(Yereth Rosen/Alaska Dispatch, 8 November 2011) -- When paleontologist Tony Fiorillo made one of the most stunning dinosaur discoveries in Alaska, a NOVA television crew was there to capture the moment. But it now turns out that the skull he unearthed in front of the cameras in 2006, a highlight of the 2008 NOVA documentary “Arctic Dinosaurs,” was more significant than previously thought. The skull and associated bones from a steep bank of the Colville River in Alaska's Arctic are from a species of horned dinosaur that has not been documented anywhere else. Years of research by Fiorillo, curator of the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, and painstaking reconstruction by Ronald Tykoski, the museum’s chief fossil preparator, confirmed that this was a type of pachyrhinosaurus -- a relative of triceratops -- that had not been found anywhere else. “Obviously, it’s a tremendous thrill to have that level of photo-documentation at the moment of discovery. And this enhances it. This is the wildest dream possible,” he said. They have named the dinosaur species Pachyrhinosaurs perotorum, in honor of former presidential candidate Ross Perot and his family, major benefactors of the Dallas museum. Fiorillo and Tykoski detailed their findings in a scientific journal, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, and over the weekend in Las Vegas at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting.
Posted 11 November 2011; 11:29:09 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 4 November 2011) -- The world's northernmost railway line will be taken further. The line, which was built by Gazprom as supply line to the huge Bovanenkovo gas field, will be taken further north to Kharasevey, regional Governor Dmitry Kobylkin confirms to journalists. Regional authorities and Gazprom have already agreed about formalities with the project, Oilru.com reports. As previously reported, the Bovanenkovo railway was officially opened early 2011. The 572-km-long connection ends up in the station of Obskaya, where it joins ends with the national Russian railway grid. The gas-rich Yamal Peninsula is top priority for Gazprom, which is now investing big sums in regional field development. The 4.9 trillion cubic meter Bovanenkovo field is due to come into production in 2012, after which several more regional fields are in line. Among them is the Kharasaveyskoye, another huge field, located not far north of the Bovanenkovo. Unlike other Russian railway lines, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line is owned by Gazprom. As previously reported, the Russian Railways have been invited to take over the line, but has shown little interest. In addition to railway and field development in Yamal, Gazprom is also investing in the laying of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline.
Posted 11 November 2011; 11:20:53 PM. Permalink
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch, 4 November 2011) -- As winter begins to settle in, a few villages in Alaska remain without the fuel they will need to heat and power homes and businesses during the state’s harsh months ahead. Many of the state's remote communities are accessible only by boat or plane. Once bays and coastlines freeze up, or rivers become too low, boats and barges are no longer available as transport options, forcing often cash-strapped communities to pay an even higher price per gallon to have their fuel supplies flown in. Edna Bay, a small, isolated island village in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest is one of three communities that, as of Nov. 4, doesn't have the reserves it needs to get through an entire winter, according to Alaska's Division of Community and Regional Affairs, which in July began monitoring community fuel preparedness statewide in advance of the 2011-2012 winter season. The status of five other villages -- Nunam Iqua, Red Devil, Port Alexander, Karluk and Kasigluk -- remains unknown, despite efforts by the division's Fuel Watch program to get in touch with people in those communities to find out whether they are stocked up or need assistance.
Posted 11 November 2011; 10:33:41 PM. Permalink
(Eye on the Arctic, 10 November 2011) -- Community mayors in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, previously opposed to a planned port at Steensby Inlet for the Mary River Iron Ore project, now say they would not object to it if the communities were compensated. "I'll want to work with them directly to ensure people of Hall Beach benefit directly with Baffinland, not through QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association)," said Hall Beach Mayor Ammie Kipsigak, speaking in Inuktitut. "QIA and NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) will be giving a bit of royalty money to our community, but we will want direct benefits. For example, a meat processing plant or a fish plant and they would pay." Paul Quassa, acting mayor of Igloolik, said his community is asking Baffinland for new houses and paved roads, as well as a fish plant. "They should give us a fish plant so that we can utilize the hundred thousand pounds of commercial fishery that is available in Steensby." “QIA and NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) will be giving a bit of royalty money to our community, but we will want direct benefits. For example, a meat processing plant or a fish plant and they would pay.” Paul Quassa, acting mayor of Igloolik, said his community is asking Baffinland for new houses and paved roads, as well as a fish plant. "They should give us a fish plant so that we can utilize the hundred thousand pounds of commercial fishery that is available in Steensby." In a letter sent Oct. 4 to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Quassa wrote that people in Igloolik "continue to express grave reservations over the Steensby site [but] many are at least willing to consider what benefits might accrue directly to our community if it becomes clear the proposed port site cannot be avoided."
