Antarctica




Antarctica is the most southerly continent and encompasses the South Pole. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains. On average, it is the coldest, driest, windiest, and highest of all the continents. With 98% of it covered in ice, Antarctica, at 14 million kms, is the third-smallest continent (after Europe and Australia), but the third highest. Because there is little precipitation, the entire continent is technically a desert and is thus the largest in the world. There are no permanent human residents and only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, fur seals, mosses, lichens, and many types of algae.

The name "Antarctica" comes from the Greek (antarktikos), meaning "opposite the Arctic."

Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") go back to antiquity, the first sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. The continent was largely neglected in the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolated location.The Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in 1959 by 12 countries and prohibits any military activity, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4000 scientists of many different nationalities and with many different research interests.




Exploration and History

Belief in the existence of a Terra Australis - a vast continent located in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe, Asia and north Africa - had existed since Ptolemy suggested the idea in order to preserve symmetry of landmass in the world. Depictions of a large southern landmass were common in maps such as the early 16th century Turkish Piri Reis map.

Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of "Antarctica," geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size. However, as Antarctica has no indigenous population, it was mostly unexplored until the 19th century.

European maps continued to show this land until Captain James Cook's ships, Resolution and Adventure, crossed the Antarctic Circle on January 17, 1773 and again in 1774.

The first confirmed sighting of Antarctica can be narrowed down to the crews of ships captained by two 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 von Bellingshausen (a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy), Edward Bransfield (a captain in the British Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer (an American sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut).

Von Bellingshausen supposedly saw Antarctica on January 27, 1820, three days before Bransfield sighted land, and ten months before Palmer did so in November 1820. On that day the expedition led by Fabian von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev on two ships reached a point within 32 km (20 miles) of the Antarctic mainland and saw ice fields there.

In 1841, explorer James Clark Ross sailed through what is now known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island. 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 HMS Terror.

During an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton, parties led by T. W. Edgeworth David became the first to climb Mount Erebus and to reach the South Magnetic Pole.

On December 14, 1911, a party led by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen from the ship Fram became the first to reach the South Pole, using a route from the Bay of Whales and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier. This area previously colonized by the famous "Claus Expedition".

Richard Evelyn Byrd led several voyages to the Antarctic by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with implementing mechanized land transport and conducting extensive geological and biological research.

However, it was not until October 31, 1956 that anyone set foot on the South Pole again; on that day a U.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George Dufek successfully landed an aircraft there.




Geography of Antarctica

The continent of Antarctica is located mostly south of the Antarctic Circle, surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is the southernmost land mass and comprises more than 14 million km, making it the fifth-largest continent. The coastline measures 17 968 km (11,160 miles) and is mostly characterized by ice formations.

Physically, it is divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. The portion west of the Weddell Sea and east of the Ross Sea is called Western Antarctica and the remainder Eastern Antarctica, because they correspond roughly to the Eastern and Western Hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian.

About 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet. The ice sheet is, on average, 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) thick. Despite its zero precipitation in some areas, the continent has approximately 90% of the world's fresh water, in the form of ice.

Western Antarctica is covered by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been of recent concern because of the possibility, real though small, of its collapse. If it does break down, ocean levels would rise by several meters in a relatively short period of time. Several Antarctic ice streams, which account for about 10% of the ice sheet, flow to one of the many Antarctic ice shelves.

Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica at 4892 meters (16,050 feet), is located in the Ellsworth Mountains. Although Antarctica is home to many volcanoes, only Deception Island and Mt. Erebus are active. Mount Erebus, located in Ross Island, is the southernmost active volcano. Minor eruptions are frequent and lava flow has been observed in recent years. Other dormant volcanoes may potentially be active.

In 2004, an underwater volcano was found in the Antarctic Peninsula by American and Canadian researchers. Recent evidence shows this unnamed volcano may be active.

Antarctica is home to more than 70 lakes that lie thousands of metres under the surface of the continental ice sheet. Lake Vostok, discovered beneath Russia's Vostok Station in 1996, is the largest of these subglacial lakes. It is believed that the lake has been sealed off for 35 million years. There is some evidence that Vostok's waters may contain microbial life. Due to the lake's similarity to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, confirming that life can survive in Lake Vostok might strengthen the argument for the possibility of life on Europa.




Geological History and Paleontology

More than 170 million years ago, Antarctica was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Over time Gondwana broke apart and Antarctica as we know it today was formed around 25 million years ago.

Paleozoic era (540-250 Mya)

During the Cambrian period Gondwana had a mild climate. West Antarctica was partially in the northern hemisphere, and during this period large amounts of sandstones, limestones and shales were deposited. East Antarctica was at the equator, where sea-floor invertebrates and trilobites flourished in the tropical seas. By the start of the Devonian period (416 Mya) Gondwana was in more southern latitudes and the climate was cooler, though fossils of land plants are known from this time. Sand and silts were laid down in what is now the Ellsworth, Horlick and Pensacola Mountains.

Glaciation began at the end of the Devonian period (360 Mya) as Gondwana became centered around the South Pole and the climate cooled, though flora remained. During the Permian period the plant life became dominated by fern-like plants such as Glossopteris, which grew in swamps. Over time these swamps became deposits of coal in the Transantarctic Mountains. Towards the end of the Permian period continued warming led to a dry, hot climate over much of Gondwana.

Mesozoic era (250-65 Mya)

As a result of continued warming, the polar ice caps melted and much of Gondwana became a desert. In East Antarctica the seed fern became established, and large amounts of sandstones and shales were laid down at this time. The Antarctic Peninsula began to form during the Jurassic period (206-146 Mya), and islands gradually rose out of the ocean. Ginkgo trees and cycads were plentiful during this period, as were reptiles such as Lystrosaurus. In West Antarctica conifer forests dominated through the entire Cretaceous period (146-65 Mya), though Southern beech began to take over at the end of this period. Ammonites were common in the seas around Antarctica, and dinosaurs were also present, though only two Antarctic dinosaur species (Cryolophosaurus and Antarctopelta) have been described to date. It was during this period that Gondwana began to break up.

Gondwana breakup (160-23 Mya)

Africa separated from Antarctica around 160 Mya, followed by India in the early Cretaceous (about 125 Mya). About 65 Mya, Antarctica (then connected to Australia) still had a tropical to subtropical climate, complete with a marsupial fauna. About 40 Mya Australia-New Guinea separated from Antarctica and the first ice began to appear. Around 23 Mya, the Drake Passage between Antarctica and South America resulted in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The ice spread, replacing the forests that then covered the continent. Since about 15 Mya, the continent has been mostly covered with ice.

Geology of present-day Antarctica

The geological study of Antarctica has been greatly hindered by the fact that nearly all of the continent is permanently covered with a thick layer of ice. However, newer techniques such as remote sensing have begun to reveal the structures beneath the ice.West Antarctica closely resembles the Andes of South America.

The Antarctic Peninsula was formed by uplift and metamorphism of sea-bed sediments during the late Paleozoic and the early Mesozoic eras. This sediment uplift was accompanied by igneous intrusions and volcanism. The most common rocks in West Antarctica are andesite and rhyolite volcanics formed during the Jurassic Period. There is also evidence of volcanic activity, even after the ice sheet had formed, in Marie Byrd Land and Alexander Island. The only anomalous area of West Antarctica is the Ellsworth Mountains region, where the stratigraphy is more similar to the eastern part of the continent.

East Antarctica is geologically very old, dating from the Precambrian era, with some rocks formed more than 3 billion years ago. It is composed of a metamorphic and igneous platform which is the basis of the continental shield. On top of this base are various more modern rocks, such as sandstones, limestones, coal and shales laid down during the Devonian and Jurassic periods to form the Transantarctic Mountains. In coastal areas some faulting has occurred, for example in the Shackleton Range and in Victoria Land.

