Antarctic Guide Blog

Obama’s Arctic strategy sets off a climate time bomb

US National Strategy for the Arctic Region prioritises corporate ‘economic opportunities’ at the expense of everyone else

Sheel oil Arctic drilling rig Kulluk aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island

Shell’s drilling rig Kulluk aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, January 4, 2013. Photograph: Zachary Painter/USCG

One week ago, the Obama administration launched its National Strategy for the Arctic Region, outlining the government’s strategic priorities over the next 10 years. The release of the strategy came about a week after the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President at the White House Complex hosted a briefing with international Arctic scientists.

Despite giving lip service to the values of environmental conservation, the new document focuses on how the US can manage the exploitation of the region’s vast untapped oil, gas and mineral resources in cooperation with other Arctic powers.

US hinges success of Arctic strategy on diminishing sea ice

At the heart of the White House’s new Arctic strategy is an elementary but devastating contradiction between what President Obama, in the document’s preamble, describes as seeking “to make the most of the emerging economic opportunities in the region” due to the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and recognising “the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable, and changing environment.”

Despite repeated references to “preservation” and “conservation”, the strategy fails to outline any specific steps that would be explored to mitigate or prevent the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice due to intensifying global warming. Instead, the document from the outset aims to:

“… position the United States to respond effectively to challenges and emerging opportunities arising from significant increases in Arctic activity due to the diminishment of sea ice and the emergence of a new Arctic environment.”

In other words, far from being designed to prevent catastrophe, the success of the new strategy is premised precisely on the disappearance of the Arctic summer sea ice.

The document identifies three main US objectives in the region: advancing US “security interests” by increasing US military and commercial penetration “through, under, and over the airspace and waters of the Arctic”; pursuing “responsible Arctic region stewardship” by continuing to “conserve its resources”; and strengthening international cooperation to advance “collective interests” and “shared Arctic state prosperity” – all the while, somhow working to “protect the Arctic environment.”

Vast quantities of mineral resources

But the most important strategic objective is all about Big Oil.

Noting that “ocean resources are more readily accessible as sea ice diminishes”, the strategy document points out that:

“The reduction in sea ice has been dramatic, abrupt, and unrelenting. The dense, multi-year ice is giving way to thin layers of seasonal ice, making more of the region navigable year-round. Scientific estimates of technically recoverable conventional oil and gas resources north of the Arctic Circle total approximately 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas deposits, as well as vast quantities of mineral resources, including rare earth elements, iron ore, and nickel. These estimates have inspired fresh ideas for commercial initiatives and infrastructure development in the region. As portions of the Arctic Ocean become more navigable, there is increasing interest in the viability of the Northern Sea Route and other potential routes, including the Northwest Passage, as well as in development of Arctic resources.”

The document emphasises that the Arctic is central to US “energy security”, as the region:

“… holds sizable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet US energy needs.”

Empty promises

Extraordinarily, the document offers just a single sentence acknowledging the potentially destabilising impact of rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice:

“These consequences include altering the climate of lower latitudes, risking the stability of Greenland’s ice sheet, and accelerating the thawing of the Arctic permafrost in which large quantities of methane – a potent driver of climate change – as well as pollutants such as mercury are stored.”

To address such risks, the document promises obliquely that:

“Protecting the unique and changing environment of the Arctic is a central goal of US policy. Supporting actions will promote healthy, sustainable, and resilient ecosystems over the long term, supporting a full range of ecosystem services.”

Yet this generic promise offers no specific explanation of what US policy to “protect” the Arctic entails – particularly given that protecting the “changing environment of the Arctic” might well allude to a policy of doing nothing to stop the ‘change’ that is the diminishing of the sea ice.

This is all the more alarming given that more than 180 native communities in Alaska are, according to this week’s in-depth Guardianinvestigation, “flooding and losing land because of the ice melt that is part of the changing climate.”

Unfortunately, President Obama’s new Arctic strategy offers nothing tangible for the country’s “first climate refugees“, despite giving copious lip service to consulting the region’s indigenous communities already facing direct threats to their existence due to climate change.

A strategy for global catastrophe

But the strategy is not just bad new for so many Alaskan natives. It’s also bad news for the rest of us.

America’s new Arctic strategy, if implemented, will dramatically accelerate the very processes of fossil fuel consumption that have already led to carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations reaching a record 400 parts per million. And as Damian Carrington reports:

“… the last time this happened was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.”

