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Tag: Antarctica

Yes, Antarctica has a fire department

Yes, Antarctica has a fire department

Science
Fire prevention in one of the coldest places on Earth might not sound like the most likely job, but every year the US Antarctic Program recruits a team of fire-fighters to head poleward."'Are there fires in Antarctica?' That's always the question I get," says Megan Branson, who spent over 24 months "on the ice" as a fire-fighter and paramedic between 2007 and 2010.And the answer?Yes. Though rarely, if the the Antarctic Fire Department can help it. In the busy summer season of October - March, there are over 1,000 residents at the US Antarctic Program's McMurdo Station, making it the largest settlement in the region. Flights landing at the base must, by law, have a fire crew on hand, but McMurdo i...
Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

Science
Antarctica is shedding ice at an accelerating rate. Satellites monitoring the state of the White Continent indicate some 200 billion tonnes a year are now being lost to the ocean as a result of melting. This is pushing up global sea levels by 0.6mm annually - a three-fold increase since 2012 when the last such assessment was undertaken. Scientists report the new numbers in the journal Nature.Governments will need to take account of the information and its accelerating trend as they plan future defences to protect low-lying coastal communities. The researchers say the losses are occurring predominantly in the West of the continent, where warm waters are getting under and melting the fronts of glaciers that terminate in the ocean. ...
Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica

Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Scientists have discovered three vast canyons in one of the last places to be explored on Earth - under the ice at the South Pole. The deep troughs run for hundreds of kilometres, cutting through tall mountains - none of which are visible at the snowy surface of the continent. Dr Kate Winter from Northumbria University, UK, and colleagues found the hidden features with radar. Her team says the canyons play a key role in controlling the flow of ice. And if Antarctica thins in a warming climate, as scientists suspect it will, then these channels could accelerate mass towards the ocean, further raising sea-levels. "These troughs channelise ice from the centre of the continent, taking it towards the coa...
Antarctica 'gives ground to the ocean'

Antarctica 'gives ground to the ocean'

Science
Scientists now have their best view yet of where Antarctica is giving up ground to the ocean as some its biggest glaciers are eaten away from below by warm water. Researchers using Europe's Cryosat radar spacecraft have traced the movement of grounding lines around the continent. These are the places where the fronts of glaciers that flow from the land into the ocean start to lift and float. The new study reveals an area of seafloor the size of Greater London that was previously in contact with ice is now free of it. The report, which covers the period from 2010 to 2016, is published in the journal Nature Geoscience. "What we're able to do now with Cryosat is put the behaviour of retreating glaciers in a much wider context," said Dr Hannes Konrad from the University of Leeds, UK. "Our meth...
'Supercolony' of Adelie penguins discovered in Antarctica

'Supercolony' of Adelie penguins discovered in Antarctica

World
A “supercolony” of Adélie penguins has been found on a remote chain of rocky islands in the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to a new study published today in the journal Scientific Reports. The small, Antarctic native had thought to be in decline for the past 40 years due to climate change. Scientists looking at satellite images in 2014 saw telltale signs of guano stains (bird poop) which hinted at a large number of penguins. An expedition was arranged with people from Stony Brook University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Louisiana State University and Oxford University to count the birds. When researchers arrived in December 2015, they found hundreds of thousands of birds thriving in the Danger Islands, a forbidding location with treacherous waters fil