- Somewhat better than the huge ants in "Them," but perhaps not as good as
the CGI in Antman. Now a
exhibit in Sussex, England.
The artwork is based on an Australian Bulldog
Storm, the rugged ocean
adventurer is also an amateur Paleo
Anthropologist, near obsessed with his DNA
collection called 'The
Ark,' that is safely embedded in his trusty ship, the Elizabeth
Swann, protected by the ever
been injected with a super CRISPR
became DNA enhanced like the Panamanian
Running Man. Allied to his new strength, the CyberCore
Genetica™, and a brain implant named BioCore™, the combination turns him
into the most digitally connected person in history. A walking library
of information, with AI processing capability.
all good intentions during UN conferences and the like, global world leaders
had failed to address climate change
in sufficient time to prevent the oceans from boiling. As a result, the
ice caps at the North and South Poles melt, revealing Antarctica as
never seen by man, in a semi-prehistoric state.
startling discovery in the ice, sharp jaws protruding from a block of
JULY 26 2023 - INEWS UK
From around the start of the 21st century, the total extent of sea ice in the Arctic has been on the decline, by just under 13 per cent per decade. The thickness of the Northern Hemisphere’s ice, too, is substantially lower, with its maximum being 2.3 metres in the 1990s and only 1.6 metres in the 2010s. The loss of ice at the Arctic is one of the most obvious signs that the earth’s climate is getting warmer.
Flip over to the other side of the globe, though, and things looked to be very different: there’s less data on the thickness of the ice in the Antarctic over time, but what we had until recently didn’t suggest any declines. And over decades, the maximum and minimum extent of the Antarctic sea ice had stayed about the same, maybe even growing in the years up to about 2014.
This has been a bit of a scientific mystery. Why has the Arctic shown the expected effects of global warming, with less ice year-on-year due to the rising ocean temperatures, whereas the Antarctic hasn’t?
A major reason is the surroundings that the continents find themselves in. The Arctic is surrounded by other landmasses; the Antarctic is in the middle of a huge ocean. This creates differences in the winds that surround the two continents, as well as in the extent to which ice can extend outwards beyond the land. Scientists think these and other factors make the Antarctic ice extent much more variable, and made it harder to see any effect of the warming climate.
Until now. 2023 is a wildly different year for the Antarctic than any other in many decades, as you can see on the graph (various versions of which have gone viral on Twitter in recent days). Not only did the Antarctic ice extent start lower than in almost any year on record, but the ice has been dramatically slower than usual to increase in its extent.
Some scientists worry that it simply might not make it back anywhere near the normal range this year.
Could this be the strongest signal yet of global warming’s effects in the Antarctic? Are we seeing effects that are so strong they drown out all the other variability that, until now, obscured the impact of the changing climate?
There’s some direct evidence of this – even though our data on the Antarctic is much worse than for the opposite end of the globe (the extreme conditions make it much more difficult for scientists to visit to collect data), some researchers have noticed that the parts of the continent with lower ice extent tend also to be those with higher air temperatures.
But since there are also many other factors that could be affecting ice in the Southern Hemisphere — the aforementioned winds, and peculiarities of atmospheric pressure — and since the Antarctic does remain somewhat mysterious, it’s difficult to know whether the surprising deviation from the expected ice levels is purely a matter of climate change, or a freakish one-off that won’t happen again next year.
Regardless of the cause, though, the unexpected loss of ice is bad news. Bad news for penguins, who’ll lose large chunks of their habitat, but also bad news for other ecosystems in less intuitive ways: the shape of the ice in the Antarctic affects various ocean currents, and if they change, marine animals in several regions will no longer get the nutrients they need to survive.
It’s also bad news in terms of climate change. More ice means that more heat from the sun is reflected away; if there’s more ocean, that heat gets absorbed. That’s the kind of feedback system that can make climate change, once it gets going, even worse.
