June 2010 - Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions

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BLOG: Archive for June, 2010

The Connected Arctic

June 30th, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, Scientists

The Economist just posted an interesting article about the scientific research taking place in Ny-Ålesund, a village on the High Arctic island of Spitsbergen
The village logs some 14,000 researcher-days a year: the scientists normally come and go on twice-weekly flights from Longyearbyen, about 110km away, except for those who arrive on research ships, or on the vessels that bring in provisions and fuel to replenish the stocks in the rather rusted tanks that stand up above the jetty. A few dozen of them spend the winter up here. “The midnight sun is one thing,” one of the select few boasts, “but the full moon at noon is rarer and finer.”
The article highlights how this small village, at the near-top of the world, is at once isolated from and connected to the world below, drawing researchers from around the world and generating data that speaks to our shared environment, where no single country or individual is ever truly isolated from the larger world.
The Arctic is the world’s attic: a lot of junk lofted high into the atmosphere farther south ends up there. And the facilities for studying it all, especially those high above the settlement in the laboratory at the summit of Mt Zeppelin, away from any local disturbances, are exquisitely sensitive. Some of these instruments form part of the world’s network for monitoring carbon dioxide levels. Others monitor methane, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and all sorts of particles. Some bottle up air for yet more meticulous examination far away, in Britain, or in Boulder, Colorado. Kim Holmen of the Norwegian Polar Institute says some of his equipment could detect a cigarette at 2km. Through their careful monitoring he and his colleagues connect themselves to conflagrations a great deal farther away than that, picking up industrial pollutants and forest fires from all parts of Eurasia.
via Green.view: The connected Arctic | The Economist.

New Site: ArcticFilm.com

June 29th, 2010 | By | Filed in Films, Projects

Say you want to film some narwhals. How do you know where to go? When should you arrive for the best chance of encountering migrating whales? How will you get there? How can you protect your equipment from cold and moisture, and how do you know when it's safe to get in the water? Luckily, you don't have to answer these questions all by yourself. Check out ArcticFilm.com for more information on how we help make filmmakers' visions into reality.

Men’s Journal: Canada for Adrenaline Junkies

June 24th, 2010 | By | Filed in Diving, IN THE NEWS, Sports

The June/July issue of Men's Journal is out, with their special spread on Canada for Adrenaline Junkies. Arctic Kingdom is listed for the #1 activity, Dive With Whales. The article states,
In summer, the Arctic sea is dotted with sun-sculpted icebergs and populated with monsters: beluga whales and narwhals, walrus, seals, Greenland sharks and polar bears. The best way to see the beasts is to don a wetsuit and dive right in: Whales, congregating along the floe edge, will swim beside you, eye to gigantic eye.

As the article goes on to note, the wildlife isn't the only attraction. There's the shocking blue of the ice, the water alive with microscopic creatures, and kayaking in sunlight at two AM, when "the sun casts long shadows and the glowing ice makes for a surreal experience."

Flying Over the Fjords

June 22nd, 2010 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, Upcoming Trip

Here's a great video that was just uploaded to the Arctic Kingdom YouTube page. It shows John Davidson piloting a balloon over Clyde River on Baffin Island. YouTube Preview Image John will be leading balloon-centered Arctic Kingdom expeditions next year. Consider this a preview!

Airplane Recovery in Antarctica: Part 2

June 13th, 2010 | By | Filed in Gear, Projects, Recent Trips

As promised, here is the video footage of the airplane recovery operation in Queen Maude Land, Antarctica that Arctic Kingdom collaborated on with Katabatic Consulting and Kenn Borek Air. I love this video, because it really gives a sense of the scope of the operation, which involved rescuing, repairing and flying a downed plane from its location on a remote Antarctic plateau 3,300 meters above sea level. YouTube Preview Image Arctic Kingdom provided the camp infrastructure, facilitating Katabatic's onsite repair and salvage operation and providing the necessary equipment for a successful outcome.

Narwhals Courting in Pond Inlet

June 11th, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Trips

According to Thomas's latest tweet, the current expedition observed some Narwhal mating behaviour. He writes,

This photo is from a 2002 expedition. Here's hoping they're getting some good shots!

