Antarctic Science News - archive 2006
(Most recent first)
ANDRILL project breaks Antarctic drilling record
By midnight on the 26 December, 2006 ANDRILL, the ANtarctic Geological DRILLing Programme, had drilled to a record depth of 1,284.87 metres below the seafloor from the site on the Ross Ice Shelf near Scott Base in Antarctica. This milestone makes ANDRILL the most successful Antarctic drilling programme in terms of depth and rock core recovered. The previous record of 999.1 metres was set in 2000 by the Ocean Drilling Programme's drill ship, the Joides Resolution. Antarctica New Zealand, which managed the Cape Roberts Drilling Project, a highly successful predecessor to ANDRILL, is managing the on-ice drilling operations and logistics on behalf of ANDRILL partner nations Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the United States.
Antarctica New Zealand's chief executive Lou Sanson said ANDRILL was one of the organisation's flagship projects. "It is great to see such spectacular success after five years of preparation and planning." So far the drill cores tell a story of a dynamic Antarctic ice sheet advancing and retreating more than 50 times during the last five million years. ANDRILL co-chief scientist Tim Naish, from Victoria University and GNS Science, said some of the disappearances of the ice shelf were probably during past times when the planet was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than it is today: "Much like it will be in the next 50 to 100 years."
ANDRILL is a multinational collaboration comprised of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from five nations (Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) to recover stratigraphic records from the Antarctic margin using Cape Roberts Project technology. The chief objective is to drill back in time to recover a history of paleoenvironmental changes that will guide our understanding of how fast, how large, and how frequent were glacial and interglacial changes in the Antarctica region. Future scenarios of global warming require guidance and constraint from past history that will reveal potential timing frequency and site of future changes.
The scientific research is administered and coordinated through the ANDRILL Science Management Office, located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The U.S. part of the project is funded in large part by a $12.9 million National Science Foundation grant to a consortium of five universities headed by UNL and Northern Illinois and also including Florida State, Massachusetts-Amherst and Ohio State.
More information about ANDRILL can be found at www.andrill.org The ANDRILL PROGRAM: A guide for the media, the public and policy makers can be downloaded at http://www.andrill.org/uploads/MediaGuide.pdf
Bromine Explosions and Ozone Depletion in McMurdo Sound
The Antarctic ozone hole that forms between about 12 to 25 km up in the stratosphere each spring is a well known phenomenon, but rapid ozone depletion events also occur in the lowest few hundred metres of the polar atmosphere, known as the marine boundary layer. These springtime ozone depletion events, first observed in the mid 1980's, occur over periods of hours or days with ozone concentrations dropping from 25-40 parts per billion (ppb) to as low as 0.05 ppb. The main mechanism for these sudden and rapid depletion events involves autocatalytic release of bromine, referred to as 'bromine explosions', from sea-salt surfaces. Satellite images show that extensive areas of bromine-enriched air masses, associated with sea ice zones around Antarctica, form for short periods in the spring. The University of Canterbury and NIWA have carried out research for the first time in Antarctica, to obtain measurements out on the sea ice. At least two ozone depletion events were detected on the sea ice. Initial analysis indicates bromine oxide in the boundary layer during at least one of these events, and satellite images also show elevated bromine oxide columns over the Ross Sea region. The occurrence of polar tropospheric ozone depletion events is unpredictable and uncommon.
Read the whole story: Access Antarctica, December 2006 issue
Deep-diving robot probing Southern Ocean sediments
The mysteries of the Antarctic deep will be probed by a new vessel capable of plunging 6.5km (four miles) down. Isis, the UK's first deep-diving remotely operated vehicle (ROV), will be combing the sea-bed in the region in its inaugural science mission. Researchers hope to uncover more about the effects of glaciers on the ocean floor, and also find out about the animals that inhabit these waters. Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, is the principal investigator on this three-week-long inaugural research cruise. He will be using Isis to investigate in fine detail the sea-floor sediments, which will help the researchers better understand the record of past glacial activity in the Antarctic.
