Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adelie Penguins Facing Extinction

National Geographic now has an article on the possible extinction of Adelie Penguins in the next decade. Now not really sure how reliable I want to take them when they blatantly have an error in the article. They call the Adelies the smallest penguin species. Well they are not. The fairy/blue penguins in Australia are way smaller than Adelies. The fact does remain that global warming really is threatening the Antarctic Peninsula habitat that they used to thrive in. In this region they really may go extinct, however I believe they are not as threatened in their other colonies such as on the actual Antarctic continent. Thus they may go extinct on the peninsula within the next decade, but they certainly will still be at least still in the wild for a little longer than a decade. Either way this species certainly is nearing the point of being on the endangered list of species.

Adelie Penguin

Fairy Penguin, the actual smallest species of penguins

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Sub-Glacial System Discovered in Antarctica

Under the ice scientists have discovered a complex sub-glacial system that is expected to contain mineral hungry microbes. This new sub-glacial system is under Lake Vostok and is the world's largest wetland area with it being more than one and a half times the size of the United States. The lake exists under the pressure of the ice on top that allows the earth's internal heat to keep the lower levels of the lake in liquid form. This water has been unexposed to the atmosphere for over 30 million years. Read more about it here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Japanese Stop Their Whale Hunt

The Japanese will no longer hunt humpbacks in Antarctica as they planned. This comes after several environmental groups have sent ships to monitor the Japanese whaling ships. Also, Australia had announced they would monitor the ships earlier this week to build a case for a court action against Japan as the harvesting of whales in Antarctica is unlawful because of certain treaties. Read more about their decision to stop the hunt for now here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

UN Ice Bridge Unveiled

The Ice Bridge at the UN was unveiled yesterday. The bridge is made of water from Antarctica. This work of art will eventually all melt and it is meant to be a symbol of the glaciers melting in places like Antarctica. He also built the world's largest ice bridge on the Antarctic continent and he hopes it never melts, but that is uncertain if the current trend of climate change continues. An article about the UN sculpture can be read here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Antarctica Research Preparation for Mars Research

Here is an interesting article about a team of scientists from the University of Arizona that are going to Antarctica to do research related to preparing for the Phoenix project's operations on Mars. The reason they are going to Antarctica relates to the dry valleys Antarctica has in common with Mars that I wrote about here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Penguin Populations Declining in Antarctica

A WWF report shows that 4 of the penguin species in the Antarctic are becoming increasingly at risk of becoming endangered. These species are the Adelie, the Chinstrap, the Gentoo, and the Emperor. I found it particularly interesting that the Chinstrap was mentioned because I remember that they were actually increasing in population because of how the food chain was changing and they could adapt easier than the Adelies they lived near, which is something I wrote about when I did research on climate change in Antarctica almost 2 years ago. The biggest reason for the decline is their decreasing food supply due to warming and overfishing. The article hints at what I thought was the increasing Chinstrap populations in that they are moving into areas of Antarctica previously too cold for them, but not too cold for the Adelies.

I am just a little skeptical on their numbers for the percent the populations have decreased. Sure they have decreased, but the numbers just are way higher than what I have seen before in my penguin research. Besides I still believe even if these penguins are nearing endangered status it needs to be remembered that there are officially penguins that are endangered that deserve some attention to their plight, although they are not in Antarctica. These three are the Galapagos Penguin, the Erect-crested Penguin, and the Yellow-Eyed Penguin. Also, my research (I did a 30 page paper on endangered penguins) shows the African penguin is the closest to being endangered out of the penguins that do not have endangered status.

Photos of the three Antarctic Penguins discussed that I have seen, Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo

Taking Shakelton's Planned Route

Here is an interesting story about a team of three traveling to the South Pole along the route Shakelton originally planned to travel on. He never did, though, because his ship, the Endurance, got stuck in the pack ice and sank. This expedition is believed to be the first attempt since Shakelton's.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

First Passenger Jet in Antarctica

The first passenger jet ever recently landed on a blue ice runway in Antarctica. Regular flights linking Australia and Antarctica are scheduled to begin this week. This passenger jet service is for scientists and research staff and is not for tourists. The runway is extra long at 2.5 miles because the ice does not offer the friction regular runways offer for planes to stop. On the trial run the plane successfully stopped in much less space than it is given on the runway. Read about the hard work that went into making the runway here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Antarctic Marathon

Here is an article about two of the people running in the Antarctic Marathon next week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jurassic Period Dinosaur Found in Antarctica

Fossils of a dinosaur from the Jurassic Period has been found in Antarctica. It is only the second fossil from this period to be unearthed in Antarctica. There could be a lot of dinosaur fossils in Antarctica, but they are hard to unearth due to the ice. This particular find is a primitive sauropodomorph called Glacialisaurus hammeri. The discovery is important in that it shows that the primitive sauropodomoprhs were found in more areas around the world than previously thought. It is also important in that it helps to prove that the primitive sauropodmorphs coexisted for a long time with the true sauropods. Read a little more about this discovery and the dinosaur here. Also, this article while says some of the same stuff calls this the world's largest dinosaur ever found.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Evidence of Flowing Water on Mars in Antarctica

I know my post title makes no sense. I am saying that there is evidence of flowing water on Mars because of something that exists in Antarctica. I know that makes it only slightly clearer what I am talking about. Perhaps the best thing to clear the confusion of what I am saying is to go read this article. Basically the article discusses how images of Mars have been compared to the feature of the McMurdo Dry Valleys to try and prove that there was once water on Mars.

