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Antarctica 2019

Antarctica 2019

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 03 Jan 2019, 19:16:16

Into the ice world: Drilling into Antarctica's Mt Erebus

Herald science reporter Jamie Morton is profiling a series of new studies taking place in Antarctica, where he travels to this month. Today, he talks to the University of Waikato's Professor Craig Cary.

Hidden within Antarctica's most active volcano could be a key to understanding life on other planets – and now scientists plan to drill into it.

The geothermal features found on Mt Erebus, overlooking New Zealand's Scott Base, are home to an abundance of micro-organisms with some extremely unusual features.

Scientists believe they may even have the potential to change how we understand life itself.

In a previous study, Waikato University microbiologist Professor Craig Cary and colleagues dug just 12cm into the soil on the mountain to find a remarkable variety of bacteria living just below the surface.

Cary said those very near the surface were very closely related with other such organisms living in geothermal systems elsewhere in the world – a finding that suggested these microscopic beings were being continually dispersed around the planet through the atmosphere.

"In this case, they could have originated from a massive volcano going off sometime in the past and moving them around the world and into other geothermal sites."

But, more interestingly, they also discovered bacteria that are not only appear endemic to Erebus but ancient when compared to those living today.

"As we went deeper and deeper into the soil, it wasn't just novel bacteria we were finding – but possibly bacteria that are adapting to the novel geochemistry, or gases, at Erebus," he said.

"We have known for over a hundred years that there are bacteria that can live and grow on energy bound up in certain chemicals common to geothermal systems when normal carbon-based food is limited.

"What is new on Erebus is that these chemicals are not abundant and yet we find bacteria thriving in this carbon limited environment."

"We know there's a lot of unique geochemistry on Erebus – but so far have not figured out how any bacteria are actually able to utilise it."

In a new three-year programme, just awarded a $935,000 grant from the Marsden Fund, a team led by Cary and Dr Matt Stott of the University of Canterbury will return to Erebus to investigate further.

They'd first drill directly into the volcano and use some new exciting approaches to grow the bacteria, before using a range of genomic methods to work out how they function and survive.

The team hoped to uncover new biological mechanisms for life that have never been seen, yet remained theoretically feasible.

"Put simply, we only know what we know," Cary said.

"Our current notion of life is very constrained around what we've already found and have been able to grow.

"And, at Erebus, we believe there is an isolated system with novel geochemistry that can drive completely unusual mechanisms to support life – and this would be appropriate for looking for life on other planets."

It's not the only major new study exploring Antarctica's incredible microbial communities.

Another project, led by Cary's Waikato University colleague Dr Adele Williamson, is attempting to reveal how the hardy microbes that live amid the McMurdo Dry Valleys' alien-like conditions can survive by repairing their own DNA.


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Re: Antarctica 2019

Unread postby Plantagenet » Fri 04 Jan 2019, 17:32:00

Antarctic sea ice hits record low extent for January

antarctic-sea-ice-melts-record-low-january-

Normally sea ice in Antarctica shrinks through January and into late February as the Antarctic summer progresses, but on Jan. 1 the Antarctic sea ice was already at a record low extent for the month.

There is an extraordinary amount of sea ice melting going on right now in Antarctica.

Every day of melting in January creates a new record.

Most likely in Feb or early March we'll see the all-time record low for Antarctic sea ice extent!

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Re: Antarctica 2019

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 05 Jan 2019, 21:40:31

On December 26, Antarctic sea ice extent fell below the low mark for this date, set in 2016, and has continued to track below all other years. Notably, the November to December 2016 period was considered an extreme excursion of Antarctic sea ice at the time. However, since then Antarctic sea ice extent has continually remained below the 1981 to 2010 median and mostly below the interquartile extent (below 75 percent of the 30-year range of values). This change in behavior, which began during the austral spring of 2016, contradicts prior characterizations of Antarctic sea ice cover as slowly expanding, yet highly variable. Instead, another strong decline through late December 2018 has taken the extent below the November and December 2016 levels to new record lows. Antarctica’s high year-to-year variability (record high extents for December were observed as recently as 2014 and 2007) suggests that a conclusive sea ice trend associated with the warming air and ocean around Antarctica has yet to reveal itself.


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Re: Antarctica 2019

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 05 Jan 2019, 21:41:31

On January 1, Antarctic sea ice extent stood at 5.47 million square kilometers (2.11 million square miles), the lowest extent on this date in the satellite record (since 1978). This value is 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 square miles) below the previous record low for January 1, set in 2017, and 1.88 million square kilometers (726,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. Extent declined at a rate of 253,000 square kilometers (97,700 square miles) per day through December, considerably faster than the 1981 to 2010 mean for December of 214,000 square kilometers (82,600 square miles) per day. Indeed, the rate of Antarctic ice extent loss for December 2018 is the fastest in the satellite record, albeit close to 2010 and 2005.


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Re: Antarctica 2019

Unread postby dohboi » Mon 14 Jan 2019, 21:34:13

https://www.axios.com/antarctica-ice-lo ... ac863.html

Antarctica is losing ice six times faster than in 1980s
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