Preservationists race to save Antarctica's original outposts

Antarctica's brutal climate is taking its toll on the historic bases built by the original explorers and scientists. Now preservationists are working to preserve these important sites. Read the rest

Expedition will hunt for Ernest Shackleton's lost ship in 2019

During the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Sir Earnest Shackleton was the man, or at least one of them. Other explorers of his day may have gathered more renown, but Shackleton's relentless drive and reputation for being cool under pressure made him a legend. 

During his career, Shackleton made four trips to the then mysterious continent. The first? Kind of meh. The second time around, he and three fellow explorers came home as a pack of bad asses, having traveled further into the Antarctic's interior than anyone else at the time and, while they were at it, scaling Mount Erebus.

The third trip, which took place in 1915, didn't go so well. His ship, The Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed, forcing Shackleton and his crew to abandon the ship. Despite his disastrous third sortie to the south pole, in 1921 Shackleton planned what would be his last trip to the frozen continent. But he never made it there: he died of a heart attack en route.

Close to 100 years later, Shackleton's misadventure on the Endurance are still capturing the imaginations of readers, explorers and scientists. So much so that, next year, an international team of scientists will do their damnedest to discover the ship's final resting place.

According to The BBC, in January and February of next year, a team of scientists will be studying the Larsen C ice shelf, near the area where the ship was noted by surviving members of the crew as having sunk. Read the rest

Watch starfish flee an icy finger of death

This clip from the BBC's Frozen Planet is one of the most amazing things you will ever see.

"Brinicle" is a clever portmanteau for an icy finger of death that forms naturally in the very cold seawater one finds around Earth's poles. A crust of sea ice can form on top of this water, and that's the first step to making a brinicle. Here's how polar oceanographer Mark Brandon explained the process in an article on the BBC website:

In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.

The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle.

Check out that BBC website link for more information on how the Frozen Planet videographers captured this footage. That's also where you should go to watch the video when this YouTube version is inevitably taken down.

Thank you, Brittany. Truly freaking amazing.

Video Link

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