Posts Tagged "antarctica"

Photo Friday: Inside Glacier Caves

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Tourism | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Inside Glacier Caves

Spread the News:ShareCaves can form within glaciers as a result of water running through or under a glacier. They are often called ice caves, but the term more accurately describes caves in bedrock that contain ice throughout the year. Water usually forms on the glacier’s surface through melting, before flowing down a moulin (vertical to nearly vertical shafts within glaciers or ice sheets) to the base of the glacier. Glacier caves can also form as a result of geothermal heat from hotsprings or volcanic vents beneath glaciers, such as the Kverkfjöll glacier cave in Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, or where glaciers meet a body of water, with wave action. Glacier caves can collapse or disappear because of glacier retreat. For example, the Paradise Ice Caves on Mount Rainier in Washington had 8.23 miles of passages in 1978. However, it collapsed in the 1990s, and the section of the glacier that contained the caves retreated between 2004 and 2006. Prior to collapse, caves can be used to access the interior of glaciers for research purposes, with the study of glacier caves sometimes known as glaciospeleology. Others also serve as popular tourist attractions due to their beauty.           Sandy Glacier Caves, Mount Hood, Oregon, CA – Photograph via Josh Hydeman pic.twitter.com/hWEPMllbqS — Life on Earth (@planetepics) January 31, 2016 Read about a time when Putin visited a glacier cave here. Spread the...

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Roundup: Kyrgyz-Style Wakeboarding and Antarctica

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Kyrgyz-Style Wakeboarding and Antarctica

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Kyrgyz Wakeboarding and Antarctica Extreme Sports, Kyrgyz-Style From RadioFreeEurope: “Almaz Smailkulov, a Kyrgyz athlete, has taken wakeboarding to a new level, creating his own version of the sport.” You can view the video here.   East Antarctica’s Totten Ice Shelf is Warming From Nature: “On a glorious January morning in 2015, the Australian icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis was losing a battle off the coast of East Antarctica. For days, the ship had been trying to push through heavy sea ice… Then the weather came to the rescue, with a wind change that blew the ice away from the shore, opening a path through the pack… Rintoul and his team were the first scientists to reach the Totten Ice Shelf — a vast floating ice ledge that fronts the largest glacier in East Antarctica… The team had to work fast before the ice closed again and blocked any escape. For more than 12 hours, Rintoul and his colleagues carried on non-stop, probing the temperature and salinity of the water, the speed and direction of ocean currents as well as the shape and depth of the ocean floor… These first direct observations confirmed a fear that researchers had long harboured… East Antarctica is well below sea level, which makes it more vulnerable to the warming ocean than previously thought.” Read more about the findings here.   Benthic Colonization in the Antarctic Peninsula From Ecography: “The Antarctic Peninsula is among the places on Earth that registered major warming in the last 60 years… The loss of sea-bed ice coverage, on the one hand has been affecting benthic assemblages, but on the other it is opening up new areas for benthic colonization. Potter Cove (South Shetland Islands) offered the opportunity of assessing both processes. We recently reported a sudden shift of benthic assemblages related to increased sedimentation rates caused by glacier retreat. This glacier retreat also uncovered a new island that presents a natural experiment to study Antarctic benthic colonization and succession… Under the current scenario of climate change, these results acquire high relevance as they suggest a two-fold effect of the Antarctic Peninsula warming: the environmental shifts that threaten coastal ecosystems, and also the opening up of new areas for colonization that may occur at a previously unimagined speed. Learn more about benthic conolization here. Spread the...

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Roundup: Putin’s Arctic Visit, Glacier Tours, and Pollutants

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Putin’s Arctic Visit, Glacier Tours, and Pollutants

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Putin, Glacier Tours and Pollutants Vladimir Putin Visits Arctic Glacier From The Telegraph: “President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday visited an Arctic archipelago, part of Russia’s efforts to reaffirm its foothold in the oil-rich region. On a tour of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a sprawling collection of islands where the Russian military has recently built a new runway and worked to open a permanent base, Mr Putin emphasized the need to protect Russia’s economic and security interests in the Arctic… During the visit, Putin inspected a cavity in a glacier that scientists use to study permafrost. He also spoke with environmental experts who have worked to clean the area of Soviet-era debris.” Read more about Putin’s glacier tour here.   Fees Charged to Visit Alaskan Glacier From adn.com: “Matanuska Glacier is the most user-friendly glacier in Alaska — one of few major ice sheets in the world that visitors can drive to and explore on foot. The glacier sits along a scenic stretch of the Glenn Highway about two hours from Anchorage, a frozen river sprawling almost 30 miles from the 13,000-foot heights of the Chugach Mountains to a toe hundreds of feet deep and miles wide that offers unique glimpses of usually buried formations. The only road-accessible route to the ice is through property owned by Matanuska Glacier Park LLC… Before November, a tour was just one option for glacier-goers who wanted to spend several hours with a guide on a trail that loops past frozen caves, tunnels and canyons and avoids hidden crevasses, water-filled pits or holes that can descend hundreds of feet into the ice. But that month, Matanuska Glacier Park began requiring any first-time winter visitor without glacier travel experience to pay for a tour — like it or not.” Learn more about the new fees here.   Downward Trend of Organic Pollutants in Antarctica From Chemosphere: “Passive air samplers were used to evaluate long-term trends and spatial distribution of trace organic compounds in Antarctica. Duplicate PUF disk samplers were deployed at six automatic weather stations in the coastal area of the Ross sea (East Antarctica), between December 2010 and January 2011, during the XXVI Italian Scientific Research Expedition… In general, the very low concentrations reflected the pristine state of the East Antarctica air. Backward trajectories indicated the prevalence of air masses coming from the Antarctic continent. Local contamination and volatilization from ice were suggested as potential sources for the presence of persistent organic pollutants in the atmosphere.” Read more about organic pollutants here.   Spread the...

