UAB in Antarctica
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Questions and Answers

TitleClick here to change to descending sortDate Posted
Question from Nikkie5/4/2004 3:15:39 PM

Are you seeing more hours of darkness as winter is coming? When will it stay dark most of the time? Is the weather changing to more wind, snow, or cold?

Answered by Jim McClintock on 5/4/2004 3:15:41 PM

Hi Nikkie - As I type this message to you I am looking out of my office window and the sky is just barely beginning to lighten up. It is 8:15 am! And this afternoon it will be dark by 4:30 pm. So our days are definately growing shorter as the winter approaches. We are also seeing bigger and bigger storms. For example, yesterday we had a terrific blow! The wind gusts topped off at 76 miles per hour (hurricane force!), with sustained speeds of about 55 miles per hour. The roof over my bedroom rattled during the night, and the American flag in front of the building made a terrible racket as it hung to the pole for dear life. Interesting, the winds blew so hard that they removed all the snow from the rocky hillsides, exposing the bare rock again. But I bet before we leave in two weeks the rocks will be once again coated with fresh snow. Thanks for the question and enjoy those warm spring days back home! Cheers, Jim

Question from 5/11/2004 9:46:57 AM

does krill turn Antarctic waters red?

Answered by Maggie Amsler on 5/11/2004 9:46:57 AM

Oh I love krill questions! I have read reports of some of the early oceanographic voyages to Antarctica (in wooden ships!) that describe krill schools so big and dense that the surface of the water turned red. I have witnessed many times vast numbers of krill at the surface in what I think are pretty huge schools. The cold polar water still looked the same steely blue color it always does BUT its surface was visibily alive with darting, dancing krill. Some were even literally jumping out of the water with a quick snap of their tail end. It is always a thrilling sight to be able to watch them in their natural environment! Thanks for your question and the oppportunity to share some of my experiences with my favorite Antarctic critter.

Question from caitlin5/15/2004 11:24:34 PM

Who are the major predators in Antarctica

Answered by Jim McClintock on 5/15/2004 11:24:35 PM

Caitlin - The major predators in Antarctica would include Killer Whales and Leopard Seals. The Killer Whales prey on seals and penguins, but may also capture and eat fish. Leopard Seals prey on young seals, penguins and also will capture and eat fish and even krill (little shrimp-like animals that very abundant here). Other major predators that come to mind include the baleen whales. These whales have specialized mouths that strain sea water and capture vast amounts of krill and other small planktonic animals. They are major predators because they process such large amounts of food. Among the bird world, the Skua is a major predator on the eggs and chicks of penguins. Hope this answers your question! Cheers from Antarctica! Jim

Question from jenny5/16/2004 7:57:02 AM

Who does Antartica belong to? I need to know for a homework assignment I am working on. Can someone please tell me? Thank you.

Answered by Jim McClintock on 5/16/2004 7:57:02 AM

Jenny - There are a number of different countries that claim regions of Antarctica for their own countries. Among them include Great Britain, Australia, Chile and Argentina (the United States does not). However, these countries and many others abide by the fifty-year Antarctic Treaty, a global agreement to treat Antarctica as a continent that supports scientific enquiry. The treaty also states that no country shall use Antarctica to exploit mineral and oil resources nor for miliary purposes, and does not formally recognize any claims to land made by signatory countries. This has not made those countries that claim portions of Antarctica give up their claims to the land. For example, Argentina maintains a small community on the Antactic Peninsula and encourages and pays young married couples to go there to give birth to their children, as this is one way of strengthening their claim to the land. So the answer to your homework assisgnment is that a number of countries claim to own parts of Antarctica, but that under a global agreement their claims are not officially recognized. As part of this agreement, any country may visit another countries research station to inspect their operations and science activities. We have had such visits from the British and Argentinians since I have been working here at Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. I think the Antarctic Treaty is a wonderful model system. It facilitates international cooperation for the purpose of maintaining Antarctica as a global park for science for many decades to come.

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The researchers completed their expedition in May 2004. Feel free to search this site for their archived journals and responses to questions.

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