The main mineral resource known on the continent is coal. It was first recorded near the Beardmore Glacier by Frank Wild on the Nimrod Expedition, and now low-grade coal is known across many parts of the Transantarctic Mountains. The Prince Charles Mountains contain significant deposits of iron ore. The most valuable resources of Antarctica lie offshore, namely the oil and natural gas fields found in the Ross Sea in 1973. Exploitation of all mineral resources is banned until 2048 by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.




Climate

Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. It has little precipitation, with the South Pole getting almost none, making it a frozen desert.

Eastern 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 meters (48 inches) 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 often moderate. During summer more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the equator in an equivalent period.

Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons. First, much of the continent is more than 3 km 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.

Depending on the latitude, long periods of constant darkness or constant sunlight mean that climates familiar to humans are not generally present on the continent. The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole. 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 sundog, a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon, is a bright "spot" beside the true sun.




Demographics

Although Antarctica has no permanent residents, a number of governments maintain permanent research stations throughout the continent. The population of persons doing and supporting science on the continent and its nearby islands varies from approximately 4000 in summer to 1000 in winter. Many of the stations are staffed around the year.

The first settlers of Antarctica (the world region situated south of the Antarctic Convergence) were English 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 1000 in the summer (over 2000 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 adopted British citizenship in 1910. His family included his wife, three daughters and two sons.

The first child born in the southern polar region was Norwegian girl Solveig Gunbjorg Jacobsen, born in Grytviken on 8 October 1913, and her birth 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 to become 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 on the Antarctic mainland, at Base Esperanza in 1978, his parents being sent there along with seven other families by the Argentinean government to determine if family life was suitable in the continent. In 1986 Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva Base, becoming the first Chilean born in Antarctica. Several bases are now home to families with children attending schools at the station.




Ecozone


Flora

The climate of Antarctica does not allow much vegetation to exist. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture and sunlight limit the chances for plants to exist. As a result, plant life is limited to mostly mosses and liverworts. The autotrophic community is made up of mostly protists. The flora of the continent largely consists of lichens, bryophytes, algae, and fungi. Growth generally occurs in the summer, and only for a few weeks at most.

There are more than 200 species of lichens and approximately 50 species of bryophytes, such as mosses. 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. There are two species of flowering plants found in the Antarctic Peninsula: Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort.




Fauna

Land fauna is nearly completely invertebrate. Invertebrate life includes microscopic mites, lice, nematodes, and springtails. The midge, just 12 mm in size, is the largest land animal in Antarctica (other than humans). The Snow Petrel is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica and have been seen at the South Pole.

A variety of marine animals exists, and they rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, and fur seals. More specifically, the Emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica. The Adélie Penguin breeds further south than any other penguin. The Rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes; one could call them 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.

The passing of the Antarctic Conservation Act brought several restrictions to the continent. 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, remains a serious problem. The illegal fishing of toothfish has been increasing, with estimates of 32,000 tonnes in 2000.




Economy of Antarctica

Although coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, gold and other minerals have been found, they exist in quantities too small to exploit. The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty prevents such struggle for resources. In 1998 a compromise agreement was reached to add a 50-year ban on mining until the year 2048, further limiting economic development and exploitation. The primary agricultural activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctic fisheries in 2000-01 reported landing 112,934 tons.

Small-scale tourism has existed since 1957 and is currently self-regulated by International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). However, not all vessels have joined the IAATO. Several ships transport people into Antarctica for specific scenic locations. A total of 27,950 tourists visited in the 2004-05 Antarctic 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 recent concern over the adverse effect done to the environment and ecosystem by this influx of visitors. A call for stricter regulations for ships and a tourism quota have been made by environmentalists and scientists alike.

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, and resumed from Australia in the mid 1990s.




Politics

As the only uninhabited continent, Antarctica has no government and belongs to no country. Various countries claim areas of it, but most other countries do not recognize those claims. The area between 90 degrees W and 150 degrees W is the only part of Antarctica not claimed by any country.

Since 1959, claims on Antarctica have been suspended and the continent is considered politically neutral. Its status is regulated by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System. For the purposes of the Treaty System, Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees S. The treaty was signed by 12 countries, including the Soviet Union and the United States. It set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation, environmental protection, and banned military activity on that continent. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.

The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any military activity in Antarctica, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres, or the testing of any type of weapon. Military personnel or equipment are only permitted for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes.

The only documented large-scale land military maneuver was Operation NINETY, undertaken ten years before the Antarctic Treaty by the Argentine military.

The United States military issues the Antarctica Service Medal to military members or civilians who perform research duty on the Antarctica continent. The medal includes a "wintered over" bar issued to those who remain on the continent for two complete six-month seasons.




Research


List of Research Stations

Each year, scientists from 27 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. In the summer more than 4000 scientists operate research stations; this number decreases to nearly 1000 in the winter.

The McMurdo Station is capable of housing more than 1000 scientists, visitors, and tourists.

Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists. Geologists tend to study plate tectonics in the Arctic region, meteorites from the outer space, and resources from the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwanaland.

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 in Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station are able to study the celestial dome and cosmic microwave background radiation because of the ozone hole and the location's dry, cold environment. Antarctic ice serves as both the shield and the detection medium for the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 km below Amundsen-Scott station.

Since the 1970s an important focus of study has been the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985 3 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. In 1998 NASA satellite data showed that the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million square kilometers. In 2002 significant areas of ice shelves disintegrated in response to regional warming.

Meteorites from Antarctica are a relatively recent resource for study of the 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 found in Antarctica were in 1912.

In 1969 the Japanese discovered nine meteorites in Antarctica. 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 relatively 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 meteorites 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.

List of antarctic and sub-antarctic islands

Volcanoes of Antarctica

Mountains of Antarctica

Wikipedia References and Links

South Pole




Mythology and Pseudoscience

As in most places around the world, UFOs and strange lights have been seen over Antarctica. Some people associate UFOs with Nazi Germany experiments in underground facilities. There is no verified physical evidence of this.


Stargate SG1

Antarctica was The Lost City tied in with Atlantean Mythology and a Portal to another Galaxy.

Watch the video .. listen to the music ... close your eyes ... remember how you got here ...




Antarctica in the News ....





1,500-Year-Old Antarctic Moss Brought Back to Life   Live Science - March 17, 2014
Moss frozen on an Antarctic island for more than 1,500 years was brought back to life in a British laboratory, researchers report. The verdant growth marks the first time a plant has been resurrected after such a long freeze, the researchers said. "This is the very first instance we have of any plant or animal surviving [being frozen] for more than a couple of decades," said study co-author Peter Convey, an ecologist with the British Antarctic Survey.




What Lies Beneath: Giant Trench Under Antarctic Ice, Deeper Than Grand Canyon   Science Daily - January 14, 2014

A massive ancient subglacial trough -- deeper than the Grand Canyon -- has been discovered by a team of UK experts. They charted the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands -- an ancient mountain range buried beneath several kilometres of Antarctic ice -- by combining data from satellites and ice-penetrating radars towed behind snowmobiles and on-board small aircraft. The researchers spent three seasons investigating and mapping the region in West Antarctica, uncovering a massive subglacial valley up to 3 kilometres deep, more than 300 kilometres long and up to 25 kilometres across. In places, the floor of this valley is more than 2000 metres below sea level. The mountain range and deep valley were carved millions of years ago by a small icefield similar to those of the present-day Antarctic Peninsula, or those of Arctic Canada and Alaska.


Antarctic 'Grand Canyon' Carved by Glaciers   Live Science - January 17, 2014
Scientists have discovered a U-shaped gorge that rivals the Grand Canyon in depth, carved by glaciers before West Antarctica was buried in ice. The valley snakes down for more than 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) from the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands, an ancient mountain range also entombed under the Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is up to 1.9 miles (3 km) deep, besting the Grand Canyon, which is 1.13 miles (1.8 km) at its deepest point. A combination of the weight of the ice sheet and erosion by the glacier that once filled the valley have pushed its elevation down to more than 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) below sea level




  Electric-Blue Clouds Glow Over Antarctica   Live Science - December 20, 2013
Noctilucent clouds, Earth's highest clouds, appeared over the South Pole earlier than usual this year. Water molecules mixed with meteor smoke at the edge of space, creates this phenomenon.