Read the BBC News story
Antarctic underwater sounds
For one year now, the working group 'Oceanic Acoustics' of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) has been maintaining PALAOA, the 'PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic', located near Neumayer Station. PALAOA (70°31ZS, 8°13ZW), consists of four underwater microphones, so-called hydrophones, which are recording all sounds of the Antarctic Ocean 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Scientists are hoping to gain new insights into communication of marine mammals such as seals and whales. The data will also provide information about the effect of anthropogenic sounds on the behaviour of the animals. A live audio stream of PALAOA can be found on the Internet at www.awi.de/acoustics. This project helps to meet one recommendation of the SCAR Action Group on Acoustics, namely that one of the first things that needs to be done in assessing the effects on cetateans of human induced noise is to start monitoring the Antarctic marine environment for noise. SCAR would like to see more nations carrying out this kind of research.
ANDRILL project delivers first results from the Ross Ice Shelf edge.
Sediments extracted from the Antarctic seafloor show the world's largest ice shelf has disintegrated and reappeared many times in the past. Fluctuations of the Ross Ice Shelf are revealed by an early look at 600 m of the sediment cores being drilled near the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. ANDRILL is linked to the SCAR Scientific Research Project Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE)
Innovative application of new radar technique proves invaluable in ice-shelf research
Scientists from British Antarctic Survey, led by Dr Adrian Jenkins, have developed a new application of radar technique to measure ice-shelf thickness, bottom melting rate and to investigate its internal structure. The team has recently tested this technique on Filchner-Ronne Ice-Shelf.
According to Dr Adrian Jenkins: "The new technique allows us to measure centimetre-scale changes in the 2-km thickness of the ice. We found that an average of 1 m of ice is melted from the bottom of the ice shelf every year. At this rate, all the ice lost by melting can be replenished by flow of ice from upstream, so that this part of the ice shelf is showing no signs of change. Elsewhere in Antarctica ice shelves and ice streams are thinning and now we have a tool to measure the thinning rates to unparalleled accuracy."
Almost as a by-product of the melt rate measurements, using a phase-sensitive radar technique, the team gained unprecedented insight into the response if an ice shelf to tidal forcing.
Author contact: Dr Adrian Jenkins - tel: +44 1223 221493, email: AJEN@bas.ac.uk
Read BAS Press Release
The whole article can be accessed via Journal of Glaciology (Jenkins, A., H.F.J. Corr, K.W. Nicholls, C.L. Stewart and C.S.M. Doake, 2006: Interactions between ice and ocean observed with phase-sensitive radar near Antarctic ice-shelf grounding line. J. of Glaciol., Vol. 52, No. 178, 2006, p. 325-346)
Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variablity - workshop outcomes
Beginning in 1992, global mean sea-level has been observed by both tide gauges and altimeters to be rising at a rate of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/year, compared to a rate of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm/year from tide gauges over the previous century. The extent to which this increase reflects natural variability versus anthropogenic climate change is unknown. Over 160 scientists from 29 countries addressed this issue during the Workshop on Understanding Sea-Level rise and Variability, organized by WCRP and co-sponsored also by SCAR. An extended workshop report will be published by WCRP as a hard copy in 2007, while the Summary Statement from the Workshop is available at:
One-to-one coupling of glacial climate variability in Greenland and Antarctica
An article with this title appears in the Journal Nature, Vol 444, 9 November 2006, on pages 195-198. Published by European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) Community Members, the article summarizes key results from EPICA drilling at the Kohnen site in Dronning Maud Land. The abstract tells us that precise knowledge of the phase relationship between climate changes in the two hemispheres is a key for understanding the
Earth's climate dynamics. For the last glacial period, ice core studies have revealed strong coupling of the largest millennial-scale warm events in Antarctica with the longest Dansgaard-Oeschger
events in Greenland, through the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation . It has been unclear, however, whether the shorter Dansgaard-Oeschger events have counterparts in the
shorter and less prominent Antarctic temperature variations, and whether these events are linked by the same mechanism. The authors present a glacial climate record derived from an ice core from the Kohnen station in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, which represents South Atlantic climate at a resolution comparable with the Greenland ice core records. The atmospheric methane signal is used to correlate the two cores, methaen being rapidly mixed by the atmosphere. After methane synchronization with an ice core from North Greenland, the oxygen isotope record from the Dronning Maud Land ice core shows a one-to-one coupling between all Antarctic warm events and Greenland Dansgaard-Oeschger
events confirming that there is a bipolar seesaw. The amplitude of the Antarctic warm events is found to be linearly dependent on the duration of the concurrent stadial in the North, suggesting that both the northern and the southern climatic events result from a similar reduction in the meridional overturning
circulation of the Atlantic. In other words the ocean links the climate at both poles.
