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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 -

"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.

Ice Diving Pond Inlet

May 31st, 2010 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, Diving

Over on the AK Expeditions Twitter Feed, Thomas reports that the expedition has just done their first dive at the Pond Inlet Floe Edge, and is enjoying amazing visibility. I hope some photos will be forthcoming soon, but til then, here are some from years past:

Diverse marine life makes the waters surrounding pond inlet ideal for diving.

The scenery's pretty spectacular, too.

For the latest expedition updates, follow Arctic Kingdom Field akexpeditions on Twitter.

Throatsinger Tanya Tagaq Redefines Tradition

May 26th, 2010 | By | Filed in Inuit Culture/Art

I ran across some great videos today of Tanya Tagaq, a throatsinger out of Yellowknife whose reinterpretation of Inuit traditions has brought her international acclaim. This isn't the first time I've posted videos of throatsinging, but Tagaq does something simultaneously ancient and new, capturing something essential of both her culture and the landscape that has fostered it for generations. Tanya Tagaq @ YBCA Tanya Tagaq MySpace Music Videos She's sung with many prominent artists, including Bjork, Faith No More's Mike Patton, and the Kronos Quartet. Tagaq is on tour right now, with an appearance tonight in Quebec and upcoming concerts in Ontario, British Columbia, Ireland, the UK and Portugal. You can check out the tour schedule on her website for more information. More: Arctic Entertainment. NNSL Online Music Tanya Tagaq Official Website

Far-flying Birds' Feats of Endurance Surprise Researchers

May 25th, 2010 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Current Events

Earlier this year, we looked at the migration of the arctic tern, which commutes more than 50,000 miles in a year as it migrates from pole to pole. An article in yesterday's New York times reveals that terns aren't the only long-distance flyers. And the bar-tailed godwit, which makes an annual pilgrimage south from Alaska to New Zealand, makes non-stop flights of unprecedented length. In 2006, Biologist Robert E. Gill, curious about why the godwits fattened themselves up for what scientist believed was a migration along food-rich shores, tagged the godwits with transmitters.
The transmitters sent their location to Mr. Gill’s computer, and he sometimes stayed up until 2 in the morning to see the latest signal appear on the Google Earth program running on his laptop. Just as he had suspected, the bar-tailed godwits headed out over the open ocean and flew south through the Pacific. They did not stop at islands along the way. Instead, they traveled up to 7,100 miles in nine days — the longest nonstop flight ever recorded. “I was speechless,” Mr. Gill said.
Since then, scientists have been tagging other migrating birds, revealing feats of endurance no one had expected. Turns out, these birds are biologically adapted to last for long stretches without rest or food. via Birds That Migrate Thousands of Miles With Nary a Stop -
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