On Far-Flung Wrangel Island,A Scientist Sizes up Muskoxen
by Joel Berger, Wildlife Conservation Soc.
My mission is to train my Russian colleagues in the use of photo-grammetry, a technique that, in this instance, will use photoimaging to understand the precise body-size proportions of muskoxen and their calves.
That information will help us determine how the Wrangel Island population is faring in comparison with the populations I have studied in Arctic Alaska, a region warming faster than northeastern Siberia. I will provide my Russian colleagues with some basic photogrammetry equipment — a camera, computer, laser rangefinder, and lenses — enabling them to establish baseline physiological data for muskoxen and some other Arctic mammals.
My goal is to understand how different factors affect growth in individual muskoxen. To get sufficiently accurate measurements of the heads and profiles of muskoxen from photographs, we need to get within 50 m of our Wrangel subjects — any closer might provoke a stampede…
(read more: Environment360 - Yale Univ.)
photo by Joel Berger

On Far-Flung Wrangel Island,A Scientist Sizes up Muskoxen

by Joel Berger, Wildlife Conservation Soc.

My mission is to train my Russian colleagues in the use of photo-grammetry, a technique that, in this instance, will use photoimaging to understand the precise body-size proportions of muskoxen and their calves.

That information will help us determine how the Wrangel Island population is faring in comparison with the populations I have studied in Arctic Alaska, a region warming faster than northeastern Siberia. I will provide my Russian colleagues with some basic photogrammetry equipment — a camera, computer, laser rangefinder, and lenses — enabling them to establish baseline physiological data for muskoxen and some other Arctic mammals.

My goal is to understand how different factors affect growth in individual muskoxen. To get sufficiently accurate measurements of the heads and profiles of muskoxen from photographs, we need to get within 50 m of our Wrangel subjects — any closer might provoke a stampede…

(read more: Environment360 - Yale Univ.)

photo by Joel Berger

World’s Longest Migration Found to be Twice as Long as Originally Thought

by Mason Inman

The tiny arctic tern makes the longest migration of any animal in the world, flying about two times farther than previously thought, a new study says.

New miniature transmitters recently revealed that the 4-oz (113-g) bird follows zigzagging routes between Greenland and Antarctica each year. In the process, the arctic tern racks up about 44,000 frequent flier miles (71,000 km)—edging out its archrival, the sooty shearwater, by roughly 4,000 mi (6,440 km).

"There have been all kinds of theories, but now, for the first time, we’ve been able to show what the birds are doing out there," said the lead author of the study, Carsten Egevang of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Since the birds often live 30 years or more, the researchers estimate that, over its lifetime, an arctic tern migrates about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km)—equal to three trips to the moon and back…

(read more: National Geographic)

photograph and maps by Carsten Egevang

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
Today we bring you a finned octopus, Cirroteuthis muelleri, seen in the Arctic in 2005. These octopods are technically known as cirrates, but they are sometimes called “dumbos” because their large fins make them look like flying cartoon elephants flapping their ears. They are among the largest organisms of the deep sea, with species seen in the Canada Basin can grow to 1.5 meters in length. Learn more about these critters: Ocean Explorer - Arctic - 2005 Or check out more octopus pics: OE Octopus Pics

Today we bring you a finned octopus, Cirroteuthis muelleri, seen in the Arctic in 2005. These octopods are technically known as cirrates, but they are sometimes called “dumbos” because their large fins make them look like flying cartoon elephants flapping their ears. They are among the largest organisms of the deep sea, with species seen in the Canada Basin can grow to 1.5 meters in length.

Learn more about these critters: Ocean Explorer - Arctic - 2005

Or check out more octopus pics: OE Octopus Pics

They look whale-fed: Hundreds of belugas gather off the coast of Canada to dine on cod and squid

by Nick Enoch

These playful belugas are having a whale of a time as hundreds jump in and out of the water together. The vast group of white whales swam and played as they took over the water near Somerset Island, Canada.

