(Ayesha Rascoe/Reuters via Scientific American, 3 January 2013) -- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Opponents of Royal Dutch Shell's ambitious Arctic oil program have called on the Obama administration to put offshore drilling plans in the region on hold after one of the company's oil rigs broke away from tow boats in high seas and ran aground off Alaska. The Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society on Thursday said the accident involving Shell's Kulluk oil rig is new evidence that oil companies are not prepared to safely manage the extreme conditions of the Arctic. The 30-year-old Kulluk rig ran aground on New Year's Eve in what were described as "near hurricane" conditions while it was being towed south for the winter. "This string of mishaps by Shell makes it crystal clear that we are not ready to drill in the Arctic," Chuck Clusen, NRDC's director of Alaska projects, told reporters in a teleconference. The green groups said they plan to send a letter to the Department of the Interior demanding that it stop issuing permits in the Arctic and that it prevent drilling in the sensitive area until it is determined that the environment can be fully protected. Ocean conservation group Oceana also called on the department to stop oil drilling activities in the Arctic after the Kulluk's grounding. Shell has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 to develop the Arctic's vast oil reserves, but the company has faced intense opposition from environmentalists and native groups as well as regulatory and technical hurdles.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:07:41 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 11 October 2012) -- The wreck of the Soviet cruiser Murmansk will be completely gone by November. 14,000 tons of scrap metal have been removed in the unique operation on the coast of Finnmark. AF Decom, the company that won the NOK 328 million (€44.5 million) tender to remove the wreck, reports that the removal is going very smoothly after managing to resolve earlier problems with leakages in the jetties that have been built around the wreck. “There are still some parts left in the ground, but everything will be removed by the middle of November, before the winter storms set in,” AF Decom Director Eirik Wraal says to NRK. The sea bottom around the wreck has been drained using jetties and the vessel has been cut into pieces and removed. The whole operation is being filmed for a future documentary and you can watch the removal operation on-line here. The 211-meters-long cruiser ended its days in Sørøya in the rocks outside Sørvær on the coast of Finnmark in December 1994. The cruiser was being tugged southwards for scrapping when it tore away during a storm and has since been to a lot of nuisance to the local population. A decision to remove the wreck was made in August 2008, after debris from the cruiser delivered for recycling revealed that there were traces of a radioactive source, PCB and brominated flame retardants in the vessel.
Posted 14 October 2012; 4:31:12 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 8 October 2012) -- Arctic Sweden's northernmost city is moving east. The mining that has been the lifeblood of Kiruna town for over a hundred years has also undermined its buildings some are already sinking into the ground. Architects, from Sweden and abroad, have been competing to be the ones to create New Kiruna. To get the latest on the plans we talked to Katerina Nilsson, secretary of the jury deciding which plan to go with. [radio]
Posted 14 October 2012; 3:55:11 PM. Permalink
(Laine Welch/Capital City Weekly, 9 May 2012) -- Soccer balls, motorcycles, reminders of the massive tsunami in Japan a year ago are now appearing along Alaska's coastlines. "It's safe to say that tsunami debris is here," said Merrick Burden, director of the Juneau-based Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation. Since January the MCA has been tracking where and what kinds of debris that is coming ashore, and whether it is radioactive (none so far), at Kodiak, Yakutat, Sitka and Craig where the wreckage was first likely to hit. "What we're finding are wind-driven objects like buoys, Styrofoam, and large containers, some of which contain materials that are potentially toxic," Burden said. "We're finding drums full of things that we don't know what they are yet. So we're looking at a potential large-scale environmental problem, and what we're dealing with now is just the start of it." Debris has been found in every area they've looked, Burden said, and mysterious sludge is washing up on some beaches, apparently from opened containers. Just days ago, an enormous amount of floating debris was spotted off the southern reaches of Prince William Sound, making national headlines. But the worst is yet to come. "Next year is when we expect the larger debris that is driven by currents rather than wind," he said. "That should be comprised of entirely different types of materials, and it might even follow a different trajectory through the water and end up in different locations. Part of the problem is that we don't know what we're dealing with, and it looks bad. It's obviously tragic, and it looks like it's a pretty major environmental hazard as well."
Posted 9 May 2012; 11:28:47 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 April 2012) -- Three fuel trucks broke through the ice on the Tuktoyaktuk–Aklavik ice road in the Northwest Territories Monday night. No fuel leaked from the trucks, which were full, and no one was hurt. The incident backed up traffic for hours, affecting dozens of people who were travelling from the Tuktoyaktuk Beluga Jamboree. Barbara Archie, an elder from Aklavik, was on the ice road behind the trucks. "The trucks fell through, so we all had to stay back and wait," she said. A secondary road had to be cleared to allow people to make it back to shore. Crews worked for most of the day Tuesday to remove the trucks, which were partially submerged in the Arctic waters. Officials with the Department of Transportation said it’s the first time in recent memory that this many trucks have gone through the ice at once. The department is now investigating.
Posted 17 April 2012; 11:59:32 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 27 March 2012) -- Two tonnes of debris from the crashed Norwegian Hercules plane has been transported from the Kebnekaise mountain range in Arctic Sweden, reports Swedish Radio. Human remains from the five crew members, all Norwegian, are being taken care of by the local police. The two black boxes have not yet been found, says investigation head Agne Widholm. The military transport plane weighs just shy of 40 tonnes. The crash earlier this month, which set of a massive search and rescue operation hoping to find survivors, spread debris across the glacier. The regional head of crisis services, Karin Börjesson, told local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten that there is risk that fuel from the wreckage seeps into streams in the area. She warned of potential environmental damage.
Posted 27 March 2012; 11:17:12 PM. Permalink
(Rheana Murray / New York Daily News, 11 January 2012) -- Dwindling Arctic Sea ice is cutting off polar bears’ food supply, forcing the starving animals to devour their own kind. While cannibalism among polar bears isn’t unheard of, experts say the behavior is becoming increasingly common. “There are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring,” photojournalist Jenny Ross told BBC News. “Particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.” Ross explained how the higher temperatures melt ice more quickly, leaving the bears less time to fuel up on ice-dependent seals, the animals’ main source of food. “Weights of adults are decreasing, litters are smaller, fewer young bears are surviving, and the overall population size is shrinking,” she said. Ross, whose research was published in the January 2012 edition of
Posted 12 January 2012; 10:17:24 AM. Permalink
(redOrbit, 18 December 2011) --More than a hundred Beluga whales are trapped in frigid water surrounded by ice floes in the Chukotka region of Russia’s Far East, and risk death unless they are rescued soon, local authorities said. The flock of gentle whales was trapped in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynnot, a statement from the Chukotka Autonomous Region said, with local governor Roman Kopin calling for the government to send an icebreaker to the region to try and free them from their soon-to-be icy graveyard. Local fishermen reported that the whales were concentrated in two relatively small ice holes, where they can at least breathe freely for the time being. But the odds of them being able to swim back out to open water are slim due to the vast fields of ice over the strait. The statement said the whales risk becoming starved if they cannot be rescued soon. And with the advancement of the ice floes, the space where they are concentrated is growing smaller and smaller. “Given the lack of food and the speed at which the water is freezing, all the animals are threatened with exhaustion and death,” it added. A Russian icebreaker was just two days sail away from the area, the Chukotka government noted. It could easily make the trip in time to save the whales, it added. ... Besides having little or no food, and the rapid advancement of ice, the Belugas are at risk of attack from hungry polar bears or killer whales in the region as well. Trapped Belugas are a frequent problem in Arctic waters but are not often detected by people. The last relatively successful case of a Beluga rescue came in 1986, when an icebreaker was deployed to help free them.
Posted 19 December 2011; 11:55:42 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 19 December 2011) -- Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing of the oil jack-up rig ”Kolskaya” that overturned and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk yesterday. With the break of day, search for survivors and dead after the accident outside the island of Sakhalin continued. 14 dead have so far been found, the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport's web site reads. The rig sank in course of only 20 minutes, Murmansk Oblast Governor Dmitry Dmitriyenko told RIA Novosti. 32 of the 67 people aboard came from the Murmansk region. 14 persons were found alive after the accident and picked up by boats taking part in the rescue operation. All the 14 survivors were on duty on deck during the towing and were wearing survival suits and life-jackets. ... Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing, and why towing was conducted at all in such bad weather. A source in the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport says to Kommersant that half of the people onboard had nothing to do with the towing operation – they were drilling operators, crane operators and others. – The number of casualties did not have to be that high, the source says. According to Russian instructions for safety at sea, only a required minimum of personnel should be onboard a vessel that is being towed. The Russian Agency for Transport Supervision has started investigation of the accident. The weather in the area is bad, with wind of 10 m/s, waves of 2 meters and temperature of -2°C. The water temperature is 1°C.
Posted 19 December 2011; 10:36:35 AM. Permalink
(Jill Burke/Alaska Dispatch via Eye on the Arctic, 14 November 2011) -- The jet stream feeding the wintery sea-spun tempest that sideswiped Alaska's western coast wasn't the only worldwide conveyer belt in motion this week. As howling winds whipped up and crashing waves pounded beaches, the people who live in the remote, isolated villages along the storm's path stayed connected via a web of global radio frequencies. When other communications failed, ham radio operators came to the rescue. Throughout the storm, they were the eyes for scientists in Fairbanks and Anchorage who otherwise would have been blind to weather conditions they could predict but not see. "They were providing critical observations. We don't have a lot of meteorological observations in the west. We don't have the instruments out there," Carven Scott, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said Thursday as messages sent via the amateur radio network zapped into his inbox. The messages were deceptively simple: how fast the wind was blowing and from what direction; sea level; wave height; whether it was snowing or raining; and the temperature. These seemingly small details from various villages made a big difference for the weather service -- enough so, Scott said, that a lead forecaster told him, "Whatever you do, don't cut it off because this stuff is really helping us."
