By combining satellite tracking data from a range of Antarctic species (Adélie and emperor penguins, light-mantled albatross, Antarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals and Weddell seals) Australian and French scientists have been able to find overlapping areas of importance for these species in Antarctica.
Check out the amazing animated map on the link below and you can see, in particular, how elephant seals and fur seals swim all the way from their breeding grounds on the Sub-Antarctic islands to feed in the rich waters off the coast of Antarctica with the more local species.
Pine Island Glacier is one of the most studied glaciers in Antarctica. It is retreating rapidly and the link above shows the progress of a major iceberg that broke off it a few years ago.
Recent research from the UK reports on short term climate variability. The press release from the British Antarctic Survey is below:
A 308-year record of climate variability in West Antarctica
The Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica have warmed dramatically in recent decades, with some records suggesting that these are among the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. However, the lack of long-term instrumental records from this data-sparse region is hindering our ability to place these recent changes in a longer-term context. In this paper we present a new ice-core record from Ellsworth Land, which provides a valuable 308-year record (1702-2009) of climate variability from coastal West Antarctica. The new ice core was drilled on the ice divide between Pine Island Glacier and Ferrigno Glacier, two of the fastest flowing outlet glaciers in West Antarctica. The study analysed stable water isotopes in the ice core, which provide a record of past temperatures, to show that climate variability in this region is strongly driven by sea-surface temperatures and atmospheric pressure in the tropical Pacific.
The record shows that this region has warmed since the late 1950s, at a similar magnitude to that observed in the Antarctic Peninsula and central West Antarctica, however, this warming trend is not unique. More dramatic isotopic warming (and cooling) trends occurred in the mid-19th and 18th centuries, suggesting that at present the effect of anthropogenic climate drivers at this location has not exceeded the natural range of climate variability in the context of the past ~300 years.
“Two research teams report that the Thwaites Glacier, a keystone holding the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet together, is starting to collapse. In the long run, they predict that the entire ice sheet is doomed, which would release enough meltwater to raise sea levels by 3 – 4 meters.”
On the post pages I will feature Antarctic updates, hot science and news about building the Pure Antarctic event.
For my first post I thought I would write about why I am drawn to Antarctica .
What I love about working in Antarctica
I like living and working in an environment where nature rules. The greatest challenge is always to do the very best science you can in such a difficult place, where instruments freeze up, blow away or a stolen by penguins, your fingers are always cold, your boots are always wet and your nose is always dripping.
As an applied ecologist, the end goal is always ‘How does new knowledge translate into something useful?‘, such as better understanding of how the planet functions or the delivery of practical, improved ways of doing things that reduce our impact on rare Antarctic ecosystems.
I feel very privileged that my career has allowed access to a great wilderness and I know that with 7 billion people on the planet only a fraction of the world’s population will ever have the chances that I have had. By creating the closest thing to real that modern technology can deliver, I hope that Pure Antarctic will help protect the fragile ecosystems on and around this continent that I love.