Antarctica News

(Photo: Cammell Laird )

RRS Sir David Attenborough Starts Sea Trials

at Holyhead Port before embarking on operational and scientific equipment trials around the Irish Sea. The team will test anchoring, maneuvering, dynamic positioning, and helideck landing. Early next year the ship will undertake ice trials in the Arctic, and in November 2021 make its maiden voyage to Antarctica.The commencement of sea trials is a major milestone in the four-year build program. From laying the keel in October 2016, to the hull launch in July 2018 and the Royal ceremonial naming in September 2019, more than 1,300 local personnel, 70 apprentices and many hundreds of specialist subcontractors

© Masaya Miura / Adobe Stock

Op/Ed: An Antarctic Marine Protected Area is Long Overdue

Antarctica, the world’s last true wilderness, has been protected by an international treaty for the last 60 years. But the same isn’t true for most of the ocean surrounding it.Just 5% of the Southern Ocean is protected, leaving biodiversity hotspots exposed to threats from human activity.The Western Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent and one of its most biodiverse regions, is particularly vulnerable. It faces the cumulative threats of commercial krill fishing, tourism, research infrastructure expansion and climate change.In an article published in Nature, we join

Artist rendering of the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Photo: British Antarctic Survey’s

Polar Science: SRO Solutions Delivers IT Package to Facilitate Data Flow

its current AMOS asset management system to IBM’s Maximo platform. In addition, SRO has created a number of bespoke applications to handle data covering cargo and freight movements, internal documents, and crew and course planning.BAS delivers and enables interdisciplinary scientific research in Antarctica, and each season sends around 300-plus research and support staff to the continent. It operates three research stations in the Antarctic and two on Subantarctic South Georgia, and one in the Arctic on behalf of NERC. Other assets include the RRS James Clark Ross, a fleet of aircraft and specialist

The white microbial mats seen here are telltale signs of areas where methane may be released from underground methane deposits. Photo courtesy Andrew Thurber Oregon State University.

Scientists Discover First Methane Seep in Antarctic Sea Floor

Scientists have discovered an active methane seep from Antarctica's sea bed that could shed light on the potent greenhouse gas trapped beneath the frozen continent.Marine ecologist Andrew Thurber first glimpsed what a colleague described as a "microbial waterfall" during a dive in the icy waters of the Ross Sea in 2012. What looked like a superhighway of white patches on the ocean floor were clusters of tiny organisms drawn to the methane leak."My first thought was 'wow,' and I was immediately enamored with what this means for science," said Thurber, an assistant

(File photo: Polar Research Institute of China)

China's Polar Icebreaker Embarks on First Arctic Mission

and ecosystems, ocean acidification and chemical environment and new pollutants, to improve the nation's scientific understanding of climate change in the Arctic.Delivered from the Jiangnan Shipyard in July 2019, the icebreaking research vessel commenced operations in October, completing its first Antarctica expedition in April.Designed by Finnish firm Aker Arctic, the Polar Class 3 Xue Long 2 measures 122.5 meters long, with a beam of 22.3 meters, 8.3 meters draft at full load and displacement of 14,300 metric tons.The ship's diesel-electric propulsion system includes two 16-cylinder and two 12-cylinde

(Photo: Australian Antarctic Program)

Sea Trials for Australia's New Icebreaker Delayed Due to COVID-19

undergo the required sea-trials before being handed over to the Australian Antarctic Division,” Clark said.The 160-meter-long, 24,000-metric-ton RSV Nuyina, designed by Knud E Hansen, was built to replace the retired Aurora Australis, offering scientists extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.RSV Nuyina was slated to make its first voyage to Antarctica for the 2020-2021 summer season, operated by Serco Defence under the direction of the AAD for the Australian Government, but its delayed arrival means an alternative ship will be used next summer season.Last month the AAD reached a deal

RENDERING OF NEW VIKING SHIP: This rendering shows what the new Viking expedition ships will look like, including the hangar for launching small vessels. Credit: Viking

NOAA-Viking Public Private Partnership, a Win-win for Research

and river cruise company - will offer two new “destination-focused travel experiences,” starting in 2022.  One set of cruises becomes Viking’s first foray in the inland North American market, in this case the Great Lakes.  Another set of cruises will head to the Arctic and Antarctica.  Viking is building two new vessels: the Viking Octantis and the Viking Polaris, under construction now in Norway, by Fincantieri’s VARD.In a press release Viking writes that it has created “the thinking person’s expedition.”  Indeed, Viking has partnered with

Deep-Sea Coral Gardens, Graveyards Discovered Off Australia

canyons, are largely unexplored. The expedition explored the Bremer, Leeuwin and Perth canyons, all of which have extensive fossil coral deposits, with the Leeuwin especially notable for a massive pedestal-like coral graveyard.“This has global implications given these waters originate from around Antarctica which feed all of the major oceans and regulate our climate system” said Professor Malcolm McCulloch from UWA. Australia has only one oceanographic vessel available for scientific research and no supporting deep sea underwater robots, which makes this expedition so important and rare.Facing

Fig.1: A Slocum glider from Teledyne Webb Research, en route to deployment. Credit: Rutgers University.

Measuring the Hostile Ocean Beneath Hurricanes

to serve a broad range of applications. During the Macondo oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, Slocum gliders collected subsurface data to support response work. Recent payloads have included turbulence sensors for measuring ocean mixing, bio-acoustic sensors for assessing zooplankton stocks off Antarctica, and hydrophones for near real-time monitoring of North Atlantic right whales off the east coasts of U.S. and Canada. Slocum gliders are serving new roles at Antarctic research sites as well, especially at the edge of ice sheets.Storm Monitoring GlidersFor the last decade, Slocum gliders from Teledyne

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