Thread: The Arctic
01-29-2009, 04:49 PM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
Ok. First of all, I post this for general DISCUSSION only. Not to bash one government "policy" over another (and I do have some pretty strong opinions there, but will leave it at THAT, as long as everyone else does) Compase? So'kay! Other than that, I am trying to figure out what China has for "claiming rights" or Britain for that matter, since neither is not an Arctic Nation.
Arctic thaw may lead to security risks
By David Stringer, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Updated: 29th January 2009, 8:59am
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — NATO commanders and legislators from alliance nations were gathering Thursday to examine the risks posed by the thawing Arctic Circle and the prospect of standoffs among nations rushing to lay claim to the energy reserves there.
The possibility of new shipping routes through once-frozen regions threatens to complicate already delicate relations between countries with competing claims to Arctic territory — particularly as previously inaccessible areas open to exploration for their abundant reserves of oil and natural gas.
The U.S., Russia, Canada, Britain, China and several northern nations are all attempting to claim jurisdiction over Arctic territory.
Lee Willett, head of the maritime studies program at London-based military think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said that as shipping routes from the Pacific to Europe open up, warships from a host of nations are likely to follow.
“Having lots of warships, from lots of nations who have lots of competing claims on territory — that may lend itself to a rather tense situation,” Willett said. “We may see that flash points come to pass there more readily than elsewhere in the world.”
NATO’s Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Iceland’s outgoing Prime Minister Geir Haarde — who tendered his resignation on Monday amid the country’s economic crisis — will both address the one-day conference in Reykjavik on the issue.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Gen. John Craddock, is also due to attend, alongside representatives of Britain and other NATO countries.
Military strategists expect territorial disputes to become more intense as a shrinking ice cap allows greater exploration, just as energy demands increase.
Some scientists predict that Arctic waters could even be ice-free in summer by 2013, decades earlier than previously thought.
Russia and Canada have already traded verbal shots over each other’s intentions.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last year he’ll firm up control of disputed Arctic waters with stricter registration requirements for ships sailing in the Northwest Passage — though Canada’s control of the passage is widely disputed, including by the U.S.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will also act to mark out its Arctic territory, though many dispute Moscow’s assertion that it has the right to control an area equivalent to the size of France.
De Hoop Scheffer is expected to hold a meeting on military issues with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov next week.
At least four people were arrested outside the Reykjavik conference venue on Wednesday ahead of the meeting — two of them for burning a NATO flag. Many Icelanders oppose the volcanic island’s membership of the military bloc, fearing it compromises the nation’s independence.
Arctic Travel: versus...the Antarctic [see below]
Yes, Polar Bears
Yes, Whales & Seals
24hr daylight July-August
The word Arctic is derived from Arktos, 'the bear' in Greek, due to the Great Bear constellation above the North Pole.
No indigenous people, 200 scientists
No, Polar Bears
Yes, Whales and Seals
24hr daylight November-January
The word Antarctic is derived from Antarktikos, 'opposite the bear.' It is the only land on Earth owned by no one.
When to go:
Best: March - November, for weather and wildlife migrations.
In Canada, October for polar bears, July-August for beluga whales, fur seals and birds.
Worst: November - March (dark, very cold and snow moves horizontally)
Length of stay:
Minimum worthwhile stay in Arctic regions, not including flights or sail time : 4/5 days in any area where wildlife is active, bearing in mind that there are also indigenous cultures to appreciate in some areas.
Recommended: 1 week or more if you wish to see ice-oriented human cultures as well as wildlife.
Why go to the Arctic Circle?
Like the Antarctic, the Arctic it has an assortment of strange and wonderful wildlife which manages to survive the extreme conditions, but unlike the Antarctic it has peoples who do the same - in Greenland [Denmark], Canada, Norway, Sweden, Alaska [USA] and Russia.
- Seasickness: many tours will be via either a largish cruise ship or a specialist expeditionary vessel, but if you're prone to motion sickness then you could have a problem.
