Category Archives: ANTARCTICA

Drilling under Antarctic ice shelf, scientists find a treasure trove of life with 77 species

Drilling under Antarctic ice shelf, scientists find treasure trove of life with 77 species

Far beneath the ice shelves of the Antarctic, there is more marine life than expected, finds a recent study in the journal Current Biology, published this week.

Despite occupying nearly 1.6 million km2, ice shelves are amongst the least known environments on Earth. Life has been seen in these perpetual dark, cold and still habitats on camera but has rarely been collected.

Using hot water, a team of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, drilled two holes, through nearly 200 meters of the Ekström Ice Shelf near Neumayer Station III in the South Eastern Weddell Sea in 2018. The environment is harsh and extremely cold (minus 2.2 degrees centigrade).

The fragments of a life on the seabed collected were extraordinary and completely unexpected.

Despite being several kilometres from the open sea, the biodiversity of the specimens they collected was extremely rich. In fact, richer than many open water samples found on the continental shelf where there are light and food sources.

The team discovered an incredible 77 species—including saber shaped bryozoans (moss animals) such as Melicerita obliqua and serpulid worms such as Paralaeospira sicula, more than previously known about from this entire environment.

Lead author Dr. David Barnes, a marine biologist at British Antarctic Survey, says:

“This discovery of so much life living in these extreme conditions is a complete surprise and reminds us how Antarctic marine life is so unique and special.

It’s amazing that we found evidence of so many animal types, most feed on micro-algae (phytoplankton) yet no plants or algae can live in this environment. So the big question is how do these animals survive and flourish here?”

The team concludes there must be enough algae carried under the ice shelf from open water to fuel a strong food web. Microscopy of samples showed that, surprisingly, the annual growth of four of the species was comparable with similar animals in open marine Antarctic shelf habitats.

Co-author Dr. Gerhard Kuhn (AWI), who coordinated the drilling project, says:

“Another surprise was to find out how long life has existed here. Carbon dating of dead fragments of these seafloor animals varied from current to 5800 years. So, despite living 3-9 km from the nearest open water, an oasis of life may have existed continuously for nearly 6000 years under the ice shelf. Only samples from the seafloor beneath the floating ice shelf will tell us stories from its past history.”

Current theories on what life could survive under ice shelves suggest that all life becomes less abundant as you move further away from open water and sunlight. Past studies have found some small mobile scavengers and predators, such as fish, worms, jellyfish or krill, in these habitats. But filter-feeding organisms—which depend on a supply of food from above—were expected to be amongst the first to disappear further under the ice.

The team also notes that with climate change and the collapse of these ice shelves, time is running out to study and protect these ecosystems.

“Richness, growth, and persistence of life under an Antarctic ice shelf” by David K.A. Barnes, Gerhard Kuhn, Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Raphael Gromig, Nikola Koglin, Boris K. Biskaborn, Bettina A.V. Frinault, Johann P. Klages, and Julian Gutt is published in the journal Current Biology.

Interesting Claim: “Antarctica Is The Place Where Fallen Angels Are Still Alive But Locked In”

Interesting Claim: “Antarctica Is The Place Where Fallen Angels Are Still Alive But Locked In”

A recent movie was made and published by an Israeli news reporting channel.

The movie is titled “Fallen Angels are locked in Antarctica and Are Still Alive” and according to them, it is an unbiased view of the conspiracy theory.

Most theorists around the globe were pretty sceptical about it, as most news reporting channels don’t wish to delve too deep into these theories, but luckily, the movie was actually quite well made, to say the least.

You can tell that the creators put a lot of time and thought into it, especially the commentator Steven Ben-Nun who speaks of his own experience studying the apocryphal script The Book of Enoch.

The Book of Enoch showcases the story of how Enoch became the intermediary between the Fallen Angels and the Angels of Justice.

The two races were fighting one another because the Fallen Angels wished to procreate with human females and after doing so they created the Nephilim, also known as the Giants.

The Giants dethroned the Fallen Angels and, in this movie, they claim that the Fallen Angels’ base Mount Hermon was then taken over by the Giants.

According to the film, the Fallen Angels are now locked somewhere in Antarctica and we need to find out where they are so we can release them or at the very least study them.

Remains of 90 million-year-old rainforest discovered under Antarctic ice

Remains of 90 million-year-old rainforest discovered under Antarctic ice

This artist’s illustration shows a young Purussaurus attacking a ground sloth in Amazonia 13 million years ago.