So, after many years of it being an exception, the Antarctic ice might just have fallen in line with other regions of the world and started to show signals of
change. The case for cutting carbon emissions, attempting to stave off these truly global effects, just got even stronger.
BBC 13 MARCH 2023 - EAST ANTARCTICA THE SLEEPING GIANT
New research is revealing chinks in East Antarctica's icy armour. Some glaciers in what one explorer called the "home of the blizzard" are melting and might be at risk of sudden collapse. Even small changes to the East Antarctic ice sheet, which contains four-fifths of the world's ice, could have a colossal impact. It holds an estimated 52m (170ft) of potential sea level rise, as compared with 3-4m (10-13ft) in the West Antarctic sheet. Experts fear it could start raising sea levels already this century.
Usually, glaciers move at a glacial pace. The speedy collapse of the Conger's ice shelf came after some of the most dramatically warm weather ever observed in Antarctica. For the first time since satellite monitoring began in 1979, the sea ice extent around Antarctica dropped below 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). Less sea ice means more waves battering the ice shelves in front of the glaciers. Massive fields of sea ice off of Adelie Land, Wilkes Land and Princess Elizabeth Land in East Antarctica completely disappeared.
The lack of ice startled scientists. Unlike in the Arctic, Antarctic sea ice had been slightly increasing over the period that satellites had been able to monitor it, and some suggested that circumpolar winds and ocean currents were isolating it from global warming. A study later blamed the 2022 sea ice low on ocean heating, as well as intense winds driven by La Niña and other weather patterns.
Then in March, when the brief austral summer had already waned, a heat wave brought mind-boggling temperatures to East Antarctica. An extreme atmospheric river of water vapour stabbed into the heart of the continent, followed by a high-pressure "heat dome" that kept this warmth from dispersing. In the middle of the ice sheet, Russia's Vostok station, which once recorded the lowest temperature ever seen on Earth (-89.2C/-128.6F) in midwinter, enjoyed a comparatively balmy autumnal -17.7C (-0.1F).
At Dome C, the easterly apex of the sloping ice sheet, European researchers from the Concordia base staged a photo in swimwear under blow-up palm trees. The -10.1C (13.8F) temperature on March 18 was 38.5C (69.3F) higher than average, the biggest rise above normal observed by any weather station in history. Antarctica experts described the heat wave as "impossible", even "inconceivable".
While the heat may have contributed to the Conger ice shelf's collapse, Lieser thinks significant swell from two nearby storms probably struck the fatal blow. But concern that Antarctica may be entering an uncertain new era has only grown. This year, sea ice around the continent fell to a new record low. On 13 February 2023, the sea ice shrank to just 1.91 million square km (737,000 sq miles). "Will it turn around? Have we crossed a tipping point?
Most worrying is the shape of the land underneath the Denman glacier. A more detailed map of Antarctic bedrock in 2019 discovered that it flows over a canyon that drops 3.5km (2.1 miles) below sea level, the deepest point on continental Earth. Furthermore, this canyon reaches all the way to the coast, and unlike Totten, Denman has already begun retreating into it. As the glacier withdraws backward down the slope, more and more of its ice will be exposed to seawater. That could accelerate into a rapid and irreversible retreat, researchers fear.
If all of Denman melted, it would raise global sea levels 1.5m (4.9ft). That would leave low-lying countries like Bangladesh mostly underwater and displace hundreds of millions of people. How soon could it happen? It's hard to say without knowing, for instance, how much of the warm water flowing under the ice tongue is making it all the way to the grounding line.Most of the uncertainty about how much and how fast future sea levels will rise comes from how the East Antarctic ice sheet is going to behave under a warming climate.
HISTORY OF EXPLORATION - ANTARCTIC EXPLORATIONS
Belief in the existence of a Terra Australis – a vast continent in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe, Asia and North Africa – has existed since the times of Ptolemy (1st century AD), who suggested the idea to preserve the symmetry of all known landmasses in the world. Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size.