Studies based on paleoclimate data consistently show that conventional climate models of where this current business-as-usual trajectory is heading tend to underestimate the extent of the crisis.

A 2011 paper in Science found that at the current rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions, by the end of the century they will reach levels last seen when the planet was 16C hotter – far more catastrophic than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) worst case projection of a virtually uninhabitable planet at 6C by 2100.

According to lead author Jeffrey Kiehl, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the study “found that carbon dioxide may have at least twice the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models of global climate.”

Now a new study published last week in the same journal vindicates these conclusions, showing that at current atmospheric concentrations, the Arctic was 8C warmer:

“One of our major findings is that the Arctic was very warm in the Pliocene [~ 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago] when others have suggested atmospheric CO2 was very much like levels we see today. This could tell us where we are going in the near future. In other words, the Earth system response to small changes in carbon dioxide is bigger than suggested by earlier models.”

So the new US Arctic strategy is not just short-sighted, ill-conceived and self-interested. If it proceeds as planned, it will condemn all of humanity to unimaginable disaster, just to sustain the near-term profits of a few giant energy corporations.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter@nafeezahmed


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Falklands Farewells Iron Lady

Falklands Farewells Iron Lady



by J. Brock (FINN)
A memorial service to commemorate the life of Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher, Baroness and former prime Minister of the United Kingdom was held at Christ Church Cathedral at 1400hrs on Wednesday, 17 April 2013.Words of welcome were given by Dr the Rev Richard Hines, Priest in Charge of the Cathedral. The hymn, He Who Would Valliant Be, followed the welcome.

Ian Hansens Remarks at Margaret Thatchers memorial Service:

Amongst the many tributes in the UK Press last week it was said that Margaret Thatcher was one of the very few leaders who changed not only the political landscape of her own country, but the rest of the world, too. In the case of the Falkland islands, this could not be truer.

Since the sad news of her passing, flags have flown at half-mast across the Falkland Islands and it is only right that today is made a public holiday, both as a mark of respect and to allow the community to pay tribute to a woman who is held in such high regard and with such deep affection in our Islands.

The status afforded her here is understandable, giving her unfailing interest in the well-being of the Falklands, the Islanders, and in particular, our young people.

In last weeks tributes in the House of Commons it was said Margaret Thatchers ability to overcome every obstacle in her path is just one measure of her personal strength. And never was her strength demonstrated more clearly than in the rapid assembling of the Task Force and subsequent liberation of our country following the Argentine invasion in 1982.

On sending the task force it has been debated as to whether she was unique in her decision making or whether she only did what any leader in her position would have done. This is irrelevant. What is clear is that it was a decision that was not universally supported by her colleagues; and neither would it have an easy decision to send her brave men and women of Britains armed forces into harms way.

Following the Argentine invasion we were not sure what the reaction of the British Government would be. Then we heard Margaret Thatcher say in the House of Commons on April 3rd 1982: they are few in number but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance.

She made clear perhaps before many had thoughts to consider it, that we had the right to determine our own future. She often said that she was not a consensus politician but a conviction politician. And last week the Deputy Prime Minister observed that she seemed blissfully indifferent to the popularity of what she said  entirely driven instead by the conviction of what she said.

In the case of the Falklands her conviction of standing up for justice and freedom was the right thing to do may have made her difficult decisions easier. We must give thanks for that conviction and for her strength of character. Because of her courage and the skill, bravery and sacrifice of Britains Armed Forces our liberty and our future are secure.

Lady Thatchers legacy in our Islands goes much further than our liberation. She made the UKs position on the Falklands very clear. There would be no negotiation over the Falkland Islands unless and until the islanders wished it. This has ensured that subsequent British Governments regardless of political affiliation have publicly reaffirmed the right of Falkland Islanders to determine their own future. More than 30 years on, the support of the current British Government could not be stronger.

The 1983 British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act is another important part of her legacy for the Falkland Islands Community. It granted full British Citizenship to Falkland islanders, who were previously classed as British Dependent Territories Citizens. This reinforced our link with the UK, giving us full rights as British Nationals.