Sensors to Be Placed in West Antarctic

The West Antarctic is to be covered with a network of sensor that will monitor the interactions between the ice and the ground below it. This is an International Polar Year project funded through the National Science Foundation and led by the Ohio State University. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been hard to collect data on because of much of it being inhospitable for scientists to conduct research much of the year. The solution that has been developed is to fly in the equipment and set it up to transmit the data via satellite. The equipment is beginning to be placed this month, but it will take until 2010 to get all the posts set up. They will then send data back until at least 2012.

Read the news article about this research project here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Antarctic Research Station as a Cake

Here is a unique this article relating to Antarctica. It talks about a bake-off and a cake being created that represents the South Pole research station. It sounds like an amazing thing to be able to see. So if you are in San Francisco this weekend be sure to check this out on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cleaning Up from Antarctic Research

Over the years trash from research expeditions in Antarctica has accumulated. In order to clean up the debris a new method of detecting metals in soil has been developed. It is being used to clean up Australian Antarctic landfills from the 1960s to 1980s. It is part of the retroactive effect of the 1991 Antarctic Treaty calling for all sites polluted by human activity be cleaned up to protect the Antarctic environment. Read more about the method for detecting metals and level of soil contamination here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Oil from Ship that Sunk Last Week Could Threaten Penguins

Found this article today about the oil still spilling from the ship that sunk off the coast of Antarctica last week. I am not exactly sure what penguins it is talking about because it does not use the proper English names for them, as it seems it is a partially translated Associated Press article. For one, I am pretty sure the Adelia is referring to the Adelie penguins and the other two it mentions are mostly likely the Gentoo and the Chinstrap, but I am not positive. Weather is what has made it hard for them to try and contain the oil spill from the wreck. The oil potentially can effect many parts of the ecosystem here from the krill to the seals to the penguins.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Hi Definition Map of Antarctica

Earlier this week NASA unveiled a new high definition map of Antarctica. It was created by compiling together nearly cloudless satellite images of the continent and was done in true color. It is made up of over 1,000 images and the only part of the continent that is missing is the area around the South Pole. This mapped is called the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica. The significance of this new map is that it is a much better resolution than previous maps. Here is just one of the many articles on this topic.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cruise Ship Sinking Off Antarctica

There are plenty of articles on this incidence that occurred yesterday. Basically they all say the same thing. The M/V Explorer hit ice and began taking in water. All the passengers and crew were put in life boats and then rescued by a Norwegian ship. The ship sank after about 20 hours of taking on water. All were rescued and the only injuries were some mild cases of hypothermia.

I found this mostly interesting because I have experienced first hand how well the ships help each other in these sometimes dangerous waters. On my expedition on the M/V Polar Star in December 2006 I remember that we got a distress signal from a ship that was stuck in the pack ice. We were an icebreaker and went and pulled them out and then led the way through the rest of the pack ice until they were in open sea. It just shows that in this area cruise ships often are the ones to help each other because there are not always military ships in the area. In this case yesterday the passengers and crew were rescued by another cruise ship the NordNorge, which is part of the Hurtigruten company's cruise ships and I have been on its sister ship the Kong Harold in Norway and we saw this ship when in Antarctica and they sent over a boat to give the captain of our ship who was also Norwegian a Christmas gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stargazing in Antarctica

Here is a recent article about a new observatory that is on its way to Antarctica. This unmanned observatory will be used to help determine if Antarctica really is the best place (at least on Earth) for stargazing. Well, in the southern summer it sure is not with it being light all the time, but the winter with the darkness sure poses some great possibilities. Part of the tools it has to help make this decision is a tool to measure the amount of darkness (not the length of time, but rather how dark it is) and a tool to measure atmosphere turbulence. It will send the information via satellite to scientists in Australia where they can remotely control it, however most of the information it collects will have to be retrieved from it directly the following southern summer. It certainly sounds like a great new development in how astronomy is undertaken and I thought that astronomy had started to look more towards telescopes outside of our atmosphere.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is UN Secretary General an idiot?

Let me first say that I do like how he is trying to bring the issue of climate change up as an important issue, but yet again I found an article claiming he said another stupid thing that just is not true. It is the same thing I criticized last time the he is saying sea level will rise because of a specific kind of ice that in fact cannot make see level rise when it melts because it is already displacing the amount of water it will when it melts. Last time he was quoted as saying that floating ice will cause sea level rise when and if it melts. Now I found an article quoting him as saying that icebergs melting will cause sea level rise. Now these misconceptions are getting ridiculous. Now I am not saying it is that he is saying it that way, but it makes me wonder if that is really what he thinks can cause sea level rise or if just the media is misquoting him saying the icebergs that break off land based ice shelfs causes sea level rise. However, the way the articles I have read make it seem that he is talking about ice that is already floating in the ocean around Antarctica.

Latest article I read with this misleading quote is here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This Day in History: November 18

I was surprised to find that an interesting article that referenced Antarctica because of an important date in history. This article tells of how today is not just the anniversary of Mickey Mouse's debut (he is almost 80 years old), but it is also the anniversary of Nataniel Palmer discovering Antarctica back in 1820. People had predicted that there must be a large land mass at the bottom of the globe to balance the top since ancient times, but it is actually quite recently that man first set eyes on the frozen continent.

