Decoding Antarctica's response to a warming world

PIG Image copyright T.Ronge/AWI
Image caption Ice giants of Antarctica: The Polarstern research vessel is almost 120m in length

A tangle of tubes, cables, and actuators - Mebo looks as though it could morph at any moment into one of those Transformer robots from the movies. 

Image copyright T.Ronge/AWI
Image caption This was the seventh different ship from which MeBo has been deployed

The 10-tonne machine is in fact a seabed drilling system, and a very sophisticated one at that. 

Deployed over the side of any large ship but driven remotely from onboard, it's opening up new opportunities to take sediment samples from the ocean floor. 

MeBo was developed at the MARUM research facility in Bremen, Germany, and has not long returned from a pathfinding expedition to the West Antarctic.

In the iceberg-infested waters of the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE), it obtained the very first cores to be drilled from just in front of some of the mightiest glaciers on Earth. 

Read full article Decoding Antarctica's response to a warming world

Tinkering for science on the Irrawaddy

River Image copyright Photo (C) TU Delft / Floris Papenhuizen
Image caption Going with the flow: The Irrawaddy stretches from source to ocean for about 2,000km

"Poohsticks" is what you might call entry-level hydrology.

Drop twigs over a bridge on the upstream side and then race over to the downstream side to see which bits of wood appear first.

Image copyright Photo (C) TU Delft / Floris Papenhuizen
Image caption Do it yourself science... that is also edible. Some drifters did go missing

Read full article Tinkering for science on the Irrawaddy

Antarctica's troublesome 'hairdryer winds'

Melt ponds on the Larsen C Ice Shelf Image copyright BAS
Image caption Melt ponds on Larsen C recently photographed from a British Antarctic Survey plane

It's an ill wind that blows no good - at least not for the ice shelves on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

A new study has found an atmospheric melting phenomenon in the region to be far more prevalent than anyone had realised.

Read full article Antarctica's troublesome 'hairdryer winds'

Poo sediments record Antarctic 'penguin Pompeii'

Penguins Image copyright STEPHEN ROBERTS

The perilous history of a penguin colony on a small Antarctic island has been recorded in their excrement.

For thousands of years, the birds have nested on the Ardley outcrop where their poop, or guano, would collect at the bottom of a lake.

Read full article Poo sediments record Antarctic 'penguin Pompeii'

Scientists trace South Georgia's giant ice history

Penguins Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The changes that have occurred on South Georgia could be a prelude to what will happen on Antarctica

South Georgia is an island of astonishing beauty - of imposing landscapes, and bewildering numbers of penguins, seals and seabirds.

It also has some impressive ice fields, although none it seems quite like those of the past.

Read full article Scientists trace South Georgia's giant ice history

Boaty McBoatface submarine set for first voyage

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Media captionProf Russell Wynn explains the workings of Boaty McBoatface

The yellow submarine named Boaty McBoatface is set to leave for Antarctica this week on its first science expedition.

The robot is going to map the movement of deep waters that play a critical role in regulating Earth's climate.

Read full article Boaty McBoatface submarine set for first voyage

'Rock star' Archaeopteryx fossil heads for Japan

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Media captionNHM's Lorraine Cornish: "For us, it is one of our most important fossils"

One of the true "rock stars" of the fossil world is going on tour for the first time.

London's Natural History Museum has sent its specimen of Archaeopteryx - the so-called "first bird" - to Japan.

Read full article 'Rock star' Archaeopteryx fossil heads for Japan

SpaceX Moon mission extends Elon Musk's ambitions

Crew Dragon Image copyright SPACEX
Image caption Artwork: The Dragon capsule was designed from the outset to be capable of carrying crew

Elon Musk, it seems, loves nothing more than to spin plates. When most of us might be looking to lighten the load, he's piling on the ambition.

The serial entrepreneur's latest gambit is to fly people around the Moon. Two wealthy individuals have apparently lodged significant deposits with his SpaceX company to make this journey.

Read full article SpaceX Moon mission extends Elon Musk's ambitions

Hunt for Antarctica's 'missing meteorites'

Meteorite Image copyright ANSMET/K.Joy
Image caption When the flowing ice hits a barrier, such as a mountain range, it is forced upwards to reveal the meteorites

The go-ahead has been given for the first British expedition to collect meteorites in Antarctica.

Most of the space rocks now in collections worldwide have been picked up on the continent.

Read full article Hunt for Antarctica's 'missing meteorites'

Defining a true 'pre-industrial' climate period

A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs, c1684 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cool times: A depiction of a 17th Century Frost Fair at Temple Stairs on London's Thames River

Scientists are seeking to define a new baseline from which to measure global temperatures - a time when fossil-fuel burning had yet to change the climate.

At the moment, researchers tend to use the period 1850-1900, and this will often be described as "pre-industrial".

Read full article Defining a true 'pre-industrial' climate period