Hundreds of the creatures, which can grow up to 18ft long, were spotted travelling north after the ice began to melt, feeding on cod, squid, herring and halibut along the way. During the winter months, the ocean surface freezes and most of the northern belugas move south, keeping ahead of the ice cap. They then return.

Photographer Flip Nicklin, from Hawaii, travelled to the island to witness the annual migration of belugas…

(read more: Daily Mail UK)

photos: Flip Nicklen

libutron
libutron:

Little Auk | ©Leo Roos   (Svalbard)
The Little auk, also known as the Dovekie, Alle alle (Charadriiformes - Alcidae) is the smallest of all auks. It is a tiny seabird (19 to 23 cm in length), with distinctive bold black and white plumage.
Instantly recognizable, during the breeding season the little auk is almost entirely glossy black except for white underparts stretching from the belly to under the tail, a small white arc around the eyes, and white streaks on the wings.
During the summer the little auk breeds on islands around the Arctic, being found on islands in the Bering Sea across to northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, and northern Russia. A migratory species, before the onset of winter the little auk travels southwards, when it largely resides in low Arctic waters but may be found as far south as the United Kingdom and northeast US. The majority of the little auk’s population occurs in north-western Greenland, where as many as 14 million birds may be found during the summer, before wintering off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
[Source]

libutron:

Little Auk | ©Leo Roos   (Svalbard)

The Little aukalso known as the DovekieAlle alle (Charadriiformes - Alcidae) is the smallest of all auks. It is a tiny seabird (19 to 23 cm in length), with distinctive bold black and white plumage.

Instantly recognizable, during the breeding season the little auk is almost entirely glossy black except for white underparts stretching from the belly to under the tail, a small white arc around the eyes, and white streaks on the wings.

During the summer the little auk breeds on islands around the Arctic, being found on islands in the Bering Sea across to northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, and northern Russia. A migratory species, before the onset of winter the little auk travels southwards, when it largely resides in low Arctic waters but may be found as far south as the United Kingdom and northeast US. The majority of the little auk’s population occurs in north-western Greenland, where as many as 14 million birds may be found during the summer, before wintering off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

[Source]

Lemming Suicide Is a Myth That Was Perpetuated by Disney

by Annalee Newitz

We’ve all heard that lemmings jump into the sea every year, drowning themselves because they are just following the herd. Except they don’t. That’s actually a myth invented for a Disney wildlife documentary, and it has blinded us to the truth about the weird lives of lemmings for decades.

Lemmings are small, fluffy rodents that live mostly in the Arctic, thriving on the snowy tundra in places like Norway, northern Alaska, and Siberia. One of the great mysteries of lemmings is their odd population cycle. Like many rodents, their population expands every few years. But among lemmings, this explosion is dramatic — every few years, their population grows 100 to 1000 times larger in just one winter season.

These events are often called lemming outbreaks because the rodents will migrate all over the place looking for food, even swimming across rivers and lakes to find plants and mosses to eat. Occasionally, they fall off rocks or cliffs as they scramble to find sustenance. Then, just as abruptly, their population crashes into near-extinction…

(read more at io9)

photographs by kgleditsch

March 12th, the European Parliament passed a resolution supporting the creation of an Arctic Sanctuary covering the vast high Arctic around the North Pole, giving official status to an idea that has been pushed by activists for years. Still, the sanctuary has a long road to go before becoming a reality: as Arctic sea ice rapidly declines due to climate change, there has been rising interest from governments and industries to exploit the once inaccessible wilderness for fish and fossil fuels…

Bird Note:  The Bar-tailed Godwit - An Epic Journey!
During fall migration, this Bar-tailed Godwit will fly over the Pacific Ocean, making a non-stop flight of 7,000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand. These amazing birds can achieve their epic journeys only after fattening up – along the coast of Alaska in fall, or along the Yellow Sea during spring. However, the food-rich tidal mudflats of the Yellow Sea are disappearing rapidly. Using satellite tags, Nils Warnock of Audubon Alaska studies the godwits’ migration routes – and notes the critical importance of the Yellow Sea.
(listen to the podcast)
photo: Leo Berzins

Bird Note:  The Bar-tailed Godwit - An Epic Journey!