New findings hint at diamond deposits in Antarctica   BBC - December 17, 2013

Scientists say they have discovered compelling evidence that diamonds exist in the icy mountains of Antarctica. The researchers have identified a type of rock in the permanently frozen region that is known to contain the precious stones. However recovering any Antarctic mineral resources for commercial purposes is currently forbidden. Volcanic eruptions bring the valuable crystals to the surface, usually preserved in another type of bluish rock called kimberlite. The presence of kimberlite has been a clue to significant deposits of diamonds in several parts of the world, including Africa, Siberia and Australia. Now researchers have, for the first time, found evidence of kimberlite in Antarctica.




East Antarctica Is Sliding Sideways: Ice Loss On West Antarctica Affecting Mantle Flow Below   Science Daily - December 16, 2013
It's official: East Antarctica is pushing West Antarctica around. Now that West Antarctica is losing weight--that is, billions of tons of ice per year - its softer mantle rock is being nudged westward by the harder mantle beneath East Antarctica. The discovery shows West Antarctic bedrock is being pushed sideways at rates up to about twelve millimeter - about half an inch per year. This movement is important for understanding current ice loss on the continent, and predicting future ice loss.




1st Antarctica Atmospheric River Found   Live Science - December 16, 2013
A wild weather phenomenon that causes massive winter flooding in California also dumps snow in East Antarctica, wetting one of the driest places on Earth. This is the first time scientists have spotted an atmospheric river snaking from the Indian Ocean south to Antarctica. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow water vapor plumes stretching hundreds of miles across the sky. California weather forecasters call them the "Pineapple Express," known for transporting tropical moisture from Hawaii to the West Coast during winter. But the weather pattern can appear any time of the year, and atmospheric rivers have been spotted dropping rain and snow in Europe and even in the Arctic.




  This Antarctic Ice Shelf Will Be the Next to Collapse   Live Science - December 12, 2013
Antarctica's crumbling Larsen B Ice Shelf is poised to finally finish its collapse. The Scar Inlet Ice Shelf will likely fall apart during the next warm summer. Scar Inlet's ice is the largest remnant of the vast Larsen B shelf still attached to the Antarctic Peninsula. (Another small fragment, the Seal Nunataks, clings on as well.) In the Southern Hemisphere's summer of 2002, about 1,250 square miles (3,250 square kilometers) of the enormous Larsen B Ice Shelf splintered into hundreds of icebergs.




Giant Blob of Hot Rock Hidden Under Antarctic Ice   Live Science - December 11, 2013
A big, hot blob hiding beneath the bottom of the world could be evidence of a long-sought mantle plume under West Antarctica. The possible hotspot - a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle - sits under Marie Byrd Land, a broad dome at West Antarctica's edge where many active volcanoes above and below the ice spit lava and ash. The hot zone was discovered with seismic imaging techniques that rely on earthquake waves to build pictures of Earth's inner layers, similar to how a CT scan works. Beneath Marie Byrd Land, earthquake waves slow down, suggesting the mantle here is warmer than surrounding rocks. The strongest low-velocity zone sits below Marie Byrd Land's Executive Committee Range, directly under the Mount Sidley volcano.




Coldest spot on Earth identified by satellite   BBC - December 10, 2013
The coldest place on Earth has been measured by satellite to be a bitter minus 93.2 Celsius (-135.8 F). As one might expect, it is in the heart of Antarctica, and was recorded on August 10, 2010. Researchers say it is a preliminary figure, and as they refine data from various space-borne thermal sensors it is quite likely they will determine an even colder figure by a degree or so. The previous record low of minus 89.2C was also measured in Antarctica.

The Coldest Place on Earth   NASA - December 11, 2013

How cold can it get on Earth? In the interior of the Antarctica, a record low temperature of -93.2 °C (-135.8 °F) has been recorded. This is about 25 °C (45 °F) colder than the coldest lows noted for any place humans live permanently. The record temperature occurred in 2010 August -- winter in Antarctica -- and was found by scientists sifting through decades of climate data taken by Earth-orbiting satellites. The coldest spots were found near peaks because higher air is generally colder, although specifically in depressions near these peaks because relatively dense cold air settled there and was further cooled by the frozen ground. Summer is a much better time to visit Antarctica, as some regions will warm up as high as 15 °C (59 °F).




Esa's Cryosat mission detects continued West Antarctic ice loss   BBC - December 11, 2013

West Antarctica continues to lose ice to the ocean and this loss appears to be accelerating, according to new data from Europe's Cryosat spacecraft. The dedicated polar mission finds the region now to be dumping over 150 cubic km of ice into the sea every year. It equates to a 15% increase in West Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise.




November 16, 2013 -- 7.8 Earthquake - Scotia Sea

The Scotia Sea is partly in the Southern Ocean and mostly in the South Atlantic Ocean. Normally stormy and cold, the Scotia Sea is the area of water between Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, and bordered on the west by the Drake Passage.


Volcano discovered smoldering under a kilometer of ice in West Antarctica   Live Science - November 17, 2013

Mount Sidley, at the leading edge of the Executive Committee Range in Marie Byrd Land is the last volcano in the chain that rises above the surface of the ice. But a group of seismologists has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 30 miles ahead of Mount Sidley in the direction of the range's migration. The new finding suggests that the source of magma is moving beyond the chain beneath the crust and the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Mount Sidley is the highest volcano in Antarctica, a member of the Volcanic Seven Summits, with a summit elevation of 4,181-4,285 metres (13,717-14,058 ft). It is a massive, mainly snow-covered shield volcano which is the highest and most imposing of the five volcanic mountains that comprise the Executive Committee Range of Marie Byrd Land. The mountain was discovered by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd on an airplane flight, November 18, 1934, and named by him for Mabelle E. Sidley, the daughter of William Horlick who was a contributor to the 1933–35 Byrd Antarctic Expedition.



Northwest we find Chile which has about 500 active volcanoes 60 of which have had recorded eruptions in the last 450 years.




Weird Forests Once Sprouted in Antarctica   Live Science - November 2, 2013

Strange forests with some features of today's tropical trees once grew in Antarctica, new research finds. Some 250 million years ago, during the late Permian and early Triassic, the world was a greenhouse, much hotter than it is today. Forests carpeted a non-icy Antarctic. But Antarctica was still at a high latitude, meaning that just as today, the land is bathed in round-the-clock darkness during winter and 24/7 light in the summer.




Extreme Life Forms: Life Found in the Sediments of an Antarctic Subglacial Lake for the First Time   Science Daily - September 11, 2013
Evidence of diverse life forms dating back nearly a hundred thousand years has been found in subglacial lake sediments by a group of British scientists. The possibility that extreme life forms might exist in the cold and dark lakes hidden kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice sheet has fascinated scientists for decades.


West Antarctica Ice Sheet Existed 20 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought   Science Daily - September 4, 2013
The findings indicate that ice sheets first grew on the West Antarctic subcontinent at the start of a global transition from warm greenhouse conditions to a cool icehouse climate 34 million years ago. Previous computer simulations were unable to produce the amount of ice that geological records suggest existed at that time because neighboring East Antarctica alone could not support it.




West Antarctica Warmed Quickly ... 20,000 Years Ago   Live Science - August 15, 2013
The modern meltdown of the Antarctic Ice Sheet mirrors the frozen continent's big thaw after the last ice age ended 20,000 years ago, a new study finds. New ice core records from West Antarctica show the huge ice sheet started heating up about 20,000 to 22,000 years ago, 2,000 to 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. But in East Antarctica, which was higher in elevation, colder and drier than the West, the continent stayed in its deep-freeze cycle until 18,000 years ago. The mismatch between West and East is similar to today's Antarctica. Modern West Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet. The middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degreesFahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) since 1958, three times as fast as the overall rate of global warming. But relatively little warming - half a degree or less - has been measured in East Antarctica.




