Project 'IceBridge' 2011 has officially begun. This internationally collaborative effort will consist of a number of flyover missions intended to gather extensive data on the current condition of Arctic ice.
Science Daily reports -
On March 14, the P-3B carried Operation IceBridge scientists and instruments from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., to Thule Air Base in Greenland, where the Arctic 2011 campaign will be based. Credit: (Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel)
Photographer Lucas Jackson has posted a terrific write-up of his recent trip to the Arctic on the Reuters photographers blog. Mr. Jackson was on assignment to cover a story on the U.S. Navy's Arctic base-camp. He discusses life in camp, the specific gear he chose for this project, as well as some of the practical difficulties of cold-weather photography such as short battery life issues with lenses fogging due to dramatic temperature variation. You can view a slideshow of some of the stunning images he captured here, on the Reuters website.
From his post -
Once the sole domain of ice breakers and commercial shipping, the Northwest Passage has become a more popular travel destination in recent years. Increased awareness in the region has inspired tourists, cruise ship companies, and private boat owners to head up to the Arctic to enjoy unparalleled scenery and wildlife. Recently, locals of the Pond Inlet, Nunavut region were a little surprised when a private luxury yacht - the Octopus, anchored for a few days near Baffin Island.
Octopus arrives Juneau, Alaska from Iceland via Northwest Passage. Photo by gillfoto on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
While luxury mega-yachts such as the Octopus aren't seen every day, privately owned vessels are becoming more common in the Arctic area. Boating these seas can be tricky, even with the aid of modern technology. Cruise ships have been known to run aground and require assistance from the Canadian coastguard. Travel in this area requires local experience (and a boat with a strengthened hull.)
The Arctic Kingdom team welcomes all inquiries from boat owners seeking to travel via private yacht. Our services range from pre-trip planning, advising you on ideal stops and dive opportunities, to facilitating opportunities and transportation to get off boat and on the ice to view animals. We offer a diverse range of pre-planned private trips, as well as the option for custom adventures - if you can dream it, chances are we can accommodate or even exceed your expectations.
Specialized travel requires unique equipment, we supply the clothing you'll need, outfit a campsite for off-boat adventures, and bring our tender boats to use in area lacking piers - or to save your own boats the wear and tear of negotiating pack ice. Our air boats are ideal for exploring close to shore and can potentially be transported right on board a private vessel.
Arctic Kingdom has worked with groups and organizations of all scopes and sizes, from filming with National Geographic crews to custom family trips. We've provided support for treks to the North Pole, shot music videos on remote islands, and gone hot air ballooning in Lancaster Sound. If you've got an adventure in mind, contact us. We can help make it happen.
The setting - 1961. Antarctica. Novolazarevskay, the recently constructed Russian base housing the sixth Soviet expedition to the south pole. The goal of the 12 men expedition was to build the inland base and winter there, completely cut off from the outside world. But then their physician began to fall ill.
The Atlantic shares this harrowing account of Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov and his auto-appendectomy -
All possible treatments were attempted, taking medicine and cooling his body. It soon became clear that an operation was his only chance for survival, and only Rogozov was qualified to undertake the task.
What an amazing story of human determination! You can read more (gory) details of this account on the Atlantic article, there's also some slightly graphic black and white photos from a case study account on the British Medical Journal's website.
More encouraging news for conservation and scientific interest in the arctic areas, Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D, administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere announced the NOAA's strategy to focus on scientific and stewardship efforts beginning now through 2017. This declaration came as part of a keystone address given to the Aspen Institute in Washington.
The SnoMote Rob Felt/Georgia Institute of Technology
These little robots are useful - and cute! Called 'SnoMotes', these tiny, remote-controlled snowmobiles were developed to help scientists gather climate change data in areas too dangerous or fragile for human exploration.
Designed to work as a team, the robots can monitor specific target areas, and are fitted with sensors as well as cameras to help navigate terrain - while sending back important data to scientists at a home base.
Popsci.com reports -
SnoMotes are currently being tested in the field, with one researcher starting a blog to report in on some of their results - Snowmote.blogspot.com.
Eurekalert shares more information on the development of the SnoMote -
Ayanna Howard, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech, with a SnoMote. Photo by Rob Felt/Georgia Institute of Technology
If you find yourself in Ottawa, or are a native, consider taking a trip to the Canadian Museum of Nature to see this exhibit of arctic landscape photography by artist Michelle Valberg. The show is up now through May 29th and is free with museum admission.
From the Museum of Nature description -
Have you heard of a Grass Drag? I hadn't either until Graham emailed me about this snowmobile sport. These people have solved the age-old question of what to do with your vehicle during those pesky seasons lacking in snow. Store it in the garage? What a waste.
Pretty rocking soundtrack on this video! The New Hampshire Snowmobile Association website posts their rules for competitors, in case you aspire to be a grass drag racer.
Kodak has a really amazing interactive website up, telling the story of early Antarctic photography and exploration, specifically focusing on photographer Frank Hurley's work on Shackleton's infamous 1914-1916 trip. The site contains a wealth of information on the day to day realities of polar exploration back then, so very different than what we experience today utilizing the latest modern technology, vehicles, and warm weather gear.