61 news posts related to Extreme Environments

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NSF-funded deep ice core to be drilled at Hercules Dome, Antarctica

Hercules Dome field team poses next to a plane

Antarctica’s next deep ice core, drilling down to ice from 130,000 years ago, will be carried out by a multi-institutional U.S. team at Hercules Dome, a location hundreds of miles from today’s coastline and a promising site to provide key evidence about the possible last collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The National Science Foundation has funded the roughly five-year, $3 million project involving the University of Washington, the University of New Hampshire, the University of California, Irvine and the University of Minnesota. 

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Big ships and underwater robots: heading out to sea with the Ocean Observatories Initiative

sablefish and Jason

It’s summertime, and that means scientists across the University of Washington College of the Environment are in the field collecting data. Researchers in the School of Oceanography are no different and are working off the Oregon coast on their annual expedition to maintain the long-running cabled ocean observatory. Part of the broader National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), UW oversees the Regional Cabled Observatory that spans several sites in Pacific Northwest waters, ranging from shallow coastal locales to deeper waters in the open ocean more than 300 miles offshore. 

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Deep-sea anglerfishes have evolved a new type of immune system

Female anglerfish with a parasitic male attached to her back.

Deep-sea anglerfishes employ an incredible reproductive strategy. Tiny dwarfed males become permanently attached to relatively gigantic females, fuse their tissues and then establish a common blood circulation. In this way, the male becomes entirely dependent on the female for nutrient supply, like a developing fetus in the womb of a mother or a donated organ in a transplant patient. In anglerfishes, this unusual phenomenon is called “sexual parasitism” and contributes to the reproductive success of these animals living in the vast space of the deep sea, where females and males otherwise rarely meet. 

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New radar technology sheds light on never-before-seen Antarctic landscape

17,000 years ago, Seattle was covered by an ice sheet that stood over 3,000 feet tall (for reference, the current tallest building in Seattle, the Columbia Tower, is just under 937 feet). As the ice advanced and eventually receded, it carved massive valleys, mountains and lakes into the earth to create the glaciated land and seascape we recognize today. These landscapes not only remind us of the area’s ancient glacial past but also provide tools to understand and predict future patterns for glaciers. 

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Super salty, subzero Arctic water provides peek at possible life on other planets

In recent years, the idea of life on other planets has become less far-fetched. NASA announced June 27 that it will send a vehicle to Saturn’s icy moon Titan, a celestial body known to harbor surface lakes of methane and an ice-covered ocean of water, boosting its chance for supporting life. On Earth, scientists are studying the most extreme environments to learn how life might exist under completely different settings, like on other planets. 

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