Antarctica is unique in many ways. Thanks to the harsh, dry and cold environment, things often are perfectly preserved for a long time and decay only slowly. For anyone interested in polar history, this feature is perfect in the search of items and goods that had left behind by old polar explorers. One of these people enamored by polar history is Australian Dave McCormack who now has been awarded the prestigious Phillip Law Medal.
One of the best-known impacts of climate change is the loss of sea ice in the Arctic, but also in parts of the Antarctic: the poles are increasingly turning from white to blue. However, in the shallow seas near continental landmasses, the colour green also enters the picture: with the ocean ice-free for longer periods, the growing period for algal blooms also grows longer. These algae, in turn, provide food for seafloor-dwelling organisms, who use the carbon from their food to grow their bodies and shells.
The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has discovered an almost perfectly preserved 118 year old watercolour painting by Dr Edward Wilson in an historic hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica.
Since 2004, tsunamis have received a much bigger attention after several of these big waves had hit coastal areas in Asia killing more than 200‘000 people. However, these waves are not bound to the tropical or subtropical areas. On Saturday, June 17th, waves had struck the western coast of Greenland, causing havoc and destruction and presumably leaving four people dead.
It is only six centimetres long, but it plays a major role in the Antarctic ecosystem: the small crustacean Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill). It's one of the world's most abundant species and the central diet of a number of animals in the Southern Ocean. For a long time, scientists have been puzzled why the size of krill stocks fluctuates so widely. In a new study headed by Prof. Bernd Blasius and Prof. Bettina Meyer, a group of scientists from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and the Bremerhaven-based Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have shown that the competition for food within the population is responsible for the variability.
The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic. With the help of a climate model, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute have demonstrated how this process took place, allowing us for the first time to understand more accurately how Atlantic circulation as we know it today came about. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Electronic tags with ‘whale cams’ deployed on humpback whales in Antarctica have revealed the secret feeding habits of the ocean giants. The small camera tags were placed on the backs of humpback whales by Australian and United States scientists working off the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Gerlache Strait.
Despite the warming of the Arctic Ocean, vast areas are still covered with ice and hides an unknown world from scientific research. With the ice retreating, this world can be investigated and previously inaccessible parts of the Arctic open up and maybe reveal new life forms. A French expedition named “Under The Pole III” will try to fill this gap on a three-year expedition around the globe.
On May 24th 2017, 49 atmospheric and cloud researchers, sea-ice physicists, marine biologists and biogeochemists embarked on a joint expedition headed for Svalbard. On board the research vessel Polarstern from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) all of these disciplines are focused on just one question: How is the climate changing the Arctic? At the same time, the AWI research aircraft Polar 5 and Polar 6, launching from Longyearbyen (Svalbard), will engage in atmospheric measurement flights.
In the white turmoil of an Antarctic snow storm, finding shelter fast can be the difference between life and death. In 1957, the intense orange and yellow of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut at New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica was a beacon to those caught out by the weather. Now the original colour scheme has been restored.