Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Russian Navy Confirms Discovery of New Island in Arctic

00 Russia. Franz Josef Land. 24.09.13


On Monday, a naval spokesman said that a surveying expedition in the Arctic Ocean by the Northern Fleet made several geographic discoveries and confirmed the formation of a new island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Captain First Rank Vadim Serga said, “Conducting hydrographical research in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, the expedition discovered a strait dividing Northbrook Island into two parts. The participants of the expedition carried out topographic mapping of the shoreline and measured depths along the new strait”. The expedition, which included the research vessel Gorizont and the tug MB-56, also discovered an unknown stretch of rocks near the Alexandra Land Island and registered recent alterations to the shoreline of Hall Island. Both islands are part of Franz Josef Land.

Back in 2006, Russian Arctic explorers hypothesised that after the isthmus that connected the eastern and western parts of Northbrook Island eroded, it formed a “new” island. However, bad weather prevented explorers from finding proof for another six years. Finally, an Arctic expedition in 2012 aboard the nuclear icebreaker Rossiya took photographs of the new strait and registered the coordinates of the coastline, claiming the discovery of a new island. The expedition handed over the data on the new island to the navigation and oceanography department in St Petersburg, and a special governmental commission expects to name the island in the near future. Currently, the Franz Josef Land archipelago consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a total area of about 16,000 square kilometres (6,178 square miles).

23 September 2013





Tuesday, 21 May 2013

21 May 2013. Ura! It’s Polar Exploration Day!

00 Sergei Yolkin. Ura! It’s Polar Exploration Day! 2013

Ura! It’s Polar Exploration Day!

Sergei Yolkin



RIA put this up on the English side of the site today, and they lazily posted the Russian version, without any edits. On the banner on the Polar explorers ice floe, it said “Polar Station” in Russian, so, I Englished it as “North Pole Station-40″, the current drift station. I used PhotoShop Elements, nothing fancy, so, it’s clear that the RIA staffer could have done the same. Hell, I upped the canvas size and cloned in additional seascape and waves… so, don’t tell me that it was difficult…


Russia marked 21 May as polar Exploration Day for the first time. This day was when the first Polar Drifting Ice Station, North Pole-1, commenced operations in 1937. Sergei Yolkin gives us his take on the affair.

21 May 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Click here for an image gallery, and here for a vid in English


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Scientists Say “Unclassified” Life Found in Antarctic Lake

00 Lake Vostok drilling. 12.03.13


A Russian scientist told RIA-Novosti that preliminary examination of water samples from ancient subglacial Lake Vostok near the South Pole indicated that a life-form found there is unique; it isn’t found anywhere else on Earth. Sergei Bulat, a researcher at the Laboratory of Eukaryote Genetics at the Boris Konstantinov St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (PIYaF), said, ”The species of bacteria, whose traces were found in probes of water from Lake Vostok, doesn’t belong to any of the 40-plus known subkingdoms of bacteria. After excluding all known contaminants… we discovered bacterial DNA that doesn’t match any known species listed in global databanks. We call it unidentified and ‘unclassified’ life”.

Seven samples of the same species of bacteria were found in water frozen on the head of the drill that was used in 2012 to reach the lake, which is covered by a 3.5-kilometre-thick ice sheet, but the match between its DNA and any known organisms never exceeded 86 percent, whilst Bulat noted that a match of under 90 percent is already enough to indicate a new species. Attempts to build a phylogenetic tree for the newly discovered micro-organism, which indicates a species’ evolutionary relationship to other species, showed that the Antarctic bacterium didn’t fit any of the main categories of micro-organisms in its taxonomic domain. Bulat said, “If it were found on Mars, people would call it Martian DNA, but this is DNA from Earth”. Bulat told us that tests continue, but are unlikely to disprove the results. He added that we need more samples for conclusive proof; possibly, researchers could find them in water from the lake obtained during a new drilling season earlier this year, which is on its way to Russia by ship.

Suspense over life under the Antarctic ice has built up ever since drilling began in 1989 to reach Lake Vostok, which could’ve isolated itself from the outside world as early as 17 million years ago. Drilling through the ice without contaminating the lake took the Russian team at Station Vostok, located just above the lake, 23 years to complete. Scientists suspected that unique species of extremophile microbes, sustained by geothermal heat and capable of surviving in Vostok’s extreme oxygen concentration, could’ve evolved in the lake. However, an early study of samples of surface water from the lake, published last year, found no unique life-forms, prompting speculation that the lake might be devoid of life after all… a theory that the most-recent findings appear to have disproved.

7 March 2013



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

2 October 2012. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Russian Arctic Scientific Research Stations


3 November 2011



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