Antarctic 100-year-old photo negatives discovery

This video about the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition is called Endurance, Shackleton and the Antarctic.

From Discovery News:

100-Year-Old Negatives Found in Antarctica: Photos

Dec 30, 2013 11:00 AM ET

Frozen Block

Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators recently made a stunning discovery: a box of 22 exposed but unprocessed negatives, frozen in a block of ice for nearly one hundred years.

The negatives were recovered from a corner of a supply hut that British explorer Robert Falcon Scott established to support his doomed expedition to the South Pole from 1910-1913. Scott and his men reached the South Pole but died on the trip home.

The hut was next used by the Ross Sea Party of Sir Ernest Shackleton‘s 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition after they were stranded on Ross Island when their ship, the Aurora, blew out to sea. This party is believed to have left behind the undeveloped negatives.

The cellulose nitrate negatives are seen here as they were found — frozen in ice.

Greenland ‘Grand Canyon’ discovery under ice

This video from the USA is called Greenland Rocks, for Geologists.

From Reuters:

Giant Canyon Found Entombed under Greenland Ice

A vast and previously unmapped gorge 800 meters (half a mile) deep has been found under ice in Greenland, comparable in size to parts of the Grand Canyon in the United States, scientists said.

By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle

OSLO – A vast and previously unmapped gorge 800 meters (half a mile) deep has been found under ice in Greenland, comparable in size to parts of the Grand Canyon in the United States, scientists said.

Other studies have also revealed a rift valley entombed in Antarctica‘s ice in 2012 that scientists said may be speeding the flow of ice towards the sea, and a jagged “ghost range” of mountains buried in Antarctica in 2009 similar to the Alps.

“It’s remarkable to find something like this when many people believe the surface of the Earth is so well mapped,” lead author Jonathan Bamber, of the University of Bristol in England, said of the canyon described in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

“On land, Google Street View has photographed just about every building in every major city,” he told Reuters of the study, using ice-penetrating radar and carried out with colleagues in Canada and Italy.

The canyon is 750 km (470 miles) long in central and north Greenland and comparable in scale to parts of the Grand Canyon that is twice as deep – 1.6 km – at its deepest, they wrote. The Greenland canyon is buried under about 2 km of ice.

About as long as the Rhone river in France and Switzerland, the ravine was probably cut by an ancient river that eroded rocks as it flowed north before temperatures cooled and ice blanketed Greenland 3.5 million years ago, they wrote.

The gorge probably still plays a role in draining some meltwater from beneath the ice sheet.


The scientists used airborne data collected mainly by NASA and by scientists in Britain and Germany to piece together maps of the canyon. At some frequencies, ice is transparent to radio waves that bounce off the bedrock.

Bamber said the gorge would help scientists refine models of how Greenland’s ice sheet slowly flows downhill but was unlikely to affect understanding of how global warming is melting ice.

“I don’t think it’s particularly influential” in determining the rate of ice flow, echoed David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey. He said the canyon was so deep under the ice that it was unlikely to be affected by any warming trend for many decades.

Vaughan led a four-year international study called ice2sea, which said in May that world sea levels could rise by between 16.5 and 69 cm (6-27 inches) with moderate global warming by 2100, partly because of a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica.

He told Reuters a few blanks remain on the map, including two areas of east Antarctica that scientists jokingly dub the “Poles of Ignorance”.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

Antarctica’s First Whale Skeleton Discovered

This video from Antarctica is about a minke whale playing with a zodiac.

From ScienceDaily:

Antarctica’s First Whale Skeleton Found With Nine New Deep-Sea Species

Mar. 18, 2013 — Marine biologists have, for the first time, found a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica, giving new insights into life in the sea depths. The discovery was made almost a mile below the surface in an undersea crater and includes the find of at least nine new species of deep-sea organisms thriving on the bones.

The research, involving the University of Southampton, Natural History Museum, British Antarctic Survey, National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and Oxford University, is published today in Deep-Sea Research II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.

The planet’s largest animals are also a part of the ecology of the very deep ocean, providing a rich habitat of food and shelter for deep sea animals for many years after their death,” says Diva Amon, lead author of the paper based at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science (which is based at NOC) and the Natural History Museum. “Examining the remains of this southern Minke whale gives insight into how nutrients are recycled in the ocean, which may be a globally important process in our oceans.”

Worldwide, only six natural whale skeletons have ever been found on the seafloor. Scientists have previously studied whale carcasses, known as a ‘whale fall‘, by sinking bones and whole carcasses. Despite large populations of whales in the Antarctic, whale falls have not been studied in this region until now.

“At the moment, the only way to find a whale fall is to navigate right over one with an underwater vehicle,” says co-author Dr Jon Copley of University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science. Exploring an undersea crater near the South Sandwich Islands gave scientists just that chance encounter. “We were just finishing a dive with the UK’s remotely operated vehicle, Isis, when we glimpsed a row of pale-coloured blocks in the distance, which turned out to be whale vertebrae on the seabed,” continues Dr Copley.

