Archive for July, 2010

Hornorkesteret music for silent film classic “Nanook of the North”

July 31, 2010


Performed on stringed reindeer antler instruments and percussion. Recorded live to two tracks in Trondheim, May 26th 2002 during a screening of the classic silent film documentary “Nanook of the North”.

Hvalrossjakt (Walrus Hunt) is available as part of the live soundtrack recording “Nanook”, an 80 min. CD-R by Hornorkesteret and on the upcoming Hornorkesteret “Fjær og Jern” compilation CD.

www.hornorkesteret.no

Music:
Hvalrossjakt
Qvale/Oxem/Lien/Krey/Benjaminsen/de Gier 2002

Film: Walrus hunt scene from Nanook of the North
Robert J. Flaherty 1922

Abandoned 1854 ship found in Arctic

July 31, 2010

The wreck of HMS Investigator lies on the bottom of Mercy Bay. (Parks Canada)

HMS Investigator, abandoned in the Arctic 155 years ago during a search for Sir John Franklin’s expedition, has been found.

Parks Canada archeologists looking for the ship found it 15 minutes after they started a sonar scan of Banks Island’s Mercy Bay in the Northwest Territories, said Marc-André Bernier, chief of Parks Canada’s underwater archeology service.

HMS Investigator, left, is trapped in ice with HMS Enterprise in a painting by Lt. W.H. Brown of the Royal Navy. The ship was eventually abandoned and its crew rescued by a Royal Navy sledge team.HMS Investigator, left, is trapped in ice with HMS Enterprise in a painting by Lt. W.H. Brown of the Royal Navy. The ship was eventually abandoned and its crew rescued by a Royal Navy sledge team. (National Maritime Museum)

“When the team arrived [on July 22], the whole bay was covered in ice,” Bernier said. “On July 25, the team had an opening in the ice.… It happened to be where the ship had been abandoned.”

They started a sonar scan of the area identified by British navy accounts as the spot where the ship had been left. They used a torpedo-shaped scanner, towed behind a Zodiac inflatable boat, which sends out sound waves and produces images of the floor of the bay.

“After 15 minutes, they basically had an image of the wreck,” Bernier said.

“It’s in good condition,” he said. “Very good condition, actually — surprising condition.”

The ship is upright in about 11 metres of water, its bottom buried in sediment if it’s still there, and the upper deck under about eight metres of water.

“Apparently, you can see some of it from the surface when the water is clear,” Bernier said.

While the masts are gone and the bulwarks — the sides of the ship that extend above the deck — are mostly gone, likely damaged by ice, there is potential to find smaller artifacts, Bernier said.

“This is very cold water. That helps preservation as well,” he said.

One of the masts appears to be on the deck of the ship, he added. If the masts had still been in place, they would have stuck out of the water.

The archeology crew has no plans to raise the ship. They will do a thorough sonar scan of the area, then send a remotely operated vehicle, similar to the ROVs used to take pictures of the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, to take pictures.

They will analyze the condition of the ship, the environmental impacts that could cause further damage, and the potential to find further artifacts — though they will remove nothing at this point.

Before departing to go to another ship, the crew of HMS Investigator buried their cargo on Banks Island. Remains of the barrels indicate the cache's location.Before departing to go to another ship, the crew of HMS Investigator buried their cargo on Banks Island. Remains of the barrels indicate the cache’s location. (Courtesy of Western News)“The work really starts now for the archeologists,” Bernier said.

The ship hadn’t been found earlier because of the difficulty involved in getting access to the area and surveying the bottom of the bay, which is usually covered with ice, Bernier said. The ship was stuck in the ice for more than two years before it was abandoned, he noted.

The Investigator, captained by Robert McClure, was sent in 1850 to search for Franklin’s crew and their two ships, the Erebus and Terror.

After more than two years trapped in the ice at Mercy Bay, crew members were rescued by a Royal Navy sledge team, who took them to another ship.

