Displaying items by tag: Antarctic research

Greenturf-ASPA135-2008SARJPG

In late February there were reports of record-breaking high temperatures from scientists working on the Antarctic Peninsula. At the time Diana King and I were in NSW in Australia having spent the summer experiencing smoke pollution from the Australian bushfires along with extremely hot days. Our colleague Dana Bergstrom was sending us reports of rain at Davis Station in East Antarctica. Given that almost all precipitation falls as snow in Antarctica, these were strange reports. Our Chilean colleagues, Marisol Pizarro Rojas and  Gustavo Zúñiga were also reporting that there was no snow around the Escudero research station on King George Island and that every day was perfect for field work, a most a worrying development. There is always bad weather sometime in Antarctica!

Because of the news stories about extreme heat in Antarctica, I was asked to write a letter to the editor for Global Change Biology discussing these temperature extremes and what they might mean for Antarctic biodiversity. So, I reached out to Dana, Gustavo and Marisol for the insiders guide to the 2019/20 summer field season and in Australia, Diana and I started looking at the climate data. We decided we really needed a meteorological expert and so we asked Andrew Klekociuk if he could explain what was going on.

Antarctica-heatwave

What we didn’t expect to find was a heatwave at Casey (the station where we do most of our work). This had actually occurred in late January and our analysis showed that the whole summer season was characterised by heatwaves rolling around the continent from November to February. Unfortunately, we did not have a team at Casey this summer. We had planned to go in early February to continue the long-term monitoring that we started there in 2000.  One week before our team was due to go to Casey our trip was cancelled because of the risk that scientists would take COVID-19 to Antarctica. So, no one was there to see if our Casey moss beds were flooded by extra melt water, got heat stressed or both. However, the good news is that Antarctic winter teams appear to be free of coronavirus.

RedShedgloriousgreens2008SAR

At the end of March, the paper was published online in Global Change Biology. You can read it here, or check out the excellent synopsis written for the Conversation by Dana. We will be really interested to see what reports of biological changes arise from these extreme summer events in Antarctica.

As we see the world pivoting to manage the COVID-19 crisis, I am hopefully that we can use the same ingenuity, resolve, care and compassion to take action on climate change, so that these Antarctic summer heatwaves do not become our new normal. 

Published in News

In late February there were reports of record-breaking high temperatures from scientists working on the Antarctic Peninsula. At the time Diana King and I were in NSW in Australia having spent the summer experiencing smoke pollution from the Australian bushfires along with extremely hot days. Our colleague Dana Bergstrom was sending us reports of rain at Davis Station in East Antarctica. Given that almost all precipitation falls as snow in Antarctica, these were strange reports. Our Chilean colleagues, Marisol Pizarro Rojas and  Gustavo Zúñiga were also reporting that there was no snow around the Escudero research station on King George Island and that every day was perfect for field work, a most a worrying development. There is always bad weather sometime in Antarctica!

Because of the news stories about extreme heat in Antarctica, I was asked to write a letter to the editor for Global Change Biology discussing these temperature extremes and what they might mean for Antarctic biodiversity. So, I reached out to Dana, Gustavo and Marisol for the insiders guide to the 2019/20 summer field season and in Australia, Diana and I started looking at the climate data. We decided we really needed a meteorological expert and so we asked Andrew Klekociuk if he could explain what was going on.

What we didn’t expect to find was a heatwave at Casey (the station where we do most of our work). This had actually occurred in late January and our analysis showed that the whole summer season was characterised by heatwaves rolling around the continent from December to February. Unfortunately, we did not have a team at Casey this summer. We had planned to go in early February to continue the long-term monitoring that we started there in 2000.  One week before our team was due to go to Casey our trip was cancelled because of the risk that scientists would take COVID-19 to Antarctica. So, no one was there to see if our Casey moss beds were flooded by extra melt water, got heat stressed or both. However, the good news is that Antarctic winter teams appear to be free of coronavirus.

At the end of March, the paper was published online in Global Change Biology. You can read it here, or check out the excellent synopsis written for the Conversation by Dana. We will be really interested to see what reports of biological changes arise from these extreme summer events in Antarctica.

As we see the world pivoting to manage the COVID-19 crisis, I am hopefully that we can use the same ingenuity, resolve, care and compassion to take action on climate change, so that these Antarctic summer heatwaves do not become our new normal. 

Published in News

Danko2

We finally get ashore again  on Jan 12th. Danko Island is near Cuverville Island where we landed a few days ago and saw Gentoos. It has a steep hill and a few small penguin rookeries. It’s great to walk up the hill where there is a large plateau and stunning views towards the peninsula. Inspired by Christiana Figueres many of us also have a magical silent time, listening to the whales breaching below and the avalanches and the calving glaciers cracking across the water. 

mountain3

Danko1

On the way up the hill there is a big patch of red snow algae. Snow algae are singled celled algae similar to the ones that cause algal blooms in water. These ones swim in the water that coats the ice crystals within the snow banks. Like algal blooms in lakes and oceans the cells divide when conditions are good and swim off to new territory. They need enough sunlight for photosynthesis and to warm the snow, they also need nutrients which are in ample supply from penguin poo in the vicinity of penguin rookeries.

