Polnytt is back!

June 17, 2014 by

kjoleskPolnytt, Hornorkesterets weblog of polar news and curious  has been on hiatus since november 2011, following the release of Hornorkesterets CD Fjær og Jern. In the meantime, the band has undertaken a school tour of Østfold as a trio, represented at the Roald Amundsen Memorial Lecture 2012 at the Fram museum, performed in Norway and Sweden a handful of times but also been very busy with other projects.

This blog used to have a mix of self created content and “cut/pasted” news articles, though always citing and linking to the source. In the future, we will post more articles about Hornorkesteret and their instruments and original content. We’ll try to do a weekly Polar news and curious roundup with links and comments.

Rumour has it Hornorkesteret is recording a studio album of all new material these days. You’ll hear about it here first!

Hornorkesteret to perform at celebration of the conquest of The South Pole on Dec. 14th

November 28, 2011 by

Hornorkesteret will be performing in the pavillion in the Church Park in downtown Fredrikstad on December 14th in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the conquest of The South Pole, www.nansenamundsen.no reports.

In addition to the concert by Hornorkesteret, the celebration will contain live streaming audio from Antarctica with interactions from ambient musician Origami Antarktika, 17 sled dogs and sleds, free warm drinks, the animated short film “Fram og tilbake” about Roald Amundsen made at E6 Østfold Medieverksted with music by Hornorkesteret and the world premiere of Hornorkesterets epic song honouring Roald Amundsens achievements, “Roaldskvadet”.

Fjær og JernAlso, the long awaited CD “Fjær og Jern” is released on this glorious day, and Hornorkesteret will perform several tracks from the album live.

Born at Tomta in Borge just outside of Fredrikstad, Amundsen was the first man to reach both the South and the North Poles, and on December 14th 1911, he and his men planted the norwegian flag on the pole after a meticulously planned and executed operation. From his early days, he dreamt about becoming a polar explorer. Reading about the horrors Sir John Franklin and his men met while trying to navigate the North West Passage and reading about Fridtjof Nansen crossing Greenland on skis, inspired the young Amundsen to become a hero. Amundsen grew up in a shipping family and he had heard tales of faraway worlds since he was child. Nothing fascinated him more than ice and snow. He would sleep with his window open all year round to toughen himself to become a polar explorer.

Later, he would be part of the first expedition to spend the winter in the Antarctic with the Belgica, navigate the North West Passage as the first man on earth in 1906, use dogsleds for the South Pole in 1911, become an aviation pioneer, almost perish with two planes in the arctic in 1925 and finally cross the whole polar ocean of the Arctic in the italian-built dirigible “Norge” in 1926. Amundsen disappeared in June 1928 on a rescue mission to save his by then bitter enemy, Umberto Nobile, who had crashlanded with his new dirigible, the Italia.

Amundsens life  is something to celebrate! Bring the kids -this is a fun family event. Wear something warm.

17:30 – 18:00:
Live streaming sounds from the PALAOA Antarctic base
Mixed by Origami Antarktika – Ambient music
Serving of boullion and other hot drinks
Tents with polar stories
Dogsled riding/meet the dogs presented by Kennel Nairebis and their Siberian Huskys

18:00:
Opening speech

18:05:
World premiere of the epic hero song “Roaldskvadet” by Hornorkesteret

18:15:
Animated short: “Fram og tilbake” produced at E6 Østfold Medieverksted

18:30:
Concert with Hornorkesteret, The Norwegian Polar Orchestra

19:00:
Release of CD “Fjær og Jern” by Hornorkesteret

19:15 – 19:45:
Live streaming sounds from the PALAOA Antarctic base
Mixed by Origami Antarktika – Ambient music
Serving of boullion and other hot drinks
Tents with polar stories
Dogsled riding/meet the dogs presented by Kennel Nairebis and their Siberian Huskys

The event is listed on the official Nansen-Amundsen website:
http://www.nansenamundsen.no/no/events/des/jubileumskonsert-hornorkesteret.html

The event page on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125153107592524

Hornorkesterets web page:
http://hornorkesteret.no

The event is made in collaboration with Visit Fredrikstad and Kennel Nairebis.

Biologists launch annual Fairbanks moose count (Associated Press)

November 18, 2011 by

By: The Associated Press | 11/12/11 Original article here

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s annual moose count is under way after a two-day delay caused by inclement weather.

The aerial survey, conducted by state officials in the Interior each year in October and November, began Friday. The surveys help biologists develop population trends, figure out harvest rates and quotas and determine whether the state is meeting population management objectives, Fish and Game biologist Don Young told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/s6h3aV).

Using GPS-equipped airplanes, pilots fly grid patterns over specific areas while biologists count any moose they see in the area. Those numbers are extrapolated to come up with a unit-wide population estimate.