Deluge from sub-glacial lake's burst   BBC - July 2, 2013

Scientists have seen evidence for a colossal flood under Antarctica that drained six billion tonnes of water, quite possibly straight to the ocean. The cause is thought to be a deeply buried lake that suddenly over-topped. Satellites were used to map the crater that developed as the 2.7km-thick overlying ice sheet slumped to fill the void left by the escaping water. The peak discharge would have been more than double the normal flow rate of London's River Thames, researchers say. The location of the flood was Cook Sub-Glacial Lake (SGL) in the east of the continent, and the event itself occurred over a period of about 18 months in 2007-2008.




Antarctic's First-Ever Whale Skeleton Found   Live Science - March 19, 2013
For the first time ever, scientists say they have discovered a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica. Resting nearly a mile below the surface, the boneyard is teeming with strange life, including at least nine new species of tiny of deep-sea creatures, according to a new study. Though whales naturally sink to the ocean floor when they die, it's extremely rare for scientists to come across these final resting places, known as "whale falls." Discovering one typically requires a remote-controlled undersea vehicle and some luck.




New Type of Bacteria Reportedly Found in Buried Antarctic Lake   Live Science - March 8, 2013
A new type of microbe has been found at a lake buried under Antarctica's thick ice, according to news reports. The find may unveil clues of the surrounding environment in the lake, according to scientists. The bacteria, said to be only 86 percent similar to other types known to exist on Earth, was discovered in a water sample taken from Lake Vostok, which sits under more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) of Antarctic ice. The freshwater lakehas likely been buried, unaltered, under the ice for the past million years.




Confirmed: There's life in buried Antarctic lake   MSNBC - February 13, 2013
Blobs and smears of microbial life growing in clear plastic disks are confirmation of a community living in a lake buried beneath the Antarctic ice, scientists studying the lake have said. Water retrieved from subglacial Lake Whillans contains about 1,000 bacteria per milliliter (about a fifth of a teaspoon) of lake water. Petri dishes swiped with samples of the lake water are already growing colonies of microbes at a good rate




Tiny fossils hold answers to big questions on climate change   PhysOrg - January 22, 2013
The western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet, and the fastest warming part of the Southern Hemisphere.




Rapid retreat of Antarctica glacier is called 'unprecedented'   MSNBC - January 16, 2013
Like a plug in a leaky dam, little Pine Island Glacier holds back part of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose thinning ice is contributing to sea level rise. In recent decades, Pine Island Glacier's rapid retreat raised fears that the glacier could "collapse," freeing the ice sheet it buffers to flow even more rapidly into the southern seas. The West Antarctic Ice contributes 0.15 to 0.30 millimeters per year to sea level rise.




Ancient microbes discovered in bitter-cold Antarctic brine   Science Daily - November 26, 2012
Where there's water there's life - even in brine beneath 60 feet of Antarctic ice, in permanent darkness and subzero temperatures. Ostrom was part of a team that discovered an ancient thriving colony, which is estimated to have been isolated for more than 2,800 years. They live in a brine of more than 20 percent salinity that has high concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, sulfur and supersaturated nitrous oxide - the highest ever measured in a natural aquatic environment.




'Lost world' discovered around Antarctic vents   PhysOrg - January 3, 2011
Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents.




Two New Zealand scientists to travel to Antarctica to measure magnetic South Pole   PhysOrg - January 3, 2011
While the rest of the world gets on with meeting the New Year head on, two research scientists from New Zealand are traveling to the Antarctic to take measurements of the magnet South Pole. Such periodic measurements are necessary geo-scientists say, because the magnetic poles keep moving around. The south magnetic pole, for example is slowly moving north toward Australia at almost ten miles per year; this matters because very accurate ground measurements are necessary to keep satellites properly calibrated, ensuring such things as GPS coordinates are accurate.




Simultaneous ice melt in Antarctic and Arctic   PhysOrg - December 2, 2011
The end of the last ice age and the processes that led to the melting of the northern and southern ice sheets supply basic information on changes in our climate. Although the maximum size of the ice sheet in the northern hemisphere during the last ice age is relatively well known, there is little reliable data on the dimensions of the Antarctic ice sheet. A publication appearing in the journal Science on 1 December now furnishes indications that the two hemispheres attained their maximum ice sheet size at nearly the same time and started melting 19,000 years ago.




Oldest Antarctic Whale Found; Shows Fast Evolution   National Geographic - November 17, 2011
The oldest known whale to ply the Antarctic has been found, scientists say. A 24-inch-long (60-centimeter-long) jawbone was recently discovered amid a rich deposit of fossils on the Antarctic Peninsula. The creature, which may have reached lengths of up to 20 feet (6 meters), had a mouthful of teeth and likely feasted on giant penguins, sharks, and big bony fish, whose remains were also discovered with the jawbone.




  Gamburtsev 'ghost mountains mystery solved'   BBC - November 17, 2011

Scientists say they can now explain the existence of what are perhaps Earth's most extraordinary mountains. The Gamburtsevs are the size of the European Alps and yet they are totally buried beneath the Antarctic ice. Their discovery in the 1950s was a major surprise. Most people had assumed the rock bed deep within the continent would be flat and featureless. Survey data now suggests the range first formed over a billion years ago, researchers tell the journal Nature. The Gamburtsevs are important because they are thought to be the location where the ice sheet we know today initiated its march across Antarctica. Unravelling the mountains' history will therefore inform climate studies, helping scientists to understand not just past changes on Earth but possible future scenarios as well.




Jupiter Moon's Buried Lakes Evoke Antarctica   Live Science - November 17, 2011
Some of the most frigid areas on Earth are providing scientists with tantalizing hints of water only a few miles under the icy crust of Jupiter's moon, Europa. Patches of broken ice unique to the moon have puzzled scientists for over a decade. Some have argued they are signs of a subterranean ocean breaking through, while others believe that the crust is too thick for the water to pierce. But new studies of ice formations in Antarctica and Iceland have provided clues to the creation of these puzzling features, which imply water nearer to the moon's surface than previously thought.




Huge underwater volcanoes mapped near Antarctica   MSNBC - July 12, 2011

A string of a dozen volcanoes, at least several of them active, has been found beneath the frigid seas near Antarctica, the first such discovery in that region.




Underwater Antarctic volcanoes discovered in the Southern Ocean   PhysOrg - July 11, 2011
Using ship-borne sea-floor mapping technology during research cruises onboard the RRS James Clark Ross, the scientists found 12 volcanoes beneath the sea surface – some up to 3km high. They found 5km diameter craters left by collapsing volcanoes and 7 active volcanoes visible above the sea as a chain of islands.




When Antarctica's Vegetation Vanished: Pollen Reveals Glacial History   Live Science - June 28, 2011

The last remnant of vegetation in Antarctica vanished about 12 million years ago, suggests a new study of tiny pollen fossils buried deep beneath the seafloor. That last bit of plant life existed in a tundra landscape on the continent's northern peninsula, the researchers found. The results, detailed this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paint a detailed picture of how the Antarctic Peninsula first succumbed to ice during a prolonged period of global cooling.




New map reveals giant fjords beneath East Antarctic ice sheet   PhysOrg - June 1, 2011

Scientists from the U.S., U.K. and Australia have used ice-penetrating radar to create the first high- resolution topographic map of one of the last uncharted regions of Earth, the Aurora Subglacial Basin, an immense ice-buried lowland in East Antarctica larger than Texas.




Icebergs Feed Ocean Life   Live Science - May 14, 2011

Rivers carry important nutrients to oceans, but no rivers pour from the frozen continent Antarctica into the Southern Ocean that surrounds it. But now scientists say they have found an icy equivalent to a nutrient-bearing river - an area they have dubbed "Iceberg Alley," where 90 percent of the icebergs that break off from the continent's ice shelves congregate east of the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea.




Animals point to ancient seaway in Antarctica   BBC - August 31, 2010

Scientists have found evidence for an ancient sea passage linking currently isolated areas of Antarctica. The evidence comes from a study of tiny marine animals living either side of the 2km thick Western Antarctic ice sheet. Reseachers think their spread was due to the collapse of the ice sheet as recently as 125,000 years ago allowing water flow between different regions.