In the end, McClure and the Investigator succeeded where Franklin failed — they are credited with finding the Northwest Passage.

“This is the ship that confirmed and nailed the existence of that passage,” Bernier said.

Before leaving the ship, the crew buried much of their cargo on Banks Island. The location of their cache was known and is also being investigated by an archeological crew on land.

The land crew has found three sites of interest, including the gravesites of three crewmembers who died of scurvy in April 1853.

“They’re about 60 metres from the cache site,” Bernier said. “They seem to be in an undisturbed condition.”

A magnetometer has indicated there is metal in the graves, but they will be left undisturbed, he said. The British government has been informed of the find and will be consulted about what will happen at the gravesite.

The other two sites hold the remains of the cache and pieces of a small boat, Bernier said.

Investigator had ‘major impact’ on Inuit

In addition to the British navy accounts that led the archeologists to the Investigator, Inuit oral tradition tells stories of the ship.

“This is alive in the Inuvialuit memory today,” Bernier said.

The Investigator site “had a major impact” on the Inuit because it was a source of copper and iron, he said. In fact, the pieces of the small boat found on shore should have metal nails in it, but they have all been removed.

“It was a resource site for the Inuit,” Bernier said.

Franklin’s party disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage in 1848, following their captain’s death partway through the expedition. Their ships haven’t been found, despite numerous searches. Parks Canada is planning another search for the Erebus and Terror in August.

The site is of interest not only because of its importance to marine history and the Inuit, Bernier added, but because it illuminates a fascinating piece of human history.

There were 60 men in the group who were stuck at the site for more than two years, he said.

“It’s also a survival camp.”

Original article here

Motala, Sweden early stoneage find: Tent peg or sex toy -you decide!

July 26, 2010

An artifact found at a dig at Motala river in Sweden could be an ancient sex toy says this archaeology blog. The Motala find is made from antler and clearly fashioned with a rounded knob at one end. Seeing is believing, some say, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the artifact could just as well be interpreted as a tent peg or something else. Surely they masturbated 6000 years ago too, but perhaps not with antlers and stones? If it was sexual, it could just as well have been symbolic, perhaps used in ritual, or maybe even more like a teenage prank.

Oh yeah, and the length? About 12 cm.

No matter what you believe, this interesting find is but part of an important state funded project The Swedish National Heritage Board are conducting at an early stone age site along the Motala river which exits the large lake Vättern in southern Sweden. Here, an advanced community lived 8-6000 years ago, imported their flint from other regions and probably used the waterways to access different geographical areas for food. They have even found a shark tooth at the site (Motala was 35 km inland at that time), perhaps once used like a Cali beach bum or surfer would wear a sharks tooth around their neck in a leather string today.

The site is now in the middle of a town and heavy roads. It is only being investigated because of pending railroad expansions. More about the whole project here.

Another possible ancient phallus was recently found at the much older Hohle Fels Cave outside of Ulm in southern Germany.

Jonas/Hornorkesteret

Original article here (swedish only)

Dildo från äldre stenålder?

Nyligen rapporterades det att världens äldsta dildo hade påträffats i en grotta, Hohle Fels Cave utanför Ulm i södra Tyskland. Ett forskarteam som undersökte platsen under ledning av Professor Nicholas Conard tolkade ett av stenföremålen, 20 cm långt och 3 cm tjockt, som ”ett möjligt sexverktyg”. Föremålet bär emellertid även spår efter att ha använts för flinthantverk.

Undersökningen vid Strandvägen utmanar med att ställa frågan om vi har hittat Skandinaviens äldsta dildo? Föremålet är ett bearbetat horn som utan omsvep för tankarna till en fallos. Vad tycker Du?

