Category Archives: Antarctica

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Antarctica’s ice walls are no match for The Wall in ‘Game of Thrones’

Until a fire-spewing dragon breached The Wall in Game of Thrones, the 700-foot tall ice fortification kept murderous armies of resurrected dead from entering the Seven Kingdoms. 

Unfortunately, ice walls on Earth aren’t this robust.

Glaciologist Martin Truffer of the University of Alaska Fairbanks recently revealed this reality at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Earth’s Antarctic ice walls are far more vulnerable to collapse, and as new, unsettling research suggests, scientists may have underestimated the momentous impact this could have on sea level rise this century.  Read more…

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Seas may rise by 8 feet this century inundating land that’s home to 153 million people

The amount of sea level rise that most of us will experience in our lifetimes may be more than double what was previously anticipated, unless we sharply curtail greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study that factors in emerging, unsettling research on the tenuous stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

Importantly, the study highlights that cuts we could still make to greenhouse gas emissions during the next several years would significantly reduce the possibility of a sea level rise calamity after 2050.

Published Wednesday in the open access journal Earth’s Future, the study is the first to pair recently discovered mechanisms that would lead to the sudden collapse of parts of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, such as the disintegration of floating ice shelves and mechanical failure of tall ice cliffs facing the sea. The study also goes a step further by showing how the new projections could play out city by city around the world. Read more…

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NASA took the 1st, astonishing aerial photos of the giant new Antarctic iceberg

Each Antarctic spring and summer, NASA flies special aircraft over the continent to keep tabs on how global warming is altering the landscape. The agency does the same in the Arctic each summer, for a project known as Operation IceBridge. 

Just a few days ago, a NASA P-3 Orion aircraft flew from Ushuaia, Argentina, out over the Larsen C Ice Shelf, including the new, Delaware-sized iceberg that the shelf gave birth to sometime between July 10 and July 12 of this year. The iceberg, named A-68, was one of the largest ever observed on Earth, and though it has shed some small sections since then, it remains a behemoth.  Read more…

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Scientists discover 91 volcanoes slumbering beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

In a discovery that sounds like the premise for an environmental disaster movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, researchers say they’ve identified 91 previously unknown volcanoes sitting underneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

Yes, that’s the same ice sheet that climate scientists are concerned has slid into an irreversible collapse, due to human-caused global warming.

If verified through other studies, the new results would bring the total number of volcanoes beneath this part of Antarctica to nearly 140, and raise the unsettling possibility that subglacial heat from these volcanoes could speed up the melting of the ice.   Read more…

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Mmm, this 100-year-old fruitcake found in Antarctica sure looks delicious

Fruitcake already has a reputation for lasting a questionably long time.

Conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust have discovered one that’s about 100 years old, and incredibly, appears fine to eat.

SEE ALSO: Kit Kat with a cake in it is most luxe Kit Kat you’ll ever eat

The fruitcake likely dates to the Terra Nova expedition of 1910-1913, led by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. 

Made by British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers, it was found in a hut in Cape Adare, which was one of the first buildings erected on the continent and the base for Scott’s expedition.

The fruitcake's tin.

The fruitcake’s tin.

Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust Read more…

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These polar field guides’ Antarctica winter wedding was a freezing first


A British couple went all-in with a winter wedding theme. 

SEE ALSO: One of the largest icebergs ever recorded just broke free of Antarctica

Polar field guides Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester married over the weekend in an intimate ceremony at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station. It’s the first official wedding to take place in the British Antarctic Territory.

The historic moment occurred in 15-degree weather at a specially decorated chapel at the research station.

Looks cozy.

Congratulations to Julie and Tom – who work for the Cambridge-based @BAS_News @itvanglia

— Neil Barbour (@nellybabs) July 17, 2017 Read more…

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Just how big is this new, trillion ton Antarctic iceberg, anyway?


The iceberg that broke off from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf between July 10 and July 12 is gargantuan. At about 2,200 square miles in area, and ranking as one of the largest icebergs ever observed, it’s difficult to imagine just how big it really is. 

Here are some size comparisons that may help you put it into context. 

The area of the iceberg is about equal to the state of Delaware, or four Londons, and the volume of ice contained in the iceberg is about 277 cubic miles. This means that, if melted down, the iceberg contains enough water to fill 462 million Olympic size swimming pools. 

SEE ALSO: One of the largest icebergs ever recorded just broke free of Antarctica Read more…

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One of the largest icebergs ever recorded just broke free of Antarctica


One of the largest icebergs ever recorded — measuring about the size of Delaware and containing a volume of ice twice the size of Lake Erie — has broken free from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in northwest Antarctica, according to scientists monitoring the region. 

The iceberg weighs about a trillion tons, according to a team of researchers affiliated with a U.K.-based research project, known as Project MIDAS. While the iceberg calving event itself is likely mostly natural, it nevertheless threatens to speed up the already quickening pace of ice melt in the region due in large part to global warming.  Read more…

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Impending Antarctic iceberg is the size of Delaware, and extends 700 feet below the surface


Any way you look at it, we’re about to witness the birth of one massive iceberg.

Researchers with the European Space Agency (ESA) have taken more detailed measurements of the massive iceberg set to cleave off the Larsen C Ice Shelf at any minute. 

According to data from instruments aboard the CryoSat and Sentinel-1 satellites, the iceberg will be one of the largest on record since at least the early 1990s, when satellite-based monitoring began in this region. 

SEE ALSO: Antarctic ice shelf crack is moving at record speeds, poised to cleave off massive iceberg any minute

The iceberg is expected to be about 6,600 square kilometers, or about 2,500 square miles, in area. Using a radar altimeter aboard the Cryosat satellite, scientists have measured the height of the ice surface, which they used to calculate the thickness of the ice and its volume. Read more…

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Which species will win or lose as Antarctica’s ice melts?


Scientists are closely watching Antarctica’s ice sheets as human-driven global warming melts the continent. But few studies have focused on what’s happening to ice-free areas — the places that penguins, seals, plants, and microbes call home.

Australian researchers this week took a closer look at the rocky outcrops, cliff faces, and mountaintops sprinkled throughout Antarctica. They found these isolated habitats will experience significant changes as ice shelves and glaciers melt due to warming air and water temperatures.

SEE ALSO: Plastic pollution in the ocean is officially everywhere, even Antarctica Read more…

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