Posted 14 November 2011; 1:55:26 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 4 October 2011) -- Two people died when an Air Tindi passenger plane crashed east of Yellowknife Tuesday afternoon and two others survived, although their conditions have not yet been disclosed. A Twin Otter medevac flight carrying the two survivors arrived in Yellowknife at about 6:30 p.m. MT Tuesday, officials confirmed. Both people have since been transferred to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife. Yellowknife-based Air Tindi has not released any names, but did confirm there were four people on the Cessna 208B aircraft, including the pilot. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will send two investigators to the crash site from its Edmonton office on Wednesday.
Posted 4 October 2011; 11:45:33 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 August 2011) -- A 737 passenger jet crashed Saturday near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, in Canada's High Arctic, killing 12 people and injuring three others on board, CBC News has confirmed. Nunavut RCMP said First Air charter flight 6560 was travelling from Yellowknife to Resolute Bay with 15 people on board, including four crew members, the CBC's Patricia Bell reported from Iqaluit. The RCMP said in a release it "was made aware of the possibility of some survivors." A flight list was not immediately available. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in CFB Trenton said helicopters and medical personnel are now at the site.
Posted 20 August 2011; 1:22:12 PM. Permalink
(Fox News, 5 August 2011) -- VON POSTBREEN, Norway - A polar bear attacked a group of British students camping on a remote Arctic glacier as part of a high-end adventure holiday, killing a 17-year-old boy and injuring four other young people Friday before a trip member fatally shot the bear. Two were hospitalized with severe injuries, according to the British Schools Exploring Society, the organizer of the trip. The attack took place on the Svalbard archipelago, which is home to about 2,400 people and 3,000 polar bears and attracts well-off and hardy tourists with stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers. The British Schools Exploring Society is affiliated with Britain's Royal Geographic Society and has run expeditions for young people to remote and challenging corners of the globe for at least 75 years. Expedition members were spending three to five weeks in the Arctic, and had each paid 2,000 pounds (US$3,300) to 3,000 pounds (US$4,900) to join the trip, designed to mix science experiments with adventure. Participants were hunting for Arctic fossils and taking part in environmental experiments, including a project to install hydro and solar power systems. The group also was clearing beaches of tidal debris. On Friday morning, some of the youths were camping on Spitsbergen Island, the largest in the Svalbard archipelago, and a place where researchers say there is not much food available for polar bears during the summer. The bear attacked a group of 13 people in the early morning, leaving them with moderate to severe wounds that included head injuries, officials said. One of the campers shot the bear, said Liv Asta Oedegaard, a spokeswoman for the Svalbard governor's office. The injured were evacuated by helicopter to Tromsoe, the nearest city on the Norwegian mainland. "With great sadness the British Schools Exploring Society confirms the tragic death this morning of one of the members of its expedition in Svalbard," said Edward Watson, chairman of the British Schools Exploring Society. He named the teen as Horatio Chapple, who hoped to study medicine.
Posted 8 August 2011; 5:35:52 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 29 June 2011) -- Komi is the region in Northwest Russia with the biggest number of wildfires this year. So far, a total of 138 fires have put major areas ablaze, Komiinform.ru reports. The biggest fire, one in the Sosnogorsk area, is now covering a territory bigger than 1000 hectares. A state of emergency has been declared in the region, Rossiiskaya Gazeta informs. Firefighters had just got a 900 hectare fire in the Pechora municipality under control when the Sosnogorsk fire started spreading with alarming pace. A total of 18 fires are now reported to rage in the region, of which six have been localized by the authorities. Many Russians now fear another year with serious wildfires. Last summer, several huge fires left major parts of the country under a thick cover of smoke.
Posted 1 July 2011; 12:24:58 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 6 May 2011) -- UPDATED: Taimyr was Friday evening escorted by the the nuclear powered icebreaker "Rossia" into a bay on the Vaigach island. "Ongoing leakages of cooling water from the reactor can evolve into a serious accident with potential for radioactive leakages," says nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer in Bellona. The nuclear powered icebreaker was earlier this week escorting vessels on the Yenisei river north of the port-town of Dudinka when increased levels of radiation were detected in the air ventilation system of the reactor. The icebreaker aborted its mission and started Thursday to sail back towards the homeport in Murmansk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
Posted 7 May 2011; 1:49:26 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 March 2011) -- CIBC customers in Kuujjuaq, Que., are temporarily without local service, after their bank branch was destroyed by fire over the weekend. The branch building burned down on Sunday morning, but firefighters salvaged the ABM, bank vault and cashiers' boxes from the rubble. The machine, vault and boxes have been removed and are stored in a secure location, according to bank officials. A CIBC representative is travelling to the remote northern Quebec village on Monday to help the local branch manager prepare to restore service. The bank will also make information available for customers who have questions about their accounts, according to officials.
Posted 7 March 2011; 2:11:51 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 1 March 2011) -- A Greenlandic fisherman on a Greenlandic capelin vessel drowned after falling overboard in stormy weather off Malarrif on Snaefellsnes peninsula, west Iceland, on Sunday evening. The captain immediately requested assistance from the Icelandic Coast Guard. By coincidence, one of its helicopters was located in west Iceland for training purposes. The Coast Guard’s other helicopter was also sent to the scene from Reykjavík, visir.is reports. The crew of one of the helicopters managed to hoist the fisherman onboard in very difficult circumstances but it was too late; he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards The ship is manned by both Icelanders and Greenlanders. It arrived in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland last night and the Sudurnes police questioned the crew.
Posted 2 March 2011; 9:33:55 AM. Permalink
(SR, 16 February 2011) -- The Swedish mining firm LKAB is to pay for a new town hall and other municipal buildings for the town of Kiruna when the town's centre has to be moved due to subsidence caused by its huge iron ore mine. Much of the central parts of the town are being taken down and reconstructed further east. Local politicians and the mine have now come to an agreement, meaning the financing of the move will be paid for by the mining company. The new town hall will be ready for use by the end of 2016.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:45:14 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 2 January 2011) -- PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY - Thin layer of ash from the active Kizimen volcano has on Sunday covered the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky where 60 percent of the Kamchatka Peninsula residents live, a representative for the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. "A taint of grey ash typical of Kizimen can be seen on the snow, on the cars and on all of the surfaces in the city," the spokesman said. He said the layer is tiny, about 0.5 millimeters, and added that the current situation does not pose a threat to the health of the local residents. However, the ash could affect the operations of aircraft. The Kizimen volcano is located 265 kilometers away from Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky. Kizimen's last eruption occurred in the end of 1920-s, but it the volcano started to exhibit activity the last June and a new eruption began a month ago.
Posted 2 January 2011; 12:13:54 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 19 December 2010) -- A Mil Mi-8 helicopter crashed on the Russian Arctic island of Yamal on Sunday, killing the crew commander and injuring 15 passengers, a spokesman for Russian Aviation Committee (Rosaviatsia) said. There were 15 passengers and three crewmembers aboard the helicopter. "The passengers received injuries of various degree of gravity while the crew commander was killed," the spokesman said, adding that the fate of the other two crewmembers was unknown. The Mi-8 helicopter owned by Yamal Airline was delivering geologists from the town of Labytnanga to the Bovanenkovo hydrocarbon field, which Russian energy giant Gazprom is developing, the spokesman said. The helicopter was landing in the conditions of polar night and was destroyed after hitting the ground. Another helicopter of Yamal Airline has flown to the site of the incident to evacuate people injured in the crash, the spokesman said.
Posted 29 December 2010; 2:32:12 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 November 2010) -- A northern Canadian airline has lost three of its six planes in a major fire at its hangar in Inuvik, N.W.T. The blaze at the Aklak Air hangar at the Inuvik airport happened around 10:40 p.m. MT Thursday, according to Northwest Territories transportation officials. The fire wiped out half of Aklak Air's fleet, claiming a Beechcraft King Air 100, a Beechcraft Model 99 and a Twin Otter aircraft. Firefighters said their lone tanker truck did not have enough water to extinguish the blaze, so crews focused on protecting nearby buildings, including Aklak Air's office. "We tried to pull the doors off so we could get the planes out, but the doors opened up and it was very difficult, so we weren't able to do that," firefighter and longtime Inuvik resident Vince Sharpe told CBC News on Friday. "By the time we got around to getting the doors off, the inside was pretty much fully involved. With the planes full of fuel inside [we] were expecting an explosion, so we pretty much pulled back and just tried to protect adjoining structures." No one was injured in the fire, Sharpe said.
Posted 5 November 2010; 1:04:19 PM. Permalink
(Globe and Mail, 30 August 2010) -- The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen have rescued the passengers of a cruise ship that ran aground on an uncharted rock in Nunavut's Coronation Gulf. The MV Clipper Adventurer became stranded around 7 p.m. MT Friday while making its way from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk. Efforts by the crew to dislodge the vessel during high tide on Saturday were unsuccessful. All 118 passengers, as well as the crew, are safe and unharmed, cruise operator Adventure Canada said. Company CEO Matthew Swan described the ship as "completely stable." "There is a list of about 4.5 degrees to the port side, but there doesn't seem to be any damage that we can detect." He said skies were sunny and waters calm for the last two days, so a lot of people just relaxed on deck. The Amundsen was dispatched to the scene from the Beaufort Sea. Coast Guard spokeswoman Theresa Nichols said the passengers were transferred to the icebreaker beginning Sunday around 4 p.m. ET and that it was completed in later in the evening. "All of the passengers were transferred to the Amundsen," she said. "They're all in good health." The Clipper's crew is expected to remain on the idled ship for now, she said, adding that there has been no pollution, such as oil, spilled in the water because of the incident. Swan said he didn't know what might be done to free the ship. Nichols said any decisions on assistance for the vessel will be made by Transport Canada. The icebreaker was taking the tourists to Kugluktuk and they will be flown to Edmonton.