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth 90 million years ago, the planet was much warmer, including Antarctica at the South Pole. But in a surprising twist, researchers have discovered evidence that Antarctica also supported a swampy rainforest at the time, according to a new study.

Researchers captured a slice of the seafloor using a drill rig aboard a polar research vessel on West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea between February and March in 2017. The sediment core sample was taken near the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers.

CT scans of the sediment core revealed pristine samples of forest soil, pollen, spores and even root systems so well preserved that they could identify cell structures. The soil included examples of pollen from the first flowering plants found this close to the South Pole.

Tina van de Flierdt and Johann Klages work on the sample of ancient soil.

They dated the soil, its fine-grained clay and silt to 90 million years ago. Their study was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“During the initial shipboard assessments, the unusual colouration of the sediment layer quickly caught our attention; it clearly differed from the layers above it,” said Johann Klages, study author and geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute. “We had found a layer originally formed on land, not in the ocean.”

Scientists know that during the age of the dinosaurs, conditions were warmer. The mid-Cretaceous era, from 80 million to 115 million years ago, was the warmest period for Earth in the past 140 million years, the researchers said. The surface of the sea likely reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit in tropical areas. And the sea level was 558 feet higher than it is now.

But there has been no evidence about what conditions were like at the South Pole. This is the southernmost sample of the Cretaceous period collected so far, revealing what Antarctica was like between 83 and 93 million years ago.

This map shows how the continents were arranged 90 million years ago. A red X marks the drill site.

“The preservation of this 90-million-year-old forest is exceptional, but even more surprising is the world it reveals,” said Tina van de Flierdt, study co-author and professor in the Imperial College London’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering. “Even during months of darkness, swampy temperate rainforests were able to grow close to the South Pole, revealing an even warmer climate than we expected.”

Sediment cores can record a lot of information about climate, acting as a time capsule for average temperature, rainfall and vegetation.

“To get a better idea of what the climate was like in this warmest phase of the Cretaceous, we first assessed the climatic conditions under which the plants’ modern descendants live,” Klages said.

The findings paint an unusual portrait of the South Pole, where West Antarctica’s coast was free of the ice caps that cover it now and swampy rainforests covered the area instead.

The average daytime temperature was 53 degrees Fahrenheit. While that sounds mild to us, this is incredibly warm for a location near the South Pole, where current daytime temperatures hover between negative 76 degrees to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. And, as the researchers point out, it’s only two degrees warmer than Germany at the moment in March.

The Antarctic ice sheet didn’t exist at the time. River and swamp temperatures were likely around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And the Antarctic summer temperature was likely around 66 degrees Fahrenheit. They estimate rainfall reached about 97 inches per year — about the same as Wales today.

The forests were similar to those now found on New Zealand’s South Island, the researchers said.

But how did Antarctica sustain temperate rainforests without year-round sunlight? Even millions of years ago, the South Pole endured what’s known as a four-month polar night when no sunlight can be seen.
The researchers investigated the levels of carbon dioxide that would have been in the atmosphere at the time.

They found atmospheric carbon dioxide was much higher than expected based on existing climate models. Carbon dioxide has a warming effect on the atmosphere and the planet, creating a greenhouse effect by trapping heat from the sun.

The high amount of carbon dioxide, combined with an ice sheet-less Antarctica covered in vegetation created the right conditions for a rainforest environment.

“We now know that there could easily be four straight months without sunlight in the Cretaceous. But because the carbon dioxide concentration was so high, the climate around the South Pole was nevertheless temperate, without ice masses,” said Torsten Bickert, study co-author and geoscientist at the University of Bremen’s MARUM research centre.

But the scientists still don’t know what caused Antarctica to cool off enough to form ice sheets, which leads them to their next challenge.

Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world

Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world

According to fossil roots, pollen, and spores recently found in West Antarctica, a thriving temperate rainforest existed around 90 million years ago.

The world was a different place back then. During the middle of the Cretaceous period (145 million to 65 million years ago), dinosaurs roamed Earth and sea levels were 558 feet (170 meters) higher than they are today. Sea-surface temperatures in the tropics were as hot as 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

This scorching climate allowed a rainforest — similar to those seen in New Zealand today — to take root in Antarctica, the researchers said. 

The rainforest’s remains were discovered under the ice in a sediment core that a team of international researchers collected from a seabed near Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica in 2017. 

As soon as the team saw the core, they knew they had something unusual. The layer that had formed about 90 million years ago was a different colour. “It clearly differed from the layers above it,” study lead researcher Johann Klages, a geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, said in a statement.

