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Tag: Antarctic

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...
Big Antarctic iceberg edges out to sea

Big Antarctic iceberg edges out to sea

Science
The giant berg A-68 looks finally to be on the move. Recent weeks have seen it shuffle back and forth next to the Antarctic ice shelf from which it broke away. But the latest satellite imagery now indicates the near-6,000 sq km block is swinging out into the Weddell Sea. A wide stretch of clear water has opened up between the berg's southern end and the remaining Larsen shelf structure, suggesting A-68 is set to swing around and head north. This is the direction the Weddell currents should take the iceberg. Polar experts expect the trillion-tonne block to essentially bump along the shelf edge until it reaches the great eastward movement of ocean water known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This would then export what is one of the largest bergs ever recorded out into the South Atlanti...
Unknown species may thrive in Antarctic caves

Unknown species may thrive in Antarctic caves

Science
Animals and plants may be living in warm caves under Antarctica's ice, according to a study.Australian researchers said that Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Antarctica's Ross Island, is surrounded by caves hollowed out in the ice by steam.Soil samples retrieved from the caves have revealed intriguing traces of DNA from mosses, algae and small animals.The research has been published in the journal Polar Biology."It can be really warm inside the caves - up to 25C in some caves. You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable," said co-author Dr Ceridwen Fraser, from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra."There's light near the cave mouths, and light filters deeper into some caves where the overlying ice is thin."Dr Fraser said that most of the DNA resembles that...