Sea swell in the Gulf of Alaska influenced ice shelf break-up in Antarctica, new study reaveals
Data from seismometers deployed by MacAyeal and his team on the Ross Ice Shelf and on various icebergs adrift in the Ross Sea (including B15A, a large 100 km by 30 km fragment of B15, which calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in March, 2000) reveal that the dominant energy of these floating ice masses is associated with sea swell generated in the tropical and extra-tropical Pacific Ocean. In one example, a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska on 21 October 2005, approximately 13,500 km from the Ross Sea, generated swell that arrived at B15A immediately prior to, and during, its break-up off Cape Adare on 27 October 2005.
"If sea swell influences iceberg calving and break-up, a teleconnection exists between the Antarctic ice sheet mass balance and weather systems worldwide", authors say.
Scientific version: Douglas R. MacAyeal and others. 2006: Transoceanic wave propagation links iceberg calving margins of Antarctica with storms in tropics and Northern Hemisphere. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, L17502,
CNN News article
Record ozone loss during 2006 over South Pole
Ozone measurements made by ESA's Envisat satellite have revealed the ozone loss of 40 million tonnes on 2 October 2006 has exceeded the record ozone loss of about 39 million tonnes for 2000.
Antarctica and Climate Change
In July 2006 the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) published a "Climate Change Position Statement" examining such questions as "why should we study Antarctic climate?"; "how has Antarctic climate varied over the past 50 years?"; "how has recent change impacted on the Antarctic environment" and "what further changes can we expect over the next 100 years?"
The Journal Geophysical Research Letters has published a paper by John Fyfe (Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis) on "Southern Ocean Warming due to Human Influence" (Geophysical Research Letters, 2006, vol. 33). It shows that the Southern Ocean has warmed about twice as fast as the world ocean, that the warming cannot be explained by factors other than increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that this warming has been suppressed to a large extent by the incidence of volcanic dust and industrial aerosols in the atmosphere.
In June 2006, 163 scientists from 29 countries attended a workshop on "Understanding sea-level rise and variability". The workshop, hosted by UNESCO and co-sponsored by SCAR, concluded (Workshop Report) that since 1990 sea-level has been rising at a rate of 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm/year, compared with a rate of 1.7 +/- 0.3 mm/year over the previous 90 years. About half of the recent rise is due to the thermal expansion of ocean water; other contributions represent the effects of melting glaciers and ice sheets. It was somewhat surprising that in their analysis the participants did not assign any ultimate cause to the rise, nor to the acceleration. Instead they called for improvements to the sea-level observing systems, especially in the southern hemisphere.
The evidence for global warming is discussed for instance (i) by the UK's Royal Society, which recently issued a "Guide to facts and fictions about climate change"; and (ii) by Wally Broecker of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, who recently issued a "Business Executive's Guide to Global warming".
2005 ozone hole one of the largest
World Climate News No.29, for June 2006, reports that although the meteorological conditions of the Antarctic stratosphere during the austral spring of 2005 were close to the average of the past decade, in early September minimum temperatures inside the polar vortex were nearly the coldest recorded since 1979. During the first 2 weeks of August the area where total ozone was less than 220 Dobson Units (the "ozone hole" area) was larger than ever before at that time of year. The ozone hole reached its maximum area (27 million square km) on September 19th. This ranks as the third largest ozone hole on record. The hole declined during October, then shrank rapidly in mid November to 3 million square km. The 2005 ozone hole strengthens the tendency towards the Antarctic ozone hole reaching its peak earlier in the season and also breaking down earlier than during the 1990s. All ozone holes since 1999 (except in 2001) declined faster in the mid-October to mid-November period than did those in the 1996-1999 period. The large decrease in the ozone hole area from 2003 to 2004, and the large increase from 2004 to 2005 cannot be attributed to changes in halogen loading, but are due to changes in stratospheric meteorological conditions. The difficulty in predicting these dynamical changes increase the difficulty in forecasting the effects of declines in the inputs of ozone-depleting substances.
