Tag Archives: Antarctica

Two Months Aboard an Antarctic Icebreaker

In this video, two months aboard an antarctic icebreaker (the Nathaniel B. Palmer) are condensed into five minutes. As a bonus, it is narrated by research scientist Cassandra Brooks, who explains the different types of ice as well as what they were doing there in the first place.

[via]

Criminal Penguin Caught on Film

Brilliant footage on the BBC website from the Frozen Planet documentary. It depicts Adelie penguins on Ross Island, in Antarctica.

The footage they captured shows a male penguin stealing stones from its neighbour’s nest.

The birds build their stone nests to elevate and protect their eggs from run-off when the Antarctic ice melts.

Males with the best nests are more likely to attract a mate, so, in a colony of half a million penguins, the best stones are highly prized.

Jeff Wilson, director of the shoot, explained that he and the cameraman, Mark Smith, knew that the birds occasionally stole stones from one another. But he said it was a challenge to capture the moment in the chaos of a busy penguin colony.

‘Criminal’ Penguin Caught on Film   [BBC]

Penguins and Icebergs

[via]

Shackleton’s Antarctica in Colour

These are Frank Hurley’s famous early colour photographs of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ‘Endurance’ voyage, as part of the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917. Hurley was the official photographer on the expedition.

Early in 1915, their ship ‘Endurance’ became inexorably trapped in the Antarctic ice. Hurley managed to salvage the photographic plates by diving into mushy ice-water inside the sinking ship in October 1915.

And there are more here.

Blackie the Mutant Penguin

This all-black penguin was spotted by adventurer Andrew Evans in Antarctica. According to ornithologist Allan Baker:

“Well that is astonishing,” he said. “I’ve never ever seen that before. It’s a one in a zillion kind of mutation somewhere. The animal has lost control of its pigmentation patterns. Presumably it’s some kind of mutation.” He explained that typically, melanistic birds of all species will have white spots where melanin pigmentation has failed to color the feathers. But it’s extremely rare for melanin deposits to occur where they’re not normally located, as genes control those pathways (in this case, in the breast feathers of the king penguin). After looking through several texts, he ruled out the potential for it to be a hybrid and said that it’s closer in coloring to the Little Blue penguin. “But look at the size of those legs,” he added, “It’s an absolute monster.”

[via]

Lake Vostok

Cryobot_1

Lake Vostok is the world’s largest sub-glacial lake. It’s located beneath Antarctica, and was disovered by Soviet scientists who were drilling there. Just how large is it? Well, about the same size as Lake Ontario, and over three-and-a-half kilometres down. The really fascinating part about the lake is that it’s one of the most pristine aquatic environments on Earth, and may be home to some fascinating life forms not seen anywhere. Or some lethal ones, a-la the X-Files. The question is, how to explore it? Perhaps with a ‘cryobot’, like the one shown above. From Atlas Obscura:

But when the question of how to explore the lake came up, not long after its discovery, the Vostok scientists faced a serious dilemma. The lake is under immense pressure, and to breach the ice would have devastating consequences. Secondly, anything sent into this pristine environment would have to be as sterile as possible to avoid contamination.

In 1999, NASA approved funding for the development of a torpedo-like probe dubbed “Cryobot.” Equipped with a heated tip, the probe was designed to slowly melt its way down through the glacier, unwinding communication cables as it went. As Cryobot ventured down, the water would refreeze behind and above it. Then, before it breeched the ceiling of the lake, the probe was to decontaminate itself with a hydrogen peroxide bath. Once inside, Cryobot would release the remote-controlled “Hydrobot,” a specially designed submersible vehicle equipped with a camera and other instruments, to explore the interior of the lake.

Lake Vostok, Antarctica [Atlas Obscura]

Or, to read about this from one of the the best writers on the internet:

Raiders of the Lost Lake [Damn Interesting]

Bookmark and Share

Lake Vostok

The largest sub-glacial lake ever discovered.
  • Click to enlarge. Artist’s conception of the “Cryobot” and “Hydrobot.” source
  • Click to enlarge. Lake Vostok side view. source
  • Click to enlarge. Lake Vostok location. source
  • Click to enlarge. The “Cryobot” prototype. source

In 1996, Russian scientists were drilling ice core samples at Vostok Station in Antarctica. When they reached 3623 meters (11,886 feet), they stopped because they couldn’t figure out why the ice down this deep was so clean. After a series of tests using radar and seismic waves, it turned out that this ice was actually the uppermost region of the world’s largest warm-water sub-glacial lake – a lake roughly the size of Lake Ontario. The lake is composed of fresh water and has been isolated beneath the glacier for somewhere between half a million and a million years.

Naturally, the first thing that came to the scientists’ minds was that this lake could possibly be the most pristine liquid environment on Earth and could be full of living creatures and organisms that, due to isolation and adaptation, live no where else. Researchers tested the core samples taken close to the water and indeed found microbes that have never been found elsewhere.

But when the question of how to explore the lake came up, not long after its discovery, the Vostok scientists faced a serious dilemma. The lake is under immense pressure, and to breach the ice would have devastating consequences. Secondly, anything sent into this pristine environment would have to be as sterile as possible to avoid contamination.

In 1999, NASA approved funding for the development of a torpedo-like probe dubbed “Cryobot.” Equipped with a heated tip, the probe was designed to slowly melt its way down through the glacier, unwinding communication cables as it went. As Cryobot ventured down, the water would refreeze behind and above it. Then, before it breeched the ceiling of the lake, the probe was to decontaminate itself with a hydrogen peroxide bath. Once inside, Cryobot would release the remote-controlled “Hydrobot,” a specially designed submersible vehicle equipped with a camera and other instruments, to explore the interior of the lake.

Rise and Fall of the Nazi Dinosaurs

You all know how much I love stop-motion, so here’s another great one.