This year, the department is focusing its efforts on two game management units: 20C southwest of Fairbanks, and 20A south of the town across the Tanana River.

The department does moose surveys every year in unit 20A, one of the most heavily hunted areas in the state where about 5,000 hunters kill some 1,000 moose a year. But the other unit, where only about 130 moose are harvested annually, will get the most comprehensive survey yet, Young said.

“We did a composition survey three or four years ago but this will be the first population estimate that I’m aware of,” he said. The survey is needed so the Board of Game can consider various management proposals.

Biologists are hoping to have the counts finished in both unit 20C and unit 20A by the first week in December, which is when bull moose typically start shedding their antlers. It’s also too dark to do much at that point, Young said.

Biologists in Tok conducted moose surveys last week and surveys were being conducted in the Delta and Galena areas this week, Young said.

Municipality of Alta, Norway, has created guide for moose encounters

November 17, 2011 by

The municipality of Alta in Finnmark, Norway, has created a folder informing citizens on how to behave when encoutering moose in populated areas. The folder is also available online here.

I have translated a few bits from the folder below:

“Is the Moose dangerous? It’s important to be aware of the fact that the moose is a wild animal that can defend itself and thereby become a danger.”

Undisturbed moose grazes near housing area. Do not try to get the mooses attention by screaming and yelling, throwing snowballs or by approaching it.

Attentive moose: The moose has become aware of a disturbance, and has not yet decided to stay or flee.

Aggressive and dangerous moose: This moose is aggressive. Notice that it's neck hairs are standing up, it is holding it's head low and the ears are held flat. This is dangerous. Remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible. The moose can attack at any moment.

Attacking moose: The situation is life threatening and must be avoided at any cost. YOU CAN NOT OUTRUN A MOOSE!

Russia to make law on Arctic territories (Barents Observer/RIA Novosti)

November 9, 2011 by

Barents Observer 2011-11-01, original article here.
Russia’s Arctic territories will become a separate object of state policy. A federal law on this subject is expected to be prepared in 2012.

– The place and role of the northern territories in the country’s socio-economic development pre-determine the need to single out the Arctic zone as a separate object of state policy, a draft concept of the law reads, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia's Arctic zone is to be singled out as s seperate object of state policy. Parts of Arkhangelsk Oblast, where this picture is taken, is considered to be part of the Arctic zone. (Photo: Trude Pettersen)

The draft concept has been prepared by the Ministry of Regional Development and has been handed over to the Government for approval. The final law will be prepared in 2012 as part of Russia’s state program for economic and social development of the Russian Arctic in 2012-2020.

The authors of the draft believe that development of the Arctic zone should be a top national priority, like development of Siberia used to be:

– The Arctic is a veritable storeroom of natural resources – 27 million square kilometers of the Continental Shelf where 70-75 percent of the mineral and biological resources of the world’s oceans and seas might be concentrated.

The Russian Arctic zone includes the entire Murmansk Region, the Nenets, Yamal-Nenets and Chukotka Autonomous Areas, as well as some parts of Karelia, the Komi Republic, Yakutia, the Arkhangelsk Region and the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The Arctic zone’s territory also includes coastal lowlands of the Arctic Ocean, basins of rivers flowing into the Arctic seas, indivisible administrative-territorial entities, as well as major resource-production complexes being serviced by the Northern Sea Route.

Solving the Mysteries of Short-Legged Neandertals (Science Daily)

November 9, 2011 by

ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2011) — Original article here
While most studies have concluded that a cold climate led to the short lower legs typical of Neandertals, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that lower leg lengths shorter than the typical modern human’s let them move more efficiently over the mountainous terrain where they lived. The findings reveal a broader trend relating shorter lower leg length to mountainous environments that may help explain the limb proportions of many different animals.

Sheep. The researchers decided to study different types of bovids -- a group of mammals including gazelles, antelopes, goats and sheep -- since these animals live in warm and cold environments on both flat and hilly terrain. (Credit: © rparys / Fotolia)

Their research was published online in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and will appear in print in the November issue.

“Studies looking at limb length have always concluded that a shorter limb, including in Neandertals, leads to less efficiency of movement, because they had to take more steps to go a given distance,” says lead author Ryan Higgins, graduate student in the Johns Hopkins Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution. “But the other studies only looked at flat land. Our study suggests that the Neandertals’ steps were not less efficient than modern humans in the sloped, mountainous environment where they lived.”

Neandertals, who lived from 40,000 to 200,000 years ago in Europe and Western Asia, mostly during very cold periods, had a smaller stature and shorter lower leg lengths than modern humans. Because mammals in cold areas tend to be more compact, with a smaller surface area, scientists have normally concluded that it was the region’s temperature that led to their truncated limbs compared to those of modern humans, who lived in a warmer environment overall.

