Tag Archives: Silica

New(ish) Antarctic news

31 Jul

Two newish pieces of news on climate change


Pine Island Glacier, which is on the west coast of Antarctica, is the most rapidly shrinking glacier in the planet.It is also the longest and fastest flowing glacier in Antarctica and has now produced a huge iceberg; eight times the size of Manhattan Island!! The original crack was seen in October 2011.

Apparently big tabular bergs come off from the end of the ice shelf every 6-10 years so this development is not necessarily related to climate change. But scientists have seen thinning and increased flow in Pine Island Glacier recently, this, they think may be due to warmer water getting under and melting the ice shelf. So there may be a connection.


I had never heard of glass sponges.  They are invertebrates, their elegant lattices are made of silica.

Their home was in deep water beneath the permanent ice shelves. Until previously they were thought to take years (centuries) to spread.

Unexpectedly, under newly thawed ice sheets, they have produced an invertebrate invasion on the sea floor! It is now known that the ghostly sponges are capable of unexpectedly rapid progression, sprouting in a few years in the Larsen Ice Shelf region (the northwest part of the Weddell Sea). Comparative studies between 2007 and recently found a large increase in the numbers of glass sponges ie they are capable of rapid reproduction, growth spurt and colonisation of large areas of seafloor in short times.

Since they have evolved over 550 million years this is a remarkable example of old and new developments.

Is this Global Warming produced by human activity?