An operator on the “Polarstern” ship drives the MeBo seabed drilling system using remote technology.

Back at the lab, the team put the core into a CT (computed tomography) scanner. The resulting digital image showed a dense network of roots throughout the entire soil layer. The dirt also revealed ancient pollen, spores and the remnants of flowering plants from the Cretaceous period.

Professor Tina van de Flierdt and Dr Johann Klages work on the sample of ancient soil.

By analyzing the pollen and spores, study co-researcher Ulrich Salzmann, a paleoecologist at Northumbria University in England, was able to reconstruct West Antarctica’s 90 million-year-old vegetation and climate.

“The numerous plant remains indicate that the coast of West Antarctica was, back then, a dense temperate, swampy forest, similar to the forests found in New Zealand today,” Salzmann said in the statement.

The sediment core revealed that during the mid-Cretaceous, West Antarctica had a mild climate, with an annual mean air temperature of about 54 F (12 C), similar to that of Seattle. Summer temperatures were warmer, with an average of 66 F (19 C). In rivers and swamps, the water would have reached up to 68 F (20 C).

In addition, the rainfall back then was comparable to the rainfall of Wales, England, today, the researchers found.

These temperatures are impressively warm, given that Antarctica had a four-month polar night, meaning that a third of every year had no life-giving sunlight.

However, the world was warmer back then, in part, because the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was high — even higher than previously thought, according to the analysis of the sediment core, the researchers said.

“Before our study, the general assumption was that the global carbon dioxide concentration in the Cretaceous was roughly 1,000 ppm [parts per million],” study co-researcher Gerrit Lohmann, a climate modeler at Alfred Wegener Institute, said in the statement. “But in our model-based experiments, it took concentration levels of 1,120 to 1,680 ppm to reach the average temperatures back then in the Antarctic.”

These findings show how potent greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide can cause temperatures to skyrocket, so much so that today’s freezing West Antarctica once hosted a rainforest. Moreover, it shows how important the cooling effects of today’s ice sheets are, the researchers said.

The Face of Antarctica: Claims of Massive Face Buried Beneath the Ice

The Face of Antarctica: Claims of Massive Face Buried Beneath the Ice

The conspiracy nuts reckon they’ve found a grimacing face carved into the ice at a remote region in the southeast of the island. Notorious Instagram account ufo_scandinavia uploaded strange footage last week showing the bizarre anomaly.

It shows a man zooming in and out of a satellite snap on Google Earth. The snow in view appears to have the shape of eyes, a nose and a mouth. The mouth appears to be contorted in a terrifying grimace. The strange image sparked a frenzy online, with some claiming it’s evidence of a hidden civilisation.

Conspiracy theorists Blake and Brett Cousins – of YouTube channel thirdphaseofmoon – shared their thoughts on the Google Earth image.

“It appears to be a massive, ancient structure of some kind of face that is being revealed for the first time on Google Earth,” Blake said in his video.

“I would have to concur that whatever we’re looking at resembles some sort of megastructure.”

Brett added: “Could this be something that was left behind by the ancient civilisations of Antarctica?

“Ice melting could be revealing structures that would baffle the world.”

Around 90,000 people have watched the original Instagram footage of the Antarctic face.

One user quipped: “That is not a natural thing that mother nature made by wind and cold. Looks like a Viking. Metal helmet with the nose piece running down the upper part.”

The Face of Antarctica: Claims of Massive Face Buried Beneath the Ice
Screenshot of the alleged Face on Antarctica.

Another said: “No mind trick, that’s definitely a face.”

Others were more sensible in their approach. One explained: “This is purely natural and random. Looks like ice with cracks.”

The find is most likely the result of pareidolia, a bizarre effect that causes the brain to see shapes, structures and patterns where they do not exist.

According to Nasa: “Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognisable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data.

“There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.”

This is not the first time conspiracy nutters have made outrageous claims about satellite snaps.

Back in April, one prominent UFO-hunter claimed to have found an alien sculpture of a nude woman on a distant asteroid. In March, he said he’d found a carving of the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates on a mound on Mars. In other space news, Nasa’s manned mission to Mars could be delayed by 25 years as experts warn of radiation, health scares and food shortages.

Japan is ready to mine Mars’s largest moon after successfully completing all of the compulsory space contamination paperwork. Nasa managed to record the incredible sound of a ‘Marsquake’.