- Cold: those with circulatory problems or a heart condition should take extra precautions against the cold though the summer weather can be mild, depending on the region. Frostbite is a real danger in the colder months and regions.
Where to go:
Choose from several versions of the Arctic experience depending on the culture and wildlife in which you are interested.
Each country though shows some similarity to others throughout the region due to the climate requiring similar specialist survival techniques for both the wildlife and peoples.
Best country for fans of dog sledding and also has the most diverse wildlife found above the arctic cirle in the Arctic Refuge.
Anchorage, Alaska is home to the start of the most famous dog sled race in the world, the Iditarod.Very much an urban setting (it's a city) but a good base for the start of a south Alaskan exploration.
The National Arctic Wildlife Refuge in the far north east has one of the most diverse habitats one could expect due to the close proximity of geographical features. It is also of course wild and protected. Caribou migrate North here from below the Brooks Range and the Yukon Territories in spring.
Best country for viewing the wildife, especially along its extensive coastlines.
Churchill, Manitoba on the edge of the Hudson Bay is the best place to see Polar Bears from mid October to mid November and Beluga whales in July and August. It also has the best views in the world of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). Polar Bears that wander into the town during the summer are locked up until the ice hardens so that locals and travellers can sleep soundly at night. At the last count there were more than 1,500 polar bears living around Churchill. Get there by plane (one and a half hours) or train (thirty six hours) from Winnipeg.
Whale River in Quebec sees the largest Caribou herd migrations on the planet. Get there via Schefferville and travel into this wilderness region about one hundred and twenty miles north east. They migrate in September but unfortunately so do the hunters so avoid hunting season from mid August to mid October and get there first in spring.
Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet, Baffin Island are the best places to see whales, many of whom navigate the same areas when migrating. The waters around Lancaster Sound, running between Baffin Island and the Perry Islands get the most activity.
Ellesmere Island is good for viewing Musk Oxen.
Greenland is the best country for 'Eskimo' culture.
Disko Bay, Western Greenland is regarded as one of the best places to see both wildlife and get a feel of traditional Greenland culture. Get to Kangerlussuaq airport via Copenhagen in Denmark, Reykjavik in Iceland or Eqaluit in Canada. Great whale watching is virtually guaranteed.
Norway, Sweden, Finland:
Northern regions of these countries are home to the Sami (Laplanders). The best time to visit is in March or April when snow is still abundant but temperatures are mild.
Kautokeino, Finland has a large Sami population and they hold the Sami Easter Festival here - one of the best times to visit.
Jukkasjaervi, Sweden has one of the most interesting hotels in the world made entirely of ice which stays solid from Decemeber to May each year. It has overnight accomodation and a bar where drinks are served on the rocks using glasses cut from the local river ice. Unmissable experience.
Cruises and shore visits, possibly even camping on ice, with close up viewing of wildlife.
Sea Kayaking off some cruise ships or land base is a dramatic way to get quietly closer to nature.
Airborne sightseeing tours: particularly in Alaska and Canada where infrastructure and fuel prices make this practicable.
Cross Country Skiing and Trekking: inhabitation allows the more active traveller to see land based interest on foot.
Skiing and Snowboarding: in some regions.
Sledding: as above but for a more relaxed holiday let the huskies, reindeer or horses do the work.
watch whales while immersed, but get a drysuit first. Ideal for Beluga viewing but perhaps less advisable amongst hunting packs of Killer Whales in case they mistake you for a tasty seal.
Aurora Borealis: view the Northern Lights.
Sightings will depend on the area of the Arctic visted, the specific tour and the weather conditions at that time but there will be possible sightings of:
Polar Bears - the second largest bear on the planet (the Kodiak is bigger but very rare) and always left-handed [paws for thought?]. Known as 'Nanuk' to the Inuit, the polar bear is a big fan of seal sashimi, and lives in coastal regions including Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. The best known place to find them is Churchill, Manitoba in Canada, where people and bears have been coexisting more or less successfully since the eighteenth century. Problems are rare and always occur through starving bears or human stupidity.