Who knew that Mickey Mouse and Antarctica shared such the same day in history?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New German Antarctic Base On Its Way

Recently a ship departed Germany with the premade German Antarctic base that will replace the existing one on the Weddell Sea. The base was put together in Germany and checked to make sure it worked properly before being disassembled and shipped to Antarctica. The building of the base in Antarctica will begin in December and expected to be commissioned in 2009. It is replacing the Neumayer Station that has been buried by snow that has fallen over the years and little has melted. The current station has lasted 15 years and the new one is expected to last at least 25 years. My source for this story is the article.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

U.N. Secretary General Ban Brings Climate Change Issue to Front

Recently the U.N. Secretery General, Ban, became the first U.N. Person of this status to visit Antarctica. He is now taking what he saw and learned of climate change and speaking out about the issue of climate change. He believes (as has often been pointed out by others) that the climate change occuring in Antarctica is a warning sign of what can happen and that something should be done.

Read just one of the recent articles about this here. Unfortunately, the article also quotes him saying something that is kind of misleading. The way he words the last statement is talking about floating ice and sea level rise as if it is the floating ice that will cause the rise, but rather the floating ice has already caused the rise that it would if melted and it is the grounded ice that can cause the sea level to rise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Doctor for Races in Extreme Conditions

I found this interesting article about a doctor who specializes in treating those doing races in extreme conditions such as the Sahara desert and Antarctica. By the way this year's Antarctic race is actually taking place next week. For runners in this race to qualify for this race they first had to complete the other 3 desert races. The Antarctic race takes place in stages over seven days totaling a distance of 155 miles. This article specifically discusses a doctor, Krabak, and other medical researchers collecting information on the medical issues the runners face and the different ways they deal with injuries. Read the article for more specifics about his experience treating runners on the courses.

China's 24th Antarctic Expedition

This expedition left November 12, 2007, on the country's Antarctic expedition from Shanghai. On board the red colored research vessel were 91 expedition members. More of the expedition members will arrive in Antarctica by air. To date this is China's largest expedition. One of the expeditions tasks is to decide on the exact placing of China's third base. They will also conduct research on topics such as ice algae, krill, and climate change. Learn more about the expected new base and this research expedition here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vitamin D Research in Antarctica

Vitamin D deficiency that has become an increasing problem as people use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, however at the same time you end up getting less vitamin d from the sun that is necessary for healthy bones. I just read this article about a research study to determine if vitamin D supplements are effective treatment. It relates to Antarctica as the study is using people who are in Antarctica as the test subjects because with the 24 hour winter darkness it makes the best way to test if the supplements can make up for the lack of vitamin D from sunlight. The research is just starting with those that went down this October, so the results are still unknown. It does sound like something interesting to try to keep up-to-date on, as vitamin D deficiency is an increasing issue to be aware of and learn to avoid.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Metal Penguin Being Sold for Funding Antarctic Research

I thought this was a really cool idea when I saw it. This Emperor Penguin named Wilson is metal sculpture of about the same size of an actual Emperor Penguin. It is being sold online. The money will be an non-profit organization called Oceanites. The main mission of Oceanites is to monitor penguin and seabird populations in Antarctica. Part of their research involves determining the impacts of different threats and determining those threats to penguin populations. The Penguin sculpture even has wings that can move. You can see it in person at Visage located at 1046 NW Johnson in Portland, Oregon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Inflatable Habitat

NASA has developed an Inflatable Habitat that will be heading to Antarctica. It will be shown to the media at 10am on November 14. The habitat will be used at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica from January 2008 through February 2009. While there it will be evaluated to see how it may be used for future space exploration on the moon and Mars. There was not much details on this, but maybe there will be more news on this next week after the news conference.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Installing Seismographs in Antarctica

I found this article about a Washington University team going into the unexplored to install seismographs. They will be placing them in both east and west Antarctica to help learn more about the land underneath the ice. Read more about this expedition in the informative article here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Earthquake in Antarctica

Yesterday there was an earthquake in Antarctica that measured 6.3 on the Richter scale. Not really much else about it in this article besides it happened and it is not very common for earthquakes to hit Antarctica, especially strong ones like this.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Antarctic Dinosaurs

This article struck me as interesting for one because it is about searching for dinosaur fossils in Antarctica. It also interested me as it talks about a children's book that brings the topic to children who cannot visit the continent, which is similar to what I want to do with my Postcards from Antarctica children's book series I am trying to get a grant to do. It is certainly interesting to think about what other fossils remain undiscovered under the ice, as well as learn about how and what has already been discovered.

Update on Today Show Live From Antarctica

I finally found a part of the MSNBC website saying that the show will be live from around the world including Antarctica on November 5 and 6. Probably one of the better specials Today Show has ever done, so check it out if you can.

3 New Minerals Discovered in Antarctica

Well, the title of this article leads one to think that the minerals were just mined and discovered, but actually they were found on an expedition back in the 2003-2004 summer season. Samples collected from that trip have now been confirmed as containing small pieces of three different minerals previously unknown. Go to the article to learn more about the process of confirming minerals are in fact newly discovered.

Chile Continues to Reinforce Presence in Antarctica

As part of asserting their right to part of the water off of Antarctica that is also claimed by Britian, Chile is now planning an expedition to the South Pole. They will send a team of 20 scientists and military personnel to explore the remote areas around the South Pole. The main purpose is to study about the geographical surroundings of the area with a hope of learning about the natural resources here. Here is the news article about the expedition.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Antarctica on the Today Show

On November 5th the Today Show on NBC will be featuring part of their team being in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Equator as part of a special called Today Goes to the Ends of the Earth. One of them will be in the Antarctic hopefully successfully reporting live from McMurdo and the South Pole. Definitely sounds like a good series to try to tune into. It sounds like it is going to go for that whole week of the 5th, but I only was able to get the limited info from what I heard on the show. Glad I was able to watch the show this morning, but too bad I will be at work every morning the week that these episodes are.