During fall migration, this Bar-tailed Godwit will fly over the Pacific Ocean, making a non-stop flight of 7,000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand. These amazing birds can achieve their epic journeys only after fattening up – along the coast of Alaska in fall, or along the Yellow Sea during spring. However, the food-rich tidal mudflats of the Yellow Sea are disappearing rapidly. Using satellite tags, Nils Warnock of Audubon Alaska studies the godwits’ migration routes – and notes the critical importance of the Yellow Sea.

(listen to the podcast)

photo: Leo Berzins

Arctic Audubon is offering grants of up to $2000 for projects that help protect Alaska’s ecosystems. 
They’re especially looking for projects that increase public awareness of conservation issues or projects that develop educational tools. Application deadline is March 15th 2014. 
Full info at http://www.arcticaudubon.org/grants.html. 
(photo: Smith’s Longspur in Arctic Refuge – USFWS)

Arctic Audubon is offering grants of up to $2000 for projects that help protect Alaska’s ecosystems.

They’re especially looking for projects that increase public awareness of conservation issues or projects that develop educational tools. Application deadline is March 15th 2014.

Full info at http://www.arcticaudubon.org/grants.html.

(photo: Smith’s Longspur in Arctic Refuge – USFWS)

Why We Can Blame A Warm Arctic For This Winter’s Icy Chill
Arctic amplification is affecting the jet stream and letting weather systems persist longer, atmospheric scientist says
by Sarah Zielinski
Warm weather thousands of miles away would seem an unlikely cause of the United Kingdom’s freakishly wet winter or the bone-deep chill experienced this year by the eastern United States. But a warming Arctic can be blamed for both, said Rutgers University atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis at the recent AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
“It’s because the pattern this winter has been basically stuck in once place ever since early December,” Francis said. And the pattern—which has included cold, cold temperatures in the eastern United States, for instance—has been stuck because of the Arctic.

Back in 1896, the Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius first calculated [pdf] how pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would warm the planet through the greenhouse effect. That warming, he wrote, would be most pronounced in the Arctic regions, a phenomenon known as Arctic (or polar) amplification. And it is now able to be seen above the noise of the world’s weather—below is a NASA animation of temperature differences compared to averages, from 1950 through 2013…
(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)
image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Why We Can Blame A Warm Arctic For This Winter’s Icy Chill

Arctic amplification is affecting the jet stream and letting weather systems persist longer, atmospheric scientist says

by Sarah Zielinski

Warm weather thousands of miles away would seem an unlikely cause of the United Kingdom’s freakishly wet winter or the bone-deep chill experienced this year by the eastern United States. But a warming Arctic can be blamed for both, said Rutgers University atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis at the recent AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

“It’s because the pattern this winter has been basically stuck in once place ever since early December,” Francis said. And the pattern—which has included cold, cold temperatures in the eastern United States, for instance—has been stuck because of the Arctic.

Back in 1896, the Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius first calculated [pdf] how pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would warm the planet through the greenhouse effect. That warming, he wrote, would be most pronounced in the Arctic regions, a phenomenon known as Arctic (or polar) amplification. And it is now able to be seen above the noise of the world’s weather—below is a NASA animation of temperature differences compared to averages, from 1950 through 2013…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

SPECTACLED EIDER LOOKIN FOR LOVE…

Way out in the Bering Sea, the world’s Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) huddle together in the limited open water amongst sea ice for the winter… and search for the eider of their dreams. The birds pair up here before departing for nesting grounds in a few months. They only nest in the Arctic coast of Russia and Alaska and the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta in western Alaska. Hmm, is she giving him the eye?

females - brown/black, male - black/white/green

(via: Audubon Alaska)

photographs by Laura Whitehouse, USFWS