Thick-billed murres video


This video says about itself:

Thick-billed Murre

23 September 2016

Video by David O. Brown / Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

I was privileged to see a nesting colony of these mainly Arctic birds on Svalbard.

Red knots damaged by climate change


This video from Brazil says about itself:

The red knot (Calidris canutus) (just knot in Europe) is a medium-sized shorebird which breeds in tundra and the Arctic Cordillera in the far north of Canada, Europe, and Russia. It is a large member of the Calidris sandpipers, second only to the great knot. Six subspecies are recognised.

Their diet varies according to season; arthropods and larvae are the preferred food items at the breeding grounds, while various hard-shelled molluscs are consumed at other feeding sites at other times. North American breeders migrate to coastal areas in Europe and South America, while the Eurasian populations winter in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. This species forms enormous flocks when not breeding.

From Science:

Body shrinkage due to Arctic warming reduces red knot fitness in tropical wintering range

13 May 2016

Migratory animals have adapted to life in multiple, sometimes very different environments. Thus, they may show particularly complex responses as climates rapidly change. Van Gils et al. show that body size in red knot birds has been decreasing as their Arctic breeding ground warms (see the Perspective by Wikelski and Tertitski). However, the real toll of this change appears not in the rapidly changing northern part of their range but in the apparently more stable tropical wintering range. The resulting smaller, short-billed birds have difficulty reaching their major food source, deeply buried mollusks, which decreases the survival of birds born during particularly warm years.

Science, this issue p. 819; see also p. 775

Reductions in body size are increasingly being identified as a response to climate warming. Here we present evidence for a case of such body shrinkage, potentially due to malnutrition in early life. We show that an avian long-distance migrant (red knot, Calidris canutus canutus), which is experiencing globally unrivaled warming rates at its high-Arctic breeding grounds, produces smaller offspring with shorter bills during summers with early snowmelt. This has consequences half a world away at their tropical wintering grounds, where shorter-billed individuals have reduced survival rates. This is associated with these molluscivores eating fewer deeply buried bivalve prey and more shallowly buried seagrass rhizomes. We suggest that seasonal migrants can experience reduced fitness at one end of their range as a result of a changing climate at the other end.

View full text here.

Red knot from Arctic Canada to Terschelling: here.

Polar bears and research in Canadian Arctic


This 2015 video is called Polar Bears / Documentary (English/HD).

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Going to Need a Tougher Buoy

January 5, 2016

The time a polar bear temporarily sunk important research equipment

The top of the world is warming at almost twice the rate of the rest of the planet and scientists there are grappling with what that means for local wildlife.

For instance, as the ice retreats and shipping in the area increases, how will it impact resident marine mammals?

Answering such a question in the far north comes with unique challenges, though.

Our Arctic Beringia Program faced one such obstacle last year. As Dr. Stephen Insley detailed on WCS Canada’s blog, the team had placed a buoy in Sachs Harbor, in the western Canadian Arctic, to record underwater noise.

This would give a better picture of what the local whales and seals were up to and help the team better understand how the animals might be impacted by increased human activity.

At some point, before Insley and the team could retrieve the data they had recorded though, the buoy disappeared underwater.

Suspicion fell on polar bears.

The disappearance coincided with a sighting on the outskirts of the nearby town. The local safety officer had chased two bears out of the area and one was seen swimming off in the direction of the buoy.

Eventually, after hours of dredging the water to no avail, Insley and a local colleague (who also happened to be said safety officer) struck research gold—they hooked onto the rope that was attached to the buoy and pulled it up.

On it, they had their smoking gun: water poured out of the busted float from a pair of teeth-sized holes, which were separated by roughly the width of a polar bear‘s jaw.

Arctic zooplankton, new study


This video says about itself:

Arctic Werewolves

7 January 2016

In this video, Last et al. provide evidence for lunar influence on Arctic zooplankton communities during the dark polar night. During full moon periods, zooplankton migrations are driven by moonlight in synchrony with the altitude and phase of the moon. Such lunar vertical migrations occur throughout the Arctic, in fjord, shelf, slope, and open sea. Credit: SAMS Communications

From Science News:

The moon drives the migration of Arctic zooplankton

by Sarah Zielinski

2:11pm, January 11, 2016

The daily rising and setting of the sun propels what is thought to be the world’s largest migration: Tiny zooplankton move from the near-surface waters — where they spend the night feeding — down into deeper, darker waters during the day to avoid predators that rely on sight for finding a meal.