Posted 29 August 2010; 10:44:01 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 1 August 2010) -- Khabarovsk - Seven people were killed and another eight injured after two minivans collided on a highway in the Magadan Region in the Russian Far East, the regional emergencies center said on Sunday. The road accident occurred on the 297th km (185th mile) of the Kolyma highway on Sunday afternoon. The persons injured in the accident have been hospitalized, the emergencies center said. Police are investigating the causes of the accident, the emergencies center said. According to statistics, 30,000 people lose their lives in traffic accidents every year in Russia due to the poor state of highway networks and reckless driving.
Posted 1 August 2010; 10:32:30 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 July 2010) -- One of the oldest buildings in Inuvik, N.W.T., has burned to the ground, as has the local recycling depot. The Wrangling River Supply furniture store and warehouse caught fire shortly after 1 a.m. MT Wednesday. No one was injured in the blaze, but losses are expected to be in the millions of dollars. Also destroyed in the fire was Inuvik's recycling depot. Tonnes of plastic bottles caught fire and started smoking and melting. Inuvik fire Chief Al German told CBC News that the operation was made more complicated by faulty cellphone service. A taxi driver who first saw the fire had to drive to find a landline and call the fire department. Weary firefighters continued to soak the wreckage on Wednesday afternoon. More than 12 hours after the fire started, flames were still coming from the wreckage, as a mechanical shovel moved debris into a pile to be soaked.
Posted 14 July 2010; 9:44:52 PM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 29 May 2010) -- As erosion creeps ever closer, residents of a tiny Southwest Alaska village continue their slow but steady work to relocate to higher ground. The Yup'ik Eskimo village of Newtok has completed construction of a landing barge, part of an ambitious multi-government endeavor driven by local leaders. The barge is a crucial piece of infrastructure for the new site nine miles from the flood-prone community of 350. A landing strip has not yet been built, but road construction is set to begin. The Marines and other military branches are providing personnel and heavy equipment to build a 3,800-foot road this summer between the site of a planned evacuation center and their base camp that they built last year near the barge landing. Stanley Tom, Newtok's tribal administrator, said locals also hope three new houses will be added to three homes already there. "We're making progress," he said. "We will gradually build houses." The evacuation center will serve as a bridge for residents and could later function as tribal offices or some kind of community center once the move is complete. Tom said the erosion that has fueled a sense of urgency among locals continues. Newtok has one of the shortest projected life spans among scores of Alaska native villages affected by erosion and flooding blamed in part to rising temperatures.
Posted 19 May 2010; 5:10:01 PM. Permalink
(RedOrbit, 21 April 2010) -- As airports across Europe reopened Tuesday and the long process of returning thousands of stranded passengers to their homes began, the ongoing fallout of recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland delayed the delivery of polio vaccine to Africa and caused concern that another, more dangerous eruption could soon occur at another nearby volcano. Last Wednesday, the volcano located beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier began erupting, spewing ash that covered local farmland, shot as high as 30,000 feet into the air, and spread across the UK and continental Europe. That cloud of ash forced airports in England, Ireland, France, Germany, and several other countries to close, stranding tens of thousands of travelers on the ground. However, according to an April 20 article by Carlo Piovano of the Associated Press (AP), "Scientists fear tremors at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano could trigger an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano — creating a worst-case scenario for the airline industry and travelers around the globe." "A Katla eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than its smaller neighbor," Piovano added. "The two volcanoes are side by side in southern Iceland, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) apart and thought to be connected by a network of magma channels… Katla, however, is buried under ice 550 yards (500 meters) thick," meaning that it would have to burn through twice as much ice as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. No seismic activity was detected at the location on Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Monday, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano began spewing less ash and began producing lava, and Bryndis Brandsdottir of the University of Iceland told the AFP the strength of the eruption had "diminished markedly" and that the ash column is less than half its original height. [See pictures here: Alan Taylor, "More
Posted 21 April 2010; 2:37:42 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 20 April 2010) -- The amount of ash falling around the South Iceland Eyjafjallajokull glacier has reduced according to meteorologists – but that does not mean the eruption is coming to an end. According to meteorologist Halldor Bjornsson, it is not possible to say the reduced ash fall means the eruption is winding down; but farmers are welcoming the development nevertheless. At its peak, 750 tonnes of ash were spewing out of the volcano every second. The eruption has been upgraded from small to medium in size. According to journalist aviator Omar Ragnarsson, who flew over the volcano this morning, the intensity of the eruption does seem to have reduced noticeably from yesterday. Ash is being thrown up to a height of 15 to 16,000 feet, which is much lower than previously. The Icelandic Meteorological Office is predicting ash fall to continue all around the edges of the glacier today. Southerly winds will bring rain later in the day and as it swings to the west, ash falls can be expected east of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. Tomorrow the northerly wind is expected to return, blowing ash to the south, RUV reports.
Posted 20 April 2010; 6:43:24 PM. Permalink
(BBC News, 19 April 2010) -- Farmers in southern Iceland have been racing to protect their animals from being poisoned by volcanic dust. The animals are at risk of fluoride poisoning if they inhale or ingest the ash, leading to internal bleeding, long-term bone damage and teeth loss. Sheep, cattle and horses were rushed to shelter after they got lost in a fog of ash in areas near an erupting volcano. Areas south of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano have been caked in a layer of grey ash some 10cm (four inches) thick. Ponds have turned into pools of cement-like mud and geese have had trouble flying because their wings are heavy with ash, media reports say. On Sunday, farmers banded together to drive around searching for hundreds of shaggy Icelandic horses, who panicked and got lost in a downpour of ash that turned day into night. "The risk is of fluoride poisoning if they breathe or eat too much," Berglind Hilmarsdottir, a dairy farmer from Nupur, told the AP news agency through a protective white dust mask. The fluoride in the ash creates acid in the animals' stomachs, corroding the intestines and causing haemorrhages. It also binds with calcium in the blood stream and after heavy exposure over a period of days makes bones frail, even causing teeth to crumble. "The best we can do is put them in the barn, block all the windows, and bring them clean food and water as long as the earth is contaminated," Ms Hilmarsdottir said. Sveinn Steinarsson, of Iceland's Horse Breeding Association, warned that Iceland's famously resilient ponies would be in danger if the ash contamination continued. "In areas where there's ash fall and horses are outside, the conditions are terrible," Mr Steinarsson told the French news agency, AFP.
Posted 19 April 2010; 9:47:09 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 18 April 2010) -- MOSCOW - Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has thrown out about 140 million cubic meters of ash over the past three days, Icelandic scientists said on Sunday. The Institute of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland estimated that about 100 million cubic meters of the ash rose into the air and was blown across northern Europe, canceling thousands of flights Aeroflot on Sunday canceled 42 Monday flights but there were signs of an easing of the disruption, as Spain reopened all affected airports and Germany began to allow flights to several destinations. Britain and Denmark, meanwhile, extended the ban through 06:00 GMT on Monday. The Icelandic volcanologists said most of the ejected material was fine-grained airborne tephra, but 30 million cubic meters of material was deposited around the volcano vent and another 10 million in the glacial lagoon of Gigjokulslon. They said the average magma discharge rate of 750 tons per second was 10-20 times greater than the average of the eruption in late March. The scientists warned that the eruption and melting the surrounding glaciers could threaten serious flooding south of Iceland.
Posted 19 April 2010; 1:33:05 AM. Permalink
(Nicola Clark and Liz Robbins/New York Times, 15 April 2010) -- PARIS - A dark and spectacular volcanic cloud shrouded much of northern Europe on Thursday, forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights as it drifted at high altitude south and east from an erupting volcano in Iceland. The shutdown of airspace was one of the most sweeping ever ordered in peacetime, amid fears that travel could continue to be delayed days after the cloud dissipates. The cloud, made up of minute particles of silicate that can severely damage jet engines, left airplanes stranded on the tarmac at some of the world’s busiest airports as it spread over Britain and toward continental Europe. The volcano erupted Wednesday for the second time in a month, forcing evacuations and causing flooding about 75 miles east of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. Matthew Watson, a specialist at Bristol University in England in the study of volcanic ash clouds, said the plume was “likely to end up over Belgium, Germany, the Lowlands — a good portion over Europe,” and was unlikely to dissipate for 24 hours or more. Even then, any resumption of flights would not be immediate, said John Lampl, a British Airways spokesman in New York. “For several days you’ll have crews and airplanes in the wrong places,” he said. “It will take a few days to sort it out.” ... The ash from the volcano, Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced EYE-a-fyat-la-jo-kutl), was reported to be drifting at 18,000 to 33,000 feet above the earth. At those altitudes, the cloud is directly in the way of commercial airliners but not an immediate health threat to people on the ground, the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, based in Britain, said on its Web site.
Posted 18 April 2010; 12:08:17 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 April 2010) -- A volcano under a glacier in Iceland erupted Wednesday, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes. Authorities moved 800 residents away from the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to three metres. Rognvaldur Olafsson, a chief inspector for the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency, said no lives or properties were in immediate danger. Emergency officials and scientists said the eruption under the ice cap was 10 to 20 times more powerful than an eruption that happened in the area late last month, and carried a much greater risk of widespread flooding. "This is a very much more violent eruption because it's interacting with ice and water," said Andy Russell, an expert in glacial flooding at the University of Newcastle in northern England. "It becomes much more explosive, instead of a nice lava flow oozing out of the ground." The volcano, about 120 kilometres east of Reykjavik, erupted March 20 after almost 200 years of silence. Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said magma was melting a hole in the thick ice covering the volcano's crater, sending water coursing down the glacier. Iceland's main coastal ring road was closed near the volcano, and workers smashed a hole in the highway in a bid to give the rushing water a clear route to the coast and prevent a major bridge from being swept away.
