five-star hotel with bespoke furnishings and its own fleet of aircraft. The guest ledger includes such names as Prince Harry and Bear Grylls.
The Arctic is a relentless and harsh wilderness and travelling in this region requires a lot of skill, equipment and knowledge. But even the most skillful hunters and Arctic residents might come into a situation, in which the difference between life and death depends on sheer luck. Three hunters from Hall Beach, Nunavut, just experienced such a situation and were rescued only by chance by Canadian military forces.
Finding fossils needs a lot of patience, knowledge of geology and the history of the environment... or simply a lot of luck. A fossil collector found in New Zealand's Waipara River area in the region of Canterbury by chance the remains of a huge ancient penguin. After thorough examination by scientists from New Zealand and Germany, the age of the fossilized bones was estimated around 61 million years old. According to the researchers, the oldest penguin now known resembled the modern king penguins of today but was more than 150 centimeters talll. This makes it more than 30 centimeters bigger than emperor penguins, the largest modern penguin. The results by the scientists mean that penguin evolution started much earlier than previously estimated. It is probable that the divergencce of penguins from their relatives happened during the age of the dinosaurs.
Since the annexion of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Norwegian-Russian relations became more and more freezing, unlike the winter climate in the high north. And while the ice in the Arctic melted faster and faster, high-level talks between politicians froze in almost completely. But now with spring coming to the Arctic, it seems as if the neighbors also start thawing as well. Both foreign ministers have agreed to meet in March at the Arctic conference in Arkhangelsk.
The United States has sought, and been granted, New Zealand’s permission for a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, to make a port call at Lyttelton on its way home from Antarctica sometime later this month.
A model of Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker will be on public display for the first time at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.
The energy supply to Longyearbyen, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is a hot topic in the climate debate. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Today, Longyearbyen obtains its electric power and district heating from its coal power plant, the only one in Norway. However, Scandinavia’s largest think tank has estimated that Svalbard’s future could be green and sustainable.
Scientists have successfully deployed miniature GPS loggers on threatened black browed albatross on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island to find out more about the foraging habits of the birds. Approximately 40 pairs of black browed albatross breed on the steep slopes of the remote Island, and this summer researchers attached five loggers to the breeding birds.
Next to warming and acidification, one of the most prominent problems of the oceans is littering. Several hundred thousand tons of litter is drifting in the oceans of the world and levels are rising. The Arctic Ocean is no exception: in just ten years, the concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea station in the Arctic Ocean has risen 20-fold. This was recently reported in a study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).
Antarctic starfish can possibly bequeath the adaptation to warmer and more acidic oceans to their offspring. Laboratory experiments showed that the adaptation to changing environmental conditions can be passed on to the next generation through changed gene expression.