You don’t have to wait until April 22 to start enjoying Océans, the documentary about the world’s oceans that we’re so proud to have been a part of. The companion book is out in stores, with photos, text, and even behind-the-scenes shots of what it took to film in some of the most challenging environments on earth.
Not just an authoritative, wide-ranging guide to the world’s oceans, this is also a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of practical film-making under demanding, often difficult, sometimes downright dangerous conditions… and, last but by no means least, it’s a clear-eyed, timely, persuasive preview of future seas: what we might have if we act now–and what we will surely get if we don’t.
The book is available through online retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, or ask for it at your local bookstore!
Tonight, I ran across an article about MaryAnn Sundown, a Yup’ik woman in her nineties who will be honored with a ‘living-treasure’ award at this year’s Cama-i Dance Festival in Bethel, Alaska.
I was intrigued by the article’s description of MaryAnn Sundown, whose dancing is apparently a highlight of the Cama-i festival each year.
Tiny, bow-legged and stooped, she waves hips and sways arms like a teen, her long wrinkled face flashing between deadpan suspense and wild laughter. . . [Her son,] Harley Sundown said diet’s a key factor in her spunk. She prefers raw fish, and the occasional soup.
“Nothing but Yup’ik food,” he said.
Harley, lead singer for the Scammon Bay Dancers, said she doesn’t think a whole lot about being honored as a Living Treasure.
She’s like most older Natives, who have “almost no pride or gloating of personal achievements.”
“She doesn’t think a whole lot of it, just like Michael Jordan would say it’s the team,” he said. “It’s not even a big part of her day.”
Here’s a video from the 2007 Cama-i festival (found via the Bethel Arts website).
While much of the team is up in the Arctic, I’m sitting (literally) in a sunbeam on my back porch, watching the Catlin Arctic Survey’s video stream. There’s some seriously great armchair science to be had, as well as some crazy storm footage that makes me appreciate my sunbeam all the more!
I’m hoping to get some updates from our guys out on the ice soon (here’s hoping they’ve got nice weather!). Watch this space, or check the expedition twitter feed!
For over ten years now, we’ve been running expeditions to the Arctic, returning year after year and multiple times a year as we scout new locations and return with photographers, filmmakers, scientists and adventurers. One of the things that we value most highly is the relationships we’ve built over the years, both with the people we bring to the Arctic and the Inuit guides who help make our expeditions possible and welcome us into their communities.
This week on Flickr, we’ve uploaded some photos of the people who help make our expeditions possible, from the West Coast of Canada to Greenland’s snow fields. Visit our the gallery for more images!
Sadly, we missed the world premiere of Vincent Ho’s Arctic Symphony. The good news is, it’s available online! Here’s what the Winnipeg Free Press had to say about the piece, which debuted February 6th with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra:
The Arctic Symphony is a mature and atmospheric work that firmly establishes Ho among North American composers of note. It is a beautifully thought-provoking way to promote the message of climate change.
To write the piece, Ho traveled to the Canadian Arctic aboard a research vessel as an ‘Artist on Board’ through the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study. Ho recalls,
“I was taken on board a state-of-the-art research vessel, the CCGS Amundsen, where I was introduced to studies conducted by many of the world’s leading arctic research scientists. I was also taken to Inuit communities to learn about their culture and how the current state of the environment has impacted their way of life. The goal was to provide me with first-hand experience of the Northern region while gaining a better understanding of climate change (from both the scientific and the cultural perspective) so it may inspire the composing of a large-scale symphonic work. During my limited time there, I spent my days and nights observing the landscape. Though the information given to me from the scientists and local Inuit communities was invaluable in broadening my perspective, I ultimately felt that the musical work had to be my own interpretation of the region. Writing it from any other perspective (let it be from the scientists’ or Inuit point of view) would be creatively disingenuous and unrepresentative of my connection to the North. As well, I found myself developing a spiritual connection with the environment, and for good reason: I was in a vast open area; I was constantly being subjected to the environmental conditions of the region; and I was continually surrounded by nature’s angelic beauty, untouched by utilitarian society. I therefore felt that the music needed to express this spiritual connection that had formed.”
Greenland's ice, viewed at sea level on an Arctic Kingdom expedition
Over on our Facebook fan page, Gaia posted an article about NASA’s Operation Icebridge, which is tracking changes in the size and thickness of the earth’s polar ice. The mission’s second year kicks off today, when NASA aircraft will arrive in Greenland.
“NASA’s IceBridge mission is characterizing the changes occurring in the world’s polar ice sheets,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The mission’s goal is to collect the most important data for improving predictive models of sea level rise and global climate change.”
Utilizing NASA’s unique capabilities, the mission provides scientists with detailed data on the changing face of polar ice, providing an unprecedented breadth and depth of information.
Scientists testing drilling equipment for a future study of Antarctic ice shelves discovered something they didn’t expect: A “shrimp-like” creature — a Lyssianasid amphipod, for those of you keeping score at home — swimming in the dark water 600 feet below the ice.
“Everybody was just gaga over this amphipod,” says team leader Robert Bindschadler, a polar scientist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “He put on quite a show,” swimming around and nestling up against the cable carrying the underwater camera.
“There’s a lot of life even in places you wouldn’t think of any.”
In the video below, you can see the creature as it encounters the cable, investigates, and continues on its way as the camera sinks further beneath the ice.
I don’t know about you, but every spring, the switch to daylight savings wreaks havoc on my internal clock — for days, I’m out of sorts, eating at odd hours and feeling sleepy all morning long.
Arctic Reindeer have it so much easier. Most of us mammals have an internal clock, where hormones rise and fall throughout the day in a regular cycle. This circadian rhythm helps us know when to wake up and go to bed, and, though influenced by daylight and darkness, keeps a fairly regular 24-hour clock, even in the absence of light/dark stimuli.
Not so the reindeer. These animals live in a land where summer days stretch on indefinitely, and winter nights last for days on end. New research conducted by the University of Manchester in England shows that, while the Arctic Reindeer sleep regularly — after they eat, approximately eight to ten times a day — and are affected by levels of light and dark, they lack the internal clock that keeps animals in southern climates on a regular schedule.
Our findings imply that evolution has come up with a means of switching off the cellular clockwork,” [study author Andrew] Loudon said. “Such daily clocks may be positively a hindrance in environments where there is no reliable light-dark cycle for much of the year.”
Because the Earth is tilted on its axis, the Arctic is pointed toward the sun during the summer months, which keeps the sun perpetually above the horizon during this time. During the winter, the opposite is true, and the Arctic is plunged into months of darkness. The same is true of the Antarctic.
Instead, light and dark signals that come during the year’s two equinoxes (fall and spring) could be enough to jumpstart certain processes in the reindeer, such as the annual reproductive cycle, the researchers say.
The State of the Arctic Conference is meeting this week, March 16 – 19th, at the Hyatt Regency in Miami, FL. Convened “to review our understanding of the arctic system in a time of rapid environmental change,” the conference will include presentations and discussions featuring Arctic experts from around the globe.
A collaboration between the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) and the Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program communities, the National Science Foundation Division of Arctic Sciences, and several other sponsors and partners from around the globe, the conference seeks to provide a forum for creating a better understanding of the current state of the Arctic, as well as a more complete understanding of the changes taking place in the Arctic today. It also hopes to “translate research into solutions,” connecting researchers with funding, and exploring solutions to the problems created by climate change.
I’m looking forward to reading about (and hopefully finding some online video of) the talks that come out of the conference — it looks like a historical lineup!