Marine animals suggest evidence for a trans-Antarctic seaway   PhysOrg - August 31, 2010
A tiny marine filter-feeder, that anchors itself to the sea bed, offers new clues to scientists studying the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet - a region that is thought to be vulnerable to collapse. They found striking similarities in particular species of bryozoans living on the continental shelves of two seas - the Ross and Weddell - that are around 1,500 miles apart and separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.




Antarctica Experiment Discovers Puzzling Space Ray Pattern   Live Science - July 30, 2010

A puzzling pattern in the cosmic rays bombarding Earth from space has been discovered by an experiment buried deep under the ice of Antarctica.




New research sheds light on Antarctica's melting Pine Island Glacier   PhysOrg - June 21, 2010

Thinning ice in West Antarctica is currently contributing nearly 10 per cent of global sea level rise and scientists have identified Pine Island Glacier (PIG) as a major source. As part of a series of investigations to better understand the impact of melting ice on sea level an exciting new discovery has been made. Using Autosub (an autonomous underwater vehicle) to dive deep and travel far beneath the pine Island Glacier's floating ice shelf, scientists captured ocean and sea-floor measurements, which revealed a 300m high ridge (mountain) on the sea floor.

Pine Island Glacier was once grounded on (sitting on top of) this underwater ridge, which slowed its flow into the sea. However, in recent decades it has thinned and disconnected from the ridge, allowing the glacier to move ice more rapidly from the land into the sea. This also permitted deep warm ocean water to flow over the ridge and into a widening cavity that now extends to an area of 1000 km2 under the ice shelf. The warm water, trapped under the ice, is causing the bottom of the ice shelf to melt, resulting in continuous thinning and acceleration of the glacier.




New species of invertebrates discovered in the Antarctic   PhysOrg - May 26, 2010

The polyps of the new gorgonia discovered, Tauroprimnoa austasensis and Digitogorgia kuekenthali, in the region of Austasen, in the Eastern Weddell Sea, and to the south-east of the Falklands and Isla Nueve (in Chilean Patagonia) respectively, are small and elongated. Both species stand out for the number, shape and layout of the scales of calcium carbonate that cover the polyps, and for the type of ramification of the colonies.




  Polar Algae Forests Explored   National Geographic - March 23, 2010
The rarely seen creatures in Antarctica's lush algae "forests" are the subjects of a University of Alabama at Birmingham search for potential new cancer medicines.




Antarctic Ice Creature Opens Window to Extreme Life   Live Science - March 19, 2010

A shrimp-like creature and jellyfish tentacles discovered in the darkness under 600 feet of Antarctic ice, are further evidence of how life can thrive in surprising places. The pinkish-orange crustacean in question - a 3-inch long creature known as a Lyssianasid amphipod — was discovered last November swimming beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in western Antarctica. NASA scientists used hot water to bore an 8-inch-wide hole in the ice 12 miles from open water, and lowered a camera down as part of research to better understand how the ice is thinning there.




Hydrothermal Vents Discovered Off Antarctica   Science Daily - March 4, 2010

Scientists at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have found evidence of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor near Antarctica, formerly a blank spot on the map for researchers wanting to learn more about seafloor formation and the bizarre life forms drawn to these extreme environments. Hydrothermal vents spew volcanically heated seawater from the planet's underwater mountain ranges -- the vast mid-ocean ridge system, where lava erupts and new crust forms. Chemicals dissolved in those vents influence ocean chemistry and sustain a complex web of organisms, much as sunlight does on land. In recent decades more than 220 vents have been discovered worldwide, but so far no one has looked for them in the rough and frigid waters off Antarctica.




Clues to Antarctica space blast   BBC - March 3, 2010

A large space rock may have exploded over Antarctica thousands of years ago, showering a large area with debris, according to new research. The evidence comes from accumulations of tiny meteoritic particles and a layer of extraterrestrial dust found in Antarctic ice cores. Details of the work were presented at a major science conference in Texas. The event would have been similar to the Tunguska event, which flattened a large area of Siberian forest in 1908.




  Vast Antarctic iceberg 'threatens marine life'   BBC - February 26, 2010

A vast iceberg that broke off eastern Antarctic earlier this month could disrupt marine life in the region, scientists have warned. They say the iceberg, which is 78km long and up to 39km wide, could have consequences for the area's colonies of emperor penguins. The emblematic birds may be forced to travel further afield to find food. The iceberg calved from the Mertz Glacier Tongue after it was hit by another huge iceberg, called B9B. "It is a very active area for algae growth, especially in springtime," explained Dr Neal Young from the Australia-based Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre.




Mammoth Antarctic iceberg could alter ocean circulation: study   PhysOrg - February 25, 2010

An iceberg the size of Luxembourg knocked loose from the Antarctic continent earlier this month could disrupt the ocean currents driving weather patterns around the globe, researchers said Thursday.




Same Species, Polar Opposites: The Mystery of Identical Creatures Found in both Arctic and Antarctic Waters   Scientific American - February 23, 2010
Two years ago, several research vessels shipped out to the North and the South poles to assemble a census of creatures living under the ice. One of the most surprising results was a discovery that 235 identical species lived on opposite sides of the world but were undocumented anywhere else. It's easy to understand how massive humpbacks can swim from Arctic to Antarctic waters, but most of the miniature worms, snails and crustaceans on the researchers' list are no bigger than grains of rice. How could tiny creatures adapted for the frigid waters travel 9,500 kilometers through warmer climes to reach the opposite pole?




Penguins in Antarctica to be replaced by jellyfish due to global warming   Telegraph.co.uk - February 20, 2010
The results of the largest ever survey of Antarctic marine life reveal melting sea ice is decimating krill populations, which form an integral part of penguins' diets. The six-inch-long invertebrates, also eaten by other higher Southern Ocean predators such as whales and seals, are being replaced by smaller crustaceans known as copepods. These miniscule copepods, measuring just half a millimetre long, are too small for penguins but ideal for jellyfish and other similarly tentacled predators.




First Detailed Pictures: Antarctica's "Ghost Mountains"   National Geographic - January 25, 2010




Antarctica Served as Climatic Refuge in Earth's Greatest Extinction Event   Science Daily - December 4, 2009

The largest known mass extinction in Earth's history, about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period, may have been caused by global warming. A new fossil species suggests that some land animals may have survived the end-Permian extinction by living in cooler climates in Antarctica. Jorg Frobisch and Kenneth D. Angielczyk of The Field Museum together with Christian A. Sidor from the University of Washington have identified a distant relative of mammals, Kombuisia antarctica, that apparently survived the mass extinction by living in Antarctica. The new species belongs to a larger group of extinct mammal relatives, called anomodonts, which were widespread and represented the dominant plant eaters of their time.




Animals fled to Antarctic to survive global warming   Telegraph.co.uk - December 3, 2009
The evidence emerged from a study of fossil bones collected from Antarctica more than 30 years ago. Researchers now know they belong to an ancient relative of mammals that lived around 250 million years ago. Kombuisia antarctica belonged to a large group of extinct animals called anamodonts which were the most common plant eaters of their time. The creature lived in Antarctica during the mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, which wiped out 95% of all life in the oceans and 70% of all land life. Scientists are still debating the cause of the end-Permian extinction, the biggest the Earth has ever known. Most believe it was brought on by global warming triggered by massive volcanic activity in Siberia.




Major sea level rise likely as Antarctic ice melts   BBC - December 1, 2009
Sea levels are likely to rise by about 1.4m (4ft 6in) globally by 2100 as polar ice melts, according to a major review of climate change in Antarctica. Conducted by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), it says that warming seas are accelerating melting in the west of the continent. Ozone loss has cooled the region, it says, shielding it from global warming.




Frigid Antarctica is loaded with viruses   MSNBC - November 6, 2009
Antarctica's icy lakes are home to a surprisingly diverse community of viruses, including some that were previously unidentified. At first glance, Antarctica's freshwater lakes don't seem very hospitable to life. They remain frozen for a good nine months out of the year, and they contain very few nutrients. Some of these lakes have little animal life and are dominated by microorganisms, including algae, bacteria, protozoans and viruses.