Naming of Amsler Island

Yes, there are still things that can be named. Just the other day an island was named for a couple that has spent decades doing marine biology research in the Antarctic. You can read about the piece of land recently determined its own island and the couple here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to Visit Antarctica

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will visit Antarctica next month as part of an eco trip that focuses on the issue of global warming. The trip will make him the first UN Secretary General to visit the continent. He will take a small plane from Chile to Chile's Eduardo Frei Montalva base on the Antarctic Peninsula. The focus on the environmental situation will hopefully be kept and it will not become part of the politically land claiming situation occurring in the region. While at the Chile base he potentially will visit bases and research facilities operated by other countries near the Chile base. You can read more about the trip and his stance in bringing climate change as a global issue here.

Chile Plans Antarctic Expeditions to Assert Claim

Chile is among the countries claiming off shore under sea land in the Antarctic. Here is an article about them planning some expeditions to help assert their claim. A delegation of Chilean Congress Lower House Defense Committee members leave today and are expected to arrive in Antarctica tomorrow as the first of these political expeditions. I found the quote about them saying they do not need IDs or passports to enter Antarctica as a way of asserting it is there, because in fact as an international territory no one needs a passport to land on Antarctica, although it is a good idea to have one because you can get a fun stamp in it from most bases and you do have to have one in case your ship needs to land in a country that you did not leave from.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wind Power to Power Antarctic Base?

This is a really interesting concept. There is a lot of wind and most of it is quite strong, so the idea of harnessing it to use to power an Antarctic base is a great idea. There certainly is enough wind to do, but it is more of a matter of can it be harnessed. Recently a New Zealand team researched how effectively a wind farm would work for the Scott Base and they came up with favorable results. Apparently the exact location of the Scott Base makes it appear to be a more viable option than some New Zealand locations, which more often experience turbulent winds than this area of Antarctica. Not only would the wind energy make the base more environmentally friendly, but it is also very economical with the high cost of shipping in the fuel along with rising fuel costs. Read more about this here.

Iceberg Breaks off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica

Today a large iceberg broke away from the Pine Island Glacier (part of
the West Antarctic Ice Sheet) in Antarctica. For those who worry about
rising sea level, this was part of ice already floating in water, thus
it has already displaced the amount it affects in sea level. Read this
about this iceberg and more about ice in Antarctica, especially
this glacier.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Effects of Global Warming Seen by Pilots

Here is an unique article about global warming. This article talks about how aviators who fly missions in both polar regions have had to change the way they carry out their missions due to climate change. The pilots interviewed for the story mention that the weather this time of year has been noticeably increased by up to 20 degrees in places.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

United Kingdom Claiming 386,000 Square Miles of Antarctica

The British have been prominent in Antarctic news this week with many articles on this claim to 386,000 miles of seabed off the coast of the British Antarctic Territory. One of the recent articles is about the environmental groups speaking out against the claim. They are criticizing the British for talking about exploiting oil, gas, and mineral exploration in the region, which could have negative ecocological impacts. Besides the issue of possible environmental impacts of this claim, there are also issues relating to this claim and "the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which froze territorial disputes" in the Antarctic.

An interesting article explains that the claim to the seabed is being done in order to fall into the 2009 deadline of claming seabed under the UN Law of the Seas. It also tells a little about other countries claims to seabed around Antarctica based on their claims to the Antarctic land. This just shows that although the UK is making the headlines they are not the only country that could threaten the mining protection (currently only protects continent itself, not seabed) and the freezing of claims under the Antarctic Treaty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WWF calls for protected areas for Antarctica

Having interned at WWF-US back in 2006, this particular article caught my attention with WWF and Antarctica in the same headline. The article talks about WWF calling for marine reserves in areas around Antarctica due to the threat to the biodiversity of the area. The article also mentions the decrease in certain penguin populations as well as krill their main food supply.

Adelie Penguin, one of the decreasing in population penguin species

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fixing Plane in Antarctica

Recently a New Zealand Air Force plane was grounded in the Antarctic because it need a propellar change. Technicans were flown in on an American Air Force plane and worked in the cold conditions to fix it. They had to work in rotating 10 minute shifts taking 20 minutes off in between to warm up in a hut. The repairs have been finished and after some tests the plane is expected to return to New Zealand. Read about this here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dealing with Cancer in Antarctica

Some may remember this story of a women in Antarctica dealing with Breast Cancer back in 1999. Today I found a recent article about her speaking about her experience. It is really an interesting story about the doctor treating herself for breast cancer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Skiing the Route Shackleton was to take to the South Pole

In a few weeks Doug Stoup will lead two men from a film company to
retrace the route Shackleton planned to take in 1914, but never did
because of the Endurance getting stuck in the ice. They will be taking
this over 600 mile journey on skiis pulling a 300 pound sled. The
journey is pretty much all uphill on uncharted terrain. You can read
more about this journey here.