A tour of the cryosphere animation
NASA Earth Oberving System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) has released the animation, 'A Tour of the Cryosphere the Earth's Frozen Assets'. The eight-minute presentation takes the viewer on a tour of the cryosphere as it exists around the world. From shrinking arctic sea ice to retreating glaciers and collapsing Antarctic ice shelves, this unique global view of cryospheric research is shown with state-of-the-art Earth observing satellite data animations. The movie also highlights the scientific importance of continued collection of Earth science data and how NASA Earth observing satellites are providing scientists with unparalleled insight into how the cryosphere behaves, how it is changing, and what implications these changes have for the Earth's interrelated systems, including weather and climate. This multimedia product was sponsored by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS), Science Operations Office (SOO), and represents a collaborative effort between the NASA EOSDIS Outreach Team at GSFC, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, NASA GSFC's Cryospheric Sciences Branch, and the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS), located at NASA GSFC. The animation is available in multiple resolutions formats from the NASA SVS website (http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/search/Series/NarratedMovies.html). For more information or DVD inquiries, please contact NASA EOS Outreach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Antarctic ocean found crucial to atmosphere's health
from iNSnet) Circulation in the waters near the Antarctic coast may be one of the planet's critical means of regulating levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, according to researchers from MIT, Princeton and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more see:
Global warming risk 'much higher'
(Extract from Challenger Wave, newsletter of the Challenger Society for Marine Science, June 2006)
Global temperatures will rise further in the future than previous studies have indicated, according to new research from two scientific teams. A team of European scientists have found that climate change estimates for the next century may have substantially underestimated the potential magnitude of global warming. The scientists say that the actual warming due to human fossil fuel emissions may be 15% to 78% higher than warming estimates that do not take into account the feedback mechanism involving carbon dioxide and Earth's temperature. They both used historical records to calculate the likely amplification of warming as higher temperatures induce release of CO2 from ecosystems.
The latest evidence comes in two papers to be published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters. They challenge the consensus view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global body charged with collating and analysing climate science. It predicts that the global average temperature would rise by between 1.5ºC and 4.5ºC if human activities were to double the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. That figure, known as the climate sensitivity, results from a combination of two factors:
1. The direct impact of rising CO2 on the greenhouse effect
2. Various "feedback" mechanisms, which amplify the rate of warming, such as changes in the Earth's reflection of sunlight as ice melts. The new research adds a third component, by calculating the likely contribution of carbon dioxide released from natural ecosystems such as soil as temperatures rise. This would add to the CO2 produced through human activities, raising temperatures still further. The research is explained in a paper 'Positive feedback between global warming and atmospheric CO2 concentration inferred from past climate change' published in Geophysical Research Letters, 26 May 2006.
IPY recommendations from a data management workshop for the International Polar Year (IPY) are now available.
NSIDC and the IPY Programme Office hosted the data management workshop at the the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England, on March 3 and 4, 2006. More than forty participants from thirteen countries participated in the workshop, which followed the first meeting of the IPY Data Policy and Management Subcommittee.
Participants developed specific recommendations on engaging archives, data discovery and access methods, standards and interoperability, and ways to ensure that all IPY data are captured and readily available. Workshop participants aimed to develop an implementation plan for the IPY Data and Information Service (IPYDIS). A final workshop report, Glaciological Data Report 33, is now available at:
For additional information and follow-up details from the meeting, see the workshop Web site (http://nsidc.org/events/ipydis)
New book on Heard Island, Sentinel for Climate Change
The forthcoming Heard Island book, co-authored by the chairman of the SCAR Birds Group, Eric Woehler, should become available in June 2006. Purchasing details are on the advertisement . For those of you coming to XXIX SCAR Meeting and the Open Science Conference in Hobart, July 2006, we hope to have an official launch of the book during XXIX SCAR.
NASA Survey Confirms Climate Warming Impact on Polar Ice Sheets
In the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the massive ice sheets covering both Greenland and Antarctica, NASA scientists confirm climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in Earth's largest storehouses of ice and snow. The survey was published in the Journal of Glaciology (H. Jay Zwally and 7 others, 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992-2002. J. Glaciol. 51(175), 509-527).
