Randall Hyman writes about this video:
Return of the Terns
More about Randall Hyman in Norway: here.
More about Svalbard Arctic tern research: here.
Randall Hyman writes about this video:
Return of the Terns
More about Randall Hyman in Norway: here.
More about Svalbard Arctic tern research: here.
This video from Alaska says about itself:
5 Sep 2013
© 2013 Jared Hughey
All Rights Reserved
The Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus), one of the least studied songbirds in North America, breeds on the arctic tundra and has become a species of conservation concern. I spent the summer working as a field technician for Heather Craig, a Master’s student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who is studying the breeding ecology of this polygynandrous species in the foothills of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska.
From eNature blog in the USA:
The Smith’s Longspur May Be Nature’s Champion Lover
Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by eNature
Are you the type that has an insatiable appetite for lusty affairs?
Do you seek the same qualities in a partner?
Then you’ll probably enjoy the story of the Smith’s Longspur. This bird’s 70’s swinging style is enough to make even Hugh Hefner blush.
In terms of range, then, it’s a lot like some other species. What sets the Smith’s Longspur apart is its astonishing libido.
At the peak of the spring mating season, the typical Smith’s Longspur copulates more than 350 times a week. The females solicit these encounters, and the males cooperate roughly half the time. Otherwise the creatures are resting and refueling.
You can always plan eNature’s Mating Game to find what creature you most resemble in love.
John James Audubon named the Smith’s Longspur after his friend Gideon B. Smith.
More about the Smith’s Longspur is here.
From eNature blog:
Three Guys For Every Girl— Why Male Polar Bears Have A Tough Time Getting A Date
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2014 by eNature
So what’s the best place for a male Polar Bear to meet a potential mate?
The experts recommend going to a prime seal-hunting spot. But finding such a spot is only the beginning of the challenge.
Nature Doesn’t Make It Easy
One reason a male Polar Bear must work overtime for a date is that females of the species don’t breed every year or even every other year. A female Polar Bear usually breeds only once every three years, which means that males outnumber eligible females three-to-one at the start of breeding season in the spring.
So competition for female attention is fierce, and males must fight one another, sometimes viciously, for the privilege of mating.
The Girls Can Play Hard To Get
Further complicating matters is the fact that female Polar Bears enjoy a good chase and will lead pursuing males across the ice for miles and miles.
In some cases, a chase can cover more than sixty miles—not for the timid or the weak of heart.
And we all thought it was tough to get a date to the Prom!
Without the vibrant color of a cardinal or the sweet song of a sparrow, how does a seabird go about attracting its mate? Here.
St Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time when birds start to choose their mates, with egg-laying for most resident species commencing in March or April. For a handful of birds, including Tawny Owl, Mistle Thrush and Dipper, nesting may already be under way in February, but numbers of these three early breeders are falling rapidly, according to the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) BirdTrends report, published on-line today: here.
From Upstream, oil and gas newspaper:
Shell faces Alaska ‘drilling hurdle’
Steve Marshall, News Wires
23 January 2014 08:22 GMT
Shell’s bid to restart its exploration drilling effort off Alaska this summer has reportedly run into a potential legal obstacle after a US court ruling has cast doubt on the legitimacy of lease awards in the Chukchi Sea.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals decided on Wednesday that the US’ Interior Department wrongly awarded the oil leases off Alaska without considering the full range of environmental risks from drilling in the Arctic, Reuters reported.
The ruling represents a victory for Native Alaska tribes and environmental groups in a dispute that pits them against the federal government and energy companies, with the matter now returned to a US district judge in Anchorage for review.
Shell is a major leaseholder in the Chukchi Sea after gaining acreage in a 2008 lease sale in which it stumped up nearly $2 billion out of $2.66 billion bid by oil companies, with other blocks picked up by ConocoPhillips and Statoil.
The Anglo-Dutch supermajor intends to resume drilling work in the area between July and November this year using the upgraded drillship Noble Discoverer to spud a well at the Burger prospect, with Transocean semi-submersible Polar Pioneer to be used as a back-unit.