Operation Deep Freeze

This U.S. Air Force operation is a mission that repeats every year
dating back to the first Operation Deep Freeze in 1955. Operation Deep
Freeze is the title for the U.S. Air Force helping the National Science
Foundation get researchers and supplies from New Zealand to McMurdo and
from McMurdo to other research posts. The Navy is also involved
operating a tanker and cargo ship. The Operation began October 2nd this
year and goes until the end of the main researching season in Antarctica
in March 2008. Here is the story this information comes from.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tasmanian Ranger to Help in the Restoration of Scott's Hut

Found this article about the restoration of Scott's Hut that is being undertaken as a joint project with funding coming primarily from the British and New Zealand governments. This article focuses on a carpenter with past experience restoring Mawson's huts in Antarctica, as well as restoring huts in Tasmania's Cradle Mountain National Park. I found it interesting to learn about the unique difficulties that the harsh climate in Antarctica has sandblasted the wood while at the same time the coldness has preserved most of the contents of the hut to make it look just like Scott and his men just left.

Related Post: Tea to Help Preserve Scott's Hut

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Subglacial Lake in Antarctica

Here is an interesting article about scientists who are going to explore a subglacial lake in Antartica called Lake Ellsworth, which is under several kilometers of ice. Part of their goals is to learn about what lives in this lake and how it may be related to what may find on the frozen moons of Jupiter. They will also map the depth of the lake and use a robot to collect sediment samples.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Role of Military Forces in Antarctica

Today I found this article about the support the New Zealand Defence and Air Forces provide in Antarctica for the Scott and McMurdo bases. It is nice to see articles about the peaceful things the military does such as restocking the bases and helping in search and rescue. This article does not mention MedEvac, but in some cases they also help with that as I wrote about the United States Air Force helping with that not that long ago.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Smaller than Normal

Last year the Ozone Hole over Antarctica was the largest measured, but
this year it has shrunk 30% from last year's measurement. This smaller
ozone hole is being attributed to "natural variations in temperature and
atmospheric dynamics" and thus is expected to be only a short term
shrinkage. You can read more about this shrinkage and how the ozone
hole is measured here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

South African Companies to Help Build British Antarctic Base

Several companies based in South Africa have been selected to help build the British Antarctic Survey's new research station called Halley VI. The station will be put on an ice shelf that floats. It will be built in 9 ton pieces in Cape Town and then put together on site in Antarctica. It is to be built to withstand temperatures as low as negative 50 degrees Celcius. The station will be towable across the ice making it possible to move it further inland when the ice sheet flows farther from the mainland. Here is the link to the article about the station and the South African involvement.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aurora Australis United States Stamps Released Today

The United States Postal Service released a set of Polar Lights stamps today. The sheets of 20 feature stamps of both the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis). While the Northern Lights are somewhat common to see when it is dark in the Arctic region, the Southern Lights that can sometimes be seen in Antarctica are far more rare and thus truly a spectacular thing to witness. For those of us unable to actually see them in person these stamps are a great way to see the beauty of the Polar Lights. I will for one definitely be adding this sheet to my stamp collection and may just add a sheet to my stack of fun stamps for mailing things.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Role of Math in Predicting Effects of Climate Change

Math really can be important in a lot of science. The effects of climate change may not be seen as something that math is used for predicting, but it is as the predictions relate mostly to patterns. I found this article about a mathematician using a formula he developed to help predict the effect of climate change on sea ice in Antarctica. What is most interesting is how his formula can also be applied in other ways, including "how osteoporosis permeates can bone, which have a similar density and structure to sea ice."

Antarctic Animals and Plants Survived Ice Ages

Found this very interesting article about plant and animal life in Antarctica learning to adapt to deal with the Ice Age conditions that left little to no ice free land in Antarctica. The article is very brief and does not really give any details on how exactly the plants and animals have adapted, but it sure brings to light some interesting possibilities in how studying them could be useful.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Measureing How Long Rock Has Been Exposed to Ice

Here is an interesting article about climate change and what it could mean in Antarctica. It nicely explains that the models expect the ice sheet to remain pretty much in balance because of increased snowfall balancing the melting. It also revolves around providing information on a team going down to Antarctica to research how long the rock on a mountain has been exposed to the sun. Who even thought that such a thing could be done? The point of this is to help determine the past thinning of the ice sheet to better understand the current situation and future of the ice sheet. This article is full of more information including an interesting tidbit on that naturally the earth should be in a global cooling period instead of the human forced warming. Not sure about the science behind this statement, but certainly an interesting idea to ponder towards how much humans are impacting the natural cycle.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Antarctic Snowmelt Increasing

I found this article about Antarctic snowmelt here. It talks about in the past couple decades snow has been melting farther inland and in higher altitudes than in the past. I found it interesting when it talked about how snow melt in Antarctica is pretty minimal because it remains below freezing most summers, however in recent years it has been getting warm enough to melt. It is also interesting how snow melt on the Ross Ice Shelf have the potential of causing the ice to break up.

Russian Attempting to Sail Solo Around Antarctica

Fedor Konyukhov from Russian plans to set sail in January of next year on a solo sailing voyage to sail all around Antarctica. That means a journey of 14,600 miles on just his 27 meter yacht. It would certainly be amazing if he accomplishes it. The article I learned about this from can be found here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Waterproof Glue

I keep meaning to get around to post about this article I found on waterproof glue and how it relates to Antarctica. It only took
me 4 days. This article is very interesting talking about Foraminifera (small underwater creatures) and how they act as carbon sinks in the Antarctic waters. It also however talks about their ability to produce an underwater adhesive to make their shells out of sand. It sounds like the research could eventually lead to more effective adhesives for a variety of uses including biomedicine.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ozone Hole Not a Closed Case

Many people think that the ozone hole issue has been completely dealt with. It is true that action has pretty much helped stop the humans causing it to get bigger, but it does not entirely stop it. I found this interesting article about the issue not being totally resolved that can be read here. It has a lot of information, so just go read it as it is too much to summarize here. Just in case your wondering the ozone hole relates to Antarctica in that it is usually present over Antarctica.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Antarctic Ice at Highest Levels Since 1979

This article is a decent example that the earth is not experiencing global warming everywhere, but that is the overall trend. It just shows that the more accurate term is climate change, which can mean more than even temperature change but changes in other weather patterns.

