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Morning photo: Antarctic mysteries

Life amidst the ice

Weddell and fur seals on Dundee Island.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Researching an interesting story today about climate-change impacts in Antarctica gave me a chance to dig through my archive of photos from that most distant of continents. The story was about scientists measuring the growth rate in moss, one of the very few plants able to grow in that harsh environment.

I remembered that, during our trip we landed on several islands just north of the Antarctic mainland where there actually was a little bit of green visible amidst the stunning vistas of ice-draped mountains semi-frozen seas. While we were there, I didn’t think much about the significance of the moss, but I did realize it was unusual. Little did I know that the unobtrusive little plants are the Antarctic equivalents of old-growth forests, helping to unravel the mysteries of climate change.

Melting ice provides fresh water for beds of moss on Dundee Island.

It's not much, but the little bit of green near the shore of Dundee Island was a treat for the eyes.

The M/V Professor Molchanov at anchor near Dundee Island.

A seal pup enjoys a cool nap.

A lone penguin revels in the ice of the Weddell Sea.

Muted pastels mark dawn in the Weddell Sea.

The intense colors of the volcanic rock of Deception Island contrast with the muted gray sky.

Ice crystals form along a stream of meltwater on Dundee Island.

Aitcho Island, in the South Shetland archipelago, is far enough north to support a more extensive carpet of mosses.

 

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4 Responses

  1. What a great addition to the other story you have provided us with today Bob. Indeed, how fortunate we, your audience, are to have your many talents shared. Kudos.

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for the moss photos. Cool fact about moss growing in the wetness of the melting ice.

  3. Love the story and the photos Bob! For more interesting facts about moss, check out the mossology at http://www.mossandstonegardens.com/mossology.php
    Moss Rocks!

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