It follows an earlier abortive bid in 2012 that was dogged by a number of technical issues and ended with the grounding of the drilling barge Kulluk.
The impact of the court decision on the planned drilling effort was not immediately clear, with a Shell spokeswoman saying: “We are reviewing the opinion.”
A spokeswoman for the Interior Department declined to comment, saying the agency does not discuss pending legal matters.
However, the plaintiffs’ Juneau-based attorney, Mike LeVine, said: “It’s unlikely that the government could authorise drilling activities on leases the court says were improperly awarded.”
He said the court ruling supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the leases should never have been granted six years ago because the federal government failed to consider the full scale of the project and associated risks.
The court determined that the Interior Department leases in question, opening nearly 30 million acres to exploration drilling, were based on a flawed estimate of 1 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil for the scope of production.
The appeals court called that estimate “arbitrary and capricious” and ruled the government had failed to base its analysis on the full range of likely potential oil production from the acreage, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
LeVine said: “This tells me that the time has come for the federal government to stop trying to provide justification for a poor decision that was made in 2008.”
Environmental group Greenpeace described the court ruling as another setback for Shell in its bid to exploit the eco-sensitive Arctic, calling it a “massive blow” for the company after newly installed chief executive Ben van Beurden issued a profit warning last week.
The group, which has staged a number of high-profile stunts to prevent Arctic drilling, claims Shell has now ploughed about $5 billion into Arctic exploitation “with not a single cent in return”.
Shell shelves plan to drill in Alaskan Arctic this summer: Guardian: here.
This video is called Facts You Didn’t Know About Reindeer.
From Popular Science:
The Science Behind Reindeer‘s Color-Changing Eyes
It’s not the magic of Christmas that turns their eyes from gold to blue.
By Lindsey Kratochwill
Posted 12.24.2013 at 10:00 am
Winter in the Arctic is grim—day and night blur together for 24 hour stints without sunlight. Reindeer manage to survive these gloomy weeks thanks to a peculiar adaptation. As the days grow darker, reindeer‘s eyes turn from gold to blue.
A study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal explained the science behind reindeers‘ changing eyes. The color change happens in the tepetum lucid, which is the layer of tissue in the eye that reflects visible light back through the retina. This is the same component of the eye that makes cats’ and dogs’ eyes seem to glow in the dark.
In the summer when days and nights are marked by nearly constant brightness, the eye tissue is tinged gold, which is common for ungulates such as reindeers. But once the darkness of winter hits, reindeer eyes change their hue to blue. The change of color is also associated with a reduction in light reflected, and an increase in captured light. The increased retinal sensitivity comes at a cost, though—the acuity of the reindeers sight is reduced, meaning the sharpness or clearness of what is seen is lower. But, just having the ability to see—no matter how blurry—could help the reindeer spot predators, or lead the way for Santa and his sleigh.
The surprising origins of Santa Claus: here.
This video, Comet and the Northern Lights, is from Tromsø in Norway.
This video is from Oregon in the USA.
This video is from Michigan in the USA.
This video is from Alberta in Canada.
This video says about itself:
12 Nov 2013
Flying on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York when the aurora forecast was high, I balanced my camera on a rucksack and left it snapping away out the window … what an amazing spectacle was to be seen! You can see some of the still pictures that formed this time-lapse here.
From National Geographic:
In the winters of 2012 and 2013, National Geographic grantee Anders Angerbjörn and his Ph.D. student, Rasmus Erlandsson, studied an extremely threatened species, the Scandinavian arctic fox. The current population numbers fewer than 150 individuals in mainland Europe so many of the young foxes are having difficulty finding a non-related partner. Other threats to the species include competition from the red fox for the scarce small rodents they both depend upon for food. Angerbjörn and Erlandsson monitored the arctic fox population in Västerbotten and Norrbotten, Sweden, to identify the best territories for further conservation actions. This included tagging the baby foxes, which proved to be a challenge.
“When catching arctic foxes it is easy to believe that the smaller ones are the easiest to handle. In some aspects it is true. Their teeth are smaller and the jaws less powerful. Combined with a naïve lack of aggressive attitude it seems to make up for an easy piece of work to ear-tag a 700-gram cub. Well, sometimes it is, but just as human children have a hard time keeping still, the really small cubs do too.
