Monday, January 31, 2011

Cape Denison's 1st Season with a Post Office

The 2010-2011 Mawson hut restoration season at Cape Denison was the first one where they operated a post office. Appears the main reason for doing it was that it has become a tourist stop recently, as it is quite a historic site in the Antarctic. Even running a post office in a remote Antarctic location is challenging, as they do not have central heat like the more permanent bases. Since it is not heated they had trouble with the postmark ink sticking in the cold temperatures. Certainly, not something I ever thought about being a problem.

This article mentions that the first season of the Post Office postal cachets will be available on the Mawson's Huts Foundation website. The link to the Foundations online shop is here, but they are currently not available. I will try to remember to update when they do become available, as I know a lot of my readers are wonder about obtaining Antarctic Postcards and postmarks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New UK Antarctic Base to Be Greener with Heat Exchangers

The new Halley VI UK Antarctic base is currently under construction. It will use a heat exchanger to supply the base with energy. By using it to reclaim heat, it will be able to improve the base's energy efficiency by over 90%. Thus it will make the base greener by not just reusing resources, but by making the fuel used in the base go farther. This is especially important considering that the base is UK's most remote Antarctic base.

Read more on this here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chris Foot's fails in solo expedition to South Pole

Back in November I wrote about Chris Foot attempting an historic solo expedition to the South Pole. He did successfully make it to the South Pole unassisted, however, he called the return off due to being delayed by 16 days flying to Antarctica and the weather pattern approaching not being ideal for attempting to return unassisted this year. He plans to try again later this year when summer comes back around in the Antarctic.

Read more about this here.

Banding Penguins Hurts Penguins According to King Penguin Study

Banding has been a common way to carry out long term research on animals, such as penguins. A ten year study of banded and non-banded King Penguins recently revealed that the banding may be harming the penguins. The study included penguins that were banded as well as penguins tracked with under the skin technology. The penguins that were banded had a lower survival rate after 10 years as well as produced fewer chicks than the non-banded King Penguins. It seems the penguins that are banded are affected by drag when they are swimming and end up aging physically faster than normal due to increased effort it takes to swim with the metal band on their flipper.

While it seems the bands affect the King Penguins, similar studies show that the bands are not as much an issue for other species, such as Magellenic penguins. Thus the study is not exactly a definitive that bands should not be used for studies. However, it does mean that some studies need to make sure they are not skewing the data to only climate change causes when the penguins in the studies are actually being slightly affected by the bands. Overall, though, it seems that using the under the skin tags are a much better choice and safer for the animals.

More on this here.

India to Open its 3rd Antarctic Station in 2012

India will open its third Antarctic research station in 2012. The base is located in the Lasemann Hills part of East Antarctica and has been worked on since 2008 according to this article, but I remember posting about construction beginning in January 2010, so perhaps the 2008 refers to them selecting the location. This week they announced it is 60 percent done and is expected to be operational in 2012. The new station is expected to house 35 (25 scientists and 10 logistics/support personnel). One feature of the new station is an Earth Station that will transmit data back to scientists in India within 45 minutes instead of it taking two to three days currently.

Read more about this here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mawson Plane Will Remain in Antarctica Another Year

Last January the first plane brought to Antarctica was rediscovered. You can read about that in this post I made about the news last year. They expected to bring back the plane from Antarctica this year, but the helicopter crash in October 2010 caused an interruption in their work this Antarctic summer season and they will have to wait until next year to bring back the plane. The focus this year is just on restoring Mawson's transit hut and the main hut. If they have time, they will still try to dig the plane out, but it is likely to have to wait until next year. After all what's another year when its been there nearly 100 years already.

Read more about this news here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Antarctic Runway Closed Due to Heat

I found this article about an Antarctic runway being closed interesting because most of the time I end up reading about runways and airplanes turning back from the Antarctic because of cold temperatures. This season, though, the Wilkins Runway at Australia's Casey Station has been closed due to warm temperatures. The runway is made out of ice, so the warm temperatures make it structurally unstable. Global Warming or climate change perhaps, but perhaps just an unusually warm summer in the Antarctic or at least in the region where Casey Station is located.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mechanical Issues Cause an Antarctic Cruise to be Canceled

Abercombie & Kent has canceled a full booked cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia due to a mechanical problem needing to be fixed. It seems that the problem could have been an easy fix to do while the cruise was going on, except the parts and such are not readily available in this region and extra precautions are being taken to fix it before sailing since the Antarctic can be a harsh place for cruise liners. Stinks for those that were expecting to go to Antarctica, but at least the company refunded the full cost of the cruise as well as reimbursed the passengers for their airfare and airfare cancellation charges.

Read more about this here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Video Game with Penguins: Polar Bowler

I like finding video games that feature penguins as characters, but sometimes it annoys me. I like bowling, so I rented Polar Bowler for the Nintendo DS just as a bowling game to try out. The bowling was fun, although not exactly realistic. The annoying part is that it is clearly supposed to just be a North Pole themed game and yet it has a penguin as an unlockable character.

In case you do not know, mixing polar bears and penguins in an unnatural way is one of my big pet peeves. I know it would seem okay for a video game of totally fiction to do it, but I am pretty picky on it being tastefully done and this being a North Pole theme does not cut it being allowable to have a polar bear and penguin character in the same game. It is not like Madagascar that has various animals including penguins together because they are from a zoo.

Whale Wars 2011 Has Started

Thought I would read Whale Wars articles before today, but today is the first time this season that there has been news. The Sea Shepherd activists have located the Japanese whalers. The first clash included the whalers shooting water cannons at the activists in zodiacs.

Read this article for more info.