This week we have heard many personal memories that demonstrate the unique relationship that she had with us and that we had with her. During her two visits to the Islands she was greeted as a friend. On her first visit in 1983, she became the first person to be honoured with the Freedom of the Falkland Islands, a fitting tribute to the person who secured for us that very right. She remains to this day the only person to have received this recognition.

Receiving this recognition from the Then Financial Secretary the late Harold Rowlands, Mrs Thatcher said that it was the most marvellous honour that could have been conferred on her. At the end of her speech Harold Rowlands called for 3 cheers for the lady who he described as the incomparable Margaret Thatcher.

The three cheers and quite a few more besides were duly delivered with incomparable enthusiasm.

In 1992, as with her first visit, people lined the streets to welcome her and it was important at the time that wherever she went, either in Camp or in town, everyone was there. Everyone joined in and there are many stories of people greeting on the streets and smiles and hugs.

Baroness Thatchers relationship with our Islands was clearly a very personal one. Here she could show the human side that she perhaps could not show at home or elsewhere. During her trips she travelled widely throughout the Islands. And it was during a visit to Fox Bay, that the late Shirley Knight, with a rare display of nerves took to the podium to deliver a speech, thanking Mrs Thatcher for all she achieved on the islanders behalf. It was when Shirley attempted to express regret for those lives lost in liberating our islands that she understandably became overcome with emotion and was unable to continue. Mrs Thatcher made her way to Shirleys side, consoled her with a hug and encouraged her to continue. And there wasnt a dry eye in the house as the two mothers shared their sorrow at what had come before.

On visiting Goose Green, a young girl had a posy to present to lady Thatcher but overcome by the occasion and the overwhelming presence of the visiting press, the young girl passed the flowers back to her mother. Mrs Thatcher saw the problem, shooed the press away and gave the little girl time to adjust to the excitement before the presentation was made as planned.

We were privileged to hear Mrs Thatcher deliver several inspiring speeches aimed at motivating the population to develop not only the Islands but also to strive for personal aspirations. She was successful in both areas. Together we have created an economy and a society that many could not even have imagined 30 years ago.

Baroness Thatcher took a particular interest in the future of our young people. For over two decades students at the Community School have competed for the Margaret Thatcher Trophy awarded for services to the School. Baroness Thatcher personally donated the trophy saying that it would serve as a reminder that we, who had been given so much by those who fought for us have to give something back.

To this day, our strong sense of community is perhaps an example of how we hold to that ideal.

Reading over the speeches she made here over 20 years ago, I was struck to read the following:

As you look around you now, I hope you will all consider that full advantage has been taken of that freedom regained and since guaranteed to these that we can develop them in a worthy way, an attractive and imaginative way, combining modern infrastructure and its advantages with the Islands qualities and freedom of lifestyle, independence of mind and that practical ability to turn a hand to a wide variety of tasks without relying on someone else.

Those words are just as true today as they were then. Todays modern Falkland Islands is forward looking, internally self-governing and financially self- sufficient. There is perhaps no better legacy to a prime Minister who was not afraid to stand up to freedom and justice than the people and the community she allowed us to come.

One thing is certain  in the Falkland islands her memory will never be forgotten – Margaret Thatcher  a great woman  a great leader  a great friend.

Rest in peace.

Amy Gilding and Sorrel Pompert-Robertson read from Ephesians 6:11 about the full armour of God and Dr the Rev Richard Hines gave a homily expounding on anecdotes and experiences Mrs Thatcher had when visiting the Falklands as well as relevant decisions made while she was in the UK. The Homily was followed by the Hymn, Love Devine All Loves Excelling.

Bidding Prayers were read by Monsignor Michael B McPartland, Prefect Apostolic of the Roman Catholic Church in the South Atlantic and Miss Jackie Earnshaw, leader of the Tabernacle Free Church.

After singing the Hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, Dr the Rev Hines gave a final blessing.

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Meet our shipping hero – Vomiting Larry

Meet our shipping hero – Vomiting Larry

If you think you already have, after the midnight buffet or on a particularly rough sea crossing, you’ll find this is a different Larry that is a “simulated vomiting system” at the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory to simulate the spread of novovirus, a particular scourge of cruise ships. Sadly the BBC says “it is a hardy virus that clearly spreads with ease – one of the few infections you really can catch from a toilet seat, or even from the air in the bathroom if an infected person has recently pulled the flush”. Larry can projectile vomit an impressive three metres. And novovirus aerosolised particles can stay virulent for up to two weeks on hard surfaces – and it can survive freezing or mild heating; and many cleaning products won’t kill it. No wonder it can run rampant in the confined spaces of a ship!