However, Higgins’ group adds a twist to this story. Using a mathematical model relating leg proportions to angle of ascent on hills, he has calculated that Neandertals on a sloped terrain would have held an advantage while moving compared to their long-legged cousins, the modern humans. Because the area Neandertals inhabited was more mountainous than where modern humans tended to live, the researchers say that this assessment paints a more accurate picture of the Neandertals’ efficiency of movement as compared to humans. “Their short lower leg lengths actually made the Neandertals more adept at walking on hills,” explains Higgins.

But the group didn’t stop there. “In our field, if you want to prove an adaptation to the environment, like mountains leading to shorter leg lengths, you can’t just look at one species; you have to look at many species in the same situation, and see the same pattern happening over and over again,” says Higgins. “We needed to look at other animals with similar leg construction that existed in both flat and mountainous areas, as Neandertals and humans did, to see if animals tended to have shorter lower leg length in the mountains.”

The researchers decided to study different types of bovids–a group of mammals including gazelles, antelopes, goats and sheep–since these animals live in warm and cold environments on both flat and hilly terrain. The group took data from the literature on bovid leg bones and found that they fit the pattern: mountainous bovids, such as sheep and mountain goats, overall had shorter lower leg bones than their relatives on flat land, such as antelopes and gazelles, even when they lived in the same climates.

Investigating closely related bovids brought this trend into even sharper relief. Most gazelles live on flat land, and the one mountainous gazelle species examined had relatively shorter lower legs, despite sharing the same climate. Also, among caprids (goats and sheep), which mostly live on mountains, the one flat land member of the group exhibited relatively longer lower legs than all the others.

“Biologists have Bergman’s and Allen’s Rules, which predict reduced surface area to body size and shorter limbs in colder environments,” says Higgins. “Our evidence suggests that we can also predict certain limb configurations based on topography. We believe adding the topic of terrain to ongoing discussions about limb proportions will allows us to better refine our understanding of how living species adapt to their environments. This improved understanding will help us better interpret the characteristics of many fossil species, not just Neandertals.”

Funding for this research was provided by the Johns Hopkins Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution.

This study was completed by Ryan Higgins and Christopher B. Ruff, Ph.D., also of the Johns Hopkins Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution.

Wild strawberries in mild Arctic autumn (Sveriges Radio)

November 8, 2011 by

The Swedish wild strawberries (smultron) are a rare sight this late in the year. Photo: Scanpix

Winter is late, even in the Swedish Arctic.

The far northern city of Kiruna usually meets winter on the 10th of October, and the northern coastal city of Umeå usually has winter weather by the 4th of November.

But instead of winter, fresh wild strawberries are still growing.

Alexandra Ohlsson at the Swedish Meteorological Institute (SMHI) says to news agency TT that winter will probably be at least another week away.

As well as ripening strawberries, the mild temperatures in the northern part of Sweden are also good for pests like mosquitoes and ticks.

Winter is officially defined as an average temperature of below zero for five days in a row. It usually reaches Stockholm by the 1st of December, Gothenburg by the 29th, and Malmö by the 7th of January.

Radio Sweden, original article here

Melting Arctic sea ice drives walruses onto land

August 25, 2011 by

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON | Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:52pm EDT
(Reuters) – Original article here

Photo Credit: Liz Labunski/USFWS

Fast-melting Arctic sea ice appears to be pushing walruses to haul themselves out onto land, and many are moving around the area where oil leases have been sold, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

Walruses are accomplished divers and frequently plunge hundreds of feet (meters) to the bottom of the continental shelf to feed. But they use sea ice as platforms to give birth, nurse their young and elude predators, and when sea ice is scarce or non-existent, as it has been this summer, they come up on land.

Last September, the loss of sea ice caused an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 walruses to venture onto land, and as sea ice melts reached a record last month, U.S. government scientists are working with Alaskan villagers to put radio transmitters on some of the hauled-out walruses to track their movements around the Chukchi Sea.

“The ice is very widely dispersed and there is little of it left over the continental shelf,” researcher Chad Jay of the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement on Wednesday. “Based on our tracking data, the walruses appear to be spreading out and spending quite a bit of time looking for sea ice.”

The loss of sea ice puts Pacific walruses at risk, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but other, higher-priority species will get attention first. In February, the wildlife service listed Pacific walruses as candidates for protection, though not protection itself.

Walruses are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which means these animals cannot be harvested, imported, exported or be part of interstate commerce.

Polar bears, which also use sea ice in the Chukchi Sea as platforms for hunting, have been designated as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of declining sea ice in the Arctic.

Compared to last year’s massive haul-out, there are few walruses on land, and there is no solid count, Jay said.

“There is a lot less ice than there used to be on the continental shelf this time of year,” he said. “So we might be headed into a new normal.”