It was thought that in the perpetually dark waters of the Arctic winter that such a migration wouldn’t happen. After all, there’s no sunlight for weeks or months. And until last year, researchers believed that the Arctic pretty much shut down for the winter; it turns out that the region can be surprisingly active in the dark of the polar night.

Now a new study that combines 50 years of observations from locations across the Arctic shows that zooplankton are still migrating in the depths of winter. But with the sun gone, they have tied their timing to the next biggest source of light — the moon.

Zooplankton may be tiny — some are less than 2 micrometers long — but they are so numerous that acoustic instrumentation can detect their presence. Sound bounces off the itty bitty critters, creating what can look like a false ocean bottom (or at least it did to World War II sonar operators). And for more than five decades, scientists have monitored zooplankton with moored acoustic instruments at several locations in the Arctic.

Kim Last of the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban and colleagues gathered data from those instruments to look at daily zooplankton movements at locations across the Arctic. The moon plays an important role in zooplankton migration, the team reports January 7 in Current Biology.

In spring and fall, when the sun sets and rises daily in the Arctic, zooplankton follow their normal pattern of vertical migration, moving down deep in the day and rising toward the surface at night. But after the sun sets for winter, the zooplankton adjust their schedule, swimming up and down the water column not every 24 hours but every 24.8 hours, following the rising and setting of the moon. And every 29.5 days, when there is a full moon, the mass of zooplankton fall to a depth of about 50 meters, where they can keep out of the brightest moonlight. The movement may help hide the zooplankton from predators that need light to find their prey, the researchers say.

In 2013, researchers found a marine worm with a biological clock tied to the phases of the moon, but it is not yet clear if there is a similar molecular mechanism at work in zooplankton. The invertebrates could be responding to subtle changes in illumination, diving deeper to avoid getting eaten by what Last and his team call the “werewolves” of the Arctic night.

Svalbard weather station working well


This August 2015 Dutch video is about meteorologist Peter Kuipers Munneke and others installing an unmanned weather station on a glacier in the eastern part of Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago.

Peter Kuipers Munneke told Dutch NOS TV today that the station is working well. Even though there has been a snow storm. And it is now polar night, meaning the solar panels don’t work, and batteries have to provide the energy.

A few days ago, it was 24 degrees Celsius below zero at the station.

Svalbard expedition sees walruses


This video from Svalbard in the Arctic says about itself:

Walrus at Kapp Lee, Edgeøya 22 August 2008.

Translated from the blog of Dutch NOS TV about the big Dutch Arctic expedition. The expedition, after arrival in Svalbard and departure of the expedition ship from the Svalbard capital Longyearbyen, has meanwhile arrived on Edgeøya island in the Svalbard archipelago. Interview on 22 August 2015 with Ko de Korte and other participants who had been on that island forty years ago as well:

But has this place changed much in forty years? “No,” said De Korte. “Only those walruses were not there. We saw nothing but reindeer and polar bears, and sometimes an Arctic fox.” Fifty meters away thirty massive walruses lie in the sunshine, deliciously lazy. With the same view which the explorers of then still know so well.

This 8 February 2015 Dutch video shows an interview with Ko de Korte. He says he did Arctic tern research in 1968 on Edgeøya island, and wants to do that again now.

This 2008 video is about Kap Lee, Edgeøya, Svalbard, where the expedition is now.

This Dutch video is about expedition participant Tom van Hoof, doing already some research on Svalbard on 18 August 2015, one day before the official start of the expedition. Tom’s research is about the consequences of attempts to find oil off Edgeøya in the 1970s.

This 16 August 2015 video is about participant Tom van Hoof in the Netherlands, checking his luggage before going to Svalbard.

In this video, Tom van Hoof introduces himself.

This 14 August 2015 video about the expedition is from before the start.

Arctic fox on Svalbard


This 18 August 2015 video shows an Arctic fox, looking for food at a camping ground west of Longyearbyen village, on the Svalbard archipelago in Arctic Norway.

The video says about itself (translated):

[Dutch daily] Dagblad van het Noorden goes along on the biggest Dutch polar expedition ever. Expedition ship the Ortelius departs August 19 from Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. Reporter Maaike Borst will step aboard the Ortelius to follow the scientists in their search for human influence in the desolate wilderness.

Ms Borst describes her arrival in Svalbard here. And her meeting with the Arctic fox here.

See also here. And here.

This video is about an earlier, 2014, Svalbard expedition on the ship Ortelius (walruses included).