In the Antarctic the warming has been occuring on the Peninsula, but the rest of the continent has actually experienced some cooling. This has allowed for more extensive and longer lasting ice in this area, which more than makes up for the ice lost around the Peninsula.

This particular article does present an interesting thing on if the ice in the Arctic that is surely melting and decreasing in being balanced by the increased ice in the Antarctic. Not exactly sure what he is leading to, but the ice being in balance on earth as in the same amount means nothing if the Arctic losses its and can no longer support the animals that rely on the ice such as polar bears.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tea to help preserve Scott's hut

I found this interesting article with the same title as I gave this post. The blend used by Scott has been made and packaged to sell in the British supermarket chain Tesco. The money from the sale of these teas will go to help preserve Scott's hut at Cape Evans. It is a strong blend of tea, so this could be something people really like or dislike. The article also contains an interesting information on the controversy of the British government not giving money to protect the hut.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Belgium Builds Emission Free Antarctic Station

This is somewhat old news, as I have not gotten around to posting about it and was again reminded that I wanted to do so when I ran across another article about it that can be fo here. This station is run by renewable energy sources, which is what makes it a zero emissin building. The station is currently still in Brussels (at least I think it is) as it was pre-built there and will be shipped down to Antarctica. It is called the Princess Elisabeth Station. It is really cool looking with its interesting architectural design and its stainless steel outside. This seems a great step forward in reducing emissions. Sure it is a small step, but hopefully other countries will follow the futuristic lead of the Belgium station by at least making their stations emission free if not following the futuristic design.

A few other articles more dated than this one can be found here , here, and here.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Kid's Letters Move Antarctic Researcher

I found this interesting article today about a Japanese researcher who wintered at the Japanese base in Antarctica. The researcher was feeling home sick and found these notebooks that had letters written by kids from his hometown in Japan. The letters were written decades ago, but had been kept at the station. What a great thing the teacher had the kids doing for several years and that it was still touching the researchers who go to that station.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Medevac Mission by Air Force

This is somewhat old news, as I have been too busy to post about it, but I still think it is interesting. On August 28 that Air Force did a Medevac mission out of Antarctica. I found this article about it quite interesting. It seems quite a lot of work does go into flying a medevac mission in this situation. It is also interesting in that they had just finished their winter flights, but since the research season has not quite begun the Air Force was needed to do the medevac. Also, since it was after the last fly in it took even more preparations because the runway at Pegasus had already begun to be disassembled.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Antarctica: The Big Ice

This is the name of an exhibit made by the Otago Museum. I found this article about it being on display in Christchurch, New Zealand, starting September 3. The exhibit about the 50 years that New Zealand has played a role in Antarctic scientific expeditions. One focus of the things on display is artwork such as the works of Grahame Sydney. There are also historical artifacts including Sir Edmund Hillary's (he is the guy that first climbed Everest and New Zealander for those who do not remember why he sounds familiar) ice pick used on his trek to the South Pole. It sounds like totally interesting exhibit to check out if you happen to be in this area.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Robot to Help China in Antarctic Expedition

I found this interesting article about a flying robot being used by the Chinese in an Antarctic expedition. They will be used in the October expedition the Chinese are doing to set up seismic stations. It sounds very cool, as the robots will help keep the people safe by observing the ice. They are also able to glide over the ice and work in the extreme weather.

Photo of the Day on Hold

I got a new job and am currently in the process of getting stuff together to move to D.C., so for right now I will not have time to do the daily photo of the day postings. I am going to try to continue to post some news stories I find about Antarctica, but until I am at least in D.C. next week I will probably be not posting much. Also, once I am there I will be working on finding an apartment and stuff, so I am going to put the Photo of the Day on hold until that is done, which is hopefully by the middle of September.

Submissions are still welcome during this time. I will just keep them ready for posting until I have the time to continue this. Also, by getting your involvement it will make it easier to start back up sooner, as part of the move will involve me putting all my desktop photos onto my new external harddrive and then I will need to get them on my laptop before I can upload them here to post. So it will be much faster if I have user submissions when I start back up instead of having to wait until I get my photos onto my laptop.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

Elephant Island , December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

Elephant Island , December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

Birds Near Elephant Island , December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Book: Antarctica -The Global Warning

Just read about this new book being released in October here. It looks like it is an interesting photo book, however with the hefty of a price tag I do not think I will be getting it. It won the Professional Photographer of the Year in the book category of the International Photography Awards. The link above does mention an exhibit that is going to be in Los Angeles that sounds well worth checking out for people in the area when it is on display.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

Elephant Island Appearing, December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Penguins as Signs of the Planet's Future

Back when I was researching Antarctica for my research projects I often heard about the Antarctic being considered the early warning sign for global climate change. Today I found a recent article about Adelie penguins that talks about how they are being affected by climate change. It discusses the decreasing amount in the penguin populations that are in particular occurring on the Peninsula where most of the Antarctic warming is occurring. It also talks about the last Emperor colony on the Peninsula being in danger of disappearing. It is sad to see that these species of penguins could be heading towards the endangered list where 3 of the 17 world penguin species already are.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

First Iceberg, December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Antarctic Kiwis Crave Peas, Crumpets, and Sun

During the winter there are no supply flights, so those on the Scott and McMurdo bases are anxiously awaiting the first flight with fresh fruits and veggies since February. The New Zealanders on the base made a list of requests that include wasabi peas, melon, and tomatoes. Read about their requests here.

