37 news posts related to Polar Science

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A whale murder mystery in the Arctic

A group of bowhead whales.

From a small aircraft flying over the Pacific Arctic, scientists with the Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals (ASAMM) project surveyed the movements and interactions of marine mammals for more than four decades. Observations and images from these surveys offer clues informing our understanding of the lives, and deaths, of marine mammals in this remote region. A new study, published in Polar Biology and led by researchers at the University of Washington’s Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES), is particularly interested in the ‘death’ part of those survey observations, and has uncovered the first direct evidence of killer whales as the primary cause of death for one of the Arctic’s endangered species, bowhead whales of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort seas stock. 

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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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Some polar bears in far north are getting short-term benefit from thinning ice

Kristin Laidre is seen with two polar bear cubs.

A small subpopulation of polar bears lives on what used to be thick, multiyear sea ice far above the Arctic Circle. The roughly 300 to 350 bears in Kane Basin, a frigid channel between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland, make up about 1-2% of the world’s polar bears. New research shows that Kane Basin polar bears are doing better, on average, in recent years than they were in the 1990s. 

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Studying sea ice algae in Antarctica: two graduate students take fieldwork to the next level

Hannah Dawson and Sussan Rundell with their gear and the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer in the background.

School of Oceanography Assistant Professor Jodi Young is studying one of the most essential components of Antarctic ecosystems: sea ice algae. This algae supports the bottom of the food chains in polar regions, and if it were to suddenly disappear, dependent ecosystems could collapse. For two Oceanography graduate students, the chance to work with Young and collect sea ice algae data in one of the most remote and visually stunning regions on the planet was a twice in a lifetime experience. 

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Antarctic sea-ice models improve for the next IPCC, UW study shows 

The world of climate modeling is complex, requiring an enormous amount of coordination and collaboration to produce. Models feed on mountains of different inputs to run simulations of what a future world might look like, and can be so big — in some cases, lines of code in the millions — they take days or weeks to run. Building these models can be challenging, but getting them right is critical for us to see where climate change is taking us, and importantly, what we might do about it. 

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