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Photography Science

Frost Flowers Blooming in the Arctic Ocean are Found to be Teeming with Life

December 11, 2012

Christopher Jobson

These beautiful and other-worldly photographs of ice were taken last year by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming while they worked on a study combining oceanography, microbiology, and planetary sciences in the central Arctic Ocean as part of the Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program. Their single focus was the study of frost flowers, a strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures nearing -22C or -7.6F, forming spiky structures that have been found to house microorganisms. In fact, the bacteria found in the frost flowers is much more dense than in the frozen water below it, meaning each flower is essentially a temporary ecosystem, not unlike a coral reef. Via IGERT:

Around their research icebreaker in the central Arctic Ocean new ice grows on long open cracks that network amongst the thick floes of pack ice. Abruptly the surface of this new ice changes texture. The cold, moist air above the open cracks becomes saturated and frost begins to form wherever an imperfection can be found on the ice surface. From these nucleation points the flower-like frost structures grow vertically, quickly rising to centimeters in height. The hollow tendrils of these “frost flowers” begin to wick moisture from the ice surface, incorporating salt, marine bacteria, and other substances as they grow. The fog dissipates and the Arctic sun lights the surface of the frost flowers, initiating a cascade of chemical reactions. These reactions can produce formaldehyde, deplete ozone, and actually alter the chemical composition of the lower atmosphere. […] Bowman and Deming have discovered that bacteria are consistently more abundant in frost flowers than in sea ice. Since microscopic pockets in sea ice are known to support an active community of psychrophiles (cold-loving microorganisms), even in the coldest months of the year, these results are encouraging.

Bowman and Deming are currently building an ultra-clean chamber where they can grow artificial frost flowers and hope that their research leads to a better understanding of how life might be able to survive in extreme conditions elsewhere in the universe. Amazing! Photos by Matthias Wietz. (via the daily what)

 

 



Photography

Winners of the 2012 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

October 22, 2012

Christopher Jobson

Paul Nicklen / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Paul Nicklen / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Jasper Doest / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Larry Lynch / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Richard Peters / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Sergey Gorshkov / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Cristóbal Serrano / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Anna Henly / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Kim Wolhuter / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Adam Gibbs / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

The winners of the 48th annual Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition were announced on October 17th featuring 100 incredible photos selected from 48,000 entries originating from 98 countries, with top prize claimed by Paul Nicklen for his bubbly capture of emperor penguins. Here are ten of my favorites and you can see all of the winners in person at the Natural History Museum in London through March 2013. A full gallery is also available online. (via flavorwire)

 

 



Art

Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Discovered Off the Coast of Japan

September 19, 2012

Christopher Jobson

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration less than five percent of the world’s oceans have been explored, meaning that 95% of what lies deep underwater on Earth has yet to be seen by human eyes.

One person who has dedicated his life to uncovering the mysteries of the deep is Japanese photographer Yoji Ookata who obtained his scuba license at the age of 21 and has since spent the last 50 years exploring and documenting his discoveries off the coast of Japan. Recently while on a dive near Amami Oshima at the southern tip of the country, Ookata spotted something he had never encountered before: rippling geometric sand patterns nearly six feet in diameter almost 80 feet below sea level. He soon returned with colleagues and a television crew from the nature program NHK to document the origins what he dubbed the “mystery circle.”

Here is what they found.

Using underwater cameras the team discovered the artist is a small puffer fish only a few inches in length that swims tirelessly through the day and night to create these vast organic sculptures using the gesture of a single fin. Through careful observation the team found the circles serve a variety of crucial ecological functions, the most important of which is to attract mates. Apparently the female fish are attracted to the hills and valleys within the sand and traverse them carefully to discover the male fish where the pair eventually lay eggs at the circle’s center, the grooves later acting as a natural buffer to ocean currents that protect the delicate offspring. Scientists also learned that the more ridges contained within the sculpture resulted in a much greater likelihood of the fish pairing.

To learn more about the circles check out the full scoop over on Spoon and Tamago, and you can see two high resolution desktop photos courtesy of NHK here. If we’re still making discoveries this significant in 2012, it really makes you wonder what else is down there. Just 95% more to go.

 

 



Photography

Underwater Experiments Continued: Wonderful New Photos of Jellyfish by Alexander Semenov

August 26, 2012

Christopher Jobson

Since first covering the photography of Russian biologist Alexander Semenov (previously) back in January his self-directed “Underwater Experiments” series has continued unabated as he releases other-worldy shots of the Earth’s most elusive creatures almost daily. Again and again Semenov captures some of the most jaw-dropping photographs of underwater life I’ve ever seen, most frequently an animal called lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) which is the largest known species of jellyfish in the world. What you see here only scratches the surface of his work over the last couple of months, definitely urge you to get lost in his underwater gallery.

 

 



Music

Diego Stocco: Music from Nature

May 31, 2012

Christopher Jobson

A new video tonight from musician Diego Stocco (previously) wherein he samples audio from trees played with a bow, bark, coconuts, bees, almonds, orange peels, rice and other natural objects to create one of his signature tracks. This guy can make music from anything! Learn more about his Music from Nature project over on Behance.

 

 

 

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