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CryoScoop: Massive rift portends Antarctic berg

Researchers flying over West Antarctica last month were at the right place at the right time, spotting an actively growing rift that they expect will spawn an iceberg about 10 times the size of Manhattan.

04 Nov 2011

CryoScoop: Green Light to McMurdo

Polar scientists breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the good news reached inboxes: Icebreaking capability was restored to McMurdo Station, preventing the deferment of some Antarctic field work this year.

Each year, an icebreaker heads to McMurdo Sound where it cuts and maintains a path to McMurdo Station, a large U.S. Antarctic research base and the stage for logistical operations, located on the southern tip of Ross Island. The ice-free channel allows for the passage of tankers and cargo ships bringing supplies and fuel to the remote establishment.

26 Aug 2011

Blogging on EARTH: Yellow submarine robot debuts at AGU meeting

It doesn’t look like a typical robot. About half a meter across and 9 meters long, a new, super-high-tech submarine ROV, unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting, strongly resembles … well, a big yellow cigar.

15 Dec 2010

December 1, 1959: Antarctic Treaty Signed

Science trumps all in Antarctica. For the past 50 years, Antarctica has remained a military-free, globally shared continent, dedicated to peace and scientific advancement, thanks to the Antarctica Treaty.
01 Dec 2009

Student scientists cast a long shadow

Last December, in the enormous, fluorescent-lit hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center South, thousands of geophysicists and geologists milled through dozens of aisles of poster displays, chatting enthusiastically about the latest in geophysical research at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Within each aisle, people clustered around the more intriguing displays, trying to hear more about a given researcher’s work. At the center of one such group, commanding his own audience, was the youngest scientist ever to present research at an AGU conference.

13 May 2009

People of the Ice

“We do not come to Antarctica because we are in love with Antarctica. We come to Antarctica because we want a mystery to solve, and we love a challenge. And there’s one here.”

With those words, Adam Lewis, a glacial geologist from North Dakota State University, sums up the human story at the heart of “Ice People,” an austere, unpretentious and often gorgeous documentary about scientists working at the end of the world.

09 Jan 2009

Montreal Protocol affects more than just ozone

In 1987, nearly 200 nations signed the Montreal Protocol to restrict the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. The international treaty helped keep the ozone hole over Antarctica from growing further, preventing an increase in harmful radiation reaching Earth’s surface. Twenty years later, new research suggests that the treaty helped the planet dodge more than one bullet: The Montreal Protocol also prevented significant regional climate change.

13 Nov 2008

Glacier moves in fits and starts

The Whillans Ice Stream — an Antarctic glacier that covers an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey — flows from the interior of the continent to the ocean at a rate of about one meter per day. That’s not unusual for a large glacier, but how it covers that distance is surprising. Instead of inching along at a steady pace as most glaciers do, the Whillans Ice Stream jerks forward just twice a day, each time sending out seismic waves equivalent to a major earthquake.

28 Aug 2008