Category Science

Climate change stunting moss growth

From the the January issue of Global Change Biology comes this story about the dominant plant species in Antarctica–moss. There aren’t many warm spots on the continent, but in a few coastal “oases”  beds of moss grow during the short ice free summers.  The dominant species is Ceratodon purpureus, and it is fed by melt […]

Antarctica’s mystery mountain range

What mountain range is as high and long as the European Alps, but has never been seen by human eyes? The Gamburtsev Mountains in East Antarctica were discovered in 1958 by the third Soviet Antarctic expedition, but no one has ever seen them.  They are covered with over 600 meters of snow and ice. It […]

No Marmite shortage in Antarctica

Although Sanitarium, the maker of perennial breakfast favourite Marmite, has temporarily closed its Christchurch factory, the staff wintering over at Scott Base report they have a surplus.  Two hundred and fifty jars, to be precise, and plenty of Vegemite too.  They’d like to trade it for some fresh fruits and vegetables, and maybe a little […]

Octupus genome gives a clue about ice shelf collapse

The West Antarctic Ice Shelf is the largest and most unstable of the world’s ice sheets, and some climate scientists believe it could be capable of a relatively quick collapse causing a catastrophic rise in sea levels. These Turquet’s octopuses will certainly be saying “I told you so.” Although you wouldn’t, on first analysis, see […]

Albatrosses breeding early

  One of the largest birds in the world has begun to breed earlier in the season.  In a study published in Oikos, researchers stated that the wandering albatross had begun laying its eggs an average of 2.2 days sooner than in the past 30 years.  Although climate change may be to blame, the scientists […]

First of Three Antarctic Telescopes Installed

Dome Argus, the highest point on the Antarctic Plateau, is now home to a robotic half-meter-long telescope called AST3-1, one of three planned for the Plateau Observatory or Plato-A.  The combination of three telescopes will give astronomers the ability to hunt for planets about the size of Earth around other stars , find supernovaes useful […]

Hidden damage to Antarctica’s ice shelves

This just in from NASA: Using data from ICEsat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) scientists have discovered that warm currents have been rapidly eating away at the undersides of the ice shelves around Antarctica.  A study, recently published in the journal Nature found that twenty of the fifty-four ice shelves studied had been subject […]

Where do cosmic rays come from?

News from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station: Results of a recent experiment there on the origin of cosmic rays has contradicted 15 years of predictions.  The electrically charged particles making up cosmic rays bombard the earth all the time, but scientists do not fully understand how they are created.  One […]

“Back to the Bad News” or “How Fox Makes Sh*t Up”

Today I want to tell you about the media’s reporting of a paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, by Professor Zunli Lu of Syracuse University. The study, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” finds that ikaite crystals have a useful property for studying past climactic conditions.  The crystals […]

Good News!

Normally we get only bad news about the environment so I thought I would report about a hopeful story I read in the Calgary Herald.  Using satellite mapping technology, a group of British Antarctic Survey scientists has found that there are more than twice the number of Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteriis) on the frozen continent than previously […]