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Tag: Antarctic

Antarctic base comes out of deep freeze

Antarctic base comes out of deep freeze

Science
The advance party sent in to open up Britain’s mothballed Antarctic base have found no damage. Halley station was closed in March and staff withdrawn because of uncertainty over the behaviour of cracks in the Brunt Ice Shelf - the flowing, floating platform on which it sits. The base was secured and left to the elements, with temperatures dipping down to around -50C. But the first arrivals say Halley is none the worse for its shut-down. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) flew a party of 12 into the base to start switching all the utilities back on - the power and heating. One fear was that windows might have broken in a storm and that this could have allowed snow to get inside. But that has not been the case. Halley operations manager John Eager said: "The team was very pleased to find th
UK's Halley Antarctic base set for second closure

UK's Halley Antarctic base set for second closure

Science
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will once again close its Halley station at the end of the coming Southern Hemisphere summer.The base sits on the floating Brunt Ice Shelf, which is currently being incised by two large developing cracks.BAS withdrew its staff from Halley this past winter because of uncertainty over how these fissures would evolve.The survey has now confirmed it will do the same again when the approaching summer season comes to an end."What we are witnessing is the power and unpredictability of nature," said BAS director Prof Dame Jane Francis."The safety of our staff is our priority in these circumstances. Our Antarctic summer research operation will continue as planned, and we are confident of mounting a fast uplift of personnel should fracturing of the ice shelf occur...
Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

Science
All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts. It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins. WWF have been supporting research with French scientists in the region monitoring penguin numbers since 2010. The protection proposal will be discussed at a m...
Satellites spy Antarctic 'upside-down ice canyon'

Satellites spy Antarctic 'upside-down ice canyon'

Science
Scientists have identified a way in which the effects of Antarctic melting can be enhanced. Their new satellite observations of the Dotson Ice Shelf show its losses, far from being even, are actually focused on a long, narrow sector. In places, this has cut an inverted canyon through more than half the thickness of the shelf structure. If the melting continued unabated, it would break Dotson in 40-50 years, not the 200 years currently projected. "That is unlikely to happen because the ice will respond in some way to the imbalance," said Noel Gourmelen, from the University of Edinburgh, UK. "It's possible the area of thinning could widen or the flow of ice could change. Both would affect the rate at which the channel forms. "But the important point here is that Dotson is not a flat slab and...
Environmentalists: UK's Antarctic islands need protection

Environmentalists: UK's Antarctic islands need protection

Science
Environmental groups are urging the UK to protect one of its most remote territories - the rugged, uninhabited South Sandwich Islands on the edge of the Antarctic.The bid, by a coalition called Great British Oceans, calls for the islands to be made a sanctuary - ceasing all fishing and commercial activity.Few people have set foot on the islands. The group says they are some of Earth's last wildernesses and need protection.Scientists also suggest that, because of their location in the South Atlantic - right at the northern edge of the Antarctic, they could provide a valuable barometer for the effects of climate change in the region. Hostile wildernessOne of the islands - Zavodovski - was captured in a dramatic sequence for the BBC's Planet Earth 2 series, which documented the hostile enviro...