Sea ice extent at both poles has been breaking more and more records over recent years, but for radically different reasons. While the Arctic has been steadily losing ice cover, melting as the region rapidly warms, in stark contrast the Antarctic ice cover has remained stable, even growing in some years. Why this is occurring has proven difficult to explain, but now researchers from NASA think they may have cracked it.
The Western Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean is the regular feeding ground of a large number of fin and humpback whales of the Southern Hemisphere. Around 5,000 fin whales likely migrate to its ice-free waters during summer, along with at least 3,000 humpback whales. This is according to a study that was led by Helena Herr of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Germany, and is published in Springer’s journal Polar Biology.
Two close friends and colleagues of Oceanites and the Antarctic Site Inventory — Kim Crosbie & Jérôme Poncet — were honored yesterday with Prince William’s awarding them Her Majesty the Queen’s Polar Medal. Beaucoup congratulations to both!
Kim’s polar career began in 1991 when she joined the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, as a research student. She initially worked in the Canadian Arctic before embarking on a PhD that focused on the ecological monitoring and management of visitor sites in the Antarctic. This required three austral summer seasons in primitive conditions at a temporary field camp on Cuverville Island in the Antarctic Peninsula surrounded by some 4,500 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins. Following completion of her PhD, Kim remained in the field of visitor management leading expeditions to both Poles primarily on board expedition cruise vessels, a role that enabled a diverse range of people to sustainably experience and work in these unique environments. In 2005, she joined the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) as Environmental Manager and subsequently Operations Director before being appointed Executive Director in 2013. Throughout she has continued to publish scientific papers, books and articles with a diverse range of scientists and non-governmental representatives. Kim’s varied experience in environmental management, from research to practical application and policy development, has led to a greater understanding and cohesion across the Antarctic community, resulting in improved management techniques that help support visitation to these areas in a safe, environmentally responsible way.
Jérôme was honored for his pioneering efforts in supplying logistics in support of Polar science and wildlife documentaries for over 40 years. His intimate knowledge of these relatively unexplored coastlines and his understanding of the extreme Antarctic environment has enabled the discovery of many penguin and other breeding bird colonies and facilitated a greater understanding of animal behavior and ecology. Never one to turn down a challenge, Jérôme’s work has not only progressed science but has also allowed millions of viewers around the world to enjoy and learn about the unique Antarctic environment by allowing film-makers to capture ground breaking footage. Examples include the BBC’s Life in the Freezer, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.
Jérôme has several notable firsts for a small yacht in the Polar Regions. These include sailing to Spitsbergen in 1969 and subsequently the Antarctic Peninsula and below the Antarctic Circle in 1973. In 1978 and 1979 he and his wife, Sally, wintered in Marguerite Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, onboard their yacht, Damien II, which continued to be their home in the Southern Ocean for several years as their family grew with the arrival of three sons. Throughout Jérôme has authored and co-authored many books and science articles sharing his practical knowledge and experience of these little known places.