Belugas change feeding behavior in a changing Arctic

Beluga whales spend their foraging times along the sea ice edge or in fjords near glaciers to find fish, crustaceans, and other marine organisms. Credit: Michael Wenger

The changes faced by Arctic animals due to the global warming are huge. Loss of sea ice, increasing temperatures, invading species, and dietary changes pose a considerable threat to the iconic polar bear and other marine mammals like beluga whales. This high Arctic whale species spends its summers foraging the Arctic Ocean. Now they have to dive deeper and longer to find food compared to earlier years according to a new study by scientists from the University of Washington.

Read more ...

Weather anomalies help to melt Arctic sea ice

Large parts of the Arctic Ocean are covered with sea ice every year. While in former days, the ice stayed all year round, it nowadays disappears in many areas in summer and reforms in winter. Credit: Michael Wenger

The melting of Arctic sea ice during the winter of 2015/16 had received immense media attention. Several causes had been debated and many saw global climate change as the main culprit. But now, researchers at the ETH Zurich found unique weather anomalies to be the main causing factor. Yet, the researchers have not given an all-clear-signal.

Read more ...

AECO represents cruise industry in Arctic rescue network

The AECO is an association formed by many Arctic cruise industry stakeholders. The goals are to promote a safe and environmental friendly tourism in the Arctic Polar Region. AECO ships are well-equipped and able to assist search and rescue operations in many ways. Credit: Michael Wenger

Tourism in the Arctic is a fast-growing branch within the cruise industry. However, this also increases the potential risk of accidents and incidents as not all ships are equally suited for visits to the Arctic. Now, Cruise industry, authorities and researchers will join forces to enhance Arctic SAR through the new ARCSAR network. Having secured €3.5 million in EU funding, the ARCSAR project will run for five years and include a live exercise on a cruise vessel.

Read more ...

Greenland and Denmark agree to clean US military waste

Despite abandoning most of their bases, US military forces still have a foothold on Greenland. Thule Air Base situated in the northwest corner of Greenland is still in use. Credit: TSGT Lee E. Schading / US Air Force

During WWII and the Cold War era, Greenland was in the focus of western military strategists due to its proximity to Russia. Agreements between Denmark and the USA allowed the establishment of US military bases on the world’s largest island, even under the icecap. At the end of the conflicts, most of the base were abandoned but not cleaned up which led to a debate between the Danish and the Greenlandic governments. Now, the two parties signed an agreement to finally conclude the quarrel.

Read more ...

New Marine Refuges in the Canadian High Arctic

The Canadian Arctic coastline is the longest overall in the High Arctic. From the high north to the eastern side down to Newfoundland, it covers almost 190’000 km. Countless animals find shelter and food along this coastline. Now, seven new areas along this line are Marine Refuges. Credit: Michael Wenger

While the Trump administration is currently trying very hard to undo the protection measurements in its Arctic areas, Canada goes the other way. Last year, on December 21, the Federal government announced the establishment of seven new marine refuges along the coast of Nunavut and Newfoundland. Altogether, the marine refuges will be more than 145’000 km2 of ocean and will increase add another 2.53 percent to the Canadian protected areas.

Read more ...

Ancestral bear discovered in Canadian High Arctic

Researchers from the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have identified remains of a 3.5-million-year-old bear from a fossil-rich site in Canada's High Arctic. Their study shows not only that the animal is a close relative of the ancestor of modern bears -- tracing its ancestry to extinct bears of similar age from East Asia -- but that it also had a sweet tooth, as determined by cavities in the teeth.

Read more ...



Read more ...

Narwhals both freeze and flee while escaping

Narwhals are very elusive and mysterious marine mammals. Scientists only know little about their lifestyles and behaviors due to their geographical range. As true ice loving mammals, narwhals spend most of their time around the edge of the Arctic pack ice. Only in certain times, they swim along shorelines. Now, a team of researchers has found an astonishing and seemingly contradictive behavior. When escaping from humans, narwhals don’t just freeze or flee. They do both.

Read more ...

Microbial globetrotters live in the Arctic and Antarctic

Microbes, second round: Although the Arctic and Antarctic regions are at opposite ends of Earth, they have a similar diversity of bacteria and other microscopic life. These are the findings of an international team of researchers headed by the University of Tübingen, the EMBL Heidelberg and the University of Konstanz. In their study, the team collated data from numerous studies and locations in order to make a direct comparison of the microbial diversity in these two distant regions for the first time.

Read more ...

Moulting bowhead whales in Nunavut

Bowhead whales are one of the most elusive and mysterious whale species in the Arctic, despite its size. Hunted almost to extinction, these huge baleen whales have made a tremendous comeback and are found now in many Arctic areas close to the ice edge. Now, researcher from the University of British Columbia have found a new and surprising behavior of bowheads in Nunavut, Canada.

Read more ...