Adorable penguin frolicking in Antarctica, a photo from our Flickr Pool

Photographer, technologist, and Boing Boing reader Christopher Michel shot this wonderful image in Antarctica, and very kindly shared it in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, which you can also do with any awesome images you shoot. Read the rest

Massive iceberg six times the size of Manhattan drifts away from Antarctic glacier

This combination of Dec. 10, 2013, left, and March 11, 2014 photos provided by NASA shows a large iceberg separating from the Pine Island Glacier and traveling across Pine Island Bay in Antarctica. (NASA)

One of the largest icebergs on the planet, about six times the size of Manhattan, has separated from an Antarctic glacier and is floating out towards open ocean. The iceberg is named B-31, and is roughly 255 square miles (660 square km). Its estimated maximum thickness is 1,600 feet (487 meters). Last Fall, it broke off from the Pine Island Glacier. Researchers have been watching it drift away since then, via satellite.

"The ice island, named B31, will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean, though it will be hard to track visually for the next six months as Antarctica heads into winter darkness," according to scientists at NASA's Earth Observatory monitoring its progress.

From Reuters:

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What's cooler than being cool?

The valleys of Antarctica are the coldest places on Earth — where dense, super-chilled air accumulates, dropping the temperature as low as -136 ˚F (-93.2 ˚C). Read the rest

Life is hard in Antarctica

Antarctica's Organic Lake is 8 degrees Fahrenheit, but the water doesn't freeze, thanks to a heavy concentration of salt. But wait, it gets more awesome. Despite the cold and the salt, Organic Lake is also home to a diverse array of life. Read the rest

What Antarctica looks like under the ice

The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is almost two miles thick in some places. But the British Antarctic Survey is able to peek beneath the frozen surface with the help of satellites, lasers, and radar. Read the rest

Two months aboard an Antarctic ice breaker, condensed to 5 minutes

Featuring five different kinds of sea ice + penguins on fast forward

This Antarctic documentary looks beautiful

Antarctica: A Year On Ice looks like it's going to offer a damn fine supply of polar landscape porn.

Be sure to stick through to the final scene of the trailer, which is awe-inspiring in an entirely different way. Read the rest

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"New" bacteria from Lake Vostok is not actually new (or from Lake Vostok)

"You can say anything you want in a press release". Sadly, that sentiment is too true. Turns out, recent reports of the discovery of previously unknown bacteria in samples hauled up from the waters of Antarctica's frozen Lake Vostok have turned out to be premature. The bacteria turned out to be contaminants carried by the drilling and collection apparatus. At Scientific American, Elizabeth Howell talks about this flub in the context of other stories where scientists bypassed peer review and announced findings to the newspapers first. Read the rest

Alone together in Antarctica

Last week, "Inspiration Mars" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.

Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.

The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.

"How to get along for 500 days alone together" Read the rest

Scientists discover life in Antarctica

“It appears that there lies a large wetland ecosystem under Antarctica’s ice sheet, with an active microbiology.” — There's some really exciting news coming from the land at the bottom of the world. Read the rest

Visit beautiful Cape Goodenough

Or as I like to call it, Cape Fuckthiswearegoinghome.

Sadly, Antarctica's Cape Goodenough (pictured here on National Geographic's Political Map of the World) was not named by a less-then-intrepid band of explorers who decided that seeing the coastline of Antarctica was plenty of adventure for them, thankyouverymuch.

Instead, it's named for William Goodenough, admiral in the British Royal Navy. Yes. Admiral Goodenough. I'm sure the troops were enthused.

But wait, there's more. In the 1930s and 1940s, the admiral was apparently involved in the creation of comfortable, dormitory-style housing for international post-graduate students in London. Today, the buildings are known as ... Goodenough College. Read the rest

Seals: Graceful underwater, adorably useless on land

Beautiful footage of Weddell seals in Antarctica — on the ice and under the water.

Halloween greetings from Antarctica

Henry Kaiser is kind of our man on the inside in Antarctica. He works there every year as a film maker, turning science into movies. He sent this awesome Halloween greeting from underneath the sea ice.

Bonus: He also sent us a video taken at the same spot — only this has 100% fewer wacky masks and 100% more sea anemones. Read the rest

LocalWiki Antarctica, a crowdsourced map of the icy southern continent

LocalWiki's Philip Neustrom says,

My non-profit, LocalWiki, has been working on this really incredible project to help document the continent of Antarctica. Most notable, at least right now, is this custom map we've pieced together from very-hard-to-find NASA aerial imagery and coastline datasets. It's probably the most beautiful thing I've ever worked on.

Check out the LocalWiki for Antarctica. The project "aims to document the full extent of human involvement on the continent," and for now is focused on a two-mile region surrounding Palmer Station.

 Under the Ice: Research Diving in Antarctica Charting the Frozen Continent Photos from trip to Falklands & South Georgia Islands and Antarctica ... Google unveils Street View imagery from Antarctica, including South ... Making Inaccessible Island a little more accessible Read the rest

Making Inaccessible Island a little more accessible

This is a detail from one of the regularly updated maps that researchers in Antarctica use when they want to leave McMurdo Station and travel across the continent's sea ice. It shows the well-traveled routes across McMurdo Sound, ice thickness measurements taken at various points along the road, and hazards like large cracks in the ice.

Towards the north end of the Sound, you can see an island labeled, "Inaccessible Island". I asked Henry Kaiser — a musician and filmmaker who has spent the last decade working with scientists on the frozen continent — about why that island was inaccessible. After all, I didn't see any major cracks or hazards around it. Seems like you could traverse the ice to the island just fine.

Turns out, I was misunderstanding. Inaccessible isn't a designation. Inaccessible is the island's official name. Even though it's not. Inaccessible, I mean. Named by Robert Scott, it's part of a chain of islands that all represent the remains of an ancient volcanic crater. The name apparently comes from the fact that Inaccessible Island is incredibly steep, so while you can reach it, getting onto the damn thing seems to be a lot harder.

Inaccessible Island in McMurdo Sound is not to be confused with the Inaccessible Island that is located in the south Atlantic about halfway between South America and Africa; nor with the Inaccessible Islands, an entire group of islands located between the tip of South America and tip of the Antarctic peninsula; nor with Inexpressible Island, an Antarctic island where part of Scott's crew on his second expedition was forced to spend the winter of 1912 living in a cave and eating penguins. Read the rest

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