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News from January 2002

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Shrimps can hear food coming
A team of scientists have studied the ability of deepwater shrimp, Pandalus borealis, caught in the Arctic, to detect sound. The results show that the shrimps can probably detect a dead animal hitting the seafloor, depending on its size, from as far away as up to 1,6 km. Other deep-sea critters are likely to have the same abilities. (January 31, 2002)
Discovery


New martian rocks discovered
Scientists have found five new Martian meteorites on expeditions to Antarctica and the hot deserts of Oman and the Sahara. Scientists are fascinated by the rocks because they contain chemical clues about martian history and the possibility that the planet once possessed oceans of water and life. (January 31, 2002)
BBC

Antarctic lakes warming
A new study concludes that some lakes in Antarctica have been warming. The findings add to a complicated picture of climate change on the icy continent. The study shows that winter lake temperatures on Signy Island - which lies between the ice-bound Weddell Sea and the warmer Scotia Sea - increased up to 1.3°C between 1980 and 1995. (January 29, 2002)
National Geographic
or BBC
Hunt for ice worms
Armed with a sophisticated ice borer, researchers went hunting on Byron Glacier, Alaska, for a scientific treasure - the tiny, fragile ice worm. The worms spend their entire lives on ice - their health depends on it. At room temperature, they disintegrate in 15 minutes. The ice worm could possibly learn researchers how to keep human organs alive longer. (January 29, 2002)
USAToday

NASA launches satellite web site
NASA has unveiled a new web site in which it publishes satellite images in near real time over natural hazards around the world. The images, that are freely available to the public as well as news media, often published within a matter of hours after they are acquired by the satellite sensors. (January 29, 2002)
NASA Natural Hazards or ScienceDaily (review)

TIGER beats record
The balloon-borne experiment TIGER (Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) has been brought back to the ground in Antarctica after a record braking fligt of nearly 32 days and two orbits round the South Pole. TIGER has been searching for the origin of cosmic radiation. (January 24, 2002)
NASA

Antarctic ice core milestone
In the first weeks of the New Year scientists drilled succesfully through 2002 metres of ice high on East Antarctica's plateau. A specially created lab on the ice enabled the scientists to analyze past climate shifts - rather than waiting months or years for detailed study back in European labs. The team will return next year to drill to the bottom of the ice. (January 22, 2002)
BAS press release

Antarctic: No longer melting!
That claim comes from a research team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. They apparently have the evidence to prove that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have stopped melting and is actually getting thicker. Their study is sure to provoke controversy and will have to be confirmed by other experts. (January 22, 2002)
USAToday or Discovery

Seals act as 'underwater eyes'
By employing one underwater species to 'spy' on two others through novel use of technology, Antarctic researchers have gained new insights into two little-known fish species. The research team expanded their knowledge base by equipping Weddell seals to follow the Antarctic silverfish and the Antarctic toothfish and record their behaviour. (January 22, 2002)
Nature, NSF or ScienceDaily

Cryobot melts its way into glacier
A hot-nosed robot called Cryobot has melted its way into an Arctic glacier in a test of NASA technology that one day could probe for life deep under ice on Earth, Mars and Jupiter's frozen moon Europa. Cryobot could e.g. search for life in places like Lake Vostok, deep beneath a thick shield of Antarctic ice. (January 17, 2002)
USA Today or Space

Microbes suggest life on Mars
Canadian and New Zealand scientists have found living microbes buried deeper than perhaps ever before in Antarctica'a ice-free Dry Valleys. This opens up the possibility of life on Mars and the possible positions within a soil where it might be found. The findings include colonies of fungi and common species of Penicillium bacteria. (January 17, 2002)
UniSci or Spaceflightnow

Antarctica getting colder
New research based on data from weather stations across Antarctica shows that the continent overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years - despite a global average increase in air temperature. The findings are puzzling because many climate models indicate that the Polar regions should serve as bellwethers for any global warming trend. (January 15, 2002)
ScienceDaily or Newswise

Cooling pushing life to the edge
Antarctica is cooling, and that will make life even tougher for the few hardy plants and animals that struggle to live in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the continent's largest ice-free area. No plants or animals, only microbes, live on / in the ice that covers about 98% of Antarctica, and they have a built-in defence against the cold. The microbes can survive without water in a dehydrated state called anhydrobiosis. (January 15, 2002)
USA Today

Sea floor gives up secrets
Scientists have released details of an expedition to one of the least explored regions of the Earth: a huge gash in the planet's crust that straddles the Arctic sea floor. They have very unexpectedly found 12 new volcanoes, abundant hydrothermal activity and new organisms living around the hydrothermal vents. (January 15, 2002)
BBC

'Geritol-solution' challenged
Thanks to ice core analysis the 'Geritol-solution' a.k.a. the iron hypothesis was known a decade ago. It asserts that seeding the oceans with iron powder can increase levels of phytoplankton because iron acts as a fertilizer for plants. This again should result in the fact that more carbon dioxide would be drawn from the atmosphere. Now two young scientists challenges the very foundation of the 'Geritol-solution' with their 'Upwelled Iron Hypothesis'. (January 10, 2002)
National Geographic

Anti-freeze and antibiotics
Scientists are convinced that unlocking the survival secrets - the so called anti-freeze - of Antarctic fish will have dramatic repercussions for developing a whole new generation of antibiotics, drugs and products for use in commercial food and agriculture. The natural anti-freeze is found in slow moving polar fish. (January 10, 2001)
Reuters

TIGER takes second trip
The balloon-borne experiment TIGER (Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) has just begun it's second loop around the South Pole. TIGER was launched on December 20th from the American research station McMurdo in Antarctica. The purpose of the experiment is to solve the mystery of the origin of cosmic rays. See photos of TIGER here. (January 9, 2002)
ScienceDaily or Newswise

Cold search for 'Giants of the Deep'
Searching for the superglue of the future microbiologists are diving into Antarctica's icy waters trying to locate a microorganism called Foraminifera. It produces a kind of biological superglue which can be used for medical purposes. Foraminifera is also called 'Giant of the Deep' because it is huge compared to other single-celled organisms. (January 9, 2002)
ABC News

+1,5 meters in global sea levels!
According to British and Norwegian scientists we might face a dramatic rise up to 1,5 meters in global sea levels over the next century. In order for these scary predictions to come true the giant West Antarctic ice sheet must collapse and melt. And calculations show that the risk of this happening equals 5% (January 8, 2002)
Press release from BAS or article from Oceansp@ce

Icebergs isolate penguins
Two giant icebergs (B-15A and C-16) and unusually large amounts of sea ice are jeopardizing three penguin colonies in Antarctica. The ice have nearly isolated the penguins making it difficult for the birds to return from their feeding grounds in the open sea. (January 8, 2002)
NSF or USA Today

Sudden ice age possible
If you are concerned about long-term global warming, you might be worried about the wrong thing. Scientists warn that sudden, unexpected climate change poses a more immediate danger. Data from e.g. ice cores show that the climate can switch abruptly from one mode to another. (January 8, 2002)
National Geographic

Background articles

On how to predict Antarctica's climate from UniSci

On phytoplankton from The Guardian

On the northernmost island of the world from dpc.dk

On a lake disappearing into crack in Earth from National Geographic

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Updated August 14, 2002
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