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.