Arctic Fox - closely related to the Red Fox it has adapted with a thicker coat and Arctic colourings. Comfortable with humans and they sometimes travel in groups. Seen in the northern regions of Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Finland, and Russia during the summer months or more southerly regions during the harsh winters.
Laysan Albatross - the largest flying bird in the world but once a favourite food for the Inuit, it sleeps on the wing.
Bald Eagle - once common throughout North America and Canada they still inhabit the more northerly areas into the Arctic wilderness.
Grey Wolf - the largest of the wolves and a pack hunter in northern timbered areas of the U.S.A, Canada, northern Europe and north east Russia. The Arctic wolf is a smaller and lighter coloured version. Misunderstood by humans (like most animals) and therefore endangered. If you see one running frantically about, nose to the ground, it's hunting mice (see? - totally misunderstood)
Beluga Whale - an absolutely gorgeous, photogenic white whale [these are the only whales that can turn their heads].
Peregrine Falcon - holds the world record for a speeding nose dive on radar.
Narwahal - the 'sea unicorn' is a small whale with a long corkscrew horn. These fantasy creatures live between Canada and Greenland.
Wolverine - this fascinating weasel on steroids can be found the northern reaches of the USA, much of Canada, the mountains of Norway, Finland and much of north eastern Russia.
Caribou - otherwise known as reindeer, this deer with velvet horns is the Arctic's most romantically associated animal. Domesticated sled pulling reindeer are one of the more environmentally sound ways to travel on your holiday. Found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Walrus - the majority of these toothy giants live in the Pacific Ocean, summering in the Bering Sea and wintering in the more northerly Chukcki Sea via a swim or a lift on an iceberg between Alaska and Siberia. Their less migratory cousins in the Atlantic tend to hang out around the northern shores of Canada and Greenland. They pose about on rocky outcrops waiting to be photographed by tourists.
Bowhead Whale - also known as the Northern Right Whale or Greenland Right Whale, one of the three whales unique to the Arctic.
Seals - The ring seal [polar bear main course] spends most of its life under the ice. Wonder why?
Musk Ox - a hairy buffalo type animal previously hunted to near extinction but reintroduced to Alaska and the Taimyr peninsula in Russia. Very hard heads that give resounding thumps during the mating season.
p.s If you see a penguin in the Arctic it's either the much loved British chocolate biscuit you have in your hand or you've been hitting the Absolut anti-freeze too hard.
The region covers several different countries but inhabitants are generally of Asian origin through migration. Once referred to simply as Eskimos the various groups are :
The Aleut, Yuit and Inuit ['Eskimos'] who inhabit Alaska, Northern Canada and coastal Greenland.
The Saami ['Laplanders'] who inhabit the most Northern parts of Scandinavia (particularly Finland).
Russian groups including the Komi, Tungus, Yukaghir and Chukchi inhabit the northern most expanses of Russia including Siberia.
The Arctic circle is a relatively unspoilt region of the planet. While human habitation on its edges means that there is ample opportunity for snow based activities, please remember that snowmobiles are not the most environmentally friendly method of travel and do not feed wild animals under any circumstances. Cooking meat on open camp fires may attract polar bears; never camp out in the Arctic without an experienced guide.
Nope, no British or Chinese places suggested to visit anywhere in the Arctic.
Incidentally, the first ship to actually traverse the famed Northwest Passage was from Norway. The British tried a couple of times, but either got turned back because of pack ice, or were lost at sea with all hands.
Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 01-29-2009 at 04:57 PM.
01-29-2009, 07:56 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
Won't be a big deal, the predicted record thaw this year never happened, temperatures have been dropping for over a decade, we are heading into another freeze. Problem solved
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