July 6th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
In an attempt to highlight rapidly melting summer sea-ice in the Arctic, an expedition will attempt to sail through the Northeast Passage of the Russian Arctic in a single summer, a trip that took over two years to complete when first attempted in 1839.
The expedition, led by the Swedish/Norwegian polar explorer Ola Skinnarmo will receive assistance from WWF in documenting the incredible pace of change in the region.
“The Arctic is melting fast. The summer sea ice extent has decreased by 40 percent since the 70s and may be completely gone within a generation,” says Neil Hamilton, director for the WWF International’s Arctic Programme.
via Melting Arctic Sea-Ice makes treacherous North-East Passage transit a breeze.
June 30th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Conservation, Current Events, Global Warming, IN THE NEWS, SCIENCE
Worth Saving: An Iceberg on Lancaster Sound
This past Friday, the US House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favor of a bill that will cut back on the industrial pollutants behind global warming.
The House-passed bill requires that large U.S. companies, including utilities, oil refiners, manufacturers and others, reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.
They would do so by phasing in the use of cleaner alternative energy than high-polluting oil and coal.
“The scientists are telling us there’s an overwhelming consensus … global warming is real and it’s moving very rapidly,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, the chief sponsor of the legislation.
In urging passage, Waxman also said the legislation would create jobs and help move the United States from its reliance on foreign oil.
via House passes landmark climate change bill | Politics | Reuters.
June 29th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Arctic Animals, Current Events, IN THE NEWS
You won’t see walrus dancing to pop songs on an Arctic Kingdom expedition. But I guarantee that seeing these massive, gregarious creatures in their natural habitat makes for a sight more impressive than even the finest in semi-aquatic choreography. (See Thomas’ post below for some recent highlights).
Check out our trips page for more information on how you can create your own pinniped pas de deux.
June 25th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Arctic Animals, Current Events, Global Warming, IN THE NEWS
A Polar Bear checks out an AK expedition
Polar bear encounters on the North Slope oil fields have risen to record levels the last two years, a sign that increasing numbers of the white giants may be prowling on land because the sea ice they prefer is shrinking, scientists said.
Oil field sightings along the southern Beaufort Sea coast jumped to 321 in 2007 and 313 in 2008, said Craig Perham, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist in Anchorage.
That’s more than double the 15-year average of 138.
It’s also a sharp rise from 232, the previous high in 2005.
via The Arctic Sounder – Polar bear appearances grow on oil fields.
June 24th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
An Arctic Kingdom Expedition to Greenland
After voting last November to expand their home-rule agreement with Denmark to include control of police and courts and to make Greenlandic the official language, Greenlanders celebrated their new self-rule status this past Sunday.
Greenland’s Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist said in a speech: “This morning we awoke with new hope in our heart.
“From today we are starting a new era in the history of our country, a new era full of hope and possibilities.”
He added that “other countries have obtained self-determination often through making a lot of sacrifices,” but Greenland has secured it “through dialogue, mutual comprehension and reciprocal respect” with Denmark.
The new status took effect as Greenland celebrated its national day, six months after 75 percent of voters approved a referendum demanding more power for the local government and control of the island’s vast natural resources — gas, gold, diamonds and oil.
via The Age: “Greenand celebrates era of self-rule”
June 23rd, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Arctic Animals, Conservation, Current Events, Global Warming, IN THE NEWS, SCIENCE
Global warming and shrinking sea ice are behind a significant decline in the polar bear population, according to a study released on June 21st.
There are an estimated 1,526 polar bears presently living in the southern Beaufort Sea, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — a 33 percent decline from the service’s estimate of 2,272 in 2003, the last time an assessment was conducted. Read the rest of this entry »
June 10th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Conservation, Current Events, Global Warming, SCIENCE
Did yesterday’s post whet your appetite for satellite images of glacial ice? Well, Nova has got the gallery for you!
via NOVA’s scienceNOW: Glacier Hazards from Space.
Does “Glacier Hazards from Space” sound like a B-Movie title to anyone else? Well, the glacier hazards aren’t exactly extra-terrestrial. But the science being used to track them is. Read the rest of this entry »
June 8th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Conservation, Current Events, Global Warming
Divers prepare to enter Arctic Bay in 2002. Photo by Expedition Leader Thomas Lennartz
Today is World Oceans Day, a celebration of “our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea.” First proposed by the Canadian government in 1992, World Oceans Day was recognized just this year by the UN as an official holiday.
Here at Arctic Kingdom, we spend a lot of time in, on, and around the world’s oceans. But even if a postcard from your cousin’s Hawaiian vacation is as close as you ever get, your life and that of the ocean are inextricably linked. Read the rest of this entry »
June 4th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS
Something about these mountains, hidden deep beneath the Antarctic ice, really appeals to the Jules Verne in me. I know that there (most likely!) aren’t any lost civilizations buried down there with them, but the real science insights to be gleaned from this lost landscape are are pretty cool, too:
You can almost think about it as exploring another planet - but on Earth, said Dr Fausto Ferraccioli
Via Google News: AFP: Ghost alps of Antarctica are glimpsed after 14 million years.
PARIS (AFP) — Millions of years ago, rivers ran in Antarctica through craggy mountain valleys that were strangely similar to the European Alps of today, Chinese and British scientists reported on Wednesday.
In a study published by the British journal Nature, they gave a snapshot of terrain that for aeons has lain hidden beneath ice up to several kilometres (nearly two miles) thick. Read the rest of this entry »
June 2nd, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Current Events
Is it Aliens or Is it Methane? Only Your Geologist Knows For Sure.
Oh well. As Mary Gray noted in the comments section below, scientists have determined the cause of Siberia’s mysterious ice circles. Is it aliens? Alas, no. It’s methane gas. Yahoo news reports,
Methane emissions can create a rising mass of warm water that begins swirling in a circular pattern because of the Coriolis force, or the phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation that also helps create cyclones. Read the rest of this entry »