Posted 17 April 2010; 8:31:47 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 27 March 2010) -- “It is the smallest eruption that I have seen in my lifetime but also by far the coolest,” commented Benedikt Bragason at the tour operator Arcanum. He is offering ski-doo tours across Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the source of the eruption on Fimmvörduháls. “We travel to Fimmvörduháls three times a day,” Bragason told mbl.is. Between 20 and 40 people are on each tour. He explained that this is a new opportunity for tourism and still under development. Bragason traveled to Fimmvörduháls in clear weather on Wednesday to check out the circumstances, which proved good enough to launch the first tours on Thursday. “The interest is immense. My phone never stops ringing.” It takes about an hour to drive on ski-doos across the glacier to Fimmvörduháls. Tourists stop for an hour to observe the eruption and the unique lava fall. Then it takes an hour to drive back. The tour costs EUR 345 (USD 464) per person.
Posted 29 March 2010; 10:46:44 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 22 March 2010) -- An increase in activity at the Fimmvorduhals volcano this morning has led to the no-fly zone in southern Iceland being widened. Volcanic activity near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier increased significantly at around 07.00 this morning, with a series of explosions sending a gas and ash cloud 4km into the air. Domestic flights in Iceland are still operating, as are international flights from Iceland Express; a mechanics’ strike is delaying other international services. Hjordis Gudmundsdottir of the civil aviation authority told Visir.is that as soon as the explosions took place, meteorologists started working on new calculations for where the gas cloud will head, given wind direction and speed. She added that although the no-fly zone has been expanded, there is no need for further concern at the moment. It is not only commercial air passengers who have been affected by the volcano: over 200 American soldiers that were due to fly to Southeast Asia yesterday, and are part of the US forces in Iraq, were due to refuel in Iceland but instead spent the day stuck in New Jersey. It has not been confirmed whether they have now departed; but Icelandic airspace is now open again.
Posted 22 March 2010; 12:28:34 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 21 March 2010) -- After weeks of small earthquakes in the area, the Fimmvorduhals volcano near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier has finally erupted, causing disruption to flights and a spate of evacuations. The volcano is sending a plume of ash and smoke in a westerly and north westerly direction due to easterly winds. The amount of ash being generated appears to have peaked between 07.00 and 08.00 this morning, according to volcanologists. The molten lava has created a 500m-1km rift in the snow and the large majority of the lava flow is to the west with the rest flowing down the slope to the east. The lava flows are reported to be remarkably even and there are 12 of them at present. Over 600 people were forced to leave their homes in the area and many are now taking shelter in a school. It is already clear they will not be allowed to return home today or tonight; but as the greatest danger is the smoke and ash, their return will largely be decided by wind direction and the weather forecast. Red Cross workers at the school say everybody is calm and comfortable and that spirits are high. The beauty of the eruption is almost as high in people’s minds as the danger. This was not true for two scientists who had permission to drive to Fimmvorduhals yesterday and were rescued from their broken down car shortly before the mountain ‘blew its top’. Those expecting to travel today are also badly affected, with Icelandair flights stranded in the USA and international passengers stranded in Iceland. While domestic flights are suspended indefinitely, international passengers are advised to check their flight status online, as a reduced flight schedule is now underway. Volcanologists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office are relieved that today’s long-awaited eruption appears to be relatively gentle and did not cause flooding by melting glacier ice. However, they fear it could trigger a much more severe eruption at the nearby Katla volcano, which has a fearsome reputation for destruction. A movie file from the Fimmvorduhals / Eyjafjallajokull eruption can be viewed at ruv.is. See another video of the Iceland volcano eruption here. Also: Iceland volcano update
Posted 21 March 2010; 4:32:29 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 19 March 2010) -- VLADIVOSTOK - Earthquakes hit Kolyma and Sakhalin on Friday. An earthquake measuring 4.8 points was registered in Kolyma at 15.53 local time (07.53 Moscow time) at a depth of 26 kilometers, the Geophysical Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences reported. The epicenter was situated in the area of the peninsula of Taigonos. The epicenter of the earthquake was situated 575 kilometers from Magadan. According to data of the local seismic station, the underground tremor lasted two seconds. The epicenter of the Sakhalin earthquake measuring 4.9 points was situated in the Nogliksky region in the island’s north. The underground tremor was registered at 14:07 Sakhalin time (07:07 Moscow time) at a depth of 15 kilometers. The Far Eastern regional center of the Ministry for Emergencies reported that none of the earthquakes caused destructions, there are no victims.
Posted 20 March 2010; 1:04:05 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 20 February 2010) -- ST. PETERSBURG - A nuclear submarine being scrapped caught fire on Friday at the Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia's city of Severodvinsk, but there is no radiation danger, the city administration said. "A fire started in the hold of the third compartment of the K-480 Ak Bars nuclear submarine. The submarine is being scrapped, nuclear fuel has been removed from the reactor. There is no radiation danger for the population," it said in a statement. No one was reported injured. Up to 70 people are involved in the effort to put out the fire.
Posted 20 February 2010; 1:07:14 AM. Permalink
(Itar-Tass, 14 February 2010) -- KHABAROVSK - Four people died in the fire that broke out at four-storey apartment block in Yakutia’s settlement of Chersky on Sunday, the main EMERCOM department in Yakutia told Itar-Tass on Sunday. Some 38 people were evacuated from the building by the firefighters, who arrived at the fire site ten minutes after the fire alarm call. The firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings and saved the house. However, they failed to save four residents, who were found dead after the fire. The fire victims are being identified. A group of investigators is working at the fire site.
Posted 14 February 2010; 10:22:18 AM. Permalink
DELAWARE — In what military planners are calling Operation Arctic Vengeance, the Delaware National Guard is working diligently to prepare its forces to aid the state should the governor declare a state of emergency. ... The plan calls for the Delaware National Guard to set up a task force in each county. Each task force will consist of about 45 Soldiers, 15 Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees), a Light-Medium Tactical Vehicle, and a wrecker.“This is where we shine,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, addressing leaders during a situation briefing. “This is where we show our value to the citizens of Delaware.”
Posted 6 February 2010; 10:48:33 AM. Permalink
RESOLUTE, Nunavut - An Inuit hunter was preparing for his second night on a drifting ice floe in the Northwest Passage Saturday as air rescue crews attempted to drop him more supplies. "That's basically what we're going to do, is drop more kit to him," said Sgt. Rob Wilson from the search and rescue centre in Trenton, Ont. The man was hunting near the edge of the sea ice about 15 kilometres from Resolute, Nunavut, when a large chunk broke free and began drifting out to sea, carrying him along. The hunter, who is carrying a satellite phone, was able to contact his wife. He was also carrying a light source, which enabled a Hercules airplane to find him in the Arctic dark at about 10:30 p.m. Friday. The Hercules dropped supplies including food, water, a tent, extra clothing, fuel for his stove and a locator beacon. However, a helicopter sent to Resolute to pluck the man off the ice has been unable to take off due to mechanical problems, Wilson said. A second supply-laden Hercules was scheduled to drop him more equipment later Saturday. The man, who Wilson described as an experienced hunter, is said to be in good condition and remains in contact with his wife. He built himself an improvised snow shelter and was preparing to settle in for the night. "He is fine," said Wilson. Meanwhile, the weather is deteriorating in the area, with snow, high winds and frigid temperatures anticipated. His icy raft, however, is expected to remain stable. "It is a very large floe," Wilson said. Wilson said the rescue is likely to proceed Sunday. "We don't foresee an issue," he said.
Posted 24 January 2010; 10:17:34 AM. Permalink
(ENS, 18 January 2010) -- WASHINGTON, DC - There has been a commercial "fishery failure" for Alaska's Yukon River Chinook salmon due to low salmon returns, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has formally determined. "Communities in Alaska along the Yukon River depend heavily on Chinook salmon for commercial fishing, jobs and food," said Locke on Friday. "I have determined that a fishery disaster has occurred due to consecutive years of low Chinook salmon returns. Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling with a substantial loss in income and revenues." The Yukon River once hosted the largest migrating Chinook, chum, and coho Pacific salmon stocks in the world. But in 2008, because of low Chinook salmon returns, the state of Alaska reduced the 2008 commercial Chinook salmon harvest to 89 percent below the recent five-year average. No commercial Chinook salmon fishery was allowed in 2009 on the Yukon River. The state also restricted subsistence harvests. Over 800 Alaskan fishery permit holders are directly affected by the salmon failure, along with crewmen, processing employees, and those who provide support services. Although the reasons for the decline of Chinook salmon are not completely understood, scientists believe changes in ocean and river conditions, including unfavorable shifts in temperatures and food sources, likely caused poor survival of Chinook salmon. ... "While subsistence fishing is not a factor in determining a commercial fishery failure, for Yukon River communities the commercial and subsistence fisheries are inseparable," said Doug Mecum, acting administrator of the NOAA's Fisheries Service' Alaska region. "These communities are very isolated and do not have the economic diversity to withstand the disastrous economic impact of extremely low or no commercial harvest coupled with a decline in subsistence harvests," Mecum said.