European maps continued to show this hypothetical land until Captain James Cook's ships, HMS Resolution and Adventure, crossed the Antarctic Circle on 17 January 1773, in December 1773 and again in January 1774. Cook came within about 75 miles (121 km) of the Antarctic coast before retreating in the face of field ice in January 1773. The first confirmed sighting of Antarctica can be narrowed down to the crews of ships captained by three individuals. According to various organizations (the National Science Foundation, NASA, the University of California, San Diego, and other sources), ships captained by three men sighted Antarctica in 1820: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (an Estonian-born captain in the Imperial Russian Navy), Edward Bransfield (an Irish-born captain in the Royal Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer (an American sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut). Von Bellingshausen saw Antarctica on 27 January 1820, three days before Bransfield sighted land, and ten months before Palmer did so in November 1820. On that day the expedition led by Von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on ships Vostok and Mirny reached a point within 32 km (20 mi) of the Antarctic mainland and saw ice fields there. The first documented landing on mainland Antarctica was by the American sealer John Davis in West Antarctica on 7 February 1821, although some historians dispute this claim.
On 22 January 1840, two days after the discovery of the coast west of the Balleny Islands, some members of the crew of the 1837-40 expedition of Jules Dumont d'Urville disembarked on the highest islet of a group of rocky islands about 4 km from Cape Geodesie on the coast of Adélie land where they took some mineral, algae and animal samples.
In December 1839, as part of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–42 conducted by the United States Navy (sometimes called the "Ex. Ex.", or "the Wilkes Expedition"), an expedition sailed from Sydney, Australia, into the Antarctic Ocean, as it was then known, and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny Islands" on 25 January 1840. That part of Antarctica was later named "Wilkes Land", a name it maintains to this day.
Explorer James Clark Ross passed through what is now known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island (both of which were named for him) in 1841. He sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf. Mount Erebus and Mount Terror are named after two ships from his expedition: HMS Erebus and Terror. Mercator Cooper landed in East Antarctica on 26 January 1853.
During the Nimrod Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in 1907, parties led by Edgeworth David became the first to climb Mount Erebus and to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Douglas Mawson, who assumed the leadership of the Magnetic Pole party on their perilous return, went on to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931. In addition, Shackleton himself and three other members of his expedition made several firsts in December 1908 – February 1909: they were the first humans to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to traverse the Transantarctic Mountain Range (via the Beardmore Glacier), and the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. An expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen from the ship Fram became the first to reach the geographic South Pole on 14 December 1911, using a route from the Bay of Whales and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier. One month later, the doomed Scott Expedition reached the pole.
Richard E. Byrd led several voyages to the Antarctic by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with implementing mechanized land transport on the continent and conducting extensive geological and biological research. However, it was not until 31 October 1956 that anyone set foot on the South Pole again; on that day a U.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an aircraft there.
The first person to sail single-handed to Antarctica was the New Zealander David Henry Lewis, in a 10-meter steel sloop Ice Bird.
CLIMATE OF ANTARCTICA
Antarctica is the coldest of Earth's continents. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983. For comparison, this is 11 °C (20 °F) colder than subliming dry ice. Antarctica is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year, on average.
Temperatures reach a minimum of between −80 °C (−112 °F) and −90 °C (−130 °F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it.
THE SNOW SURFACE AT DOME C STATION IS TYPICAL OF MOST OF CONTINENT'S SURFACE
East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the center cold and dry. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended time periods. Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon on the coastal portion of the continent, where snowfalls of up to 1.22 metres (48 in) in 48 hours have been recorded.
At the edge of the continent, strong katabatic winds off the polar plateau often blow at storm force. In the interior, however, wind speeds are typically moderate. During summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface during clear days at the South Pole than at the equator because of the 24 hours of sunlight each day at the Pole.
Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons. First, much of the continent is more than 3 kilometres (2 mi) above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation. Second, the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean's relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica. Given the latitude, long periods of constant darkness or constant sunlight create climates unfamiliar to human beings in much of the rest of the world.
The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by the Earth. Another unique spectacle is diamond dust, a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so people sometimes also refer to it as clear-sky precipitation. A sun dog, a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon, is a bright "spot" beside the true sun.
POPULATION - DEMOGRAPHICS OF RESEARCH STATION IN ANTARCTICA
A number of governments maintain permanent manned research stations throughout the continent. The number of people conducting and supporting scientific research and other work on the continent and its nearby islands varies from about 1,000 in winter to about 5,000 in the summer. Many of the stations are staffed year-round, the winter-over personnel typically arriving from their home countries for a one-year assignment. An Orthodox church, Trinity Church, opened in 2004 at the Russian Bellingshausen Station is also manned year-round by one or two priests, who are similarly rotated every year.
The first semi-permanent inhabitants of regions near Antarctica (areas situated south of the Antarctic Convergence) were British and American sealers who used to spend a year or more on South Georgia, from 1786 onward. During the whaling era, which lasted until 1966, the population of that island varied from over 1,000 in the summer (over 2,000 in some years) to some 200 in the winter. Most of the whalers were Norwegian, with an increasing proportion of Britons. The settlements included Grytviken, Leith Harbour, King Edward Point, Stromness, Husvik, Prince Olav Harbour, Ocean Harbour and Godthul. Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often lived together with their families. Among them was the founder of Grytviken, Captain Carl Anton Larsen, a prominent Norwegian whaler and explorer who, along with his family, adopted British citizenship in 1910.
The first child born in the southern polar region was Norwegian girl Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen, born in Grytviken on 8 October 1913, and her birth was registered by the resident British Magistrate of South Georgia. She was a daughter of Fridthjof Jacobsen, the assistant manager of the whaling station, and of Klara Olette Jacobsen. Jacobsen arrived on the island in 1904 and became the manager of Grytviken, serving from 1914 to 1921; two of his children were born on the island.
Emilio Marcos Palma was the first person born south of the 60th parallel south (the continental limit according to the Antarctic Treaty), as well as the first one born on the Antarctic mainland, in 1978 at Base Esperanza, on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula; his parents were sent there along with seven other families by the Argentine government to determine if family life was suitable on the continent. In 1984, Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the Frei Montalva Station, becoming the first Chilean born in Antarctica. Several bases are now home to families with children attending schools at the station. As of 2009, eleven children were born in Antarctica (south of the 60th parallel south): eight at the Argentinean Esperanza Base and three at the Chilean Frei Montalva Station.
BIODIVERSITY- ECOZONE & ANTARCTIC MICROORGANISMS
EMPEROR PENGUINS IN THE ROSS SEA
Few terrestrial vertebrates live in Antarctica. Invertebrate life includes microscopic mites like the Alaskozetes antarcticus, lice, nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers, krill and springtails. The flightless midge Belgica antarctica, up to 6 millimetres (0.2 in) in size, is the largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica. The Snow Petrel is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica.
A variety of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the
phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. The Emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adélie Penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin. The Rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, Chinstrap penguins, and Gentoo Penguins also breed in the Antarctic.
The Antarctic fur seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries for its pelt by sealers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The Weddell Seal, a "true seal", is named after Sir James Weddell, commander of British sealing expeditions in the Weddell Sea. Antarctic krill, which congregates in large schools, is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and is an important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals, fur seals, squid, icefish, penguins, albatrosses and many other birds.
A census of sea life carried out during the International Polar Year and which involved some 500 researchers was released in 2010. The research is part of the global Census of Marine Life (CoML) and has disclosed some remarkable findings. More than 235 marine organisms live in both polar regions, having bridged the gap of 12,000 km (7,456 mi). Large animals such as some cetaceans and birds make the round trip annually. More surprising are small forms of life such as mudworms, sea cucumbers and free-swimming snails found in both polar oceans. Various factors may aid in their distribution – fairly uniform temperatures of the deep ocean at the poles and the equator which differ by no more than 5 °C, and the major current systems or marine conveyor belt which transport egg and larvae stages.