Fallosar påträffas vanligtvis i sammanhang som hör till yngre perioder, framförallt järnålder, där vissa hällristningar och statyer avbildar guden Frej med erigerad penis. Symbolen kopplas till fruktbarhet. Från stenålderslokaler i Europa är det vanligt att finna kvinnliga fruktbarhetssymboler liknande Venus från Willendorf. Däremot är manliga fruktbarhetssymboler ovanliga.

Fyndet vi gjort är ett bearbetat och slipat horn, ca tolv centimeter långt och två centimeter i diameter. Formen är avsiktligt framarbetad. Föremålet stack fram ur blålera i ett skottkärrelass. Fynden knyts till de stratigrafiskt äldsta skeendena på platsen, det vill säga äldre stenålder. I samma lager har vi även hittat ytterligare ett snidat horn, flera ristade horn, ett stort antal ljusterspetsar samt ett tiotal mindre depositioner av människoben. Detta ger nya inblickar i äldre stenålderns föreställningsvärld.

– Först trodde jag (Sara) att det bara var ett bearbetat horn och skulle titta lite närmare på det. Men när jag höll upp den kunde jag inte hålla skrattet tillbaka. Och snart utbröt ett allmänt fnitter i hela sålltältet.

Dagen avslutades storstilat med besök av fem yngre, atletiska män som utan större bekymmer slängde av sig kläderna och badade från en avstängd järnvägsbro 50 meter från våra såll. Vi hoppas på kärt återseende.

Sara Gummesson & Kim von Hackwitz

Norwegian satellite succesfully launched

July 26, 2010

The Norwegian observatiion satellite AISSat-1 was successfully launched from Sriharikota, India on Monday. The satellite will greatly improve surveillance of maritime activities in the High North.

As we reported earlier, this is the first Norwegian satellite developed in Norway.

The AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a short range coastal traffic system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Services around the world.

AIS is required to be fitted on every seagoing vessel of 300 gross tons or more. Its purpose is to help ship crews to avoid collision with other vessels as well as to allow maritime authorities to track and monitor ship movements.

AISSat-1 will operate in a polar orbit at an altitude of 600 km.The Norwegian Space Centre is project owner. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will receive the data and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) is responsible for the technical implementation.

The total cost of the satellite is approximately NOK 30 million.

(NRK/Aftenposten/Press release)

Original article here

Oil tankers through North East Passage

July 19, 2010
The two Murmansk registered oil tankers Varzuga and Indiga are right now on their way through the partly ice-covered Northern Sea Route on their way to Chukotka in Russia’s Far East.

The Arctic shipping season 2010 is closely followed by the world’s shipping interests as global warming makes the sea ice retreat in record speed. By sailing the Northern Sea route, the ship-owners save both time and fuel-costs as the distance from Europe to Asia via the north is much shorter than traditionally routes through the Suez- Panama-, or around Africa to Asia.

The two oil tankers that left Murmansk this week are accompanied by an icebreaker, reports MBNews. The tankers hold the ice-classification 1A Super with double hull according to the web-portal of Murmansk Shipping Company.

The tankers are loaded with 27,000 tons of petroleum. They are scheduled to arrive in the port-town of Pevek on Chukotka in Russia’s Far East on July 27th.

Although Varzuga and Indiga are the first tankers to sail the North East Passage this summer, they are not the only. Russia’s biggest shipping company, Sovkomflot, intends to carry out a first major oil shipment from the Varandey terminal on the coast of the Pechora Sea through the North East Passage to Japan later this summer.

Sovcomflot will send one of its purpose-built 70.000 dwt ice-classed shuttle tankers on the route. If successful, the tanker will be the first ever oil tanker to sail the entire Northern Sea Route from Northwest Russia to Asia.

Original article here

Neanderthal man had giant arms and a body brimming with steroids, new research suggests

July 11, 2010

Neanderthal guys were no girlie-men.

Prehistoric man apparently boasted a rock-hard body, including an overdeveloped right arm that would make Popeye jealous, according to a new scientific report.