Frigid Antarctica Loaded with Viruses   Live Science - November 5, 2009

Antarctica's icy lakes are home to a surprisingly diverse community of viruses, including some that were previously unidentified. At first glance, Antarctica's freshwater lakes don't seem very hospitable to life. They remain frozen for a good nine months out of the year, and they contain very few nutrients. Some of these lakes have little animal life and are dominated by microorganisms, including algae, bacteria, protozoans and viruses.




  Map Characterizes Active Lakes Below Antarctic Ice   PhysOrg - August 26, 2009
Lakes in Antarctica, concealed under miles of ice, require scientists to come up with creative ways to identify and analyze these hidden features. Now, researchers using space-based lasers on a NASA satellite have created the most comprehensive inventory of lakes that actively drain or fill under Antarctica's ice. They have revealed a continental plumbing system that is more dynamic than scientists thought.




Scientists propose Antarctic location for 'missing' ice sheet   PhysOrg - August 26, 2009
New research by scientists at UC Santa Barbara indicates a possible Antarctic location for ice that seemed to be missing at a key point in climate history 34 million years ago. The research, which has important implications for climate change, is described in a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.




Origin of Antarctic ice revealed - Mountains found under the ice   BBC - June 3, 2009
Incredible peaks and valleys, buried beneath ice for 14 million years, have revealed evidence of how the East Antarctic ice sheet first formed.




How Antarctica grew its ice – and lost its hanging gardens   New Scientist - June 3, 2009
Up to 3000 metres beneath the ice, at the coldest point on Earth, towering peaks, hanging valleys and deep gorges have been frozen in ice for 14 million years. Now the first detailed view of this frozen landscape is revealing how the world's biggest chunk of ice – the Antarctic ice sheet – was born. The radar images suggest that Antarctica "grew" its ice cap in three stages, carving out the rock below in distinct ways as glaciers expanded, retracted, and flowed downstream. The images were collected between 2004 and 2008 by researchers who drove huge trains of caterpillar tractors in tight lines over Dome A, a plateau of ice at the heart of Antarctica. The tractors carried radars that pinged down through the ice and sent back profiles of the frozen rock landscape below. Dome A, the highest point on the continent, is also one of the coldest places on Earth, with temperatures as low as -90 °C. Far beneath its frozen surface lie the Gamburtsev mountains, where glaciologists believe the Antarctic ice sheet was born. Its distance to the ocean and high altitude would have made it the coolest spot on the continent 34 million years ago, when the ice began to grow.




How Antarctica Got Its Ice   Live Science - June 3, 2009
Antarctica is a massive block of ice today, but it used to more simply be a range of glacier-topped mountains like those found in Alaska and the Alps. The strange continent's thick ice sheets formed tens of millions of years ago against an Alpine-style backbone of mountains during a period of significant climate change, a new study finds. The Antarctic continent now is covered almost entirely by ice that averages about a mile (1.6 kilometers) thick.




1.5-million-year-old Antarctic Microbe Community Discovered   Live Science - April 16, 2009

Glacier "Bleeds" Proof of Million-Year-Old Life-Forms   Live Science - April 16, 2009
Iron oxides stain the snout of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica - a feature called Blood Falls. Gushing from a glacier, rust-stained Blood Falls contains evidence that microbes have survived in prehistoric seawater deep under ice for perhaps millions of years, a new study says.




New Antarctic Fish Species Discovered   Live Science - March 7, 2009
Spanish researcher has discovered a newfound species of fish in an area of the Antarctic Ocean that has not been studied since 1904. The fish, given the name Gosztonyia antarctica, was found at a depth of 2,000 feet (615 meters) in the Bellingshausen Sea, an area between two islands along the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The area has been little explored by scientists because it is relatively inaccessible and the ocean floor beneath it has not been mapped, said the researcher who made the discovery, Jesús Matallanas of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.




'Ghost peaks' emerge from the ice   BBC - February 24, 2009
Scientists have completed their mission to map one of the most extraordinary mountain ranges on Earth. The Gamburtsevs are a set of peaks equal in size to the European Alps, but they are hidden deep under the ice in the middle of the Antarctic continent. The survey data gathered by the multi-national team working in harsh, sub-zero temperatures will help resolve the mystery of why the range exists at all. Their presence, when first discovered in the 1950s, was totally unexpected. Scientists thought the interior of the continent would be relatively flat. Modern-day remote-sensing technology reveals quite the opposite - a very jagged landscape, albeit buried under up to 4km of ice.




Odd, Identical Species Found at Both Poles National Geographic - February 15, 2009

Ice oceans 'are not poles apart' BBC - February 15, 2009
At least 235 marine species are living in both polar regions, despite being 12,000km apart, a census has found.




Same Species Found at Both Ends of Earth Live Science - February 15, 2009

Scientists have determined that at least 235 species live in both polar seas despite the 8,000 miles (13,000 km) between the ends of the Earth. How some of the creatures wound up at the top and bottom of the planet is a mystery. Distance and habitat divisions - such as warm water between the two regions - are among the things that can separate creatures and lead to new species. A DNA analysis is underway to confirm if the like species are in fact identical. They also found evidence that cold water species are moving toward the poles to escape rising ocean temperatures. The project has also returned dramatic photos of species as wide-ranging as ice-loving sand fleas and an antifreeze Antarctic fish that can withstand temperatures that would freeze other fish.




Antarctic Ice Shelf Vista - It's all gone but the mountains. NASA - February 15, 2009




Antarctic Warming Is Continent-Wide   BBC - January 22, 2009




Huge Mountain Range Should Not Be There Live Science - October 21, 2008




15-Foot Antarctic "Salamander" Found; Was Toothy Terror National Geographic - September 11, 2008
An ancient, giant, salamander-like amphibian with a particularly nasty bite has been identified from a 240-million-year-old fossil, scientists report. Dubbed Kryostega collinsoni, the Antarctic creature was about 15 feet (4.57 meters) long and chomped down on prey using sharp teeth that protruded from the roof of its mouth.




Prehistoric Antarctic Bugs and Plants Discovered National Geographic - August 5, 2008
Plants, insects, and other life-forms dating back 14 million years have been found on Antarctica, a new study says. The specimens - some of which contain organic tissue help paint a picture of a temperate Antarctica where glacial lakes were surrounded by trees and swarmed with buzzing blackflies.




Ancient moss, insects found in Antarctica MSNBC - August 5, 2008

Mosses once grew and insects crawled in what are now barren valleys in Antarctica, according to scientists who have recovered remains of life from that frozen continent. Fourteen million years ago the now lifeless valleys were tundra, similar to parts of Alaska, Canada and Siberia cold but able to support life, researchers report.




Antarctic Fossils Paint Picture Of Much Warmer Continent Science Daily - August 6, 2008

National Science Foundation-funded scientists working in an ice-free region of Antarctica have discovered the last traces of tundra--in the form of fossilized plants and insects--on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began a relentless drop millions of years ago.




Rock links Antarctica and North America MSNBC - July 28, 2008

A solitary chunk of granite, small enough to heft in one hand, is key evidence that Australia and parts of Antarctica were once attached to North America, a new study suggests. The Earth's continents are thought to have collided to become supercontinents and broken apart again several times in Earth's 4.5 billion year history. The most recent supercontinent was Pangaea, which began to break apart about 200 million years ago; the landmasses that comprised Pangaea eventually wandered into the current configuration of continents.




Tiny Fossils Reveal Warm Antarctic Past National Geographic - July 28, 2008
Hundreds of fossils of crustacean-like animals no bigger than a pinhead have been found in Antarctica, scientists say. The 14-million-year-old called ostracods were found recently in an ancient lake bed in the Dry Valleys region in the continent's interior. The well-preserved fossils are likely the last remnants of a warmer Antarctica, before a massive and intense climate cooling millions of years ago set in, new research suggests.




