Thursday, April 26, 2012

Warm Ocean Currents Causing Antarctic Ice Melting

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey carried out new research on how warm ocean currents are mostly causing the ice melting in the Antarctic rather than warm air.   It seems the wind patterns have changed causing warm water to be pushed under the ice.  When the ice melts from below, the glaciers slide more towards the ocean, which can then end up with more ice being melted than when they melt from the top.  The main exception is that the melting on the Antarctic Peninsula appears more linked to warm winds in that region.

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New Details on Empire of the Pengun Ride Coming to Sea World Orlando in 2013

Some more details are not available about the Empire of the Penguin Antarctic themed area coming to Sea World Orlando in 2013.  The area will include a new ride that looks like it will be trackless.  The ride is designed to follow the story of a Gentoo penguin in Antarctica.

The Empire of the Penguin area will also provide up close penguin experiences featuring Gentoo, Rockhopper, Adelie, and King penguins.  There will also be a gift shop and restaurant.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

1st Emperor Penguin Census taken from Space

For the first time ever Emperor Penguins were counted from space.  The Emperor Penguin census done using satellite images showed that there were twice as many Emperor Penguins than previously thought (source).  Taking pictures of penguins from space was previously possible, but not the high enough resolution to differentiate penguins from other objects like was now possible.

The study used images from 2009 and found there to be about 595,000 penguins (previous estimates were between 270,000 and 350,000).  The images also allowed them to identify 7 new colonies, so there are now 44 known colonies of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica.

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Quark Expeditions offering first carbon neutral Antarctic cruises

Quark Expeditions has announced that they are going to offset the carbon emissions of its newest ship, Ocean Diamond.  This is said to make it the first to offer carbon neutral expeditions to the polar regions.  To offset the carbon emissions of their expeditions to Antarctica and other regions with the Ocean Diamond they will participate in CarbonNeutral projects.  The CarbonNuetral projects include hydro, wind power, and reforestation projects in Turkey, Kenya, India, and China.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4 Brazilian Filmmakers rescued by Chilean Navy

On Monday, April 9, 2012, 4 Brazilian filmmakers were rescued by the Chilean Navy after their ship became stuck in the ice in Antarctica.  Their boat became stuck in the ice and the 100 km per hour winds caused it to capsize on Saturday, April 7, 2012.  They were working on a documentary about navigation and Antarctica's landscape.  Chilean officials plan to monitor the area for oil leaks and attempt to refloat the ship in the Antarctic summer.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Winter" Episode of Frozen Planet

“Winter” is the fifth (4th aired in US) episode in the Frozen Planet series about the Earth’s polar regions.  Examples of the Aurora Australis (i.e. Southern Ocean) is shown as the episode transitions to featuring the Antarctic, the Finger of Death, and the Emperor Penguins.

Emperor Penguins are shown huddling together to keep warm through the winter, as the only species that remains in Antarctic on the ice throughout the winter.  The Weddell Seals are also briefly shown as the only mammals that winter in Antarctica.  They remain mostly underwater and work to keep breathing holes open.

The underwater sea life that remain in Antarctica year round are also featured.  Some of the fish have a type of antifreeze to keep them from freezing.  Some of the sea life like sponges are thousands of years old.  These species are often shielded from the extremes above, but the winter extremes do sometimes affect them in the form of brinicles.  These are ice stalactites that form quite quickly and the sea life cannot always more away fast enough to escape the brinicles, which are nicknamed fingers of death.

The Weddell Seals are again briefly featured near the end of the episode.  The different sounds they make are played and the seals are shown fighting over breathing holes.

Winter is shown ending with the arrival of the sun in the Antarctic and the female Emperor Penguins returning.  Chicks are transferred to their mothers' care, so the males can go feed in the ocean.  Some of the chicks do not make it and the returning mothers are shown trying to kidnap chicks that wander away from their mothers.

Frozen Planet

Frozen Planet is a series that was co-produced by the BBC, Discover Channel, and The Open University.  It first premiered in the UK with episodes airing between October 26 and December 28, 2011.  Frozen Planet began premiering episodes in the United States on the Discovery Channel on March 18, 2012.

Frozen Planet features footage from both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions.  The series focuses on the different seasons at both ends of the world as well as other natural history topics such as climate change.

The BBC Version of Frozen Planet is narrated by David Attenborough and the US version is mostly narrated by Alec Baldwin, although the seventh episode retains its narration by David Attenborough due to the controversy of it originally not being planned to air on the Discovery Channel.

Episodes of Frozen Planet
  1. "To the Ends of the Earth" - premiered in UK on October 26, 2011 and in the US on March 18, 2012
  2. "Spring" - premiered in UK on November 2, 2012 and in the US on March 18, 2012
  3. "Summer" - premiered in UK on November 9, 2012 and in the US on March 25, 2012
  4. "Autumn" - premiered in UK on November 16, 2012
  5. "Winter" - premiered in UK on November 23, 2012 and in the US on April 1, 2012
  6. "The Last Frontier" - premiered in UK on November 30, 2012
  7. "On Thin Ice" - premiered in UK on December 7, 2012 and in the US on April 15, 2012
  8. "The Epic Journey" - premiered in UK on December 28, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Summer" Episode of Frozen Planet

“Summer" is the third episode in the Frozen Planet series about the Earth’s polar regions.  The episode begins by discussing the sun never setting during the summer in the polar regions.
The first mention of Antarctic animals in this episode is the Antarctic fur seals breeding on the South Georgia Islands.  The Antarctic fur seals give birth and within a week mate again.  There is footage of bulls (males) fighting for control of a harem (group of female seals).

The King Penguins of South Georgia are featured next.  Cooling off in the summer heat of 60 degrees is discussed.  The penguins cool off by lying down to let the breeze cool their feet.  They also show elephant seals covering themselves in black sand to cool them off and use as a sun screen.  To avoid overheating the penguin chicks cool off in shallow water and mud.

Near the end of the episode, fall arriving in Antarctica is discussed starting with how the ice begins to increase surrounding the continent.  Emperor Penguins are then featured.  The penguins are shown taboggoning to reach their colony inland.  The females pass the eggs to the males before heading back to the sea.  The males huddle together through the winter.