AK Outfits Antarctic Airplane Recovery

June 10th, 2010 | By | Filed in Gear, Projects, TRIPS

We recently collaborated with Katabatic Medical Consulting and Kenn Borek Air Ltd. on the salvage of a crash-landed DC-3. Located at a site over 3,300 meters above sea level in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, the remote crash site presented a number of challenges, including the logistical puzzle of supplying an operation at such a remote and location. Mike Tayloe of Katabatic called upon Arctic Kingdom to outfit the mission. "We had very specific needs and very tight schedule," Tayloe notes. "Arctic Kingdom was able to facilitate any and everything we asked for, supplying the appropriate equipment to support Katabatic Consulting's needs for a successful project outcome." Based on Katabatic's specifications Arctic Kingdom was able to procure, pack and ship the necessary equipment -- including tents from the High Arctic -- in under three weeks. This sort of world-wide logistical management is what we specialize in, ensuring that every one of our expeditions is outfitted on time and on budget, without compromising safety or quality. Tune in tomorrow for video footage of the recovery operation!

New on Facebook: Diving Against an Iceberg

June 8th, 2010 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, Current Trips, Diving

Thomas uploaded some great photos to our Facebook page today, with a narrative describing a single dive along a crack in the sea ice near Pond Inlet. Facebook is perfect for this sort of small update, providing a real-time glimpse into one of our expeditions in progress.

If you're not a fan of Facebook, you can get a peek at the latest posts without ever leaving our site by clicking on the Facebook link on the toolbar at the bottom of this page. It's a great way to keep track of our latest updates to Twitter and YouTube as well! Facebook | Arctic Kingdom's Photos - Diving against an iceberg.

Arctic Sea Ice at Record Low

June 4th, 2010 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

A new study examining remains of Arctic animals stretching back thousands of years shows that Arctic sea ice is at its thinnest and scarcest. The study, which involved scientists from five countries, interpreted the evidence found in the bones of ancient whales and other sea mammals throughout the region. According to the Vancouver Sun,
The two Canadian scientists involved in the study — Geological Survey of Canada researcher Arthur Dyke and McGill University archeologist James Savelle — provided data about the distribution of whalebone deposits, primarily from bowhead whales, to help map the extent of Arctic ice cover over the past 10,000 years. "The bowhead has left the most abundant, hence most useful, fossil record, followed by the walrus and the narwhal," the study states. "Former sea-ice conditions can be reconstructed from bowhead whale remains because seasonal migrations of the whale are dictated by the oscillations of the sea-ice pack."
This new evidence gives lie to claims by global warming skeptics who assert that climate change is merely caused by natural cycles of warming and cooling.
"The current reduction in Arctic ice cover started in the late 19th century, consistent with the rapidly warming climate, and became very pronounced over the last three decades," the study states. "This ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years and (is) unexplainable by any of the known natural variabilities." The study's lead author, Ohio State University polar researcher Leonid Polyak, told Canwest News Service on Thursday that predictable, long-term ice-cover changes linked to fluctuations in the Earth's orbit mean "we should expect more rather than less sea ice" at this time in history. "The evidence that we have based on the existing data suggests that the current Arctic warming is probably the strongest since at least the middle Holocene — that is approximately 5,000 years," he said.
Vancouver Sun: Sea ice retreat in Arctic worst in thousands of years As 2010 warms up, Arctic sea ice at record low - Green House - USATODAY.com.

"Missing Link" in Seal Evolution Lived on Devon Island

June 1st, 2010 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals

In Oceans, narrator Pierce Brosnan notes that, while all life on earth began in the sea, there are a few creatures that returned, abandoning legs and feet for flippers and underwater grace. This is true, for example, of seals, who, like other Pinnipeds, evolved from "bear like" land mammals some 23 million years ago. In 2007, researchers working in the arctic found the remains of Puijila darwini, a semi-aquatic carnivore with webbed feet and a seal-like skull. This early ancestor of the modern day seal gives researchers insight into how Pinnipeds returned to the sea, in what was then a temperate forest with moderate winters. Unlike modern-day seals, the "walking seal" was most likely comfortable hunting on land, only occasionally venturing into shallower waters. Read more: Puijila: A Prehistoric Walking Seal Home Page.
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