This Alien-Looking Creature Has Survived in Antarctica for at Least 30 Ice Ages

This Alien-Looking Creature Has Survived in Antarctica for at Least 30 Ice Ages

In Antarctica, a team of scientists who have been looking for it for decades have recently rediscovered a small insect-like organism that has survived 30 ice ages.

“This is what we affectionately refer to as the phantom springtail,” says BYU (Brigham Young University) biology professor Byron Adams., who conducts regular research in Antarctica.

“And we call it the phantom springtail because it’s white, like a ghost, but since we hadn’t found it after looking for it for years and years and years, we started to wonder if it was real if it really existed.”

This Alien-Looking Creature Has Survived in Antarctica for at Least 30 Ice Ages
A close-up image of a species of ghost collembola.

In an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers used the history of small microscopic Antarctic animals to understand exactly how the dynamics of the ice sheet developed over time and how they affected historic ecosystems.

“The evolutionary history of biological organisms can corroborate what we inferred from glaciology and geology about climate change in the past,” Adams said in a statement. “By doing so, we can better predict how life on Earth might respond to these kinds of changes now.”

Researchers have spent the past 20 years collecting samples from six different species of microarthropods at 91 sites in Antarctica. These tiny animals, known as springtails, live on the ground. They have very limited mobility and can only colonize ice-free areas.

During ice ages, ice sheets advance, expanding their coverage of living space, while during warming periods, ice sheets contract and become smaller, leaving more open spaces where ground animals can disperse.

By studying their current locations and patterns of genealogical and evolutionary divergence, Adams and his team can better understand how the West Antarctic ice sheet has changed over time.

The researchers found four species of the creatures, each showing genetically distinct populations in locations likely isolated for millions of years. The other two species were less genetically diverse, although their distribution was restricted.

Together, these patterns give an independent estimate of the timing and magnitude of the ice sheet advance and retreat. Antarctica.

Scientists accidentally discover species living in -2°C temperatures under the ice shelf in Antarctica

Scientists accidentally discover species living in -2°C temperatures under the ice shelf in Antarctica

Beneath the Antarctic ice sheets, there is still a lot of living organisms surviving in a very harsh climate, as found in a recent Frontiers in Marine Science report. During an exploratory survey, researchers drilled through 900 meters of ice in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, situated on the southeastern Weddell Sea.

An annotated satellite image of the Filchner-Ronne Ice shelf is the second biggest ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Very few species have ever been observed under these environments at a distance of 260 km from the open ocean, in total darkness and with temperatures of -2.2 ° C.

This research, however, is the first to discover the presence of stationary animals – similar to sponges and potentially several previously unknown species – attached to a boulder on the seafloor.

British Antarctic Survey camera travelling down the 900-meter-long borehole in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.

“This discovery is one of those fortunate accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world,” says biogeographer and lead author, Dr Huw Griffiths of British Antarctic Survey.

“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? What are they eating? How long have they been there? How common are these boulders covered in life? Are these the same species as we see outside the ice shelf or are they new species? And what would happen to these communities if the ice shelf collapsed?”

Floating ice shelves represent the greatest unexplored habitat in the Southern Ocean. They cover more than 1.5m sq km of the Antarctic continental shelf, but only a total area similar in size to a tennis court has been studied through eight prior boreholes.

Current theories on what life could survive under ice shelves suggest that all life becomes less abundant as you move further away from open water and sunlight.

Scientists accidentally discover species living in -2°C temperatures under the ice shelf in Antarctica
The spongelike creatures were attached to a boulder, far under the ice

Past studies have found some small mobile scavengers and predators, such as fish, worms, jellyfish or krill, in these habitats. But filter-feeding organisms – which depend on a supply of food from above – were expected to be amongst the first to disappear further under the ice.

So, it came as a surprise when the team of geologists, drilling through the ice to collect sediment samples, hit a rock instead of mud at the bottom of the ocean below. They were even more surprised by the video footage, which showed a large boulder covered in strange creatures.

Life found beneath Antarctic ice sheet ‘shouldn’t be there’

New Antarctic expedition needed

This is the first-ever record of a hard substrate (ie a boulder) community deep beneath an ice shelf and it appears to go against all previous theories of what types of life could survive there.

Given the water currents in the region, the researchers calculate that this community may be as much as 1,500km upstream from the closest source of photosynthesis.

Other organisms are also known to collect nutrients from glacial melts or chemicals from methane seeps, but the researchers won’t know more about these organisms until they have the tools to collect samples of these organisms–a significant challenge in itself.