Posted 23 January 2010; 4:45:37 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 22 January 2010) -- YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK - A ship with 30 crew on board sent a distress signal on Friday, warning that it could sink after becoming stuck in ice in the Sea of Okhotsk, off Russia's Pacific coast, local emergencies officials said. "The information that the refrigerator ship had become iced-in was received by the emergencies department of the Sakhalin Region at 07:40 Moscow time," the official said. All crew members on board the vessel are Russians, he said, adding that bad weather conditions could hamper any rescue operation. He said that emergency and maritime rescue officials were "exploring the possibility of involving ships located in the area ... to conduct a rescue operation." A local rescue center official said the trapped vessel had lost power and was unable to move.
Posted 22 January 2010; 10:27:20 PM. Permalink
(Svalbardposten, 13 January 2010) -- An earthquake, measuring between 4.5 and 5 on the Richter scale, struck Storfjorden, between Spitsbergen and Edgøya, today at 11:08 am. "We have not yet analyzed the earthquake and can not say exactly where in Storfjorden it had its center," said seismologist Tormod Kværne of Norsar at Kjeller. Kværne also said that the quake was only detected by instruments, which are located on Janson Haugen in Adventdalen, in Ny-Ålesund, Hopen and Hornsund. "We have not had calls from people who felt the shake. If anyone should have known something it would be the crew of the Polish research station in Hornsund," he said. [See more about the earthquake here from NORSAR, an independent geo-scientific research foundation established in 1968, specializing in software solutions and research activities in the fields of applied seismic and seismology.]
Posted 13 January 2010; 9:54:08 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 January 2010) -- People on the north coast of Labrador want Bell Aliant's communication infrastructure improved after ice toppled a transmission tower last week, leaving them without internet and long distance phone services. "If this was somewhere else in Newfoundland, we'd probably have crews in from the States helping. So I don't think it's good enough," said Charlotte Wolfrey, who lives in Rigolet. Its service was restored by last Friday. Stormy weather kept a Bell Aliant crew away from the damaged tower at Double Mer, north of Rigolet, until last weekend. Company spokesperson Isabelle Robinson said an estimated 30 tonnes of ice had built up on the tower before it collapsed. She said the circumstances were extraordinary. "This infrastructure has been in place for many, many years, and it's built to be outdoors and withstand some weather," Robinson told CBC News Tuesday. "But certainly given the extraordinary circumstances that we've had here, it's certainly difficult to plan for these types of weather circumstances and have a backup infrastructure in place." Robinson says the company is prepared for many problems such as power outages. It has onsite generators and can reroute circuits to solve some breakdowns. Five locations, including Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Natuashish and Postville remained without long distance telephone and internet services on Tuesday. They've lost those services on Jan. 6. There's still no estimate on when all services on Labrador's north coast will be restored.
Posted 12 January 2010; 11:24:55 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 12 January 2010) -- Freysteinn Sigmundsson, geophysicist at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences, believes that the volcano Hekla in south Iceland could erupt with short notice. However, it is difficult to predict when the volcano will start to erupt. Some people contacted the Icelandic Meteorological Office last week, reporting snow-free spots near the volcano’s summit. Erlendur Ingvarsson from the nearby farm Skard told RÚV that this is unusual considering the cold weather, mbl.is reports. Sigmundsson said changes to Hekla’s geothermal pattern aren’t necessarily a sign that the volcano is preparing to erupt; it could be the consequence of increased expansion of the volcano’s inner structure, which makes it easier for the heat to travel to the surface. Since 1970, Hekla has erupted every ten years; the last eruption was in February 2000. Hekla can be monitored through a live webcam on RÚV’s website. Click here to read more about volcanoes in Iceland being ripe for eruption.
Posted 12 January 2010; 3:27:27 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 29 December 2009) -- OSLO -- Power distribution in Norway's Arctic Lofoten archipelago resumed midday Tuesday after an outage deprived 30,000 residents of electricity for several hours, the local provider said.
Posted 29 December 2009; 12:26:27 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 29 December 2009) -- Around 25,000 residents of the Arctic Norwegian Lofoten archipelago were deprived of electricity by a power outage Tuesday, electricity provider Lofotkraft said. Temperatures in the region at this time of year vary from minus 10 to minus seven degrees Celsius (19.4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and there are only a few hours of sunlight per day. "The power failure has been located and repairs have started," Lofotkraft said in a statement. "We think that electricity distribution will resume before the end of the day," it added.
Posted 29 December 2009; 12:25:11 PM. Permalink
(Rosemary Shinohara/Anchorage Daily News, 20 December 2009) -- A 740-foot cargo ship was disabled and floating adrift in high winds about 540 miles southwest of Adak on Sunday. The ship, the APJ Suryavir, registered in India, was battling 30-foot seas and winds close to 60 mph during part of the day, the U.S. Coast Guard reported. There were 28 people on board. The crew planned to abandon ship and move to a rescue ship that was due to arrive at the scene late Sunday night, said Petty Officer Walter Shinn. The ship was drifting to the east, away from the Aleutian Islands. Another cargo ship, the Maersk Altair, was in the vicinity and answered a Coast Guard call for help. But it had to slow down due to the weather and wasn't expected to reach the APJ Suryavir until the middle of the night. The APJ Suryavir was heading empty from China to the Columbia River in Oregon when the main engine failed and would not restart. The ship had sea water ballast in its tanks to add weight and stability but was still not stable enough for the harsh conditions, said Shinn. The Coast Guard sent a C-130 aircraft from Kodiak to check out the scene. That plane dropped a buoy to collect information on the currents and wind conditions. A second C-130 was to fly out to check on the APJ Suryavir early today, said Shinn. A Coast Guard cutter docked at Dutch Harbor also set out to help but won't get to the site for four days. The ship was not taking on water and has life rafts, survival suits and an emergency locator beacon, Coast Guard officials said. The ship is reported to have a 30-day supply of provisions.
Posted 21 December 2009; 1:53:54 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 18 December 2009) -- People in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. are waiting to hear what caused a massive blaze that ripped through the Northern Store. The Northern Store, which serves as the local grocery store, bank, pharmacy and post office, burned down last Monday. It was the third major fire in the town in a week. The first two buildings burned down just days earlier on Dec. 10, and the fire marshal has concluded that both fires were caused by arson. Firefighters in the hamlet of 557 spent more than seven hours Monday dealing with fire at the store. Since then, extreme heat and smoke has prevented investigators from examining the site, but investigators said they hoped it would be cool enough to enter the site on Friday. RCMP are assisting the fire marshal in investigating the blaze, said Const. Bob Wolfenberger. "The first two have been deemed as arson by the fire marshal's office. They are currently being investigated," Wolfenberger said. "And the third one, we're assisting. It's still being investigated by the fire marshal's office."
Posted 18 December 2009; 5:37:16 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver.com, 9 December 2009) -- Oil spill covered 100 square meters of land after an explosion in an oil-gathering line in the Yamalo-Nenets Okrug last week. According to the local Emergency Management Service, the accident was probably caused by metal fatigue, Uralinform.ru writes. A fire broke out, but was reported to have been put out quickly. No people were harmed in the accident and there was no danger of fire spreading. The pipe belongs to the company Rosneft-Purneftegaz.
Posted 11 December 2009; 4:17:49 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 5 December 2009) -- DUTCH HARBOR - Winds as high as 125 mph toppled a 110-foot gantry crane at a shipping facility in Dutch Harbor. A spokesman for American President Lines Ltd. says no people or other structures were damaged when the crane fell at 8:45 p.m. Friday evening. Mike Zampa says the company is still assessing damage to the crane, which fell onto gravel at the shipping terminal. APL is the world's fifth-largest container shipping company. Unalaska city roads chief Jim Dickson described the storm in an e-mail Saturday. "A few roofs were blown away, a mud slide across a road; but generally most of town made it through with only minor damage," he wrote.
Posted 5 December 2009; 6:26:18 PM. Permalink
(Regnum.ru, 24 November 2009) -- In 2006, Korf, a village [established in the mid-1920s to house salmon fishers] in the Olyutorsky district on the coast of [60°22'17.83"N, 166° 0'54.38"E] suffered a severe earthquake. In December 2008, it was floods. In 2006, in response to the damage caused by the earthquake, the Governor of Kamchatka Territory, Alexei Kuzmitsky, authorized the relocation of Korf inhabitants to safer places. Rising sea levels threatened the spit of land on which the town was built and its location in a seismic zone meant that human habitation was deemed unsuitable by specialists of the Geophysical Institute. Each resident was told how the evacuation would proceed, when containers would be loaded with their personal effects. However, of the 22 families first chosen to leave Korf, only seven left. The remainder continue to live in condemned buildings without access to social services, which have been suspended because the community was to be abandoned. Since some 170 families have not yet been issued certificates for housing elsewhere, the government has shipped enough coal to keep the district heating plant working through the winter and have repaired the power line serving the community. (Loosely paraphrased from the GoogleTranslated version of the original Russian.)
Posted 30 November 2009; 5:03:51 PM. Permalink
(Naomi Klouda/Homer Tribune, 18 November 2009) -- In the next few weeks, fishermen harmed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill should start receiving their biggest settlement payout yet. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs have worked since December through a cumbersome process to distribute $383 million in punitive damages. Now the lawyers are preparing to distribute an even bigger sum — $470 million — in the next several weeks. The money is interest Exxon Mobil Corp. paid July 1 on the punitive damages award the U.S. Supreme Court ordered last year. “The $470 million that we hoped for in September was delayed because Judge (Russel) Holland had a number of different questions about the payout structure and the computation of interest,” said Frank Mullen, one of the plaintiffs and a local investment planner in Homer. “The money is not flowing yet, but in the next few weeks, the results of that $470 million distribution will begin to appear for fishermen on the clean claims list.” Cities and entities other than individuals should also receive payments, including the city of Homer and payments toward its $1.05 million portion. The “clean claims” list includes those who have no liens or attachments. Mullen said the thousands of fishermen who died in the 20-year wait for legal resolutions to receive their payout would not be on the clean claims list either. He added that the money has trickled out since last Christmas, and if plaintiffs were disappointed in the smaller-than-hoped-for sums in the first distribution, they might be happier with the second one. “The settlement money is all going to eventually appear in fishermen’s accounts, but at different times,” Mullen explained. “This will be the largest payment. That’s the way this litigation has worked.”