Posted 11 November 2011; 4:02:05 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 November 2011) -- Ptarmigan populations could be in trouble in Yukon. The population cycle of the birds in the territory has so far been predictable, but Yukon biologist Dave Mossop says it looks like the last cycle didn't happen. "The 10-year cycle that's followed by all of the grouse, including ptarmigan, as well as hares and some others, their predators, has been tracked for well over 100 years in North America and it looks like this last cycle basically didn't happen,” said Mossop. “It doesn't look like things are going extinct. It's just that we lost that peak and it could be very troubling." Mossop says scientists don't know what's causing the change, but he says they're seeing it across a large area of the North.
Posted 11 November 2011; 3:21:57 PM. Permalink
(Rod Nickel/Reuters, 11 November 2011) -- Winnipeg, MB - Every summer for three months, the Hudson Bay ice breaks up and ships load Canadian Prairie grain for export, putting more than 100 people to work in the tiny northern Manitoba town of Churchill. The town of just 900 - well known for the polar bears that often wander through its streets - is Canada's only Arctic port. But that key driver of the local economy could become as endangered as the polar bear next year when the Canadian Wheat Board, the port's biggest shipper, loses its monopoly on marketing Western Canadian wheat and barley. The Wheat Board will become a smaller grain-pooling option for farmers starting next August, according to legislation being put through Parliament by the Conservative government, and that could threaten Churchill's long-standing share of grain shipments. The CWB has previously favored the northern port for its cost savings, thanks to its proximity to Prairie farmers and access to some European markets. But big grain handlers like Viterra, Richardson International Ltd and Cargill may be more likely to use port terminals they own on the Great Lakes and or on the West Coast to ship grain overseas. "[The port] brings a lot of out-of-towners here and local businesses get a boost off of it," said Michlynn Gulick, a local manager for trucking firm Gardewine North, adding she's optimistic the port will remain busy. "It's been here forever."
Posted 11 November 2011; 2:26:45 PM. Permalink
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters via Chicago Tribune, 11 November 2011) -- Anchorage, AK - The worst was over on Thursday for an "epic" winter storm that pounded Alaska's west coast with wind and snow and left one man missing after a 10-foot surge of seawater into Nome, officials said. The storm, considered the strongest to hit western Alaska in several decades, has largely moved northwest toward the Russian Arctic, said Don Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist. A second, smaller Bering Sea storm is now brewing, and will send additional surges into the coastal towns and villages during high tide later in the day, said Moore, who has been working at the state's emergency operations center. The surges will not be as dramatic as those from the first storm but could cause more flooding, he said. "If the water levels were not elevated from the storm that had just passed, this other storm would not be a major issue," he said. "Once this passes off, this is when we'll see conditions start returning to normal." One person was missing in the storm. Authorities in Teller, a small community north of Nome, were searching Thursday for 26-year-old Kyle Komok, said the Alaska State Troopers. Komok was last seen Wednesday evening driving a four-wheel vehicle toward a small local jetty, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said. At the time, waves eight to 10 feet high were hitting the local seawall, Peters said.
Posted 11 November 2011; 2:24:00 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 8 November 2011) -- For centuries, Sedna has been a figure in Inuit mythology as the goddess of the sea and marine animals. And apparently, she is now the goddess of vodka, too. A Newfoundland vodka, called Sedna, has taken the Inuit goddess as its muse. “A gift from the Goddess ... a legend takes flight,” is its motto for the vodka, launched in 2009. ... For centuries, Sedna has been a figure in Inuit mythology as the goddess of the sea and marine animals. And apparently, she is now the goddess of vodka, too. A Newfoundland vodka, called Sedna, has taken the Inuit goddess as its muse. “A gift from the Goddess… a legend takes flight,” is its motto for the vodka, launched in 2009.
Posted 11 November 2011; 12:56:51 PM. Permalink