When a whale dies and sinks to the ocean floor, scavengers quickly strip its flesh. Over time, other organisms then colonise the skeleton and gradually use up its remaining nutrients. Bacteria break down the fats stored in whale bones, for example, and in turn provide food for other marine life. Other animals commonly known as zombie worms can also digest whale bone.

“One of the great remaining mysteries of deep ocean biology is how these tiny invertebrates can spread between the isolated habitats these whale carcasses provide on the seafloor,” says co-author Dr Adrian Glover at the Natural History Museum. ‘Our discovery fills important gaps in this knowledge.’

The team surveyed the whale skeleton using high-definition cameras to examine the deep-sea animals living on the bones and collected samples to analyse ashore. Researchers think that the skeleton may have been on the seafloor for several decades. Samples also revealed several new species of deep-sea creatures thriving on the whale’s remains, including a ‘bone-eating zombie worm‘ known as Osedax burrowing into the bones and a new species of isopod crustacean, similar to woodlice, crawling over the skeleton. There were also limpets identical to those living at nearby deep-sea volcanic vents.

New Species of Naked Bone-Eating Worms in Antarctica: here.

An American Shutdown Reaches the Earth’s End & damages years of work on Antartica, while ice melts evidence away: here.

It’s official: The coldest place on Earth is a high ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau: here.

Antarctic bacteria discovery

This video is called Living Bacteria Found Deep Under the Ice in Antarctica.

From New Scientist:

Mystery bug found in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok

There is something alive in Lake Vostok, deep beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet, and we don’t know what it is. Water samples from the lake contain a bacterium that does not seem to belong to any known bacterial groups – although whether it truly is a new form of life remains to be proven.

Russian scientists breached Lake Vostok in February 2012, after years of drilling. The lake lies beneath 3.5 kilometres of ice, and has been cut off from the rest of the world since Antarctica froze 14 million years ago.

The Russians’ borehole was filled with lubricating kerosene, which contains bacteria – causing concerns that the lake might be contaminated. But the project seems to have avoided this. When the drill hit the lake, it automatically withdrew in response to the pressure change. Lake water gushed into the borehole, pushing the kerosene up the hole before freezing.

Since last May, Sergey Bulat of the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia and colleagues have been studying the water that froze onto the drill bit. “The samples proved to be very dirty,” he says, with lots of kerosene. Preliminary genetic analyses reported last October found bacteria from the drilling fluid, not the lake.

Bulat has now gone back to the DNA samples. Comparing their DNA sequences to a database of known contaminants, he identified short fragments of DNA belonging to 19 different known bacterial species. “All of them proved to be contaminants, or bacteria from human skin,” says Bulat.

More unusual

A twentieth species is more unusual. The genetic samples show less than 86 per cent similarity to the known major groups of bacteria. That could mean it belongs to an entirely new division, says Bulat, although he concedes that it could just be a new species.

“This is encouraging, but we don’t really know much about it,” says David Pearce of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. He says it would have been surprising if there hadn’t been life in Lake Vostok, as organisms manage to survive in all manner of extreme environments. More interesting, he says, is what the life in Vostok looks like, and how different it is to everything else on Earth.

Pearce has studied samples from Lake Hodgson, which lies beneath just a few metres of ice in west Antarctica. He says 25 per cent of the genetic sequences he has found do not match anything found in DNA databases. So on its own, having an unusual DNA sequence does not prove that the Vostok bacterium belongs to a new group. There’s a long list of systematic tests that will need to be carried out in order to prove that.

The results must also be independently replicated, says Martin Siegert of the University of Bristol, UK, who led an unsuccessful attempt to drill into another Antarctic lake – Ellsworth – last year.

Sediment life

If the bacterium does belong to a new group, it will quickly come under scrutiny. “The next question is, where does it come from?” says Siegert. Researchers think life is most likely in the sediments at the lake bottom, where there is food. But if Bulat’s bacterium came from the sediment in Lake Vostok, it must have been sucked up through 700 metres of lake water when the Russian drill head broke through the icy roof above Vostok.

“The only way to find out is to go into the lake itself and do direct sampling,” says Siegert. Robots could collect lake water and sediment.

American researchers recently drilled into Lake Whillans, a shallower subglacial lake that is connected to a subglacial network of lakes and rivers, and also found living microbes.

Liebster Award, thank you Barbara!

Liebster Award

Barbara of the blog Common Sense in an uncommon world has been so kind to award Dear Kitty. Some blog the Liebster Award! Thank you so much Barbara, and all the best for you and your blog!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

Section 1. Add the award logo to your blog.

Section 2. Answer the eleven questions.

Section 3. Pass the award on to 11 other blogs, link to them and let them know. Ask them eleven new questions.

Barbara’s eleven questions for her nominees are:

1. What is your idea of the coolest pen name? At the moment, my Internet pen name is petrel41. Petrel because of the beautiful snow petrel which I was privileged to see near Antarctica. And 41 because of a number in a street where I used to live, but don’t live any more.

