July 2011 - Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions

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BLOG: Archive for July, 2011

Iceberg Season In Newfoundland

July 29th, 2011 | By | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS

Last August, a huge 260 square kilometer piece of ice has split off from Greenland’s Petermann Glacier. Since then, this floating island has broken into smaller – still very impressive – pieces, and is now creating quite a stir with people interested in viewing the icebergs.

The Huffington Post reports

Sara Weitkamp, a marine science technician with the U.S. Coast Guard, flew over the ice island Tuesday as part of the International Ice Patrol. She has completed 19 other similar missions.

“It’s definitely the biggest piece of ice I’ve seen in my history of patrolling over the ocean,” she said in an interview.

“There’s a bunch of melt ponds and rivers that have started on it, just from the deterioration of it.

“It’s amazing to think that something that big has lasted that long, down in an area that we patrol where we’re used to seeing much smaller icebergs.”

The Record.com has some first-person coverage from folks out viewing the site –

“I’ve seen icebergs before but this was unreal. It looked like something that shouldn’t be there,” the 52-year-old fisher said Monday from his home in Port Hope Simpson, Labrador.

In utter silence, what looked like a floating ice city sat in front of Burden and his sons, a dazzling white ice island five kilometres long and alive with mountains, valleys, brooks, waterfalls, ponds and seals.

The ice has traveled quite far, from the Labrador region (known as a high traffic iceberg area) down to Newfoundland.

CBC radio has a great interview with fisherman Brian Kippenhuck, a crewmember on the boat ‘Labrador Quest’, describing his encounter with this enormous piece of ice about a hundred kilometres off Black Tickle, Labrador.

Photographer Florian Schulz’s Arctic Vision

July 25th, 2011 | By | Filed in Art, IN THE NEWS

National Geographic is featuring some incredible images of polar bears by photographer Florian Schulz, alongside a story by Susan McGrath. View it online on their website, along with this great behind the scenes video of how the images were shot.

Florian Schulz is not only a renowned photographer who’s traveled with Arctic Kingdom several times in the past (on our Floe Edge safari as well as an excursion to Baffin Island); he’s an outspoken conservationist who shares his work online at his personal site as well as through videos like the one below…

NASA’s Icescape Mission

July 22nd, 2011 | By | Filed in Current Events, Global Warming, IN THE NEWS, SCIENCE

'Ponds on the Ocean' photograph by Kathryn Hansen, via NASA Goddard on Flickr, under Creative Commons

This photo was created by Kathryn Hanson, currently on the ICESCAPE mission, gathering scientific data on the impacts of climate change.

From the caption by Mike Carlowicz –

If you have never been north of the Arctic Circle, it is easy to imagine that the “ice cap” at the top of the world is a uniform sheet of white. The reality, particularly during the spring and summer melt, is a mottled landscape of white, teal, slate gray, green, and navy.

The sea ice atop the Arctic Ocean can—as shown in this photograph from July 12, 2011—look more like swiss cheese or a bright coastal wetland. As ice melts, the liquid water collects in depressions on the surface and deepens them, forming melt ponds. These fresh water ponds are separated from the salty sea below and around it, until breaks in the ice merge the two.

Researchers on the NASA-funded ICESCAPE mission—Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment—have been examining melt ponds, the ice around them, and the waters below for three weeks, with three more to go. Carried by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a team of oceanographers, marine biologists, and glaciologists are investigating how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the ocean’s chemical and biological makeup.

The science team collects water samples to examine water chemistry and to observe the colonies of plankton growing in the water and on the surfaces of the ice. Other instruments are used to assess how much and how far sunlight is penetrating into—and warming—the Arctic Ocean. Still others are measuring the current systems that move water from the depths to the surface, as well as horizontally across the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Impacts of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment (ICESCAPE) is a multi-year NASA shipborne project. The bulk of the research will take place in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea’s in the summers of 2010 and 2011.

From the project home page

The Arctic sea ice cover is in decline. The retreat of the summer ice cover, a general thinning, and a transition to a younger, a more vulnerable ice pack have been well documented. Melt seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer. These changes can profoundly impact the physical, biological, and geochemical state of the Arctic Ocean region. Climate models project that changes in the ice cover may accelerate in the future, with a possible transition to ice free summers later this century. These changes are quite pronounced in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea and have consequences for the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, potentially affecting everything from sea ice algae to polar bears.

The central science question of this program is, “What is the impact of climate change (natural and anthropogenic) on the biogeochemistry and ecology of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas?” While both of these regions are experiencing significant changes in the ice cover, their biogeochemical response will likely be quite different due to their distinct physical, chemical, and biological differences.

Arctic Kingdom Featured In The National Post

July 19th, 2011 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, Photographers, TRIPS

Don’t miss this terrific article on Arctic Kingdom from today’s National Post

“Did you get it?” Michelle Valberg yells. “Oh my gosh, he’s right there!”

Ms. Valberg is calling from a satellite phone on Arctic Bay, an Inuit hamlet on Baffin Island in Nunavut, and the professional photographer has just spotted a Narwhal whale.

“Narwhals are swimming in a calm pool with an iceberg beside us, there’s nothing for miles and miles and we have mountains behind us,” she says, adding she just uploaded a photo of a polar bear she spotted to Facebook.

Ms. Valberg – who is from Ottawa and is working on a book on the North – along with a handful of other photographers – are part of an expedition organized by Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions Inc. The Toronto-based company facilitates logistics for everything from tourist trips to 50-person film crews, all in the North: from James Bay to the North Pole and from Alaska to Svalbard in Arctic Norway.

The trips are a decided step above winter camping though, with generators and cook tents, cots to sleep on and even Internet access.

“We specialize in making the places where people need to be accessible,” says Graham Dickson, chief “expedition” officer, who founded the company in 1999.

Michelle Valberg, interviewed for this piece has posted the photos mentioned to our Facebook page. Thanks Michelle!

A few other papers have picked up this story as well, check it out on the Montreal Gazette, and the Vancouver Sun.

Special Exhibits, Canadian Arctic Exploration

July 18th, 2011 | By | Filed in Art, IN THE NEWS

A special exhibit is currently showing at the Canadian Museum of Civilization on The Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–1918. This exhibit, presented in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature, covers not only the broad adventure, but paints a day to day picture of what life was like on an early arctic expedition.

The Expedition was composed of an international group of scientists and sailors. Countries of birth included Australia, Estonia, Portugal, Norway, Holland, Scotland, Canada and the United States. Also invaluable to the Expedition were guides, hunters, seamstresses and other personnel recruited from Inupiat communities in Alaska, and Inuvialuit and Copper Inuit communities on the Canadian side of the border.

For those of us geographically unable to make a visit in person, there is also this wonderful virtual exhibit – Northern People, Northern Knowledge.

From The Field, Viewing Polar Bears

July 14th, 2011 | By | Filed in AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, TRIPS

While visiting our polar bear cabins south of Arviat today, we saw three polar bears in 20 min, including this swimming polar bear from our boat. You can see the polar bear cabins on the horizon. Looking forward to seeing more polar bears here in November on the Arviat Fly-in Polar Bear Cabins trip.

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