Contact e-mail for Dr. H. Jay Zwally: email@example.com
New ice thickness and subglacial topography results from West Antarctica are available on-line
The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have completed a collaborative effort to survey the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica. This was the largest single aerogeophysical campaign ever undertaken in Antarctica, with two multi-instrumented geophysical aircraft operating from two field camps 500 km apart. The first outcome is the two papers, published in GRL, describing the subglacial topography results. The data will be available on the NSIDC website but before it happens you can download ice thickness and bed
topography data (along with sample figures) at: http://www.ig.utexas.edu/research/projects/agasea
The papers can be seen at GRL's site:
Visit Revamped IPAB Website
The Participants of the WCRP/SCAR International Programme for Antarctic Buoys (IPAB) work together to maintain a network of drifting buoys in the Southern Ocean, in particular over sea ice, to provide meteorological and oceanographic data for real-time operational requirements and research purposes. Visit the IPAB web site for a copy of the report of their recent meeting in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Secret rivers found in Antarctic
Antarctica's buried lakes are connected by a network of rivers moving water far beneath the surface, say UK scientists.
Read the whole sory on the BBC News
Unexpected warming in Antarctica
The work of John Turner, using SCAR data shows dramatic increases in air temperature well above the ground over Antarctica. The paper (Significant warming of the Antarctic winter troposphere) questions the reliability of climate models to predict the future.
- Read the abstract (Turner and others, 2006), the full version is available from Science (31 March 2006, vol. 311): www.sciencemag.org
International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS)
A new International Partnership in Ice Core Sciences (see: IPICS website), led by co-chairs: Eric Wolff (BAS) and Ed Brooke (OSU,U.S.), has been recently created to ensure long life of palaeoclimate research. In the wake of the IPICS meetings the future goals of ice core research have been outlined in four White Papers summarizing the scientific objectives as well as drilling and implementation plans. The programs outlined in the four IPICS White Papers and to be tackled in the coming years are:
1. The oldest ice core: A 1.5 million year record of climate and greenhouse gases from Antarctica (a time period where Earth's climate shifted from 40,000 year to 100,000 year cycles).
2. The last interglacial and beyond: A northwest Greenland deep ice core drilling project (a deep ice core in Greenland recovering an intact record of the last interglacial period) (available on the IPICS website)
3. The IPICS 40,000 year network: a bipolar record of climate forcing and response
4. The IPICS 2k Array: a network of ice core climate and climate forcing records for the last two millennia
A fifth, and critical, element of IPICS is the development of advanced ice core drilling technology.
Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments (SALE) - latest developments - March 2006
The SALE community has been busy over the last few months hosting sessions at international meetings, participating in field campaigns, planning for a major workshop in Grenoble, France in April, 2006; setting the agenda for the second SALE meeting, recruiting broader membership to the group, and responding to a variety of press stories on Russian activities at Vostok Station. There were two oral and one poster session at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting in San Francisco in December, 2005 entitled "Icy Lakes" and a SALE poster session is scheduled at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) Meeting in April, 2006. Ninety people have registered for the workshop in Grenoble, France in April, 2006 that will include 29 oral presentations, 35 posters, and discussion groups. The second SCAR SALE two-day meeting will follow the workshop and a full agenda is being developed. The Convener of SALE visited the far east and is actively soliciting nominations for SCAR SALE membership from Asian rim countries including Japan and China. A collaboration of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, funded by the German Science Foundation DFG, will investigate subglacial lake circulation, salinity changes, frazil ice and clathrate formation. Reports on the Russian activities at Vostok Station have received wide news coverage and has been reported in such disparate press as Aljezeera and the Shanghai Daily. SALE presentations and posters will also be featured at the SCAR Open Science Conference in Hobart in July, 2006 including a plenary presentation by John Priscu.
Further details on these activities can be found at the SALE Program Office (hosted by Texas A&M University)
News from the Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE) programme
The third ACE special issue was published early in 2006. It is Barrett P., Florindo F. and Cooper A. (Editors) (2006). 'Antarctic Climate Evolution - view from the margin'. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v 231, p 1-252.
The papers within the issue cover a wide range of techniques and timeframes concerning the evolution of the Antarctic continental margin, ranging from detailed sedimentary analyses of the Cape Roberts Project core to numerical modelling investigations of ice sheet growth and decay.