Transmissions from the radio-tagged walruses offer a good picture of where these creatures are in the Chukchi Sea in a U.S. Geological Survey graphic updated approximately weekly.

SHRINKING ARCTIC SEA ICE

Available online here , the graphic shows where the walruses were when they were first tagged (shown as red Xs) and how they moved around the water (shown as yellow dots).

The graphic also shows changes in sea ice cover in the far north, indicating nearly ice-free conditions in areas where the walruses are moving. Many are within the boundaries of an oil lease sale area that stretches along the northwestern Alaska coast and far into the Chukchi Sea.

Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil hold leases in the Chukchi Sea, though no drilling has started.

Last month saw Arctic sea ice drop to its lowest extent — meaning that it covered the smallest area — for any July since satellite records began in 1979, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Typically, Arctic sea ice hits its lowest extent for the year in September.

This record-low ice extent for July is lower than July ice extent in 2007, when ice extent shrank in September to its smallest area in the satellite record.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

Update! One person killed, four people injured in polar bear attack on Spitsbergen, NRK and VG reports

August 5, 2011 by

One person is reported dead, according to this VG article. The party of 13 that were attacked in their tent camp near the Von Post Glacier early this morning was british, and consisted of youths from British Schools Exploring Society.

Several persons were injured when a polar bear attacked people near the Von Post Glacier approximately 40 kilometers from Longyearbyen.

It has been a busy situation for ambulance personell at Longyearbyen, and assistance from the mainland was immediately sent northwards.

This article on nrk.no first broke the news of  the incident which was reported to the Sysselmann at Spitsbergen around 07:30 AM today, August 5th. The polar bear is now dead and health personell have arrived on site, the Sysselmann reports.

“We have received four patients. All of them have moderate to serious injuries, mainly head injuries”, says Jon Mathisen, director of the department for acute medicine at the University Hospital in Tromsø to VG Nett.

Liv Ødegaard, information consultant with the Sysselmann office, tells NRK that they don’t have a complete overview of the situation so far, including how seriously hurt the persons involved are.

“We can now confirm that they were camping there, but if they were tourists or scientists is too early to say. At this stage we have made a priority of getting the injured persons medical help”, Ødegaard said earlier this morning.

None of the involved people are identified so far, and the British department of foreign affairs does not have an overview of the situation yet.

Starvation and lack of food is the most common motivation for a polar bear to attack people say Jon Aas, scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute.

“All polar bears are potentially dangerous, but there are higher numbers of young and starving bears involved in attacks”, Aas says.

Kjersti Norås, tourism coordinator on Spitsbergen says that the Von Post Glacier is a common site for tourists to visit. “You can go there on snowmobiles in the winter to get to Pyramiden”, she informs VG Nett.

It is recommended to carry guns when out in the field on Spitsbergen, and the company who met the bear have killed the animal themselves.

Since 1971, four people have been hurt and four people killed by polar bears on Spitsbergen, Margrete Nilsdatter Skaktavl Keyser states in her master thesis on the subject.

Polnytt comments:

When situations with polar bears arise, the only solution is to kill the animal if possible, or else get killed.

We should now ask ourselves: Is tourism on Spitsbergen OK? Perhaps travelling in these areas should be restricted to personell with real business in the area? Useful activities like science, hunting and industry? Perhaps we should keep tourists and adventurers off these pristine nature reserves?

Jonas Qvale

Reindeer teeth hold clues to Neanderthal hunting tactics

May 24, 2011 by

Stone Pages Archaeo News 19 May 2011
Original article here

Analysis of subtle chemical variations in reindeer teeth suggest the Neanderthal employed sophisticated hunting strategies similar to the tactics used much later by modern humans. Kate Britton, an archaeologist now at the University of Aberdeen, and her colleagues wanted to find out more about adult reindeer remains from a 70,000 year old layer at the Jonzac Neanderthal hunting camp site in France – a rock shelter believed to have been used over a long period of time – by looking at the teeth and their chemical composition.
Teeth are made of calcium, phosphorus, oxygen, strontium and other elements, but not all the atoms of each element are the same. Some atoms, or isotopes, are heavier than others and may have slightly different chemical properties. Says Britton, “Strontium in your bones and teeth is related to the food and water you consume… to the underlying soil and rocks of a particular area.” It’s possible to look at the strontium isotopes and find out if the animals ate and drank always in the same area, or if they moved around.
The reindeer have similar strontium isotope patterns, suggesting they moved from one area to another and back again while their teeth were developing. “The reindeer were probably travelling through the area during their annual migrations,” Britton says. The Neanderthal were probably aware of the reindeer migration patterns and planned their stays to make the most out of the moving herd. “This sophisticated hunting behaviour is something we see much later in the Upper Palaeolithic amongst modern human groups, and it’s really fascinating to see that Neanderthals were employing similar strategies,” concludes Britton.


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