Voices from Russia

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Always Darkest Before the Dawn: Polar Night Ends on Frants Iosif Land (Russia’s Northernmost Archipelago)

Border marker at Severnaya Bay on Alexandra Land in the Frants Iosif Land Archipelago

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On Thursday, the Sun rose over the horizon on Frants Iosif Land, the northernmost Arctic archipelago in Russia and Eurasia, signalling an end to the four-month-long pitch-dark polar night. Aleksei Barakov, a deputy director of the Russian Arctic National Park, told us:

The Sun rose over Alexandra Land Island where the Omega permanent field base is located.

The polar night began on Frants Iosif Land, an archipelago lying only 1,100 kilometres (684 miles) away from the North Pole, on 18 October. Vadim Zakharyin, the chief of the national park’s expedition centre, noted:

The night is very cold, windy, and dark there. The Northern Lights rarely occur on the archipelago because the cloud cover is rather thick and low. The temperatures usually hover at around -30 degrees (-22 Fahrenheit), with high humidity that’s difficult to bear. Besides that, winds reach hurricane-like speeds of 36 metres per second (80.5 miles per hour). You have to be especially careful in that darkness because you can run into polar bears there.

On Thursday, the weather on Alexandra Island was frigid and calm. Two park staff-members are always present at the Omega field base of the Russian Arctic National Park. Only two of the 192 islands making up Frants Iosif Land are habitable during the winter. Alexandra Land, the westernmost island of the archipelago, is home to the Nagurskoye border outpost and a Northern Fleet base, in addition to the national park’s field base. A weather monitoring station, also known as “the observatory”, is on Kheysa Island in the very centre of the archipelago. A source at the Northern Department for Meteorology and Environment Monitoring said:

Currently, there are six workers at the Ernst Krenkel Observatory.

22 February 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/economy/991293

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

18 November 2017. Heroes of the Russian Land

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Today is the 118th birthday of my grandfather, the famous polar aviator, Hero of the Soviet Union Mikhail Vasilyevich Vodopyanov. He was a self-motivated man… he dreamed, worked selflessly, and so achieved his dreams. He made numerous difficult flights in the Far North, including being the first pilot in the world to land directly on the North Pole. He not only made pioneering flights on far-flung air-routes, he participated in one of the first long-range bombing raids on Berlin in August 1941. He was sincere! He was genuine and driven, a pilot with a burning heart! Eternal memory and glory to Mikhail Vasilyevich!

18 November 2017

Svetlana Boldyrev

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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Climate Change: 80,000 Reindeer Starve to Death as Arctic Sea Ice Retreats

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In 2006 and 2013, tens of thousands of reindeer died because of global warming caused by human-influenced climate change in the polar regions of Russia. If similar meteorological effects take place this year, Russia’s reindeer industry will face catastrophe. Reindeer, Russia’s cattle of the Arctic regions, suffered terrible losses in 2006 and 2013, as thick ice covered snow due to effects of global warming. Over 80,000 animals died during the period, a repeat could be a tragedy for the 270,000-animal population. In the autumn of 2006 and 2013, sea ice began to melt instead of building up as it normally does at that time of the year, leading to a high level of water evaporation, forming large storm systems over the shore. Then, winds moved the clouds south, where indigenous herders were moving their reindeer. According to Bruce Forbes at the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi FINLAND), resulting rains covered the snow with a thick layer of ice that became unbreakable for the animals when temperatures plunged to —40 degrees. He said:

Reindeer are used to sporadic ice cover, and adult males can normally smash through ice around 2 centimetres thick, but in 2006 and 2013, the ice was several tens of centimetres thick.

This year, the sea-ice cover was the second-lowest on record in the Arctic, and there is fear of another famine. Forbes commented:

If we see such events again this year, it could mean that they’re becoming more frequent. Now is the risk window, and if it happens again, it will be a major problem for traditional reindeer herders still suffering from losses in 2013.

This year, a famine would be especially damaging as authorities scheduled a massive cull to cope with an anthrax outbreak amongst reindeer. Anthrax, a bacterial infection that quickly spreads among animals, can spread to humans. Recently, at least one child died and 90 people went to hospital in the region due to the deadly disease, causing state authorities to order emergency culling and vaccination of reindeer herds.

17 November 2016

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/russia/201611171047524973-climate-change-reindeers-famine-russia/

Sunday, 20 March 2016

20 March 2016. From the Russian Web… The Best Swim Team in the World

00 polar bears in arctic 200316

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