The Southern Ocean is getting less salty. Here’s what that could mean for the rest of the world – The Washington Post

Saltinity important to ocean processes: 

These processes are important drivers of ocean currents all over the world. The salty water created by sea ice formation is denser than fresh water, so it has a tendency to sink to the bottom of the ocean. In doing so, it helps push the water below it forward along the sea floor, creating a current that runs north toward the equator. As the water warms up, it rises to the surface and eventually runs back toward the poles. This process helps carry heat and nutrients around the world.”

Read on

What bubbles in the Antarctic can tell us

This excerpt from the New York Times reports on CO2 emissions from historical perspective and societies efforts to curb emissions in our atmosphere the last few decades. Expect recent (a relative term) severe weather patterns of drought, flooding, fluctuations of water levels (large and small bodies of water) to persist and increase in intensity.

“From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.”

Read on about CO2 emissions in the atmosphere exceeding 400 at:

Descent into Antarctic Lake Untersee

Michael Becker takes a plunge into Untersee Lake in the Antarctic. Watch the video. The lake is covered in 8 feet of ice. Excerpt from Martha Morales report in NYT: An intrepid diver shot the video from the bottom of icy lake, at the bottom of the world. Check out this video from McGill University researcher and brave guy Michael Becker. The video lets you come along on Becker’s recent dive to the bottom of an Antarctic lake. The lake, by the way, was covered with eight feet of ice!

White out conditions on Antarctic adventure as Sir Ranulph Fiennes is forced to quit – Telegraph

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has pulled out of an expedition to cross Antarctica during the region’s winter after developing a severe case of frostbite. The 68-year-old and his five-member team had hoped to conquer what has been called one of the last great polar challenges – traversing nearly 2,500 miles in a place where temperatures often dip as low as minus 70 Celsius. The expedition, dubbed The Coldest Journey, said in a statement on Monday that the team is working toward evacuating Sir Ranulph from Antarctica, but that the evacuation is being hampered by a blizzard. The rest of the team plans to continue on. Expedition organizers are trying to raise $10 million for the charity, Seeing is Believing” which seeks to prevent blindness. An idea of the difficult conditions faced by Ranulph Fiennes and his team can be seen in this video post from last week by expedition member Ian Prickett.