The Neanderthals hunted in the “extreme,” Russian Prof. Maria Mednikova told Discovery News. She said instead of shooting prey with a bow and arrow, the Neanderthal man used “direct contact” with his victim, stabbing animals with a spear and giving his dominant arm, usually the right one, an intense workout. The professor said female Neanderthals were strong, but more evenly muscular in both arms.

Either way, Neanderthals make modern-day humans look wimpy. Of course, they had some chemical help, it seems. Mednikova says their strong, thick bone structure was aided by a “markedly androgenic constitution.” Simply put, the Neanderthal body was brimming with natural steroids.

Genes, a cold climate and an all-meat diet helped contribute to the Neanderthal’s buff body, the scientists believe. Neanderthal’s dined on mammoths and deer, among other plant-eating animals. The scientists based their research on an analysis of Neanderthal arm bone, dating roughly from 100,000 years ago and found in what is now Russia.

Their findings were published in the journal Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia.

Original article here

Northwest Passage rules slammed by shippers

July 11, 2010

Since July 1, marine vessels have had to register with the Canadian Coast Guard before, during and after they travel in the Canadian government's designated NORDREG zone. (Transport Canada) Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2010/07/09/arctic-nordreg-shippers.html#ixzz0tOTqioBS

The world’s largest group of shipping companies has told the Canadian government its new moves to assert control of the Northwest Passage might violate international law.

The Baltic and International Maritime Council, whose members control two-thirds of global shipping tonnage, has objected to rules that force commercial ships to register with the Canadian Coast Guard if they sail into the Passage.

The council says that rule could conflict with the right of innocent passage for shippers.

The council also says Canada’s decision to extend environmental protection to waters 200 kilometres from the coast is “drastic” and not needed.

The U.S. has also expressed reservations about the new rules, which came into effect on July 1.

Few countries agree that the Passage is Canadian.

Original article here

Ancient Fossils Show Arctic Now Near Climate Tipping Point

July 8, 2010

BOULDER, Colorado, June 29, 2010 (ENS) – Current levels of Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide may be high enough to bring about “irreversible” shifts in Arctic ecosystems, according to new research published today by scientists from the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.

The Arctic climate system is more sensitive to greenhouse warming than previously known said the researchers, who gathered evidence on what is now Ellesmere Island in Canada’s High Arctic from a time period 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago. This period, known as the Pliocene Epoch, occurred shortly before Earth was plunged into an ice age.

“Our findings indicate that CO2 levels of approximately 400 parts per million are sufficient to produce mean annual temperatures in the High Arctic of approximately zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees F),” said lead author Ashley Ballantyne of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“As temperatures approach zero degrees Celsius, it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain permanent sea and glacial ice in the Arctic. Thus current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere of approximately 390 parts per million may be approaching a tipping point for irreversible ice-free conditions in the Arctic,” Dr. Ballantyne warned.

From left: Ashley Ballantyne of CU-Boulder, Dara Finney of Environment Canada and Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature dig for fossils near Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island. (Photo courtesy Environment Canada)

The research team points out that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree Earth is warming due to increased atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases generated by human activities like fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

Arctic temperatures have risen by about 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) in the past two decades in response to human-caused greenhouse warming, a trend expected to continue in the coming decades and centuries, said Ballantyne.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million during the pre-industrial era on Earth to about 390 parts per million today.

Environmental advocates are calling on governments negotiating the next climate treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million, the level many scientists say will help to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

The research paper is being published in the July issue of the journal “Geology.” The study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council in Canada, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the European Research Council.

Co-authors included David Greenwood of Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada; Jaap Sinninghe Damste of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research; Adam Csank of the University of Arizona; Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa; and Jaelyn Eberle, curator of fossil vertebrates at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and an associate professor in the geological sciences department.

