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.