On October 1 - 4, more than 90 representatives from the Arctic and Antarctic expedition cruise industry will gather in Iceland for the second AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference. The topic of the conference is evolution and new challenges in the polar tourism industry.
Since 2004, tsunamis have received a much bigger attention after several of these big waves had hit coastal areas in Asia killing more than 200‘000 people. However, these waves are not bound to the tropical or subtropical areas. On Saturday, June 17th, waves had struck the western coast of Greenland, causing havoc and destruction and presumably leaving four people dead.
Five Arctic tourism organizations have joined forces to develop guidelines for tourists visiting Arctic communities. In addition to general advice on how to behave, the organizations presented a tool that allows communities create their own tailored guidelines.
The Franz-Josef-Land archipelago is the northernmost landmass and is part of Motherland Russia. Considered as the western gateway into the Northeast Passage as well as to the North Pole, it is strategically important to the government in Moscow. With the renewed interest in the Arctic and its resources by Russia, authorities had made the establishment of a military base on one of the archipelago’s islands the highest priority. Now, after 3 years of construction, the complex at Nagurskoye Base on Aleksandra Island has opened its doors and was visited by president Putin and a high profile delegation.
The Arctic is a relentless and harsh wilderness and travelling in this region requires a lot of skill, equipment and knowledge. But even the most skillful hunters and Arctic residents might come into a situation, in which the difference between life and death depends on sheer luck. Three hunters from Hall Beach, Nunavut, just experienced such a situation and were rescued only by chance by Canadian military forces.
Unless the world stops burning fossil fuels that are fuelling global warming, irreversible changes in the Arctic could have disastrous effects for the people that live there and for the rest of the planet, researchers warned in a five-year study. The Arctic's ecosystems are fundamentally threatened by climate change and other human activities, such as oil and gas extraction, they said in a report for the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum working to protect the region's environment.
A French North Pole expedition was terminated prematurely by the Governor of Spitzbergen in Duvefjord near Nordaustland. The adventurers Gilles and Alexia Elkaim had planned to freeze their yacht Arktika into the ice and drift to the North Pole following in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen.
Energy for communities in the Canadian High Arctic always is relying on external supplies mostly by ship. Despite less ice along the eastern coast and the early opening of the Northwest Passage which makes it easier for supply ships to reach the remote communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, it still is a difficult and especially costly affair. Ironically, as the communities will receive oil and diesel for energy production, they add to the climate change by burning fossil fuels. Clyde River will now go a different way.
Like a ship moving through pack ice at the top of the world, the task of securing funding for a new U.S. icebreaker has been arduous, lonely and at times maddeningly slow. Sometimes, it’s only by looking backward that progress can be measured, by seeing the obstacles that came before in a trail behind you. This week, Alaska’s congressional delegation got to see a big piece of ice crack and move aside, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski secured an amendment to a Homeland Security and defense spending bill that would direct $1 billion for the construction of a heavy icebreaker to augment America’s meager fleet of polar ships.
The number of cruise ships visiting the Arctic has seen a sharp increase over the last few years. More and more vessels make their way into the Arctic to experience the magic of the North. This, however, also increases the possibilities of accidents as not all vessels are suitable to navigate the Arctic Ocean. Thus, the AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) organized a meeting with Search & Rescue Service providers in Reykjavik in April to discuss possible solutions.