ABOUT 400 SPECIES OF LICHEN-FORMING FUNGI ARE KNOWN TO EXISTS IN ANATARCTICA
The climate of Antarctica does not allow extensive vegetation. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. As a result, the diversity of plant life is very small and limited in distribution. Excluding organisms which are not plants (algae and fungi, including lichen-forming species), the flora of the continent largely consists of bryophytes (there are about 100 species of mosses and 25 species of liverworts), with only two species of flowering plants, both found in the Antarctic Peninsula: Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hair grass) and Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort). Growth generally occurs in the summer, and only for a few weeks at most.
About 1150 species of fungi have been recorded from Antarctica, of which about 750 are non-lichen-forming and 400 are lichen-forming. Some of these species are cryptoendoliths as a result of evolution under extreme conditions. Seven hundred species of algae exist, most of which are phytoplankton. Multicolored snow algae and diatoms are especially abundant in the coastal regions during the summer. Recently ancient ecosystems consisting of several types of bacteria have been found living trapped deep beneath glaciers. The autotrophic community is made up of mostly protists.
The dumping of waste (even old vehicles), such as here at the Russian Bellingshausen Station in 1992, is prohibited since the entry into force of the Protocol on Environmental Protection in 1998.
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (also known as the Environmental Protocol or Madrid Protocol) came into force in 1998, and is the main instrument concerned with conservation and management of biodiversity in Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting is advised on environmental and conservation issues in Antarctica by the Committee for Environmental Protection. A major concern within this committee is the risk to Antarctica from unintentional introduction of non-native species from outside the region.
The passing of the Antarctic Conservation Act (1978) in the U.S. brought several restrictions to U.S. activity on Antarctica. The introduction of alien plants or animals can bring a criminal penalty, as can the extraction of any indigenous species. The overfishing of krill, which plays a large role in the Antarctic ecosystem, led officials to enact regulations on fishing. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a treaty that came into force in 1980, requires that regulations managing all Southern Ocean fisheries consider potential effects on the entire Antarctic ecosystem. Despite these new acts, unregulated and illegal fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish (marketed as Chilean Sea Bass in the U.S.), remains a serious problem. The illegal fishing of toothfish has been increasing, with estimates of 32,000 tonnes (35,300 short tons) in 2000.
POLITICS - EMBLEM OF THE ANTARCTIC TREATY SINCE 2002
Antarctica has no government, although various countries claim sovereignty in certain regions. While a few of these countries have mutually recognised each other's claims, the validity of these claims is generally not recognised universally.
New claims on Antarctica have been suspended since 1959 and the continent is considered politically neutral. Its status is regulated by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements, collectively called the
System. Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60° S for the purposes of the Treaty System. The treaty was signed by twelve countries including the Soviet Union (and later Russia), the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and the United States. It set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and environmental protection, and banned military activity on the continent. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.
In 1983, the Antarctic Treaty Parties began negotiations on a convention to regulate mining in Antarctica. A coalition of international organisations launched a public pressure campaign to prevent any minerals development in the region, led largely by Greenpeace International which established its own scientific station–World Park Base–in the Ross Sea region and conducted annual expeditions to document environmental effects of humans on the continent. In 1988, the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resources (CRAMRA) was adopted. The following year, however, Australia and France announced that they would not ratify the convention, rendering it dead for all intents and purposes. They proposed instead that a comprehensive regime to protect the Antarctic environment be negotiated in its place. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the ‘Madrid Protocol’) was negotiated as other countries followed suit and on 14 January 1998 it entered into force. The Madrid Protocol bans all mining in Antarctica, designating the continent as a ‘natural reserve devoted to peace and science’.