At the risk of iTravelTree sounding like your Mum the best solution is to wash your hands well – and frequently.

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P&O Cruises’ Adonia and Princess Cruises’ Star Princess (R) are seen moored in Port Stanley on February 25, 2012. Both cruise ships were prevented from docking in Ushuaia on February 28 due to their prior stop in the disputed islands. This summer, Argentina’s pressure may reduce the number of visitors by ship to the Falklands by 80 per cent. Several ships have already cancelled their visits – though P&O UK have cancelled Argentinian port calls instead.

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I Only Have Ice For You

Antarctic Ice Chart: I Only Have Ice For You

If you are heading to the Antarctic Peninsula this austral summer, or have friends or relatives who are, you might like to take a look at the ice charts freely available at And, depending on where you are going, there’s a good chance you will encounter some ice, as the attached chart shows. This was a compilation of information from December 8, 2012 but it’s revealing.

In summary, there’s a lot of ice around this year.

  1. Heading south to Antarctica from South Georgia the big decision for expedition leaders and captains is whether to come via the South Orkney Islands and Argentina’s Orcadas Base or to aim for Elephant Island. From Orcades it’s normally an easy run down the eastern side of Joinville Island and in the southern entrance of Antarctic Sound. From Elephant Island the next logical stop is somewhere in the South Shetland Islands.

But not this year – in thee past few weeks the pack ice from the Weddell Sea has drifted out well past the South Orkney Islands (the white dots surrounded by red at the top of the map) and the southern end of Antarctic Sound is blocked. The only option is Elephant Island – but even it seems to be becoming surrounded by more and more sea ice.

The yellow marginal ice zone is generally pretty open water but last week the band of ice (where it kinks out at the northern end of King George Island) required pushing ice aside to get through.

  1. If you’re on a voyage into the Weddell Sea, good luck. Some ships have reached Brown Bluff but few have made it further east that that – so not really into the Weddell Sea at all. Maybe a big storm will soon change all that.
  1. For the most visited parts of the Antarctic Peninsula the sea is largely wide open. However there was ice immediately south of the Lemaire Channel and a big iceberg periodically blocking the southern entrance.
  1. For anyone aiming for the Antarctic Circle, again, good luck. Right now it doesn’t seem accessible and there’s certainly no way further south around the southern end of Adelaide Island or through The Gullet to marguerite Bay.

The proviso to all this is that the most recent accurate ice chart I’ve seen hasn’t been updated for a week. And ice conditions change a lot in Antarctica. A good storm or even some strong prevailing winds move the ice around a lot. And, of course, finding some ice is essential to experiencing the true majesty of Antarctica.

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Phone & Internet in the Antarctic Peninsula – Communications – 10 Top Tips

When I first went to Antarctica almost 20 years ago, the communications question was easy: call from the departure port and wait until the voyage is over before calling again. A telephone call from the ship on the INMARSAT phone was at least $15 per minute. Shipboard internet was virtually impossible. This has changed a lot – and may well be different by the time you read this.