Use of Google Earth to map Antarctic ice activity
Google Earth data can be used to examine the daily development of the ice cover on Antarctica and in the surrounding Southern Ocean at: http://www.seaice.dk/polarview/google.s/
This tool has been already tested on board of the Norwegian research vessel "Lance" in early December 2005 en route from Cape Town in South Africa to the coast of Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica. It proved invaluable in route planning as the ice conditions were changing rapidly. Daily updates of the information on the sea ice concentration were essential to spare time and fuel on the way to the loading site in the Antarctic.
Science Citations in Antarctic Science
A recent paper (Mapping the global structure of Antarctic research vis-à-vis Antarctic Treaty System) in Current Science (vol. 89, No. 9, Nov 2005) shows which countries are involved in Antarctic science, which are the most productive, and which produce the most cited papers.
View the abstract
Successful completion of deep ice coring in the Antarctic
On January 17, 2006 an international team of scientists and technical staff under the leadership of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has successfully completed the deep ice coring at the Alfred Wegener Institute's Kohnen Station in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Reaching a depth of 2774 metres, first on-site examinations of the ice core indicate that the ice cored at the deepest 200 metres is very old.
The investigations, carried out as part of the EPICA program (European Program for Ice Coring in Antarctica), were designed to gain detailed information about historic climate. Scientists are expecting the data to enhance the understanding of global climate events significantly. A detailed analysis in home laboratories will generate climate data with a very high temporal resolution in the core's upper 2400 metres, covering the last glacial cycle. The cores retrieved from greater depths are presumably up to 900,000 years old. Such insights into the distant climate history of the Antarctic facilitate a deeper understanding of the significance of polar regions for global climate events, both in the past and at present.
Deep ice coring projects represent long-term research programs. Exploratory work for EPICA, to determine a suitable drill site in Dronning Maud Land, began in 1996. It included extensive geophysical and glaciological investigations, both from the air and on the ground, in a previously unexplored region of the Antarctic.
After establishment of the drill site, construction of Kohnen summer station commenced in 1999 at 75°S and 0° 4'E, 2900 metres above sea level. During the final construction stages of the station in 2001, establishment of the drill site had already begun. The deep coring started in 2001/2002, and the core was sunk over four coring seasons. Throughout the entire depth, ice cores of remarkable quality could be retrieved.
Field work in the Antarctic creates not only scientific challenges. The operating conditions for people and technical equipment are extreme: during the summer months of December and January, prevailing temperatures at Kohnen Station range from minus 35°C to minus 20°C, and at the beginning of the current field season in November of 2005, temperatures below minus 50°C were recorded.
The EPICA project is carried out by a consortium of research teams from ten European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland). EPICA is coordinated by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and financed through national contributions and EU funds. Currently, the lead management rests with Professor Heinrich Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute. As early as December 2004, the first deep coring of the project, at Dome Concordia Station located on the inland ice plateau of the Eastern Antarctic, was completed five metres above bedrock at a depth of 3270 metres. Hence, after analysis of the core from Kohnen Station, two data sets will be available for comparison, enabling much better interpretation of the records.
Southern Ocean climate linked to Northern Hemisphere (from Marine Scientist, 9 Jan 2006)
Climate changes in the northern and southern hemispheres are linked by a phenomenon by which the oceans react to changes on either side of the planet, according to a study conducted by a research team from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Cardiff University.
They have shown for the first time that ocean circulation in the southern hemisphere has, in the past, adapted to sudden changes in the north. The research will enable more accurate forecasts to be made on how the oceans will react to climate change, said the team.
The scientists have observed that at several periods in history when the temperature increased in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere entered a cooling period, which created a decrease in the amount of deep water transported to the Atlantic Ocean from the south. The opposite effect also took place when the climate cooled in the North Atlantic, the southern hemisphere entered a warmer period, causing water to be transported northwards.
These mechanisms linking the two hemispheres had already been observed in computer climate simulations, but this is the first time they have been confirmed with detailed data obtained from scientific experiments using weather records from the past. This is the first evidence showing that waters in the southern hemisphere play an active role in sudden climate changes
Atlas of Antarctica: Topographic Maps from Geostatistical Analysis of Satellite Radar Data
This book by Ute Christina Herzfeld has recently been published (2004) by Springer (ISBN 3-540-43457-7) 364pp, $159.00. See review in EOS, v.86, No.50, 13 Dec 2005. "Herzfeld's volume now stands as a benchmark on satellite mapping of the topography in Antarctica." A truly massive and complete work on the topic of radar satellite mapping."
