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.