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Snow algae are green algae like Chlamydomonas nivalis but can appear green or red depending on the amount of red carotenoids they produce to protect themselves from too much light (including ultraviolet UV-B).  Drs Matt Daveyand Peter Fretwell are using satellites to track these snow algae blooms across Antarctica so if you spot any, take a photo, log the coordinates and send them a message!  

snowalgae1

It’s a great location for photographs and Rachel Bice is also from Cornwall, where I lived from age 6 to 19 and so we team up for a Kernow flag moment!

kernowflag

The Cornish flag is the flag of Saint Piran, the patron saint of tin-miners. I grew up in tin mining country and the moors where the mining had formerly occurred were great places to search for rose quartz, amethysts and other interesting rocks. Tin was the most important element in the economy of Cornwall but when the mines closed the Cornish took their mining skills all around the world.

scots

Published in News

Ceratodon purpureus is a cosmopolitan moss that survives some of the harshest places on Earth: from frozen Antarctica to hot South Australian deserts. In this study we isolated nine compounds from Australian and Antarctic C. purpureus and considered how they might help this species to survive under such extreme conditions.

Download preprint here

np-2017-0008570004

Link to paper

Published in News
Monday, 28 January 2019 15:17

Homeward Bound 3 visits Carlini Base

Carlini1

Saturday (5thJan) we are back on King George Island, at the Argentinian Carlini Base. Carlini is the only station in Potter Cove and is named after a scientist Alejandro Ricardo Carlini. The station sits beneath the impressive Tres Hermanos mountain and the nearby glaciers are retreating rapidly exposing new rocky areas.

CarliniMt

The weather is overcast, cloudy with wet snow. Young elephant seals haul out amongst the chunks of glacial ice that are washed up along the beach.

elephantseal

We tour the Science labs, the Dive sheds and also are given refreshments in the station mess. There is a compression chamber in the Dive facility and a technician to operate it in case the divers run into problems. 

CarliniDive

The scientists on station came from many countries and tell us about the current science research programs that are running on and around the station including a lot of marine biology and hydrology. It is great to see another base in action and to hear first-hand from the scientists about their research.  It is also wonderful that so many people on station are prepared to give up their Saturday to entertain visitors.

Carlinideparture

The projects include remediation projects aimed at understanding how plants and microbes can clean up contaminated soil around Antarctic stations. Many sites in Antarctica are contaminated with oil and other chemicals as a result of historic waste practices and some of my students have investigated how tolerant Antarctic mosses and alga are to oil and if Macquarie Island plants can help promote soil clean ups

SARmossCarliniStation

I was particularly excited to see so much moss and lichen around Carlini, as well as the two vascular plants that grow on the peninsula region of Antarctica, the grass Deschampsia antarctica and the pearlwort, Colobanthus quitensis.  The lichens and mosses have even started to colonise the whale bones that remain from historic whaling in the region.

carlini2

Published in News

 The lush moss beds that grow near East Antarctica’s coast are among the only plants that can withstand life on the frozen continent. But our new research shows that these slow-growing plants are changing at a far faster rate than anticipated.

Read more in the Conversation

Plus here is a link to our latest youtube video

Sharon Robinson, Melinda Waterman  & Andrew Netherwood (2017)  East Antarctic mosses reveal a windier, drier climate 

The paper is available here if you want to read it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want a copy.

Robinson SAKing D, Bramley-Alves J, Waterman MJ, Ashcroft MB, Wasley J,Turnbull JD,Miller RE,Ryan-Colton E, Benny T, Mullany K, Clarke, LJ, Barry, L, HuaQ. (2018) Rapid change in East Antarctic terrestrial vegetation in response to regional dryingNature Climate Change8, 879-884, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0280-0

 

Published in News
Thursday, 13 October 2016 16:10

King George Island 2015 - The Science

This page is an overview of the sceince projects that I was involved with on our January 2015 trip to King George Island with INACH, the Chilean Antarctic Program. I was working with two Chilean scientists on this trip -

Angelica Casanova-Katny and Gustavo Zuniga.

 

Angelica is from  Centro de Biotecnología, Universidad de Concepción.

Gustavo is from the University of Santiago, Chile and his projects for this trip were....

 

Here is my introduction to the work from the field site at Collins Glacier on Maxwell Bay.

 

 

 

 

We also worked with a team of scientists from Portland State University including Dr Todd Rosentiel and Dr Sarah Eppley. Here is Todd talking about one part of his research.

 

 

Video

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Size: 41.02 MB
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Date added: 2020-05-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Antarctic Research