DOME C ice core shows present levels of CO2 in atmosphere 'highest for 650,000 years'
Antarctic ice shows current levels of carbon dioxide are 30% higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4467420.stm
Southern Ocean likely to become more acid with global warming, affecting ecosystem
A June 2005 report from the UK's Royal Society, entitled "Ocean acidification due to increasing
atmospheric carbon dioxide", shows that the dissolution of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean causes it to become more acid. That means "that even at a modest future projection of CO2 emissions, of about 900 Gt C, direct impact of ocean acidification is very likely to cause the Southern Ocean to become undersaturated with respect to aragonite. This would lead to severe consequences for organisms that make the aragonite form of CaCO3 shells and plates." The report goes on to say "Southern Ocean food webs are of particular concern. Calcifying organisms in the Southern Ocean will be among the first to be affected from ocean acidification. Aragonite-producing pteropods are the dominant calcifiers in the Southern Ocean. These pelagic molluscs account for a significant proportion of the biological pump of the Antarctic polar front, and in the
Ross Sea...... These pelagic molluscs are an important food source for marine predators in the Antarctic food web and sometimes replace krill as the dominant zooplankton group in parts
of the Southern Ocean......In the event that pteropods were eliminated from the Southern Ocean, there would be a reduction in the biological pump to the deeper oceans of particulate inorganic and organic carbon in the region..... . Changes to ... the carbon cycle of the Southern Ocean ..... will
have large-scale ramifications for this and other interconnected ecosystems.
Ocean Warming threatens Antarctic wildlife - special report by Guardian Unlimited quoting work by Dr Mike Meredith.
- Sea ice melts and glaciers shrink at accelerating rate
- Decline in stocks of krill hits entire food chain
Scientists working in Antarctica have discovered an alarming rise in sea temperature that threatens to disrupt populations of penguins, whales, seals and a host of smaller creatures within a few decades.
The new study shows the ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by more than a degree since the 1960s - confounding computer models and experts who believed that a combination of ice, winds and currents would keep the water cool and shield fragile marine creatures from the effects of climate change. This is the first evidence that the key Southern Ocean is getting warmer: a finding with potentially severe implications for wildlife.
New Website Available: "All About Sea Ice"
National Snow and Ice Data Center
The website is available at:
UN News reports that over-fishing, tourism and ozone depletion continue to plague Antarctica - statement by Kofi Annan
12 September 2005 - Substantial increases in illegal fishing, tourism,bioprospecting, climate change and depletion of the ozone continue to pose major challenges to the Antarctic, and governments should continueto make major efforts to secure the area as a natural reserve, says United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
"Efforts should be continued to ensure that commercial activities willnot impact on the successes of the Antarctic Treaty system, in particular in securing Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted topeace and science," says Mr. Annan in a report detailing the progressof the Treaty.
In particular he notes that "illegal, unregulated and unreportedfishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean still exceeds reported
catches despite major efforts to address such activities." Other majorareas of concern are the increase in tourism over the last 10 years, and the emerging threat of bioprospecting which is on the rise.
During 2003-4, illegal, unregulated and unreported toothfish fishingwas estimated at 15,992 tons, up from 13,804 in 2000-1. The number ofcaptured seals was also up from 2001 to 3,709, even though not allcountries cooperating with the 1998 Madrid Protocol which governsprotection and management had reported their activities.
There was also a huge increase of 308 per cent in ship-borne touriststo the Antarctic Peninsula since 1993, up to 27,324 in 2004-5, from6,704 in 1992-3. An increase in high-risk, adventure tourism has alsowrought havoc on the region, creating the need for new search andrescue missions and country liability assessments.
"Global changes, in particular climate change and the depletion of theozone layer, remain major threats," the report says. Several glaciersincluding Brown Glacier on Heard Island, and Collins Glacier on KingGeorge Island have retreated by several metres over three years,providing evidence of continued glacial melting. A ripple effect hasimpacted animals in the area, with reductions in the breeding of threeseabird species correlated with increases in sea temperature and theloss of penguin nests correlating to a decline in krill due toretreating pack ice.
