AUSTIN, Texas — A strangely shaped depression on Mars could be a new place to look for signs of life on the Red Planet, according to a University of Texas at Austin-led study. The depression was probably formed by a volcano beneath a glacier and could have been a warm, chemical-rich environment well suited for microbial life. (more…)
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AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time, scientists have documented an acceleration in the melt rate of permafrost, or ground ice, in a section of Antarctica where the ice had been considered stable. The melt rates are comparable with the Arctic, where accelerated melting of permafrost has become a regularly recurring phenomenon, and the change could offer a preview of melting permafrost in other parts of a warming Antarctic continent.
Tracking data from Garwood Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, Joseph Levy, a research associate at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, shows that melt rates accelerated consistently from 2001 to 2012, rising to about 10 times the valley’s historical average for the present geologic epoch, as documented in the July 24 edition of Scientific Reports. (more…)
Jay Dickson and Jim Head have gathered time-lapse photography and other data about the sustained salinity of Antarctica’s Don Juan Pond, the most saline natural body of water on earth. Their findings, published online in Scientific Reports, suggest that such ponds could be possible on Mars.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Antarctica’s Don Juan Pond might be the unlikeliest body of water on Earth. Situated in the frigid McMurdo Dry Valleys, only the pond’s high salt content — by far the highest of any body of water on the planet — keeps it from freezing into oblivion. (more…)