What do you think you would crave after six months of winter isolation in the Antarctic?

I think the number one thing I would miss would be tomatoes, especially grape tomatoes. Also, I would probably crave fresh berries.

Southern Ocean Nearing CO2 Capacity

In an article about Earth approaching the climate tipping point I found a link to another story about the CO2 content in the Southern Ocean that surrounds the Antarctic. So far the Southern Ocean has done most of the work of keeping so much of the carbon dioxide we release out of our atmosphere, but there is only so much it can take in as a carbon sink. It efficiency is lessening to the point where it will not hold much more, thus more of the carbon dioxide we release is staying the atmosphere.

Does this make you think more about your energy use?

I have been conscious of my energy use for years, but this really does make me think that we really need to be more committed to lessening our carbon dioxide release.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by me.

M/V Polar Star, Drake Passage, December 2004

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by Linda Terrill.

Gentoo Penguins, January 2006

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Call of the Ice by David Harrowfield

I just learned about this new book by reading this article. It is written by a man who has visited and reported on Antarctica for over 30 years. It is focused on the history of New Zealand involvement in Antarctica drawing on interviews, personal accounts, and records. The author considers it easy to read. It certainly at least sounds like the kind of book I would read.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by Linda Terrill.

Tabular Iceberg, January 2006

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

China to Build 3rd Antarctic Research Station

China already has two stations in Antarctica. They have now announced that they will build a third one. It is planned to be built in two years on Dome A, which is Antarctica's highest ice cap. I find it interesting that the people to go there in October are already going acclimation training in Tibet. It just seems odd that acclimation training is being seen important enough to begin so early. You can find the article about this new base here.

Into the Caldera

Below is part of a travel journal I wrote on my experience in Antarctica in December 2004. This one is about hiking Deception Island.

Deception Island is a dormant volcano. The most recent eruption was in 1991-92. The water filled caldera was formed when the volcano’s cone collapsed. The caldera provides one of the world’s safest harbors, except during the occasional eruption. At Bailey Head, where we started our hike, we encountered a lot of guano, penguin droppings. Guano is very smelly; during the first part of our hike it was everywhere. I was part of the majority of the group that ended up with the product that produces one of the strongest scents in Antarctica on my boots. Guano also added to the colors of Antarctica being available in red and green. Perfect for Christmas some said. In the middle of our hike at the edge of the Chinstrap Penguin rookery we stopped for 10 minutes of silence to listen to the Chinstraps sing. They may be flightless birds, but they sure can sing. By being able to sing I mean they are loud, but most would not consider it harmonious. I found it a delightfully loud sound to hear in the ever so soft-spoken Antarctica. Whaler’s Bay is named for its use in the days of whaling in Antarctica. Floating factory ships use to work in the Bay. After WWI a shore-based station was set up to process the over 3,000 whale carcasses that littered the beach. Whaler’s Bay, where our hike ended, offered another of the strongest scents in Antarctica. The steam from the water smelled like sulfur. It did not fully hit me that Deception Island was a volcano until I got a whiff of the sulfur when I reached the beach of Whaler’s Bay. It was also a pleasant surprise to step into warm water with my boots instead of cold. Although my boots were waterproof, often the cold or warm temperature of the outside penetrated them. The hike begins among the half a million Chinstrap penguins of Baily Head on the Penguin Highway. The hike is over three ridges, the highest being 1900 feet, through snow. Over the last ridge appears the abandoned whaling station. The best way down is sliding on your bottom. Most in our group who tried to walk down ended up on their bottoms anyway. The view of the water-filled caldera from the last ridge was worth the guano-scented boots I ended up with.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by Linda Terrill.

Gentoo Penguins, January 2006

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update on the Antarctic Workers Must Pay Taxes

I just discovered an updated article on this issue I was disgusted at earlier. While I am still disgusted by them wanting to be tax free, I now see that there is also a obnoxious government part of it, too, which I suspected must exist to some extent as usual. The thing is that the workers in Antarctica do not get paid overtime even though almost everyone ends up working overtime. Raytheon gets away with it because the government rules that when it comes to labor laws the U.S. considers the Antarctic a foreign country. I think the tax thing should stand firm, but I really think that for the same reason it stands firm in that Antarctica does not have a government taxing the workers that because there is no government to enforce labor laws that the workers on the U.S. bases should work under the U.S. labor laws. The updated I article can be seen here.

Court Rules U.S. Antarctic Workers Still Have to Pay Taxes

Apparently some people who worked down in Antarctica decided that there wages should not be taxed by the U.S. government since they were living and working in Antarctica. They think they are eligible for the tax exemption U.S. citizens get when living in another country for at least 330 days of a year. Well, two things are very wrong with this idea. First off, Antarctica is not a country, so technically you are on a international territory just like international waters. Secondly, you are not paying taxes to an Antarctic government because of the fact that it is not a country and has no government. I think it is absurd that they even thought that they could get away with paying absolutely no taxes, especially when if I am not mistaken at least some of our tax money goes to the National Science Foundation that allows them to be working down there even if they are being employed by Raytheon. The fact is without the scientific work being done by the National Science Foundation the Raytheon support staff would not be needed. I totally get them saying that they were not living in the United States for the tax year, but the thing is that the tax exemption law is meant to give U.S. citizens living in a foreign country and paying taxes to the country a break from paying two countries taxes on the same money. Here is the article from where I heard about this.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by Linda Terrill.