These developments came despite "unique" international cooperation, "inparticular in connection with the study of global changes," thepositive introduction of a Secretariat in 2004 to head the effort, andthe opening or upgrading of nine stations to monitor the state of theregion, according to the report.
Siberia warms: risk of massive methane contribution to the greenhouse
One million square miles of Siberia's frozen peat bogs are melting. This area is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet (3 degrees centigrade in 40 years). Decomposition within the bogs created methane that was trapped when the bogs were frozen. Now they are no longer frozen, the methane (a greenhouse gas 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide) can escape - perhaps up to 70 billion tons of it. Such an event could accelerate global warming and climate change.
New Book Available "Long-term Environmental Change in Arctic and Antarctic Lakes"
Volume 8 of the "Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research" Series
Editors: Reinhard Pienitz, Marianne S.V. Douglas, and John P. Smol 562 pages ISBN: 1-4020-2125-9 Price: 105,93 Euros
About the Book: Concerns about the effects of global climate change have focused attention on the vulnerability of circumpolar regions. Long-term historical data are needed to better understand the magnitude and direction of environmental change related to both natural and anthropogenic causes, as well as to assess patterns of natural variability. The paucity of instrumental data requires that proxy methods be used. The abundance of lakes throughout the Arctic and Antarctic makes paleolimnological approaches especially powerful tools to assist interpretations of environmental change.
This book provides a synthesis of the broad spectrum of techniques available for generating long-term environmental records from circumpolar lakes. It also provides overviews of the geographic extent of paleolimnological work completed thus far in these regions. It explores the diverse ways in which paleolimnology is used to address the pressing and emerging environmental issues of high-latitude regions. By providing both an introduction and in-depth reviews, this volume is of interest to students and advanced researchers alike who are studying earth, atmospheric, and environmental sciences.
- For further information and to order this book, please go to:
Online Glacier Photograph Collection
- The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is pleased to announce that their online Glacier Photograph Collection has been expanded by
approximately 2,000 images. Of the 5,000 print images in the collection, there are now 2,914 digitized images available online. You can search
and order the high-resolution TIFF images, or download the lower-resolution JPEG images.
- To access the Glacier Photograph Collection, use the following URL: http://nsidc.org/data/g00472.html
- Please contact NSIDC User Services with any questions: Phone: 303-492-6199 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://nsidc.org
Futuristic design wins competition for new Antarctic Research Station
Atlas of the Oceanography of the Southern Ocean
- The first WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment) Hydrographic Atlas has just been published by Drs. Alex Orsi and Tom Whitworth. It covers the Southern Ocean. This impressive atlas builds on the tradition of classic atlases of world oceans by other well-known oceanographers like Val Worthington and Fritz Fuglister. It sets the standard for the remaining WOCE atlases to follow.
- See: http://www.soc.soton.ac.uk/OTHERS/woceipo/ipo.html
Report of a workshop on education and research in the International Polar Year
New data show sea-level rising faster than expected due to ice melt
- Recent research by NASA and others shows that sea-level is rising faster than expected. Analyses suggest that this is because of thermal expansion of the ocean combined with faster than expected melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/sealevel_feature.html).
The Tough Life of the Emperor Penguin
- A new film by Luc Jacquet in association with the French Polar Institute IPEV explores the harsh life of the Emperor penguin. http://wip.warnerbros.com/marchofthepenguins/
25th Anniversary of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Antarctic Science Opportunity offered by National Science Foundation, United States
Climate Change: No Debate
Permafrost and Related Ground Ice Terms, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
New Schedule and Review Information -
International Polar Year 2007-2008 Proposals
Argo floats start to fill the Southern Ocean.
- The May 2005 issue of the Argo Newsletter carries maps of the global distribution of Argo vertical profiling floats in April 2004 and April 2005. They nicely show that deployments in the Southern Ocean are providing good coverage around Antarctica (Argo floats). Argo floats are deployed with a spacing of about one every 3 degrees square. They float at a depth of 2000m, rising to the surface every 10 days or so to make a vertical profile of temperature and salinity (conductivity), which they then beam up to a communications satellite. Having passed on their data they then sink to repeat the process, carrying on in this way over a 4 year period to collect hundreds of vertical profiles of the water column. These data are essential to improve weather and climate forecasting.
- For more information see www.argo.net