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Polar Science News from June 2006

Antarctic invaded by foreign species
Despite Antarctica's inhospitable environment, non-native species introduced by tourists, scientists and explorers are gaining a foothold on the icy continent. Male and female North Atlantic spider crabs (Hyas araneus) have been found in waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. According to Neil Gilbert of Antarctica New Zealand, the species could not have migrated such a great distance by its own accord. (June 26, 2006)
Read more BBC

Mystery of Antarctic antifreeze fish solved
The New Zealand researcher Clive Evans and two American colleagues have solved the mystery of how Antarctic fish manufacture the 'antifreeze' which allows them to live in icy waters. The antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGP) originate primarily from the exocrine pancreas and the stomach. The scientific investigations were done on fish in New Zealand's Ross Sea at McMurdo Sound and Terra Nova Bay. (June 26, 2006)
Read more New Zealand Herald

Ancient bones to cause carbon boom?
As long-frozen soil in Siberia is starting to thaw, ancient roots and bones are revealed having the potential to unleash billions of tons of carbon and accelerate global warming, scientists warn. This vast carbon reservoir, contained in permafrost soil in northeastern Siberia, contains about 75 times more carbon than the amount released into the atmosphere each year by the burning of fossil fuels. (June 21, 2006)
Read more ENN

Dead whale found in Arctic river
Scientists are puzzled by the carcass of a young beluga whale found in a river in central Alaska, nearly 1,000 miles from its natural ocean habitat.
The first guess is that the 8-foot-long whale swam away from the ocean in search of food. Sylvia Brunner, a marine mammals researcher at the museum in Fairbanks, identified the decomposing carcass and oversaw its recovery. (June 21, 2006)
Read more CNN
Personality determines cold
According to Finnish researcher, Hannu Rintamaki, personality plays a part in how people handle cold. Hannu Rintamaki's research may help explain why some Canadians complain about winter weather, while others seem indifferent to the temperature outdoors. The Canadian researcher Michel Ducharme agrees with Rintamaki, saying that people who tend to be anxious, sensitive and self-critical could develop an early state of hypothermia during prolonged exposure to cold. (June 21, 2006)
Read more CBS News

Greenland seeks to hunt humpback
Greenland has asked an international whaling body to examine whether it could extend whaling activities to endangered humpbacks and bowheads. Environmentalists are puzzled by the request arguing that Greenland has for years failed to meet a quota of minke whales and fin whales that its indigenous hunters are permitted to catch under an exemption from an international moratorium on commercial whaling. (June 21, 2006)
Read more ABC News

Icebreakers to be reconsidered
Canada's minister of defense, Gordon O'Connor, is waffling on an election promise to buy three icebreakers to strengthen Arctic sovereignty. During the federal election campaign, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said if his party was elected it would buy three new naval icebreakers. "We want to be able to touch every speck of land and every drop of water in the North, even if there is ice there," said O'Connor. (June 21, 2006)
Read more CBC North

Green research base in Antarctica
Belgium is going to build the first self-sustaining Antarctic research station. The 6.4-million Princess Elisabeth Antarctic research station, which will be constructed during the 2007/2008 Antarctic summer - during the International Polar Year - has been designed to be highly energy-efficient. It will be powered by solar and wind energy alone and will recycle all its waste. Other Antarctic stations typically have some wind and solar-power facilities, but usually rely on diesel generators for some of their energy, particularly in the cold winters when sun is scarce. (June 6, 2006)
Read more Nature
Tuberculosis cases rise in Nunavut
Over the past few years, the tuberculosis rate has fallen in the Northwest Territories. In the same period, infections are increasing in Nunavut, say public health officials. Public health nurses are using skin tests to screen people for tuberculosis. Cases in Nunavut increased 40 percent last year, and there are many new cases this year. Overcrowded conditions and poverty help spread the cases, says nurse Robin Vandervis. (June 6, 2006)
Read more CBC News

Antarctic 'highway' under pressure
An international coalition of environmental groups is about to ask the Antarctic Treaty nations to ask the United States to reconsider its 1.632-kilometer 'ice highway' to the South Pole, which is under construction to bolster scientific activities in the continent. New Zealand Antarctic scientists support the call for a fresh environmental impact study of the ice road across the Antarctic wilderness, the "Dominion Post" newspaper reported Saturday. The highway runs from the Antarctic coast directly south of New Zealand to the South Pole. It will enable hundreds of tons of supplies and equipment to be hauled across the world's most inhospitable wilderness. (June 6, 2006)
Read more ENN

Arctic Ocean was tropical
55 million years ago the Arctic Ocean was much warmer than scientists imagined - a tropical year-round average of 74 Fahrenheit. That is the conclusion of the first detailed analysis of an extraordinary climatic and biological record from the seabed near the North Pole. The findings fill in a blank spot in scientists' understanding of climate history. While showing that much remains to be learned about climate change, they also suggest that scientists have greatly underestimated the power of greenhouse in relation to the warming Arctic. (June 6, 2006)
Read more ENN

Fox killing protect small black brant
In the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge, wildlife managers are again killing arctic foxes to protect a small goose that travels north from Mexico to breed. Arctic foxes steal thousands of waterfowl eggs and cache them under the tundra for lean times. The aim of the killing is to protect the eggs of the Pacific black brant, whose numbers have been declining steadily. (June 6, 2006)
Read more ABC News