“Our findings are somewhat disconcerting regarding the temperatures and greenhouse gas levels during the Pliocene,” said Eberle. “We already are seeing evidence of both mammals and birds moving northward as the climate warms, and I can’t help but wonder if the Arctic is headed toward conditions similar to those that existed during the Pliocene.”

At the Ellesmere Island research site, called the Beaver Pond site, organic materials have been “mummified” in peat deposits, allowing the researchers to conduct detailed, high-quality analyses, said Eberle.

They found that in the Pliocene, Ellesmere Island had forests of larch, dwarf birch and northern white cedar trees, as well as mosses and herbs.

The island was inhabited by fish, frogs and mammals now extinct, including tiny deer, ancient relatives of the black bear, three-toed horses, small beavers, rabbits, badgers and shrews.

But the research value of the site is now threatened by a proposed coal mine. Eberle said there is high concern by scientists over a proposal to mine coal on Ellesmere Island near the Beaver Pond site by WestStar Resources Inc., a mineral exploration company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Beaver Pond site is close to Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut. In the 1980s, reconnaissance exploration conducted by Petro-Canada and others described coal seams up to 12 meters (39 feet) thick close to the surface along the steep north shore of the fiord.

“Paleontological sites like the Beaver Pond site are unique and extremely valuable resources that are of international importance,” said Eberle. “Our concern is that coal mining activities could damage such sites and they will be lost forever.”

For this study, the team used three independent methods of measuring the Pliocene temperatures on Ellesmere Island.

They measured oxygen isotopes found in the cellulose of fossil trees and mosses that reveal temperatures and precipitation levels tied to ancient water.

They analyzed the distribution of lipids in soil bacteria which correlate with temperature.

And they inventoried ancient Pliocene plant groups that overlap in range with contemporary vegetation.

“The results of the three independent temperature proxies are remarkably consistent,” said Eberle. “We essentially were able to ‘read’ the vegetation in order to estimate air temperatures in the Pliocene.”

The scientists found that while the mean annual temperature on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) hotter than it is today, levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were only slightly higher than present.

Elevated Arctic temperatures during the Pliocene are thought to have been driven by the transfer of heat to the polar regions and perhaps by decreased reflectivity of sunlight hitting the Arctic due to a lack of ice, said Ballantyne. One big question is why the Arctic was so sensitive to warming during this period, he said.

Multiple feedback mechanisms have been proposed to explain the amplification of Arctic temperatures, including the reflectivity strength of the Sun on Arctic ice and changes in vegetation seasonal cloud cover, said Ballantyne. “I suspect that it is the interactions between these different feedback mechanisms that ultimately produce the warming temperatures in the Arctic.”

Presently, Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 11.2 percent per decade according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Some climate change experts are forecasting that the Arctic summers will become ice-free within a decade or two.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.

Original article here

Russia to abandon its Arctic drift stations

July 4, 2010
Russia  to abandon its Arctic drift stations  02.07.2010
Russia may abandon its polar drifting scientific stations in the Arctic region within five years and build a special permanent platform for replacement, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

The final decision on the replacement has not been made yet, but the idea “is being discussed actively,” head of high-latitude expedition of the Arctic and Antarctic Institute, Vladimir Sokolov, said, Xinhua reported.

The institute had spent all the money allocated for 2010 for the emergency evacuation of the SP-37 drift station after the ice floe it stands on had been broken, he said.

“So this year the next station, SP-38, will not likely be planted, we are just short of funds for that,” Sokolov added.

According to the scientist, service fees for the nuclear ice-breakers rose 10-fold during the last six years and the next polar station could be launched only if the extra state funds would be allocated.

Russia set up annual polar expedition before World War II and kept them going even during the Great Patriotic War.

The polar drift stations’ crews consist of meteorologists, oceanographists and other scientists.

Original article here

Abandoned stations in Antarctica

July 3, 2010


This
weblog has some nice pictures of abandoned stations in Antarctica, including exterior and interior shots of Scotts cabin as it still stands today.