Fossil Suggests Antarctica Much Warmer in Past Live Science - July 22, 2008
The well-preserved fossils of ostracods, a type of small crustaceans, came from the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica's Transantarctic Mountains and date from about 14 million years ago. The fossils were a rare find, showing all of the ostracods' soft anatomy in 3-D




A single boulder may prove that Antarctica and North America were once connected PhysOrg - July 17, 2008
A lone granite boulder found against all odds high atop a glacier in Antarctica may provide additional key evidence to support a theory that parts of the southernmost continent once were connected to North America hundreds of millions of years ago.




Ice Adrift From Warming Scrapes Antarctic Seabed Bare National Geographic - July 17, 2008

Rapid warming along the Antarctic Peninsula is causing more skyscraper-sized icebergs to break free, drift, and scour away practically all life along swaths of the seafloor, according to a new study. Ocean-bottom scrubbings along the West Antarctic Peninsula will increase as temperatures rise, annihilating some animal and plant populations but helping others by clearing the habitat, the study said. The study establishes for the first time the intimate link between increased scouring and declines in winter sea ice due to climate change, researchers said.




Fossilized Burrows 245 Million Years Old Suggest Lizard-like Creatures In Antarctica Science Daily - June 9, 2008
For the first time paleontologists have found fossilized burrows of tetrapods -- any land vertebrates with four legs or leglike appendages -- in Antarctica dating from the Early Triassic epoch, about 245 million years ago. The fossils were created when fine sand from an overflowing river poured into the animals' burrows and hardened into casts of the open spaces. The largest preserved piece is about 14 inches long, 6 inches wide and 3 inches deep. No animal remains were found inside the burrow casts, but the hardened sediment in each burrow preserved a track made as the animals entered and exited.




New Early Triassic mammal-like reptile, Thrinaxodon, Fossils Suggest Ancient Cat-sized Reptiles in Antarctica Live Science - June 8, 2008

Cat-sized reptiles once roamed what is now the icebox of Antarctica, snuggling up in burrows and peeping above ground to snag plant roots and insects. The evidence for this scenario comes from preserved burrow casts discovered in the Transantarctic Mountains, which extend 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the polar continent and contain layers of rock dating back 400 million years.




Antarctic Ice Causes Glacial 'Earthquakes' Live Science - June 7, 2008

These ice-driven seismic waves had the force of a magnitude 7 earthquake. Scientists have discovered their first icequake a movement of a huge stream of ice in Antarctica that creates seismic waves, just like an earthquake, and can be felt hundreds of miles away. These ice-driven seismic waves had the force of a magnitude 7 earthquake, he said. That's equivalent to the strength of the 2005 Fukuoka earthquake, which killed only one, but displaced more than 3,000 people.




"Brittle Star City" Found on Antarctic Seamount National Geographic - May 20, 2008
A teeming horde of brittle stars has been discovered atop an undersea mountain chain near Antarctica, challenging long-held assumptions about the ecological role of such submerged peaks, known as seamounts. The find, nicknamed "Brittle Star City," was made by a team surveying waters near the Macquarie Ridge, 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) south of New Zealand, as part of the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year scientific study of life in the oceans. Voyage leader Ashley Rowden said the researchers were amazed as images from towed cameras revealed tens of millions of brittle stars - invertebrates related to starfish and sea urchins - feeding in the fierce currents that swirl around Antarctica.




Giant Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses National Geographic - March 26, 2008

A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk.




Under-Ice Volcano Eruption Spewed Ash Over Antarctica National Geographic - January 21, 2008

A rare volcanic eruption punched through Antarctica's ice sheet more than 2,000 years ago, scattering ash across the frozen landscape, a radar survey has revealed. The eruption was the biggest in Antarctica in the past 10,000 years, researchers estimate.


Ancient Antarctic eruption noted   BBC - January 21, 2008
Scientists have found what they say is the first evidence of a volcanic eruption under the Antarctic ice sheet. They believe the volcano erupted about 2,000 years ago, and would have burst through its ice covering, producing a burst of steam and rocky debris. They say it could aid understanding of an ice mass which is likely to play a key role in climate change. The researchers discovered the eruption's traces by analyzing radar data collected during an airborne survey of the area in 2004/5. It showed a layer of volcanic ash - highly reflective to radar - that had been deposited on the ice surface and subsequently buried under successive years of snow in what are now the Hudson Mountains. In the middle of the area, the rock underneath the ice rises up in the shape of a mountain as much as 1km high. The thickness of ice above suggests the eruption occurred just over 2,200 years ago.




New Dinosaur Discovered in Antarctica   Live Science - December 11, 2007

A hefty, long-necked dinosaur that lumbered across the Antarctic before meeting its demise 190 million years ago has been identified and named, more than a decade after intrepid paleontologists sawed and chiseled the remains of the primitive plant-eater from its icy grave. A team led by William Hammer of Augustana College had unearthed the dino fossils in the early 1990s. They found a partial foot, leg and ankle bones on Mt. Kirkpatrick near the Beardmore Glacier in Antarctica at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet (nearly 4,000 meters). It wasn't until recently, though, that researchers examined the fossils.




NASA Unveils New Hi-Def Map of Antarctica   Live Science - November 27, 2007
The frozen landscape of Antarctica can be seen in more detail than ever before. Scientists have stitched together more than a thousand satellite images to make a new, true-color map of the southernmost continent, unveiled by NASA today. The map, dubbed the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica, is a realistic, nearly cloudless view of the southernmost continent with a resolution 10 times greater than in previous images.




White Continent in its full glory   BBC - November 27, 2007
Scientists have produced the most detailed map yet of Antarctica. US and UK researchers have stitched together more than 1,000 views of the White Continent to make a stunning new high-definition polar panorama. The images come primarily from the American Landsat spacecraft and show features on the 3,500km-wide icy terrain down to a resolution of 15m. The international team behind the project says the true-color mosaic will revolutionize Antarctic research. It is said to be 10 times more detailed than any made before. It can be browsed through a free-to-use website, and the data will also be made available for use on "virtual globe" software, such as Google Earth.




Antarctic Icebergs Teeming With Life, Study Says   National Geographic - June 22, 2007
Anecdotal scientific observations suggest marine plants, shrimplike crustaceans, and seabirds - big players in the ocean food chain - congregate on and around the chunks of ice. Icebergs are proliferating in the Antarctic as rising temperatures shrink and split the continent's ice shelves, leading scientists to wonder what effect this has on the marine environment.




Bizarre New Deep-Sea Creatures Found Off Antarctica   National Geographic - May 17, 2007
A treasure trove of more than 700 new species has been uncovered in the dark depths of oceans surrounding Antarctica, researchers report. Photos




Antarctic 'treasure trove' found   BBC - May 17, 2007
An extraordinarily diverse array of marine life has been discovered in the deep, dark waters around Antarctica. Scientists have found more than 700 new species of marine creatures in seas once thought too hostile to sustain such rich biodiversity. Groups of carnivorous sponges, free-swimming worms, crustaceans and molluscs were collected. The findings, published in the journal Nature, could provide insights into the evolution of ocean life in this area.




From beneath Antarctica's Ross Sea, scientists retrieve pristine record of the continent's climate cycles   PhysOrg - April 16, 2007
Researchers with the Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program, which concluded its first field season in January, say long cores of sedimentary rocks that they recovered from below the bed of the Ross Sea beneath the ice shelf allow them to peer deeply into the past to a time when Antarctica was a warmer, more inviting place. They were surprised, for example, to find such large volumes of fossil diatoms - microscopic single-celled algae that live in surface or shallow waters - in the cores. The presence of the fossilized one-cell creatures, some of them previously unknown to science, confirms that large areas of the Ross Ice Shelf have previously melted and were replaced with highly productive open waters. Studies of the cores may provide scientists with glimpses into the planet’s future if predictions of global temperature increases are accurate. Either way, they say, data from the cores will help create more accurate climate models for predicting future trends.