“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment – and that’s under 900 meters of ice, 260km away from the ships where our labs are,” continues Griffiths.

“This means that as polar scientists, we are going to have to find new and innovative ways to study them and answer all the new questions we have.”

Griffiths and the team also note that with the climate crisis and the collapse of these ice shelves, time is running out to study and protect these ecosystems.

New satellite images reveal mysterious dome structure hidden in Antarctica fuelling shock claims an ancient civilization once lived there

New satellite images reveal mysterious dome structure hidden in Antarctica fuelling shock claims an ancient civilization once lived there

We’ve got a digital picture of a ‘dome’ in Antarctica that shortly after, has sparked wild rumors of a civilization living in the frozen continent. The picture, which is said to be from Google Earth, shows an oval-shaped structure that is believed to be 400 feet (121 meters) across.

The so-called formation has been said to be evidence of a human culture that once occupied the South Pole. It can even be considered a natural phenomenon, as some people believe that.

‘What if, in the distant past, when Earth –and Antarctica— was much different than today, an ancient civilization developed there, creating fascinating structures, monuments and temples there?’ a post on Ancient Code says.

A Google Earth image of Antarctica has sparked claims of evidence there was once a civilization living in the frozen continent. The picture shows an oval-shaped structure that conspiracy theorists claim to be 400 feet (121 meters) across.

The post says scientists initially thought the discovery could be a sastrugi – a natural phenomenon formed by years of battering by strong, freezing winds and heavy snowfall.

But sastrugi are not known to form in oval shapes, as shown in the picture.  This is not the first time people have suggested there was a lost civilisation in Antarctica. Pictures released by Nasa from its IceBridge ice-mapping mission triggered a few people to claim evidence for this lost civilization had been found.

Sastrugi is a natural phenomenon that occurs when high winds blow across the snow, creating sharp, stiff peaks

Ashoka Tripathi, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calcutta, said the images showed clear evidence of an ancient human settlement beneath the ice sheet, according to World News Daily.

‘These are clearly features of some sort of human-made structure, resembling some sort of pyramidal structure,’ he said.

‘The patterns clearly show nothing we should expect from natural geomorphological formations found in nature. 

‘We clearly have here evidence of human engineering. The only problem is that these photographs were taken in Antarctica under 2 kilometers of ice. That is clearly the puzzling part, we do not have any explanation for this at the moment.’

Another strange theory surfaced last year, claiming that there is a mysterious pyramid in the Antarctic had emerged. Conspiracy theorists have posted a video on YouTube, in which they claim that US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Antarctica last week to visit an ‘alien base’ within the pyramid.

The video suggests that the images have been taken from Google Earth, but it is unclear whether they have been edited. The video was posted by the Third Phase of the Moon, a YouTube channel that regularly posts conspiracy theories on aliens.

It showed a pyramid-like structure in the snow, with a Google Earth-type label and pin. The label reads ‘Antarctica Pyramid’ – a misspelling of Antarctica, which suggests that the image might have been doctored.

Responses to the video were varied, with some users backing-up the claims, such as James Jason, who commented: ‘Excellent report Third Phase, I also believe things are about to get very dramatic, and that is for everyone on our planet.’

But others dismissed it, such as Gordon Anderson, who said: ‘I have spent a LOT of time on snow-covered mountains- skiing down, and this looks natural to me – not man-made anyway!’

Others joked John Kerry was there for other reasons, such as Daniel Schultz, who commented: ‘on his bucket list, fly to Antarctica and make ‘snow angels’ where no man has gone before.’

It is unclear what the structure could be, but it looks similar to a nunatak – a natural mountain peak that juts up above glaciers.

Nigel Watson, the author of the UFO Investigations Manual, told MailOnline: ‘Pictures of the pyramid structures are either photoshopped, cropped pictures to make the mountains look more like pyramids or simply pictures of natural formations called nunataks. 

‘They are mountainous formations created by shifting glaciers and erosion, not by laser zapping aliens.’ 

Pyramids are often an area of interest for conspiracy theorists. 

It shows a pyramid-like structure in the snow, with a Google Maps-type label and pin. The label reads ‘Antarctica Pyramid’ – a misspelling of Antarctica, which suggests that image might have been doctored

In October last year, a video posted on YouTube claimed there was a crystal pyramid beneath the Bermuda Triangle, which was to blame for the disappearance of several planes and ships in the area.

Mr. Watson added: There is always a mystique about pyramid structures. Back in the 1970s, there were many claims that such objects could preserve food, generate health benefits and even keep razors sharp.