Posted 18 November 2009; 10:36:37 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 16 November 2009) -- VLADIVOSTOK - A Russian icebreaker with 105 passengers on board has been trapped in ice during a cruise in the Arctic, a Russian Far East marine cruise official said on Monday. The Captain Khlebnikov will need to wait one or two days to resolve the situation, and the official said the passengers are in no danger. "The icebreaker's crew is waiting for the weather to change and then the ship will resume its course. This will require one or two days. The passengers are in no need of assistance," the spokesman told RIA Novosti. Most of the passengers on board the icebreaker are Brits. A film crew from the BBC is also on board filming material for a documentary called Frozen Earth.
Posted 16 November 2009; 12:26:26 AM. Permalink
(Daily Mail, 14 November 2009) -- Hundreds of reindeer on their annual migration across a frozen lake above Sweden's Arctic Circle have drowned as ice collapsed beneath them. The herd of around 3,000 reindeer were being moved by their Sami herders from the western shore of the frozen lake Kutjaure to their winter grazing grounds in the east. Suddenly, some reindeer at the front turned back, causing the ice to crack and several hundreds to drown. 'In the ensuing commotion the whole herd moved in circles, adding great pressure and weight on the ice,' said Erik Gustavsson, a manager at the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten. The reindeer crashed through the ice and then trampled on each other as they tried to climb out of the water, he said. The indigenous Sami population live year-round in the harsh conditions of northern Sweden, Norway and Finland and are highly dependent on the reindeer for their livelihood. There are some 20,000 Swedish Sami who herd reindeer. Bertil Kielatis, chairman of the Sirges Sami village that owns the reindeer,said he had never seen anything similar in his lifetime and that there was no clear explanation as to why the herd hesistated to move forward. 'Probably, they were fightened by something or felt worried,' said Kielatis. Video on the website of Sweden's television channel, SVT, showed hundreds of carcasses lining the muddy shore of lake Kutjaure, which has been used for decades to transport the reindeer from their summer grazing fields to the 'winterland', where they spend the winter months. On Friday, two helicopters assisted the herders with dragging the dead reindeer from the lake. Kielatis said because of the herd's special breeding value, the economic loss could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As it is too expensive to bury or transport the dead, their bodies will most likely be scattered in the surrounding wilderness, he said. [See also "Reindeer herd drowns in icy Lapland waters" at The Local: Sweden's News in English, 13 November 2009.]
Posted 14 November 2009; 7:15:04 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 9 November 2009) -- Rescue efforts are underway Monday morning near Coral Harbour, Nunavut, for a 17-year-old boy who is trapped on an ice floe near the community. A search crew aboard a Hercules aircraft spotted the boy on the ice around 9:15 a.m. ET, in an area roughly eight kilometres off the coast of Coral Harbour, officials told CBC News. Two search members have parachuted onto the ice floe, and plan to have a boat transport the boy back to shore. There is no word at this time on the teen's condition. Two Hercules aircraft began searching the skies Monday morning for the boy, who became separated from his uncle as they were returning home from a weekend hunting trip. The teen and his uncle split up after they encountered snowmobile trouble on their way back to the community. The pair had been out for two nights. The uncle has since returned to Coral Harbour and has been flown out of the community to be treated for hypothermia, the CBC's Peter Sheldon reports from Iqaluit.
Posted 9 November 2009; 8:01:45 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 26 September 2009) -- Historic Hofdi House, best known as the location for the 1986 summit meeting between presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that effectively marked the end of the Cold War, caught on fire last night. Firemen battled the blaze and evacuated priceless oil paintings and other irreplaceable artefacts from the burning building. Part of the building’s roof had to be ripped off to help the extinguishing effort, and the damage is said to be severe. It is, however, going to be possible to repair the house to its former glory. Visir.is reports that initial investigations point to electrical wiring as the likeliest cause of the blaze. Aside from Reagan and Gorbachev, Winston Churchill and Marlene Dietrich have visited the Hofdi house, which was built in 1909 and at one time housed the British embassy. The city of Reykjavik purchased the house in 1958, restored it to its former glory and has from that time used it for formal receptions and festive occasions. This September the house has been open to the public in commemoration of its centennial. (More images by Olafur Kr. Olafsson)
Posted 26 September 2009; 11:53:32 AM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 21 September 2009) -- KENAI -- Clouds lifted to allow weekend viewing of Mount Redoubt as scientists said seismic activity at the volcano kept declining. After weeks behind clouds, Redoubt made an appearance Friday and Saturday, and the volcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage showed a plume of steam. That did not mean an eruption was pending, said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Chris Waythomas. "Seismic activity has been the same for weeks—gradually declining," he said. The cause of the steam was a thick blanket of snow. "There's snowfall at 8,000 feet and above, and the lava dome is still really hot," he said. "As snow comes into contact with it, the snow and water is just boiling off, and the calm, clear conditions allowed it to be visible." The mountain was obscured again early Sunday. Waythomas could not say how hot the dome was.
Posted 21 September 2009; 4:31:06 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 20 August 2009) -- A magnitude 5.0 earthquake under Cook Inlet rattled buildings in Anchorage and elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska Wednesday morning. There were no reports of damage. The quake, at 10:19 a.m., was centered under Cook Inlet, 36 miles west of Anchorage, 18 miles northeast of the village of Tyonek and 13 miles northeast of Beluga, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It occurred at a depth of about 38 miles. The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the quake did not generate a tsunami. Janelle Baker, administrative assistant and human resources manager for the Tyonek Native Corp., told the Associated Press there was no damage in her village of 154 on the northwest shore of Cook Inlet, 43 miles southwest of Anchorage. "It was scary, especially being in the office," she said. "It was a pretty big jolt." A dispatcher with the Anchorage Fire Department said the department had not received any calls about the earthquake, but firefighters at one station pulled trucks out of the garage because the building was shaking so much.
Posted 20 August 2009; 12:04:20 PM. Permalink
(AP via redOrbit, 10 August 2009) -- Scientists continue to keep a close eye on the Arctic Ocean, which has given up tens of thousands of square miles of ice this summer. Eddie Gruben, a local observer in far northwest Canada, told the Associated Press he has watched the summer ice retreat for years. By this weekend the ice edge lay 80 miles at sea. "Forty years ago, it was 40 miles (64 kilometres) out," added Gruben, 89. According to researchers, the global average temperature rose 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century, but the Arctic temperature has risen twice as much. In July, the temperatures rose to almost 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the settlement of Inuvialuit. "The water was really warm," Gruben told the Associated Press. "The kids were swimming in the ocean." According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, the polar ice cap has shrunk an average of 41,000 miles per day in July, equivalent to one Indiana daily. The ice is melting at a rate similar to that of July 2007, the year when ice cap melting hit a record low. According to the center’s Walt Meier, the acceleration of ice loss has slowed making a record-breaking minimum “less likely but still possible." Researchers say the makeup of the frozen polar sea has also changed over the last few years from a thick multiyear ice to a thin ice that comes and goes. The last few years have "signaled a fundamental change in the character of the ice and the Arctic climate," Meier told the AP.
Posted 10 August 2009; 10:52:29 PM. Permalink
(United Press International via redOrbit, 27 July 2009) -- Volcanic ash reached 23,000 feet above Petropavlovsk in Russia's Far East as the country's northernmost active volcano continued erupting, a geophysicist said. The Shiveluch volcano began erupting in December 2006 and hasn't stopped since. The 10,771-foot volcano is on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The local geophysics service registered more than 170 tremors in the area of the volcano between Saturday and Sunday, a spokesman told RIA Novosti. "Some of (the tremors) were followed by powerful ash bursts and avalanches," the spokesman said. He said the volcanic activity has altered the contour of the volcano, with the crater increasing in size by 50 percent and the slopes having become much steeper. The news service said there are more than 150 volcanoes on the peninsula, 29 of them active.
Posted 27 July 2009; 1:45:48 PM. Permalink
(Jarrett Iovine/IceNews, 21 July 2009) -- “The last three weeks there have been earthquakes about 10 kilometers deep below Eyjafjall-glacier, which is very similar to a series of events taken place in the years 1994 and 1999,” says geologist Pall Einarsson. “Both years there were magma intrusions under Eyjafjall-glacier and it was leading to a possible eruption, although Katla never erupted. These magma intrusions are very close to each other and could have influence on each other causing a possible eruption at Katla.” The Katla volcano is 4,961 feet (1512 meters) high and categorized as a sub-glacial volcano. Katla is located on the southern coast of Iceland close to the town of Vik. The last big eruption occurred in the year 1918 with a small eruption in 1955. Since 930 AD, 16 eruptions have occurred. The word “Katla” in Icelandic refers to a kettle and is also a female name in Iceland.
