Arctic odyssey ends, bringing home tales of alarming ice loss

The biggest Arctic expedition in history will return to the German port of Bremerhaven on Monday after a year-long mission, bringing home observations from scientists that sea ice is melting at a “dramatic rate” in the region.

Coronavirus restrictions mean there will be no grand fanfare when the German Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern ship docks.

But the information gathered by researchers as the ship drifted through the ocean trapped in ice will be vital to helping scientists understand the effects of climate change.

In the summer, the researchers saw for themselves the dramatic effects of global warming on ice in the region, considered “the epicentre of climate change”, according to mission leader Markus Rex.

“We could see broad stretches of open water reaching nearly to the Pole, surrounded by ice that was riddled with holes produced by massive melting,” Rex said.

His sobering conclusion: “The Arctic ice is disappearing at

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US Nobel winner’s 25-year odyssey to black hole at center of galaxy

For US astronomer Andrea Ghez, who won this year’s Nobel Physics Prize, what makes black holes so fascinating is how tricky they are to conceptualize.

If she’s asked to explain them to an average person, her standard answer is: “A black hole is an object whose pull of gravity is so intense that nothing can escape it — not even light.”

That doesn’t always satisfy people’s curiosity.

“Very few people understand what a black hole is — but I think so many people are fascinated by them,” the professor at the University of California, Los Angeles told AFP by phone after she was co-awarded this year’s prize, along with Roger Penrose of Great Britain and Reinhard Genzel of Germany.

This summer, Ghez’s team celebrated the 25th anniversary of the start of their project, using a massive telescope in Hawaii, new optical technologies and innumerable calculations to measure the supermassive black

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