NASA’s Cryospheric Sciences Program released this astonishing aerial photo of a rectangular iceberg in Antarctica. Located on the Larsen C ice shelf, the curious iceberg is likely one mile or so across. From the BBC News:
Read the rest
Such objects are not unknown, however, and even have a name - tabular icebergs.
These are flat and long and form by splitting away from the edges of ice shelves.
Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist with Nasa and the University of Maryland, said the process of formation was a bit like a fingernail growing too long and cracking off at the end.
They were often geometrically-shaped as a result, she said.
"What makes this one a bit unusual is that it looks almost like a square," she added.
When wind blows over the snow of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, the surface vibrates and produces a beautiful and eery drone. Colorado State University researchers deployed seismometers to explore the subsurface of the ice shelf and were surprised to learn that their sensors recorded the natural song of the terrain. The frequencies are below the threshold of human hearing and are sped up for audibility in the video above. From the scientific paper:
Ice shelves are the floating buttresses of large glaciers that extend over the oceans and play a key role in restraining inland glaciers as they flow to the sea. Deploying sensitive seismographs across Earth’s largest ice shelf (the Ross Ice Shelf) for 2 years, we discovered that the shelf nearly continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional winds blowing across its snow dune-like topography. We find that the frequencies and other features of this singing change, both as storms alter the snow dunes and during a (January 2016) warming event that resulted in melting in the ice shelf’s near surface. These observations demonstrate that seismological monitoring can be used to continually monitor the near-surface conditions of an ice shelf and other icy bodies to depths of several meters.
More at Colorado State University News.
Greenpeace International just released this beautiful music video for "Hands off the Antarctic," a new track by Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Part of Greenpeace's Protect the Antarctic Ocean initiative, the footage is from their Arctic Sunrise research vessel.
"There are some places on this planet that are meant to stay raw and wild and not destroyed by humanity’s footprint,” Yorke said. “This track is about stopping the relentless march of those heavy footsteps. The Antarctic is a true wilderness and what happens there affects us all. That’s why we should protect it.”
The environmental group premiered the video yesterday by projecting it onto London's Marble Arch.
With climate change comes extreme temperatures, and scientists just recorded a new low.
Nearly 15 degrees colder than the previous record-breaking coldest temperature, which was -128 degrees in 1983 near the South Pole, the temperature in Antarctica dropped to -144 degrees Fahrenheit.
Taking just a few breaths of air this cold would kill you. According to Forbes, "At that temperature, just a few breaths of air would induce hemorrhaging in your lungs and quickly lead to death."
The temperature was recorded using satellite measurements in the middle of Antarctica during the depths of winter where the sun never rises. These findings, recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, are close to the theoretical coldest temperature Earth can get down to.
Chock up another one for the women and men who work in Antarctica. Not only do they spent months on end slugging away for the betterment of humankind, they also mark the turning of the seasons by watching a film about a crew in their shoes being hunted by an alien threat.
iO9 reports that every year after scientists and logistical staff leave Antarctica for the winter, the skeleton crew that maintains one of the research stations over the winter months gathers to watch the 1951 sci-fi classic The Thing From Another World. The movie, which is as corny as you might imagine, still managed to be menacing enough to inspire John Carpenter to create The Thing, back in 1982. The best bit: The Antarctic winter crew watch the movie after the last flight leaves the island, knowing that they'll be isolated for months from the rest of the world as the howling winter storms envelope the continent.
I can't imagine that the isolation that the winter crew faces while they're in Antarctica does anything good for their skulls. That they make light of things going terribly wrong for folks in a similar situation to the one that they face? That's bad ass.
A flying saucer was spotted on a Google Earth image near the South Pole in Antarctica. You can see it right here. Mysterious Universe claims that "melting ice could have formed a round depression as it sank into the surrounding snow, or wind could have created a small whirlwind effect as it blew into alcoves in the rock wall." Screw that though. I want to believe.
Australian science fiction author Sean Williams writes, "I first met Kim Stanley Robinson in Hobart, 1995, when he was on his way to the South Pole. Stan suggested I look to the Australian Antarctic Division as a possible means of fulfilling my dream of visiting the great southern land. Over twenty years later, and thanks to the Australian Antarctic Division's Arts Fellowship program, that dream is about to come true." Read the rest
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, was medically evacuated out of Antarctica where the 86-year-old hero was on a tourist expedition.
The tour company, White Desert, issued a statement:
Mr Aldrin was visiting the Pole as part of a tourist group and while there his condition deteriorated. As a precaution, following discussion between the White Desert doctor and the US Antarctic Program (USAP) doctor, Mr Aldrin, accompanied by a member of his team, was evacuated on the first available flight out of the South Pole to McMurdo with the USAP under the care of a USAP doctor. His condition was described as stable upon White Desert doctor's hand-over to the USAP medical team.
And from a National Science Foundation statement:
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has agreed to provide a humanitarian medical evacuation flight for an ailing visitor from its Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to McMurdo Station on the Antarctic coast and then to New Zealand...
Ski-equipped LC-130 cargo planes flown by the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard provide the air bridge between the South Pole and McMurdo. The flight to New Zealand will be scheduled as soon as possible.
NSF will make additional statements about the patient’s medical condition only as conditions warrant.
UPDATE: Buzz Aldrin's manager Christina Korp tweeted the following:
— Christina Korp (@Buzzs_xtina) December 1, 2016
Gweek is back - at least for now! For those of you who are new to Gweek, it's a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about media, science, science fiction, video games, comic books, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
My is co-host Dean Putney, the first engineer at Glowforge and Boing Boing’s software developer. In this episode Dean and I talk about:Christine Moran’s year in Antarctica -- an email newsletter written by a scientist who is spending a year in Antarctica working on their huge radio telescope. Lots of cool photos! Bitcoin for the Befuddled - A fun book that uses analogies to explain the blockchain, cryptography, proof-of-work, mining, and other aspects of bitcoin. Highly recommended for non-technical people who want to understand bitcoin. One Page Adventures - Brilliant RPG adventures for tabletop roleplaying, designed to fit all on a single (double-sided) page. Creative commons licensed and free to download, but easy to support on Patreon. Here’s one of Dean's favorites. Boing Boing's other great podcasts! Flash Forward (a podcast about the future), Home: Stories from L.A., and You Are Not So Smart (about the way people's brains work and fail to work), and Incredibly Interesting Authors.