Posted 21 July 2009; 10:22:48 AM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2009) -- A sample of the giant black mystery blob that Wainwright hunters discovered this month floating in the Chukchi Sea has been identified. It looks to be a stringy batch of algae. Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster. "We got the results back from the lab today," said Ed Meggert of the Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks. "It was marine algae." Miles of the thick, dark gunk had been spotted floating between Barrow and Wainwright, prompting North Slope Borough officials and the Coast Guard to investigate last week. A sample was sent to a DEC lab in Anchorage, where workers looked at it under a microscope and declared it some kind of simple plant -- an algae, Meggert said. The goo fast became an Alaska mystery. And the new findings still leave questions unanswered: Why is there so much of it in a region where people say they've never seen anything quite like it? Local hunters and whalers didn't know what to make of it. The Coast Guard labeled the substance biological, but knew little else. The stuff had hairy strands in it and was tangled with jellyfish, said a borough official. Terry Whitledge is director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He hasn't had a chance to look at the DEC's sample yet, but a friend with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration e-mailed him a picture of the gunk. "Filamentous algae," he concluded. Filamentous? "It means it's just stringy." Whitledge said he doesn't know why an unprecedented bloom of algae appeared off the Arctic coast. "You'll find these kind of algae grow in areas that are shallow enough that light can get to the bottom ... If you had a rocky area along the coast, you could have this type of algae." It could have been discharged from a river, he said, flushed out by runoff from spring breakup and melting ice. But that's just speculation, he warned. ... The results of the state's analysis came in at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. It was the last day on the job for Meggert, the retiring on-scene coordinator. ... The goo didn't fit any pattern that made it easy to identify from afar, Meggert said. ... The color, in particular, didn't make sense, he said. You might expect to see green or reddish algae but not this black, viscous gunk. Whitledge, with the university, said one possible explanation is that the algae has partially decomposed into a darker hue. He looks forward to the university examining the sample too, to identify exactly what kind of algae it is. It's worth noting that Alaska Natives in the region reportedly hadn't seen anything like it before, he said.
Posted 17 July 2009; 12:48:52 PM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 9 June 2009) -- Fish with strange spots. Sinkholes in the tundra. Crumbling river banks. The scenes appear in a handful of photos posted at www.nunat.net, a fledgling Web site created to provide a record of changes linked to global warming, subsistence resources and village life. The site’s database is a year old. It was designed to give rural Alaskans a way to share information and document the changes around them, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, said its creator, Brad Garness. “People who live a subsistence hunting and fishing lifestyle generally have a unique view regarding climate change and why animals behave the way they do,” Garness said. Garness is acting executive director of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which owns the site. It’s been said that Alaska is on the front lines of climate change, but there doesn’t appear to be another site where rural Alaskans can go to document the changes around them, he said. AITC contracted with biologists and other experts to help develop reporting forms included on the site. With the forms, people can provide detailed accounts of what they’ve seen. The Nunat Web site is named after a Yup’ik word that means “lands” in central Yup’ik.
Posted 15 June 2009; 11:53:06 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 7 June 2009)—A billion-tonne iceberg that calved from a northern Greenland glacier last summer has drifted 2,000 kilometres into Canadian waters and is now stalking the southern coast of Baffin Island—a potential shipping hazard that federal scientists are closely tracking by satellite and with a beacon placed directly on the frozen mass. But experts monitoring the Petermann Ice Island—named for the glacier it split from last July—say they're bracing for the birth of a monster berg five times bigger that could break away from the same High Arctic source this summer. If that colossal chunk of ice and snow remains whole after it heaves clear of Greenland's ancient Petermann Glacier, it would form a floating monolith about the size of B.C.'s Saltspring Island—greater in area than New Brunswick's Grand Manan or Ontario's Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands. Officials with the Canadian Ice Service, the branch of Environment Canada that monitors ice conditions on the country's navigable waterways, is sharing data with a team of U.S. scientists to ensure an early warning when the glacier calves again.
Posted 7 June 2009; 5:17:39 PM. Permalink
(Marcia Lynn/KBBI - Homer, 29 May 2009) -- The 2009 eruption of Mt. Redoubt volcano is now in its 10th week and staff of the Alaska Volcano Observatory continues its round-the-clock vigil. ... forces at work within the mountain could cause an eruption at any time and with little warning.
(Elizabeth Bluemink and James Halpin/Anchorage Daily News, 21 May 2009) -- Flood waters ebbed somewhat Thursday in the village of Russian Mission, but about eight families have evacuated their homes and the airport remained underwater. Extensive flooding has been reported on the lower Yukon River this week as ice jams have made their way toward the sea, the National Weather Service reported. About five homes in Russian Mission still had flood water in them, and on Wednesday a 17,000-gallon gas tank floated about town until people tied it down, local residents said. "Fortunately, there wasn't any fuel spilled or leaked," said Phillip Duffy, the village traditional council's transportation specialist. The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said it was sending a team to the village Thursday. The National Weather Service has a flood warning in effect through this afternoon for the Yukon from Russian Mission to Pilot Station. A flood watch is in effect through Monday afternoon from St. Marys to Emmonak and Alakanuk on the Bering Sea coast.
Posted 22 May 2009; 10:48:17 AM. Permalink
(Nordlys via BarentsObserver, 18 May 2009) -- The [Norwegian] Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs will cover all expenses for removal of the wreck of the cruiser, which ended its days in the rocks outside Sørvær on the coast of Finnmark in December 1994, news paper Nordlys writes. The cruiser was being tugged southwards for scrapping when it tore away during a storm. The Norwegian company AF Gruppen Norge AS is chosen as contractor for the project, and the work will probably start this summer. The wreck has been to a lot of nuisance to the local population, and environmentalists have raised questions about environmental problems related to the wreck.
Posted 18 May 2009; 10:14:39 AM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 17 May 2009) -- Two earthquakes shook Malmberget, a mining town in the north of Sweden, early on Sunday morning. The first quake occurred just after 7 AM and was followed by a second quake half an hour later. Locals have reported ornaments being smashed and paintings shaken off the wall, according to local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten. However, local police say that this is nothing out of the ordinary for the area. “They are used to being shaken up every now and again up there,” Olle Kvareros of the local police told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. However, all mining activity was stopped in the area following the quakes, according to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “We take this very seriously and we will analyze what has happened,” said Björn Koorem, head of mining operations at LKAB, to Aftonbladet. According to Koorem no serious damage to the mine has been detected. The Swedish mining company LKAB estimated the quakes to have reached 2.9 and 1.7 on the Richter scale.
Posted 17 May 2009; 4:57:27 PM. Permalink
(Dimitra Lavrakas/The Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 14 May 2009) --Ken Salazar, secretary of the Interior, presented The Nature Conservancy in Alaska a shared award, Partners in Conservation Award, in Washington, D.C. on May 7 for its role in the Rat Island Seabird Restoration Project with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Island Conservation. The Nature Conservancy also was honored for its contribution to the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership. “The Partners in Conservation Awards demonstrate that our greatest conservation legacies often emerge when stakeholders, agencies, and citizens from a wide range of backgrounds come together to address shared challenges,” Salazar said in a news release. In 1780, a shipwreck loosed a population of non-native Norway rats. As the years past and the population grew, the rats decimated the population of birds on the island by eating the eggs and chicks of burrow-nesting species like puffins, auklets and ancient murrelets. “In the Aleutians, colonies of seabirds such as puffins and auklets are like the biological engine that keep these rich systems humming,” said Steve Maclean, director of the Conservancy’s Bering Sea program, in a news release. “An Aleutian island without seabirds is missing something vital.” In an unprecedented habit restoration, the field mission to the 10-square-mile island in September 2008 involved the use of helicopters and the research vessel Tiglax, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ship home ported in Homer. According to The Nature Conservancy, the Rat Island restoration is one example of new global efforts to eradicate invasive species in otherwise healthy island ecosystems. Invasive rats have been introduced to about 90 percent of the world’s islands and are responsible for 40 percent to 60 percent of all recorded island bird and reptile extinctions. For more information, go to www.seabirdrestoration.org.
Posted 17 May 2009; 2:29:38 PM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 13 May 2009) -- The most popular items at the Tanana grocery store Wednesday: Rubber gloves and cleaning supplies. That's because the village, like many along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers this week, is a mess. Workers spent the morning bulldozing dirty river ice from the street. They're pumping water out of the church basement. And patches of town smell like spilled diesel and mud, said Cynthia Erickson, who runs Tanana Commercial with her family and woke up Tuesday to a flood alarm that sent the town scrambling for high ground. Later they watched as casualties of the violent upriver flooding floated by on the Yukon. "We've seen a house go by," Erickson said. "We've seen outhouses ... A dead moose." With dozens of people still evacuated to Fairbanks, the remaining Tanana villagers cleaned up Wednesday while farther down the Yukon, local leaders prepared for potential floods of their own. In Emmonak, they're making a list of elders to evacuate to other villages if necessary and encouraging pregnant women who are due this month or next to leave town early, said resident Nicholas Tucker.
Posted 14 May 2009; 9:48:58 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 May 2009) -- Songbirds living in the boreal forest are declining at a rapid rate and need protection by federal and provincial governments, according to a group of environmentalists and scientists. Migratory birds dependent on the 5.6 million square kilometres of boreal forest, such as the Canada warbler, rusty blackbird and olive-sided flycatcher, have faced particularly steep declines, according to the Boreal Songbird Initiative, which has collected more than 60,000 signatures on a petition calling for greater protection for the forest. "The boreal forest is widely regarded as the songbird nursery for the Americas," Ontario Nature executive director Caroline Schultz said at a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday. "Millions of birds migrate there to nest and breed in Ontario alone. We cannot afford to lose any more of this precious habitat than we already have," she said. Ontario Nature was one of several groups across the country that planned events in six provinces and the Northwest Territories on Tuesday to call attention to the declining songbird numbers.