  1. For Australians, at least, roaming on your mobile in Argentina and Chile is expensive. Data is very expensive. But wifi is widespread so use it (and Skype) rather than your mobile/cellular phone.
  2. After sailing from Ushuaia you’ll have a phone signal for at least 30 minutes – but this may also be when the lifeboat drill is held.
  3. About 2-3 hours after leaving Ushuaia the ship will pass by Puerto Williams, a small settlement on the Chilean side of the Beagle Channel. It has a good mobile signal that will work for most of an hour, if you have access to Chilean roaming.
  4. There’s no mobile telephone signal along the Antarctic Peninsula though the bases have good telephone and internet links to the outside world for their own staff. However, if your ship goes into Maxwell Bay on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands you’ll find you have a mobile signal from the Chilean Eduardo Frei Base. (Many discover this when the phone they have been using solely as an alarm clock bursts back to life with messages.) The signal does not extend beyond the entrance to the bay.
  5. Check with your voyage operator but just about all vessels going to Antarctica offer at least a basic email service and satellite phone service on board. Not all provide full internet and, as the signal is over the satellite network it’s not fast and is quite expensive, though that varies from one ship to the next. However, it’s almost certainly cheaper than the roaming rate on your mobile phone in this part of the world.
  6. Technology-dependant passengers sometimes buy or hire their own satellite phone, with or without data capabilities. This may require you to stand outside in the cold but you will have connection on your own terms.
  7. The Antarctic Peninsula, and the island of South Georgia, is mountainous and when your ship is deep in a bay or fiord there will be no outside signal at all. This doesn’t happen very often on a voyage but it can be overnight.
  8. If you are going to South America, Ushuaia and Antarctica to get away from the world you may not want any communication at all. Then you just have one choice to make: what to do in an emergency? Some don’t leave any contact numbers to the ship and will deal with any crisis at the end of the voyage. Others leave a number to call in emergencies only and then can rest assured that, when there’s no phone call, there’s no significant problem at home.
  9. Sometimes, on the last full day of the voyage, telephone and internet accounts may be turned off to prepare final accounts. If you have something essential happening, don’t leave it until then – or talk to the ship’s hotel manager in advance.
  10. When you are at the end of the voyage and heading back up the Beagle Channel there will almost certainly be messages, texts, emails and missed calls. Unless you have an unlimited budget you’ll be better off waiting until you can get on-line in Ushuaia again. So maybe it’s best to leave the phone off or just turn it on to call the person who matters most.

About the author: David McGonigal has been to Antarctica over 100 times as Expedition Leader, expert lecturer and expedition photographer. He left Antarctica last February and will be back there again this November.

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Hillary & Sergey sign Polar Cooperation Agreement

Russian FM, U.S. State Secretary Sign South Pole Agreements

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Secretary of State of the United States of America Hillary Clinton and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov are signing a memorandum of understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on cooperation in the Antarctic and the joint statement on strengthening US-Russian interregional cooperation.

Sergey Lavrov: Dear ladies and gentlemen! We have just signed a bilateral intergovernmental memorandum on cooperation in the Antarctic, which lays the basis for shifting our partnership in the South Pole into a brand new level. This offers an example of constructive cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in this sphere where our countries` interests coincide.

The memorandum suggests regular consultations between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Department of State on the implementation of goals and principles outlined in the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, as well as a closer coordination between our countries at relevant international forums. It also suggests scientific cooperation and exchange of data and experts, as well as expanded coordination in carrying out expeditionary activities. The document confirms the two countries` mutual interest in continuing joint inspection of research stations operated by third countries in order to monitor the demilitarization of Antarctica and compliance with environmental requirements. By the way, the first inspection took place in January, 2012, at the McMurdo U.S. Antarctic research station.

The next joint Russia-American inspection is scheduled for the end of this year and will take place at Russia`s Novolazarevskaya research station. We hope it will be as productive as the previous one. Generally speaking, the memorandum demonstrates our countries` plans to jointly cooperate on a whole range of Antarctica-related issues. The statement on the interregional cooperation consolidates positive experience which has already been achieved here and signals our regions that the governments of Russia and the U.S. encourage them to further develop mutually beneficial relations. This is an important sphere of our cooperation since it directly affects the issues which are of interest for our citizens.

Also today we have adopted an unsigned statement which says that measures should be taken promptly to set up the Beringia natural reserve which would comprise Chukotka and Alaska. Like the two documents we have already signed, the text of this statement will be available and I hope you will have a look at them.

I express my gratitude to the U.S. Secretary of State for cooperation and hope that it will continue.


Hillary Clinton: Well, thank you very much, minister Lavrov, and I am delighted to be here and I thank you for the constructive outcomes of our work together as we signed our memorandum of understanding today. I also want to thank United States Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones and our Special Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs Rita-Joe Lewis for helping make today’s agreement and statements a reality.

During the past three and a half years the U.S. and Russia have deepened our cooperation to address shared challenges. We adopted a new START treaty, increased trade and investment and supported Russia`s joining the WTO. And we are taking three more steps to do work together. First, we are formally deepening our scientific cooperation in Antarctica, a continent with vast opportunities for research. Scientists from both our countries will work together to explore Antarctica`s terrain, study the effects of climate change and cooperate on a range of issues to better understand and protect our shared environment. And for the first time, US and Russian officials and scientists are working together to enforce the Antarctic Treaty. There are, as Sergei said, inspecting foreign facilities and looking for violations of the treaty and environmental commitments. This treaty was signed in 1959, so this effort is certainly worth celebrating.

