Friday, August 26, 2011

"Happy Feet" leaving Zoo Sunday

The Emperor Penguin that was found in New Zealand earlier this year will soon be leaving the Zoo to begin its journey to freedom.  The penguin has become nicknamed Happy Feet after the popular cartoon movie that has a sequel coming out soon.  On Sunday, August 28, 2011, Happy Feet will be transported to the NIWA research vessel Tangaroa. The vessel is headed towards Antarctica and will release Happy Feet just east of the Auckland Islands.  A special tracking device is on Happy Feet that will allow his location to be known at least until next April when he molts.

Learn more about this here.

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NSF signs contract to use Russian icebreaker to resupply and refuel Antarctic Bases

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has reached an agreement to use the Russian Icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk.  The icebreaker will be used for the major annual resupply and refuel mission that provides the main supplies that McMurdo needs to operate at its current capacity throughout the year.  The icebreaker will be used to lead the ships that resupply and refuel the base through the ice.

Previously, the NSF used a Swedish icebreaker, but recently the Swedish government decided it needed to keep the icebreaker up north.  The NSF and Murmansk Shipping Company have signed a multi-year contract to use the Vladimir Ignatyuk at least until the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Star is done with its major relift in 2014.

Learn more about this here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Special Antarctic Cruise to Fulfill Frank Wild's Last Request

This winter there will be an extra special Antarctic tourist cruise among the tourist cruise offerings.  This cruise is through One Oceans Expeditions and involves fulfilling Frank Wild's last request, which was to be buried next to Ernest Shackleton.  Shackleton is buried in a whaler's graveyard in the South Georgia islands.

The cruise is special in that it involves taking the ashes to their final resting place while also attempting to visit the famed Elephant Island where the crew of the Endurance were eventually rescued from.  Also, descendents of Frank Wild as well as Shackleton's granddaughter, Andrea Shackleton, will be on the cruise.   It also includes the regular Antarctic peninsula type destinations.

Frank Wild took part in 4 different Antarctic expeditions including being part of Scott's 1901 expedition with Shackleton and part of Shackleton's Nimrod and Endurance expeditions.  He was the second in command for the Endurance expedition and left in charge on Elephant Island when Shackleton left in the lifeboat to get help.  Wild was also second in command on the Quest expedition in which Shackleton died leaving Wild to lead the expedition.

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What do Texas and Antarctica have in common?

Texas and Antarctica seem like polar opposites with Texas known for its heat and Antarctica known for its cold.  The obvious answer to what Texas and Antarctica have in common is probably that they both have deserts.  However, new research shows that 1.1 billion years ago the areas that are now Texas and Antarctica had a whole lot in common, as they were connected.

Learning about the supercontinent Pangea is a regular part of grade school science class.  However, the continents have moved around and have been connected in different ways over the Earth's history.  Some of the most recent research shows that one of the past connections involved Texas and part of Antarctica being next to each other.  Evidence that links the two based on rocks with the same lead isotopes composition in the Franklin Mountains of Texas and the Coat Lands of Antarctica.  These rocks are part of the evidence to prove the theory that North America and East Antarctica were once connected as one supercontinent called Rodinia.

Learn more about this topic here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Penguin Book Review: 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental is a funny picture book about a family getting a penguin in the mail every day.  In the end it is revealed their uncle mailed them to them as a way of smuggling them out of Antarctica.  Of course, it is an illegal thing to do, but the book addresses that and has a message of climate change and protecting the natural environment.

Overall a great book for all ages.  The big size also makes it great for group storytimes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Satellite Imaging shows Tohoku Tsunami caused iceberg calving in Antarctica

The Tohoku Tsunami that is known for the damage it caused in Japan in March 2011 has been found to also caused iceberg calving in Antarctica.  Satellite imaging was used to follow the progress of the tsunami waves all the way down to Antarctica where the consistency of the 1 foot waves was still enough to cause icebergs to break off the Sulzberger shelf.  Often there are calving events and then scientists try to figure out the cause, but for the first time they were able to prove that tsunami waves are one cause of iceberg calving.

Learn more about this news here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Discoverer of Antarctica's Lake Vostok dies

On August 3, 2011 the Russian man that discovered Antarctica's Lake Vostok died.  Andrey Kapitsa was a Russian geographer and is among the scientists credited with discovering Lake Vostok using seismic soundings.  Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica.  Andrey Kapitsa also participated in 4 Soviet expeditions to the South Pole.

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