Category Archives: Polar regions

SEVEN DEGREES OF SEPARATION: Longyearbyen’s climate change may be the fastest in the world, but the wide-ranging impacts tell the real tale (part one of a seven-part series)

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It’s a catchy, but useless headline: “‘Doomsday vault’ town warming faster than any other on Earth.” It’s only six months old, yet now is just another cliché such as “the town where it’s illegal to die” (wrong) and “more polar bears than people” (also wrong).

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Part one of a seven-part series about the drastic effects of climate change on virtually all aspects of life in Longyearbyen and prospects for the future.

It says nothing about the sizable percentage of residents thrown out of their homes, collapse of the traditional workforce, mass arrival of foreigners and class warfare, and hostile military forces practicing a full-scale invasion just across the border. It’s used as a soundbite by policymakers to explain hardships, justify controversies and pursue policies that may or may not substantially address the issue.

So while such drastic blurbs may captivate the world’s attention (or not), they’re largely mundane for locals in the world’s northernmost town of Longyearbyen. They have far more important, but less sensational, things to worry about than a magazine cover declaring in fist-size letters they’re living in an apocalyptic preview of “The Uninhabitible Earth.”

DAWN (AT MIDNIGHT) OF A NEW HYBRID FERRY ERA: Hurtigruten’s new battery-powered ship makes first stop in Longyearbyen overnight under sunny skies

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Since the ship is designed for maximum energy efficiency in the Arctic in particular, it’s only fitting nature provided a matching setting as Hurtigruten’s first hybrid-powered ferry made its debut in Longyearbyen with a 12-hour stop beginning at 10 p.m. Friday where passengers were able to spend a long “day” exploring under clear skies lit by the midnight sun.

WHAT THE FOX?! Arctic fox makes 3,506-km trip from Svalbard to Canada in 76 days – more than a marathon per day

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All the talk (and reality) of the alarming shrinkage of the Arctic sheet whizzed right past a rather speedy Arctic fox who at the end of March of last year began what researchers say is a record-fast 3,506-kilometer journey from Svalbard to Greenland to Ellesmere Island in Canada in 76 days – a rate of 46 kilometers per day.

NO NORTH POLE SEASON? First-ever cancellation of all expeditions looms as political problems mount, plane to Barneo ice camp abandons Svalbard

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The word for last year’s shortest-ever season at the North Pole was “disaster.” This year the word is rapidly becoming “hopeless.”

Officially there are still flights scheduled to the Barneo Ice Camp for those hoping to reach the top of the world, albeit a week or more later than officially planned. But there is now no plane to transport people there and, even if officials succeed in hasty plans to bring in another plane from Canada or Iran, there is no guarantee the ice runway and various logistical factors will remain stable enough to allow any expedition flights at all.

Crazy for the top of the world: Eclectic community of adventurers and workers again come together to brave a range of bizarre hardships in their shared lure of the North Pole

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Vladimir Putin won’t be facing off in the pope-blessed “Last Ice Hockey Game at the North Pole” until next year due to organizational snafus. A “badass lady” from India is supposedly living up to that rep by skiing from Oslo to the top of the world. And a world-class marathoner from Hong Kong who says his competitive juices aren’t flowing for this year’s icy endurance race at the Pole also hopes to beat the 4.5-hour record time by at least an hour.

Welcome to another season between 89 and 90 degrees latitude north where expedition-of-a-lifetime quests, awareness campaigns, trophy seeking, publicity stunts, outhouses from hell and lots of beer are the hallmarks of a temporary exclusive community inhabited by some of the hardiest workers and well-heeled misfits (and we don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way) on Earth.

Assuming they eventually manage to make it to the starting line at the village, so to speak, which these days is just one more extreme oddity.

SPECIAL REPORT: Polarizing polar bears – unmasking a proxy war strategy by online climate change denialists

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By Paul Rosenberg
Senior Editor, Random Lengths News

In early December, a video of a dying, emaciated polar bear, foraging for food on an iceless land, went viral on social media. The video garnered millions of views on Facebook and YouTube. For most, it was a vivid signal of the future in store for us all due to human-caused (anthropogenic) global warming ― rising temperatures due to increased carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. For those who deny or minimize the existence of anthropogenic global warming it wasn’t a polar bear, but a red herring (“Propaganda,” one YouTube viewer called it) — no one knows why it was dying, much less if it can be connected to global warming.

That’s true, but also a bit beside the point.

‘I’ve never been so wet and cold’: Poor weather and illness ends month-long attempt to row from Svalbard to Greenland

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Even two days after the world declared the historic attempt to row across the northern Atlantic over due to a disabled boat and ill crew stranded by weather on a nearly deserted Arctic island, expedition leader Fiann Paul was refusing to give up.

BREAKING: North Pole expeditions from Svalbard may be over as Russia blames Norway for worst season ever, says Barneo ice camp operations will move to Franz Josef Land

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The climactic heat resulted in the shortest and most disastrous North Pole season from Svalbard ever. The political heat may mean it’s also the last.

The Barneo ice camp stopped accepting new expeditions and began shutting down Saturday, only 11 days after opening nearly two weeks later than planned, and officials there stated in a post on their official Facebook they are planning to move their logistics operations from Svalbard to Franz Josef Land. The post does not specifically state the move will occur next year, but it does put most of the blame for this year’s disastrous season on new regulations enacted by Norway last year.

Norwegian Polar Institute reports 2015 was ‘the top year’ for climate research, but not for researchers

It was “the top year” for climate research, but the climate for researchers took some hits.

The Norwegian Polar Institute had one of its highest-profile years ever, due in large part to the six-month Norwegian Young Sea Ice Cruise that began in January of 2015, according to the institute’s annual report for the past year.

Frenemy alert: Svalbard remains a rich target for Russian and other foreign spies, annual threat report states

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We should still be afraid. Very afraid.

Svalbard continues to be a ripe target for evil people from other countries who are greedy and likely to do mean things to get what they want, according to Norway’s national threat assessment report for this year. As in recent years, Russia is singled out as the biggest threat, with concerns about espionage by China also expressed.