The second step we are taking is designed to stimulate economic growth by harnessing the knowledge and skills of our two nations` local leaders. We are signing a joint statement on interregional cooperation to encourage greater collaboration at all levels of our governments. Regional and local officials will host trade delegations and introduce businesses to new markets. And when it comes to economic growth local partnerships can have global impacts.

Finally, we are issuing a joint statement that signals our desire to collaborate more closely in the region where our countries are only miles apart: a segment of the Bering Strait we referred to as Beringia. With this statement we are underscoring our intent to link the US`s national parks in Alaska with the soon-to-be designated Beringia national park. Our goal is to finalize this arrangement in the coming months so park managers and researchers from both countries would be able to increase their efforts to conserve this unique ecosystem as well as the cultural traditions and languages of the indigenous people on both sides of the Strait.

Let me also mention one more example of Russia-US cooperation which has special resonance this weekend: tomorrow our historic visa agreement will come into force. It will facilitate travel between our nations which will strengthen both people-to-people ties and business contacts. It is fitting that this agreement will come into force during APEC. Business communities in our countries repeatedly asked us for visa liberalization to make it easier for them to work together. And we are happy to be able to deliver. So, this is another very important moment in US-Russia relations, we are grateful for this and other opportunities to work more closely with Russia on areas of common concern that will deliver benefits to the people of both our nations.

So, Minister Lavrov, thank you and your team for all the work that led to these agreements.

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British Antarctic Survey Cambridge, UK exit?

Many visitors to the Uk with an interest in Antarctica find their way to Cambridge, the home of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that was established 60 years ago and now employs 400 staff and operates five research stations, two research ships and five aircraft in Antarctica.

However, yesterday plans were revealed to combine BAS and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to form a new organisation that would have its HQ in Southampton. The BAS site in Madingley Rd Cambridge will remain under these new plans and would continue to be the main focus for all polar facilities – polar research stations and aircraft, polar logistics and operations, and related engineering and technology – other than for ships. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which funds both the BAS and NOC, has launched a month-long consultation with staff about the proposals and a decision will be made in December.

Prof Ed Hill, interim director of BAS and director of NOC, said “The main idea is to really increase the UK’s clout in polar and marine sciences not only in the Antarctic, which BAS specialises in, but also the Arctic.”

“There are no plans to move large numbers of staff from Cambridge as a result.” and “It’s not driven by a desire to reduce staff numbers very significantly.”

He declared the idea was born from the “obvious links” between research into marine and polar sciences.

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Antarctic Molluscs: Bivalve indeed!

Antarctic Molluscs: Bivalve indeed!

Researchers studying the bivalves, known as Lissarca miliarispublished findings in the most recent volume of Polar Biology that suggests Antarctic molluscs switch between sexes in order to efficiently reproduce in the extreme cold. The study with Adam Reed, Ph.D student as lead author looked at males.

“Curiously, we found huge numbers of very small eggs in functional males, which appear to be far higher in number than an individual could brood throughout the life of the animal,” Reed told BBC Nature.

They found that the antarctic molluscs tend to reproduce as males in the “small” stages of development, before switching to female organs in later stages in order to bear a larger number of eggs.

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Penguins skate for free

NZ IceFest opens in Christchurch today, Friday 14 September from 5pm and runs for a month. For more information visit

Mayor Bob Parker states that Christchurch’s status as a Gateway to Antarctica is invaluable. The new biennial festival shows the city’s commitment to events while the city rebuilds.

“Christchurch has been a Gateway city to the ice for over 100 years from the Heroic exploration era of Scott and Shackleton, to the international scientists who continue to use Christchurch as their point of departure to the ice.”

“What better way to celebrate the enormously rich New Zealand-Antarctic heritage than through NZ IceFest which brings Antarctica to Christchurch in a very creative way. The large scale of this festival is extremely heartening and will provide a welcome opportunity to have some fun at the opening and over the next month.”

Hagley Park ‘Ice Station’ will be lit up from 5pm and the fun will continue when the Mayor formally opens the festival before a show of fireworks in Antarctic inspired colours at 7pm. Those with a flipper fetish will be overjoyed to learn that anyone who dresses as a penguin skates on the ice shelf-themed outdoor rink for free.

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