“We handle the foxes in a bag while tagging, and the trick is to keep the animal still between your thighs while kneeling. And here comes the tricky part. How do you keep a small, wild fox still? You cannot apply too much force—it is barely a kilo of an endangered carnivore you are dealing with. You really do not want to hurt it. Just as with small children the best tool is patience, but at the same time you want the handling to be as short as possible.
“One particular cub had a technique I had never experienced before as it insistently tried to turn [onto] its back, for no obvious reason. I had to reach the ears, so I quickly turned the cub upright. The cub stayed still for a few seconds, and then began to roll onto its back again. The same maneuver, once again! And again! Finally, I got the tags in place, and after making measurements and taking some samples, I finally released the little fellow and it disappeared like lightning into the den.”
—Ph.D. student Rasmus Erlandsson, team member with Anders Angerbjörn, Global Exploration fund grantee
This video from the USA is called Greenland Rocks, for Geologists.
Giant Canyon Found Entombed under Greenland Ice
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle
Other studies have also revealed a rift valley entombed in Antarctica‘s ice in 2012 that scientists said may be speeding the flow of ice towards the sea, and a jagged “ghost range” of mountains buried in Antarctica in 2009 similar to the Alps.
“It’s remarkable to find something like this when many people believe the surface of the Earth is so well mapped,” lead author Jonathan Bamber, of the University of Bristol in England, said of the canyon described in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.
“On land, Google Street View has photographed just about every building in every major city,” he told Reuters of the study, using ice-penetrating radar and carried out with colleagues in Canada and Italy.
The canyon is 750 km (470 miles) long in central and north Greenland and comparable in scale to parts of the Grand Canyon that is twice as deep – 1.6 km – at its deepest, they wrote. The Greenland canyon is buried under about 2 km of ice.
About as long as the Rhone river in France and Switzerland, the ravine was probably cut by an ancient river that eroded rocks as it flowed north before temperatures cooled and ice blanketed Greenland 3.5 million years ago, they wrote.
The gorge probably still plays a role in draining some meltwater from beneath the ice sheet.
The scientists used airborne data collected mainly by NASA and by scientists in Britain and Germany to piece together maps of the canyon. At some frequencies, ice is transparent to radio waves that bounce off the bedrock.
Bamber said the gorge would help scientists refine models of how Greenland’s ice sheet slowly flows downhill but was unlikely to affect understanding of how global warming is melting ice.
“I don’t think it’s particularly influential” in determining the rate of ice flow, echoed David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey. He said the canyon was so deep under the ice that it was unlikely to be affected by any warming trend for many decades.
Vaughan led a four-year international study called ice2sea, which said in May that world sea levels could rise by between 16.5 and 69 cm (6-27 inches) with moderate global warming by 2100, partly because of a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica.
He told Reuters a few blanks remain on the map, including two areas of east Antarctica that scientists jokingly dub the “Poles of Ignorance”.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
This video says about itself:
A magnificent sighting of the rare Bowhead whale at Framm strait june 2012.
From Wildlife Extra:
New thermal imaging system helps researchers to locate large whales
August 2013. Physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research have successfully tested a thermal imaging system aboard the research vessel Polarstern. The system automatically detects large whales by their spouts, day or night, from distances up to five kilometres. The system detected significantly more whales than researchers using binoculars to spot the animals. The thermal imaging camera and accompanying analysis software is an effective tool for protecting these rare marine mammals from intense underwater noise.
Pile driving during construction of wind farms and the use of airguns when searching for oil and gas unavoidably result in noise pollution in the surrounding area. To ensure that marine mammals are not harmed when in the close vicinity of these activities, regulatory authorities request so-called mitigation measures for their protection. One of such measures requires airguns to be switched off or pile driving to be stopped when whales approach the respective sound source too closely. Yet is has been extremely difficult to monitor the surrounding seas for whales around the clock effectively – and that for weeks and weeks?