HMS ENDURANCE: ROYAL NAVY'S ANTARCTIC PATROL SHIP
The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any military activity in Antarctica, including the establishment of military bases and fortifications, military manoeuvers, and weapons testing. Military personnel or equipment are permitted only for scientific research or other peaceful purposes. The only documented military land manoeuvre was Operation NINETY by the Argentine military.
The United States military issues the Antarctica Service Medal to military members or civilians who perform research duty in Antarctica. The medal includes a "wintered over" bar issued to those who remain on the continent for 2 six-month seasons.
ECONOMY OF ANTARCTICA
The illegal capture and sale of the Patagonian toothfish has led to several arrests. Pictured here is the Antarctic toothfish, a sister species.
Although coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, gold and other minerals have been found, they have not been in large enough quantities to exploit. The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty also restricts a struggle for resources. In 1998, a compromise agreement was reached to place an indefinite ban on mining, to be reviewed in 2048, further limiting economic development and exploitation. The primary economic activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctic fisheries in 2000–01 reported landing 112,934 tonnes.
Small-scale "expedition tourism" has existed since 1957 and is currently subject to Antarctic Treaty and Environmental Protocol provisions, but in effect self-regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). Not all vessels associated with Antarctic tourism are members of IAATO, but IAATO members account for 95% of the tourist activity. Travel is largely by small or medium ship, focusing on specific scenic locations with accessible concentrations of iconic wildlife. A total of 37,506 tourists visited during the 2006–07 Austral summer with nearly all of them coming from commercial ships. The number is predicted to increase to over 80,000 by 2010.
There has been some concern over the potential adverse environmental and ecosystem effects caused by the influx of visitors. A call for stricter regulations for ships and a tourism quota has been made by some environmentalists and scientists. The primary response by Antarctic Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Committee for Environmental Protection and in partnership with IAATO, "site use guidelines" setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently visited sites. Antarctic sight seeing flights (which did not land) operated out of Australia and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979 on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas resumed commercial overflights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s.
A full moon and 25-second exposure allowed sufficient light for this photo to be taken at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the long Antarctic night. The station can be seen at far left, the power plant in the center and the mechanic's garage in the lower right. The green light in the background is the Aurora Australis.
Each year, scientists from 28 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. In the summer more than 4,000 scientists operate research stations; this number decreases to just over 1,000 in the winter. McMurdo Station, which is the largest research station in Antarctica, is capable of housing more than 1,000 scientists, visitors, and tourists.
Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists. Geologists tend to study plate tectonics, meteorites from outer space, and resources from the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. Glaciologists in Antarctica are concerned with the study of the history and dynamics of floating ice, seasonal snow, glaciers, and ice sheets. Biologists, in addition to examining the wildlife, are interested in how harsh temperatures and the presence of people affect adaptation and survival strategies in a wide variety of organisms. Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning the spreading of viruses and the body's response to extreme seasonal temperatures. Astrophysicists at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station study the celestial dome and cosmic microwave background radiation. Many astronomical observations are better made from the interior of Antarctica than from most surface locations because of the high elevation, which results in a thin atmosphere, low temperature, which minimizes the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, and absence of light pollution, thus allowing for a view of space clearer than anywhere else on Earth. Antarctic ice serves as both the shield and the detection medium for the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 km (1.2 mi) below Amundsen-Scott station.
Since the 1970s, an important focus of study has been the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985, three British Scientists working on data they had gathered at Halley Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf discovered the existence of a hole in this layer. It was eventually determined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons emitted by human products. With the ban of CFCs in the Montreal Protocol of 1989, it is believed that the ozone hole will close up by around 2065. In September 2006, NASA satellite data showed that the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27.5 million km2 (10.6 million sq mi).