Iceberg, January 2006

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences

From August 26 through August 30 this year the 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences with take place at University of California - Santa Barbara. It will be a gathering of over 400 scientists from over 35 countries. The first such symposium was held in 1963. The title chosen for this, the 10th one, is "Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World." It should be an interesting topic with the Antarctic showing so many of the early and/key signs of climate change, as well as its role in telling about past climate and its potential to cause further climate change. You can read the news article I heard about the symposium from here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Going to Antarctica as a Firefighter

Believe it or not they do have firefighters in Antarctica. Here is a story about one man getting ready to head to the McMurdo station for seven months. Sounds like one of the biggest risks for fires are the airplanes that land there. Personally I think that is cool that he can do the same job down there that he does at home. I have often looked into the Raytheon jobs offered in Antarctica, but I can never find any that I qualify for.

Photo of the Day

Today's photo of the day was taken by Linda Terrill.

Drake Passage, January 2006
There were definitely more typical Drake Passage rough seas during her trip.

To submit a photo to be featured in a future Photo of the Day post send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Take a White iPod to Antarctica

That is the advice that one young man gave at one of his stops talking at schools in New Zealand. Jamie Fitzgerald lost his iPod a few weeks into his trek to the South Pole. Even me who wants to go back to Antarctica does not want to do what he did. Sure I want to summer down there, but I would like to stay at or near a base and even if I am going to the South Pole I would want to do it by vehicle or plane. It is not the cold that I do not think I could deal with (with plenty of layers of course), but rather I had enough of trekking in the snow from my December 2004 unexpected climb from the edge of Deception Island up and down into the caldera. You can read more about Fitzgerald's trip here.

Will Steger to Attend Christchurch Antarctic Festival

Searching the news today I learned about the Antarctic Festival from an article about the famous explorer, Will Steger, being one of the people who will attend the 50th anniversary of New Zealand's Scott Base. The 50th anniversary is being celebrated at the Antarctic Festival that takes place annually in Christchurch, New Zealand. The dates this year are September 24 through 30. It looks like an interesting festival that celebrates the connection between Christchurch and many Antarctic expeditions. I think I will add attending the Anarctic Festival in Christchurch to my list of things I would like to do in my lifetime.

Photo of the Day

I have decided to start a daily series in which I post a photo from the Antarctic. I will start by using my own photos. While I could probably go a year doing that, I would love to feature your photos, too. Whenever I have a reader's submission photo available I will post that instead of one of my own. With the photo submission I will display the person's name and a link to their website if they choose to include one. To submit a photo send me an e-mail at with the subject line of Antarctic Photo. In the e-mail attach your photo and include your name, date of the photo (just month and year is necessary), website you want me to link to, and a description of the photo.

Drake Passage, December 2004

This was a pretty calm day on the Drake Passage as you can see from this photo. It definitely did not seem like the roughest seas that day like it is supposed to be.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Romantic Proposal in the Antarctic

I never really thought about someone proposing in the Antarctic even if they work there until I stumbled upon this news article. The article is called "A Midwinter's Night Dream Proposal". It is a quite a romantic story of a couple who recently got engaged and both work in Antarctica. It sounds like it is a great uplifting and exciting thing to take place while they are in the middle of the winter with 24 hours of darkness.

Antarctica Brings Works To California Museum

Another news search brought up this article. It is pretty short and brief. It just discusses some photographers that went to Antarctica and there work being shown at a California Museum. The meaning to me about, though, is somewhat more significant. One of the photographers went to Antarctica with the National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Program. That is the program I submitted a grant to in June that I really hope to get, thus it was interesting to read a little about one of the person's work that came from doing the program.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cool Antarctica Website

The Cool Antarctica website is one of my favorite websites about Antarctica. The site has some great photos in their Antarctic pictures gallery. You can use the photos within the guidelines for free and also purchase them as stock photos. The website also has plenty more to offer including information on Antarctic cruises, facts about Antarctica, the history of Antarctica, information about whales, and a store.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Life-Forms "Resurrected" After Millennia in Ice

Looking up Antarctica on the Google News search I found this article titled Life-Forms "Resurrected" After Millennia in Ice that I thought was interesting and worth sharing. The article talks about scientists from Rutgers University bringing back to life microbes when they thawed ice from Antarctica. You can read the whole article here. The whole idea of these microbes still being alive leads to another story I found about this discovery. This article discusses how with Antarctic ice melting it may release germs with unknown consequences. Can you imagine what implications these long dormant germs could have on animal/human populations and possibly the environment as well? It will certainly be interesting to see how this new discovery plays out. The second article is located here.

Postcards From Antarctica

I have started this blog to write about topics related to Antarctica. I have been to Antarctica once back in December 2004 on a Students on Ice expedition. Ever since I interned at WWF-US and researched Climate Change in Antarctica back in 2006 I have wanted to return to Antarctica.

If you have any requests for topics comment on the most recent post on this blog and I will do what I can to make a blog post(s) on that topic/question.