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Glacier Retreat Exposes New Breeding Ground for Kelp Gulls in Antarctica

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Glacier Retreat Exposes New Breeding Ground for Kelp Gulls in Antarctica

Spread the News:ShareGlacier retreat caused by anthropogenic climate change is often in the news because of its impacts on sea level rise and shrinking habitats. However, a recent study published by Lee et al. in the Journal of Ethology has found that glacier retreat on King George Island could have a positive impact on kelp gulls, exposing new ground with suitable breeding sites. The kelp gull, Larus dominicanus, breeds on coasts and islands throughout the Southern Hemisphere, as detailed on the IUCN Red List. It has a large range, from subantarctic islands and the Antarctic peninsula to coastal areas of Australia, Africa and South America. Breeding occurs between September and January, with nests usually built on bare soil, rocks or mud in well-vegetated sites. King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland islands, is part of the kelp gull’s range. It can be found off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula and is a nesting ground for seabird species during the summer months. Numerous research stations are located on the island, and its coasts are home to a variety of wildlife, such as elephant and leopard seals, and Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Research has shown that breeding nests of kelp gulls have been recorded in ice-free areas of King George Island since the 1970s. Studies of Gentoo penguin populations  also suggest that rapid glacier retreat could give species that favor ice-free environments a chance to expand their habitats. As such, Lee et al. used a combination of satellite photographs and field observations of kelp gull nests in newly exposed locations to study possible correlations between glacier retreat and nest distribution in the Barton Peninsula on King George Island. Based on eight different satellite images, Lee et al. determined that glaciers on the Barton Peninsula have retreated 200-300m from the coast since 1989, exposing an area of approximately 96,000 square kilometers. Within this area, they found up to 34 kelp gull breeding nests between 2012 and 2016, along with evidence that kelp gulls have been breeding on newly exposed ground for decades. As the glaciers on the Barton peninsula retreat inland, moraine surfaces made up of glacial soil and rock debris are left on the coast. Rocks within these moraines provide shelter from harsh Antarctic coastal winds, reducing the stress to the gulls arising from these winds. This makes the exposed areas more attractive for breeding. Previous studies have suggested that kelp gulls select nest sites in favorable locations with rock and vegetation cover, and kelp gull populations are known to nest in neighboring areas like Potter Peninsula and Admiralty Bay. In this study, kelp gull nests were found between 40-50cm away from the rocks, suggesting that a combination of rocks and vegetation present on the moraines help to create favorable nesting conditions. These gulls probably originated from neighboring kelp gull populations, such as those on King George Island or the Nelson Islands. Continued retreat of glaciers on King George Island could expose larger areas of suitable breeding ground, attracting more gulls from neighboring islands and increasing kelp gull populations. Anthropogenic climate change and glacier retreat have many adverse effects, but research like this sheds light on the ways in which some species might benefit in unexpected ways. Spread the...

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Roundup: Penguins, Antarctica, and Geological Games

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Penguins, Antarctica, and Geological Games

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Penguins, Antartica, and Geology Board Games Looking for New Emperor Penguin Colonies From ScienceDirect: “Knowledge about the abundance and distribution of the emperor penguin is far from complete despite recent information from satellites. When exploring the locations where emperor penguins breed, it is apparent that their distribution is circumpolar, but with a few gaps between known colonies. The purpose of this paper is therefore to identify those remaining areas where emperor penguins might possibly breed. Using the locations of emperor penguin breeding colonies, we calculated the separation distance between each pair of geographically adjacent colonies. Based on mean separation distances between colonies following a circumpolar distribution, and known foraging ranges, we suggest that there may yet be six undiscovered breeding locations with half of these in Eastern and the remainder in Western Antarctica.” Read more about it here.   Patterns of Plant Succession in Antarctica From Infona: “Maritime Antarctica is severely affected by climate change and accelerating glacier retreat forming temporal gradients of soil development. Successional patterns of soil development and plant succession in the region are largely unknown, as are the feedback mechanisms between both processes. Here we identify three temporal gradients representing horizontal and vertical glacier retreat, as well as formation of raised beaches due to isostatic uplift, and describe soil formation and plant succession along them.” Learn more about it here.   19th Century Geology Board Game From Geology Today: “Wonders of Nature in each Quarter of the World was an early nineteenth century educational board game designed to teach children about some of the natural wonders of the world, such as volcanoes. The game was produced at a time of advances in geological thinking and geographical expeditions and this study places such changes and events within the context of the pastime, and presents an interesting window on the way geology was perceived almost two centuries ago.” Learn more here. Spread the...

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