On 6 September 2007, Belgian-based International Polar Foundation unveiled the Princess Elisabeth station, the world's first zero-emissions polar science station in Antarctica to research climate change. Costing $16.3 million, the prefabricated station, which is part of International Polar Year, was shipped to the South Pole from Belgium by the end of 2008 to monitor the health of the polar regions. Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert stated: "This base will be the first of its kind to produce zero emissions, making it a unique model of how energy should be used in the Antarctic." Johan Berte is the leader of the station design team and manager of the project which conducts research in climatology, glaciology and microbiology.
In January 2008, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists, led by Hugh Corr and David Vaughan, reported (in the journal Nature Geoscience) that 2,200 years ago, a volcano erupted under Antarctica's ice sheet (based on airborne survey with radar images). The biggest eruption in Antarctica in the last 10,000 years, the volcanic ash was found deposited on the ice surface under the Hudson Mountains, close to Pine Island Glacier.
Meteorites from Antarctica are an important area of study of material formed early in the solar system; most are thought to come from asteroids, but some may have originated on larger planets. The first meteorites were found in 1912. In 1969, a Japanese expedition discovered nine meteorites. Most of these meteorites have fallen onto the ice sheet in the last million years. Motion of the ice sheet tends to concentrate the meteorites at blocking locations such as mountain ranges, with wind erosion bringing them to the surface after centuries beneath accumulated snowfall. Compared with meteorites collected in more temperate regions on Earth, the Antarctic meteorites are well-preserved.
This large collection of meteorites allows a better understanding of the abundance of meteorite types in the solar system and how meteorites relate to asteroids and comets. New types of meteorites and rare meteorites have been found. Among these are pieces blasted off the Moon, and probably Mars, by impacts. These specimens, particularly ALH84001 discovered by ANSMET, are at the center of the controversy about possible evidence of microbial life on Mars. Because meteorites in space absorb and record cosmic radiation, the time elapsed since the meteorite hit the Earth can be determined from laboratory studies. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial residence age, of a meteorite represents more information that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic ice sheets.
In 2006, a team of researchers from Ohio State University used gravity measurements by NASA's GRACE satellites to discover the 300-mile (480 km)-wide Wilkes Land crater, which probably formed about 250 million years ago.
ICE MASS & GLOBAL SEA LEVEL
Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica receives relatively little solar radiation. This means that it is a very cold continent where water is mostly in the form of ice. Precipitation is low (most of Antarctica is a desert) and almost always in the form of snow, which accumulates and forms a giant ice sheet which covers the land. Parts of this ice sheet form moving glaciers known as ice streams, which flow towards the edges of the continent. Next to the continental shore are many ice shelves. These are floating extensions of outflowing glaciers from the continental ice mass. Offshore, temperatures are also low enough that ice is formed from seawater through most of the year. It is important to understand the various types of Antarctic ice to understand possible effects on sea levels and the implications of global warming.
Sea ice extent expands annually in the Antarctic winter and most of this ice melts in the summer. This ice is formed from the ocean water and floats in the same water and thus does not contribute to
rise in sea
level. The extent of sea ice around Antarctica has remained roughly constant in recent decades, although the thickness changes are unclear.
Melting of floating ice shelves (ice that originated on the land) does not in itself contribute much to sea-level rise (since the ice displaces only its own mass of water). However it is the outflow of the ice from the land to form the ice shelf which causes a rise in global sea level. This effect is offset by snow falling back onto the continent. Recent decades have witnessed several dramatic collapses of large ice shelves around the coast of Antarctica, especially along the Antarctic Peninsula. Concerns have been raised that disruption of ice shelves may result in increased glacial outflow from the continental ice mass.
On the continent itself, the large volume of ice present stores around 70% of the world's fresh water. This ice sheet is constantly gaining ice from snowfall and losing ice through outflow to the sea. West Antarctica is currently experiencing a net outflow of glacial ice, which will increase global sea level over time. A review of the scientific studies looking at data from 1992 to 2006 suggested that a net loss of around 50 gigatonnes of ice per year was a reasonable estimate (around 0.14 mm of
rise). Significant acceleration of outflow glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment may have more than doubled this figure for 2006.