Strange New Creatures Found in Antarctica (images included)   Live Science - February 26, 2007
Several strange creatures including a psychedelic octopus have been found in frigid waters off Antarctica in one of the world’s most pristine marine environments. Others resembled corals and shrimps. At least 30 appear to be new to science, said Julian Gutt, chief scientist of an expedition that was part of the International Polar Year research effort set to launch on March 1. The researchers catalogued about 1,000 species in an area of the Antarctic seabed where warming temperatures are believed to have caused the collapse of overlying ice shelves, affecting the marine life below.




Antarctic marine explorers reveal first biological changes after collapse of polar ice shelves   PhysOrg - February 26, 2007
Once roofed by ice for millennia, a 10,000 square km portion of the Antarctic seabed represents a true frontier, one of Earth's most pristine marine ecosystems, made suddenly accessible to exploration by the collapse of the Larsen A and B ice shelves, 12 and five years ago respectively. Now it has yielded secrets to some 52 marine explorers who accomplished the seabed's first comprehensive biological survey during a 10-week expedition aboard the German research vessel Polarstern.




Chain of Cascading Lakes Discovered Under Antarctica   National Geographic - February 16, 2007
A series of connected lakes has been discovered deep beneath glaciers in Antarctica that is speeding streams of polar ice into the sea, scientists announced yesterday. The lakes appear to be filling and emptying rapidly as water cascades from one lake to another before eventually reaching the ocean. The find is important, because scientists believe this water below the surface helps carry ice into the sea, ultimately contributing to a rise in sea levels.




Antarctic water world uncovered   BBC - February 15, 2007
Giant "blisters" containing water that rapidly expand and contract have been mapped beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Fed by a complex network of rivers, the subglacial reservoirs force the overlying ice to rise and fall. By tracking these changes with Nasa's Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) scientists were able to map the extent of the subglacial plumbing. The results, published in the journal Science, show that some areas fell by up to 9m (30ft) over just two years.




Baby plesiosaur bones found in Antarctic China View -   December 13, 2006

The bones of a baby plesiosaur have been recovered from an Antarctic island, scientists reported Monday. In life, 70 million years ago, the five-foot-long animal would have resembled Nessie, the long-necked creature reported to inhabit Scotland's Loch Ness. The new fossil skeleton is one of the most complete of its type ever found, researchers said. It will go on display Wednesday at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology's Museum of Geology. Plesiosaurs lived for millions of years in the then-warm southern ocean surrounding Antarctica, with adults growing as large as 32 feet long. With diamond-shaped fins they could "fly" through the water much as penguins do now.




Alaskan storm cracks giant iceberg to pieces in faraway Antarctica   PhysOrg - October 2, 2006
A severe storm that occurred in the Gulf of Alaska in October 2005 generated an ocean swell that six days later broke apart a giant iceberg floating near the coast of Antarctica, more than 8,300 miles away. A team of scientists led by Professors Douglas MacAyeal at the University of Chicago and Emile Okal at Northwestern University present evidence connecting the two events in the October issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.




'Warm' species invading Antarctic   BBC - June 24, 2006
Scientists are calling for action to prevent foreign species from taking hold in Antarctica and wrecking the continent's unique ecosystems. Despite Antarctica's inhospitable environment, non-native species introduced by tourists, scientists and explorers are gaining a foothold. Species can hitch a ride on ships and planes carrying visitors and supplies.




Largest Ever Killer Crater Found Under Ice in Antarctica   PhysOrg - June 2, 2006

Planetary scientists have found evidence of a meteor impact much larger and earlier than the one that killed the dinosaurs -- an impact that they believe caused the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history.




Under-Ice Lakes in Antarctica Linked by Buried Channels   National Geographic - April 20, 2006
Buried under Antarctica's miles-thick ice sheet, more than a hundred lakes are dotted around the continent. Now, for the first time, scientists are connecting the dots. A new study found that natural "plumbing" can form under the ice, linking under-ice lakes that are hundreds of miles apart. These channels may allow water to gush suddenly from one lake to another.




Secret rivers found in Antarctic   BBC - April 19, 2006


Antarctica's buried lakes are connected by a network of rivers moving water far beneath the surface, say UK scientists. It was thought the sub-glacial lakes had been completely sealed for millions of years, enabling unique species to evolve in them. Writing in the journal Nature, experts say international plans to drill into the lakes may now have to be reviewed.




Pile-up as berg hits Antarctica   BBC - April 19, 2005

New Martian Meteorite Found In Antarctica   Science Daily - July 21, 2004
While rovers and orbiting spacecraft scour Mars searching for clues to its past, researchers have uncovered another piece of the Red Planet in Antarctica. The new specimen was found by a field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) on Dec. 15, 2003, on an icefield in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 kilometers (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2 gram (1.5 pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History involved in classification of Antarctic finds said the mineralogy and texture of the meteorite are unmistakably Martian. The new specimen is the seventh recognized member of a group of Martian meteorites called the nakhlites, named after the first known specimen that fell in Nakhla, Egypt in 1911.




New Map Reveals Hidden Features Of Ice-buried Antarctic Lake   Science Daily - July 7, 2004
Two Distinct Ecosystems May Exist

Scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State have developed the first-ever map of water depth in Lake Vostok, which lies between 3,700 and 4,300 meters (more than 2 miles) below the continental Antarctic ice sheet. The new comprehensive measurements of the lake -- roughly the size of North America's Lake Ontario -- indicate it is divided into two distinct basins that may have different water chemistry and other characteristics. The findings have important implications for the diversity of microbial life in Lake Vostok and provide a strategy for how scientists study the lake’s different ecosystems should international scientific consensus approve exploration of the pristine and ancient environment.




Lake under Antarctica ice may be divided MSNBC
Lake Vostok, deep beneath the Antarctic ice, appears to be divided into two deep basins, according to researchers who profiled the lake with an array of complex instruments. Hidden beneath some two miles of ice, Lake Vostok is a liquid body of water roughly the size of Lake Ontario. It is thought to have existed undisturbed for thousands of years and researchers hope to sample the lake for signs of microbes. A longtime Russian research station at the lake site has produced measurements of the lake bottom at various points. But the new analysis is the first overall water depth map of the lake.




Antarctic - Lake Vida's secret water December 16, 2002 - BBC

Researchers uncovered the extreme lake, called Lake Vida, along with 2,800-year-old microbes, under 19 metres of ice. Because the body of water has been cut off from the rest of the world for millennia, the scientists say it could represent a previously unknown type of ecosystem. This might make it an important template for the search for evidence of microbial life on other worlds, including Mars, they argue.




Researchers Uncover Extreme Lake - And 3000-Year-Old Microbes - In Mars-Like Antarctic Environment Science Daily - December 17 2002
NSF-supported researchers drilling into Lake Vida, an Antarctic "ice-block" lake, have found the lake isn't really an ice block at all. In the December 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reveals that Antarctic Lake Vida may represent a previously unknown ecosystem, a frigid, "ice-sealed," lake that contains the thickest non-glacial lake ice cover on Earth and water seven times saltier than seawater.




Hide-and-seek in Antarctic seas BBC - March 20, 2002
After weeks of playing hide-and-seek in polar pack ice, the Australian research ship Aurora Australis has successfully retrieved scientific instruments that have been lying in deep water off Antarctica's coast for more than a year. The instruments were moored near the Amery Ice Shelf, between 500 and 1,200 metres (1,600 - 4,000 feet) below the ocean surface. They were placed there to collect valuable data as water moved across the face of the shelf. This will give scientists a better idea of how the seas around the White Continent behave and how they might affect global climate.




Bacteria found in Antarctic ice core BBC - December 10, 1999

Bacteria have been found deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, just above the sub-glacial Lake Vostok. The lake, which is buried nearly four kilometres under the ice, is one of the deepest-known bodies of fresh water on the planet and has excited researchers ever since its discovery using airborne radio-echo soundings and other techniques in 1974. The lake's isolation from the rest of the biosphere has led many to speculate that it may contain lifeforms unknown to science. International research institutes, including the US space agency Nasa, are now considering the merits of drilling into the lake.





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