2. If you were King/Queen… I would abdicate and abolish the monarchy. I don’t believe in monarchies.

3. What was the coolest decade for being a teen? 1960s. All sorts of new music rising … standards of living rising for many people, not just for a minority of billionaires, like now.

4. If you made the laws, how would you stop child abuse? Child abuse and how to stop it are really complex issues. One cannot stop it by better laws only. The questions then would still remain: will these laws be put into practice? And: will the child abuse become known soon; or will it be like with British child abuser Sim Jimmy Savile, who died and got a luxurious tombstone with an inscription in golden letters? Only removed later when the truth came out?

Briefly, too briefly: quite some people think of typical child abusers as mysterious unknown people, lurking in bushes, waiting for children unknown to them. That is not true. The great majority of child abusers know their victims; and are often in some position of authority over the children. That often makes it harder for children, or their parents, to denounce the culprits. Sir Jimmy Savile was a “celebrity” with a “good” reputation; and with links to government and other establishment people. If a child rapist is a priest, then there is the idea that denouncing that rapist would be against the church, against God Himself. So, the truth about little Marietje Kessels only comes out now, over a century after she was raped and murdered. If people would be encouraged to think about authority less uncritically, then cases of child abuse might go down.

5. How would you end poverty if you had the power? UK-based charity Oxfam says the world’s 100 richest people earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty four times over. So, according to these Oxfam figures, if these 100 people would give up 25% of their yearly income, then they still would have plenty of money left to buy private warship yachts, private planes, private Hawaiian islands, etc.

6. When did you realize you wanted to write? Already as a pre-teen, I wrote stories and poems.

7. What is your favorite dessert? Fruit salad.

8. Who was the greatest influence in your life? My mother; with her subscriptions to bird and wildlife magazines, and much more.

9. What was your favorite subject in school? Biology.

10. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would that be and why? There are many beautiful places. I spent wonderful spring days around Tavira in the Algarve in Portugal. I saw fantastic migratory birds and nesting swallows. I saw medieval architecture and poetry as well. On the other hand, the weather there in mid summer might be too hot.

11. Do you like winning these awards? Yes!

My eleven nominees are:

1. usmanhashmi

2. The Panama Adventure

3. margosnotebook

4. Ruth E Hendricks Photography

5. Miss Ayo Délé

6. Flowers, Trees, & Other Such Gifts of Nature

7. Oil Pastels by Mary

8. Sunlight in winter

9. roy thoman

10. La Photographie de Mode

11. Life For a Forest

My eleven questions for my nominees are:

1. If you are a WordPress blogger: did you blog somewhere else before you started your WordPress blog?

2. If yes to question #1, what are the main differences between your previous blog site and WordPress?

3. Do you think you are using all WordPress features which might be useful?

4. Do you know how many “likes” your blog got so far? If so, how? This is an important question for me, as some bloggers know, and I don’t have any idea how many “likes” my blog got so far :)

5, Do you use the Get Polling Polldaddy feature?

6. If so, is it working well on your site? I tried Polldaddy, but somehow it did not work well on my site :)

7. What is your favourite animal species?

8. What is your favourite plant species?

9. Did you ever make a blog post which you expected would get few visitors, but which on the contrary got many views?

10. Did you ever make a blog post which you expected would get many visitors, but which on the contrary got few views?

11. What is your favourite song?

New Antarctic penguin discoveries

This video is called Adelie Penguins of Paulet Island, Antarctica.

From Antarctic Science:

16 January 2013

Large-scale occupancy surveys in East Antarctica discover new Adélie penguin breeding sites and reveal an expanding breeding distribution

Colin Southwell and Louise Emmerson

Australian Antarctic Division, 203 Channel Highway, Kingston, TAS 7050 Australia


Knowledge of spatial distribution is fundamental to ecological studies and crucial for conservation and management of species and biodiversity, but detailed, large-scale spatial data are lacking for most taxa. Although the Adélie penguin is one of the most intensively studied Antarctic vertebrates, spatial data that could aid in ecological study and conservation management are incomplete. We undertook a large-scale survey of the current breeding distribution of Adélie penguins along 3800 km of the East Antarctic coastline

The survey increased the number of known breeding locations by 50% and revealed that the breeding distribution has expanded in some parts of the survey region over the past two to three decades. The expanding breeding distribution may reflect underlying population dynamics of sustained growth and resultant density dependent effect on dispersal and movement from established breeding sites to new sites. The comprehensive, large-scale distribution data from this study will form a baseline for assessing any future changes in Adélie penguin breeding distribution, provide data for developing spatial models for predicting future changes in breeding distribution under plausible scenarios of environmental change, and contribute to the development of metapopulation models by providing estimates of local colonization and extinction probabilities under specific conditions of metapopulation change.

Big Meteorite Discovered in Antarctica: here.