Ocean Acoustics Lab
Humans obviously face clear limits: “Whoever has looked at the sea for any length of time, knows how quickly the eyes get tired and concentration dwindles. In addition: we cannot look in all directions at the same time and at night we virtually see nothing. Therefore it has been difficult, especially at night, to spot whales near vessels or marine platforms,” says Dr. Daniel Zitterbart, a physicist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI).
So Zitterbart and colleagues from the AWI’s “Ocean Acoustics Lab” updated an infrared camera, from the Rheinmetall Defence Electronics into a tool for automatic whale sightings. During seven Polarstern expeditions they developed and successfully tested this high-tech system.
“The thermal imaging camera is located at 28 metres up in Polarstern’s windy crow’s nest. It is mounted on an active gimbal that compensates the movements of the ship. The imager revolves five times per second and produces a 360-degree video stream of the vessel’s surroundings, in which warmer regions appear brighter than colder ones. The thermal sensor is so sensitive that it detects differences in temperature of less than a hundredth of a degree Celsius. The whale spout, which, at least in subpolar and polar regions, is significantly warmer than the sea surface, appears as light grey or white fountains on these images,” Daniel Zitterbart explains.
The video stream is processed by a software suite that he developed during his PhD. “A whale spout is bright on the thermal image and then becomes darker again in a very specific pattern. Our software divides each of the recorded images into 31,600 little snippets, which are individually examined for differences in brightness. Subsequently, the computer decides whether images exhibiting significant contrast change bear the characteristic features of a whale spout. This way we can also spot those animals that have emerged for only a very short breath of air,” the physicist says.
Twice as efficient as scientists, during day time
The accuracy of the infrared detection system is impressive: As the researchers report in the journal PLOS ONE, direct comparisons during one of the expeditions showed that the camera recorded about twice as many whales near the vessel than scientists with binoculars trying to spot the animals.
“The key strength of our system lies in the fact that we can locate large whales such as blue, fin, right and grey whales around the clock, and especially at night, with great accuracy, allowing for a better protection. Whenever an animal is detected by the system, appropriate safety measures are implemented,” says Dr. Olaf Boebel, head of the AWI’s ocean acoustics lab and co-author of the study.
Accurate in the dark and during rough weather
After dark, the comparative measurements showed that the data quality of the thermal imaging camera is even higher than during the day, because of the lack of light reflection on the water surface. And even in freezing weather, rough seas and at wind force 6, the AWI researchers were able to rely on their system. “The operating conditions go far beyond those weather conditions during which seismic surveys are usually carried out,” says Olaf Boebel. For example: The deployment and recovery of the airguns becomes difficult when the waves are six meters or higher.
Confused by birds!
The whale detector is only prone to error when large numbers of birds fly simultaneously through the camera’s field of view or countless smaller chunks of ice are floating on the ocean surface. “Until now we have designed our analysis software mainly for trips in open water because this is where airguns are mainly used for seismic surveys,” says Daniel Zitterbart.
Following the successful test of the technology and software, he is already working on a system extension: “We now have a second, normal camera coupled to the infrared camera system. It automatically shoots photos of each whale detected by the IR system. This way, we can determine its species to collect data on the size and distribution of their respective populations,” says Daniel Zitterbart. Another plus: the thermal imaging whale detectors also provide location and distance data for each whale, allowing AWI scientists to track the animals and explore their behaviour when they encounter vessels.
Next year the tested whale-tracking system is going to be installed permanently in Polarstern’s crow’s nest to be increasingly used on polar expeditions. The development team also plans to test the system in seas with a water temperature higher than 10 degrees Celsius. So far, it has passed its tests in polar and subpolar regions with flying colours.
This project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (grant Nr. BMBF 03F0479I) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (grant Nr. BMU 370891101-01). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
There aren’t many biological specimens that require the use of a gantry lift and the labor of eight people just to be moved. But even before a massive, extremely rare North Atlantic right whale skeleton arrived at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center to join the Natural History Museum’s collections last month, it was clear that it was no ordinary specimen: Apparently, during the drive down from Massachusetts on an open trailer, the bones prompted some bystanders to call the police, reporting they’d seen a dinosaur skeleton being driven down the highway: here.