East Antarctica is a cold region with a ground base above sea level and occupies most of the continent. This area is dominated by small accumulations of snowfall which becomes ice and thus eventually seaward glacial flows. The mass balance of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as a whole is thought to be slightly positive (lowering sea level) or near to balance. However, increased ice outflow has been suggested in some regions.
EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING - TREND 1957–2006
Some of Antarctica has been warming up; particularly strong warming has been noted on the Antarctic Peninsula. A study by Eric Steig published in 2009 noted for the first time that the continent-wide average surface temperature trend of Antarctica is slightly positive at >0.05 °C (0.09 °F) per decade from 1957 to 2006. This study also noted that West Antarctica has warmed by more than 0.1 °C (0.2 °F) per decade in the last 50 years, and this warming is strongest in winter and spring. This is partly offset by fall cooling in East Antarctica. There is evidence from one study that Antarctica is warming as a result of human carbon dioxide emissions. However, the small amount of surface warming in West Antarctica is not believed to be directly affecting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet's contribution to sea level. Instead the recent increases in glacier outflow are believed to be due to an inflow of warm water from the deep ocean, just off the continental shelf. The net contribution to sea level from the Antarctic Peninsula is more likely to be a direct result of the much greater atmospheric warming there.
In 2002 the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen-B ice shelf collapsed. Between 28 February and 8 March 2008, about 570 square kilometres (220 sq mi) of ice from the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the southwest part of the peninsula collapsed, putting the remaining 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) of the ice shelf at risk. The ice was being held back by a "thread" of ice about 6 km (4 mi) wide, prior to its collapse on 5 April 2009. According to NASA, the most widespread Antarctic surface melting of the past 30 years occurred in 2005, when an area of ice comparable in size to California briefly melted and refroze; this may have resulted from temperatures rising to as high as 5 °C (41 °F).
Each year a large area of low ozone concentration or "ozone hole" grows over Antarctica. This hole covers almost the whole continent and was at its largest in September 2008, when the longest lasting hole on record remained until the end of December. The hole was detected by scientists in 1985 and has tended to increase over the years of observation. The ozone hole is attributed to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs into the atmosphere, which decompose the ozone into other gases.
Some scientific studies suggest that ozone depletion may have a dominant role in governing climatic change in Antarctica (and a wider area of the Southern Hemisphere). Ozone absorbs large amounts of ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere. Ozone depletion over Antarctica can cause a cooling of around 6 °C in the local stratosphere. This cooling has the effect of intensifying the westerly winds which flow around the continent (the polar vortex) and thus prevents outflow of the cold air near the South Pole. As a result, the continental mass of the East Antarctic ice sheet is held at lower temperatures, and the peripheral areas of Antarctica, especially the Antarctic Peninsula, are subject to higher temperatures, which promote accelerated melting. Models also suggest that the ozone depletion/enhanced polar vortex effect also accounts for the recent increase in sea-ice just offshore of the continent.
artwork is also suitable for use in "Jimmy Watson's Magic
A proposed network TV serialization, about boy who saves his paper round
money to buy himself a robot for Christmas. Then, when assembled, it
come to life, to become his friend.
draft scripts for 'KULO-LUNA'
MUMMY.' Other John
Storm adventures (under development) include: 'OPERATION
HOLY COMPASS,' and TREASURE
ISLAND - BLACKBEARD'S CURSE & PIRATES GOLD. Development order is
subject to viewer polls and other third party interest.
title, using the same special effects artwork as Sectasaur™ is JIMMY
WATSON'S MAGIC DINOBOT. This is a children's Christmas story. Far
removed from high seas adventures.
ANTARCTICA | CHAPTERS
| DINOSAURS | INSECTS | MOVIES | PLOT