9 SEPTEMBER 2002- The latest thinking on the chances of extinction for Antarctic animals in seas and lakes, whale food hiding beneath sea ice, and new insights on the Sun's spin are among the hot topics slated for discussion at today's Frontiers of Polar Science panel, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through its journal Science.
Clues from the planet's coldest regions were the focus of work by panelists Lloyd S. Peck of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Andrew S. Brierley of the University of St. Andrews, and Michael E. McIntyre of the University of Cambridge. The researchers presented their latest findings as part of the 2002 Annual Meeting of the prestigious British Association for the Advancement of Science.
"The icy fastnesses of the polar regions are revealing the secrets of the Earth's recent climatic history," said Andrew M. Sugden, international managing editor for Science's Cambridge office, who planned the Frontiers of Polar Science panel. "At the same time, a new understanding of their sensitive ecosystems and atmospheric chemistry is warning us about the impacts of humans on the climate and biosphere of today and tomorrow."
At the AAAS panel, Peck discusses the latest thinking on the chances of survival or extinction for Antarctic animals by comparing results from fast-changing lakes with observations of the Antarctic marine environment - possibly the most constant temperature regime on Earth.
In the 25 January issue of Science, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey showed that the environmental and ecological characteristics of lakes on Signy Island in the Antarctic were changing as fast, if not faster than any site on earth.
Peck and colleagues reported that Signy Island's winter lake temperatures rose by 1.3 degrees Celsius between 1980 and 1995. While the shift doesn't sound dramati