Posted 13 May 2009; 12:23:16 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 13 May 2009) -- The stock of common cliff-nesting seabirds in Iceland has dropped by 20 to 40 percent in the last two decades. The five most numerous species (except the puffin) were counted on bird cliffs in 2005-2008. The census was a rerun of a similar count in 1983-86. When the results were correlated and compared, it became obvious that numbers had dropped – some seriously, mbl.is reports. The Brunnich’s guillemot count was only 56 percent of its previous total; and fulmar numbers were found to be at 69 percent their previous total. The guillemot population is at 70 percent its previous strength and there were also fewer kittiwake and razorbill. To put the figures in context, the number of fulmars has dropped from roughly 1.3 million nesting pairs to 900,000. Guillemots pairs have gone down from 990,000 to 660,000 and Brunnich’s guillemots number 330,000 pairs; but there were 580,000 twenty years ago. The rate of reduction in numbers of individual species was different according to region.
Posted 13 May 2009; 10:54:24 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 11 May 2009) -- STOCKHOLM - A Russian fishing boat with 12 people on board has run aground in the Barents Sea near Medvezhy Island, Norwegian media reported Monday. Norwegian rescuers evacuated the Petrozavodsk's crew by helicopter, with no one reported injured. "All 12 crew are feeling fine. The helicopter with the Russian trawlermen will land on Medvezhy Island for fueling and will then head for Norway," a rescue spokesman said.
Posted 11 May 2009; 8:48:33 AM. Permalink
(Amanda Bohman/Anchorage Daily News, 9 May 2009) -- FAIRBANKS - Small children, their mothers and elders began evacuating the village of Beaver on Friday as the Yukon River rose, tribal leaders said. Downriver in Stevens Village, evacuations are planned for today, according to the school principal. Alaska's mightiest river remains frozen along these communities north of Fairbanks, but villagers are preparing for the worst after the Yukon River, with its gigantic chunks of ice, wiped out portions of Eagle near Canada. Beaver has about 65 residents, while about 70 people live in Stevens Village. "The water is coming up. We are getting ready for it," said Wilma Pitka, natural resources manager for the tribal council in Beaver. "Most everybody is moving all of their snowmachines and stuff to higher ground. They are getting all of the sewer pumped and the garbage hauled." The last time Beaver flooded was 1992. In Stevens Village, "We are taking precautions," said Dora Powell, principal/teacher at the village school.
Posted 9 May 2009; 5:43:09 PM. Permalink
(Tim Mowry/Fairbanks News-Miner, 6 May 2009) -- FAIRBANKS -- The worst flooding in more than 70 years in Eagle entered its second day Tuesday as an ice jam about 10 miles downstream refused to budge and continued to back up water and ice into the village on the bank of the Yukon River about 200 miles east of Fairbanks. A week of record-high temperatures caused side streams to fill the river channel before the winter ice broke apart. When it did break, it did so in big chunks that have jammed together creating a dam. Residents went to bed Monday thinking the worst was over after floodwaters wiped out the old village of Eagle about two miles upstream of the new town site and inundated buildings along Front Street in the main part of town. But they were awakened at about 4 a.m. Tuesday to a rapid rise in the water when the ice jam shifted. Ice was pushed over a retaining wall and against a row of buildings along Front Street, knocking at least four buildings off their foundations. Two — an old log cabin used as a storage shed and an old sauna — were carried down the river.
Posted 6 May 2009; 11:16:34 AM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2009) -- Cabins set sail. Boats motored above sunken pickup trucks and the river nearly touched the rim of a local basketball hoop. As breakup floods began to hammer villages on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers this week, none was hit harder Monday than Eagle Village. "The old village of Eagle is totally destroyed," said Ed Plumb, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. "Some buildings have water up to the second story." The village of roughly 70 people is one of two separate Yukon River communities that sit beside the Canadian border. As for the larger town of Eagle three miles away? "There are estimates that the water right now is 10 feet above the all-time record," Plumb said. Combine a long winter of heavy snowfall, thick river ice and—according to the National Weather Service—record high temperatures in the eastern Interior last week, and you have perfect conditions for ice jams that can act as dams to flood riverside communities.
Posted 5 May 2009; 4:33:11 PM. Permalink
(Ned Rozell/Alaska Report, 2 May 2009) -- Arctic haze is a blob of air pollution that sloshes over the northern cap of the planet in springtime. It's visible as a murkiness that prevents you from seeing Denali, or as dark bands on the horizon from the windows of planes flying over northern Alaska. On a bad day, it can make Alaska look like Los Angeles or Denver. In the 1970s, scientists studied the northern air and found sulfur and black carbon floating in it from dirty smelters in Russia and other areas in Eurasia. Last spring, a team of scientists from Colorado took six flights north from Fairbanks in a plane designed to sniff the air and collect samples. After analyzing air from above northern Alaska and the sea ice north of Barrow, team members have concluded what much of the dark stuff was. It was soot from forest fires in southern Siberia and Lake Baikal, and from farmers preparing their fields by burning stubble in Kazakhstan and southern Russia.
Posted 2 May 2009; 5:09:19 PM. Permalink
(ITAR-TASS, 30 April 2009) -- MOSCOW - An Antonov-2 single-engine biplane has crashed in Yakutia, killing the crew, the Far Eastern regional center of the Emergency Situations Ministry has told Itar-Tass over the telephone. The plane was en route from Lensk to Magan. At 00:48 Khabarovsk time the plane suffered a crash near the village of Pokrovka, 16 kilometers away from the final destination. There was a crew of three and no passengers on board. Nobody survived. Firefighters and rescue workers are already at the scene. The causes of the crash are still to be established.
Posted 1 May 2009; 10:50:13 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 24 April 2009) -- MURMANSK - The captain of a Russian fishing boat died on Friday after being rescued along with the rest of his crew after their trawler sank in the Barents Sea near Norway's northern coast, Russian officials said. A Russian fishing industry official said the Koralnes, part of the Sevrybkom-1 company fleet, sank shortly after sending a distress signal at about 9:20 a.m. Moscow time (05:20 GMT). Fifteen crewmembers drifted in an inflatable raft until another Russian trawler picked them up, while two men spent sometime in the arctic water. "A Russian trawler rescued 15 Koralnes crewmembers from a raft, while a Norwegian rescue helicopter picked up the ship's captain and senior mechanic from the water," Sergei Vaganov said. Norwegian police said one of the two sailors, who were transported by a Sea Hawk helicopter to a hospital in the Norwegian city of Tromsoe, died from hypothermia. Another Russian official later confirmed that the captain of the ship had unexpectedly died in the hospital, despite arriving in a stable condition. Alexander Savelyev, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery, said that in his opinion the cause of the tragedy was the poor state of the vessel, which was built in 1987, and complacency on the part of the ship's owner. "This 'second-hand'...vessel had no watertight bulkheads and it took on water within seven minutes," he said. He also said that another reason for the tragedy was the inattentiveness of the Sevrybkom-1 company to the technical state of its ships.
Posted 24 April 2009; 4:34:12 PM. Permalink
(Associated Press, 17 April 2009) -- CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut - A man aboard a small passenger plane fought to push open the aircraft's door at 23,000 feet over northern Canada and leaped to his death, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing with the door ajar, police said Thursday. The Adlair Aviation plane with two pilots and two passengers was flying from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay, a community in western Nunavut, when the man jumped Wednesday night, said Staff Sgt. Harold Trupish of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Beechcraft King Air 200 twin-turboprop was about 110 miles (180 kilometers) from the Cambridge Bay airport when the man jumped, he said. Police were searching for the body of the 20-year-old, whose name was not released. Trupish said the pilots reported the passenger became unruly and they struggled to keep him from pushing the door open and leaping out. "The plane came in with the door open," he said. "Somehow they were able to control the aircraft to land. The three other people are all OK." Paul Laserich, general manager of the small family-owned airline that has operated in the Canadian north for more than 25 years, praised the pilots for getting the plane and their remaining passenger down safely with frigid Arctic air roaring into the cabin through the opening. "They brought the ship safely back. Everybody is OK. They are a little shaken up. They are OK. That is what is most important," Laserich said. He said the pilot was too distressed to talk to reporters.
Posted 17 April 2009; 2:53:43 PM. Permalink
(Christopher Eshleman/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 15 April 2009) -- FAIRBANKS — A handful of villages in rural Alaska face the prospect of difficult breakup this spring with possible flooding, the National Weather Service’s top hydrologist in Alaska said on Tuesday. In much of the state, including the Fairbanks area, snowfall and the thickness of frozen ice is almost at historical averages, hydrologist Larry Rundquist said. Points along the Kuskokwim River in Southwest Alaska could see severe breakup this year as river ice slowly melts, Rundquist said. Breakup season could be different as well in Eagle, where ice on the Yukon River recently measured 55 inches thick, almost 40 percent thicker than usual for late March or early April, he said. “There’s plenty of snowpack out there to cause problems this year,” he said. “We’ll just have to watch it week by week.”
Posted 16 April 2009; 3:46:13 PM. Permalink
(Richard Mauer and Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 4 April 2009) -- Redoubt volcano exploded Saturday morning with its biggest eruption yet, spewing ash 50,000 feet high and unleashing a flash flood through the Drift River to the oil terminal, where 11 workers were forced to hole up in a "safe haven." Flood waters lapped over a power generator, forcing at least a two-day delay in plans to offload millions of gallons of oil from the terminal, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The latest eruption came just before 6 a.m. The Weather Service issued an ashfall alert for the western Kenai Peninsula and residents reported that significant amounts of ash fell in Homer, Nikiski, Clam Gulch, Seldovia and elsewhere in that area of the Peninsula. "It kind of looks like snow, only it sucks a lot more," said Becky Brewer, a line cook at Fat Olives restaurant in Homer. "I think I had about a quarter inch of ash on my truck this morning." It's Homer's second ash fall in as many weeks and business quadruples every time this happens, said Jeff Grant, who manages a local car wash.
Posted 5 April 2009; 10:25:58 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 27 March 2009) -- YAKUTSK - Spring floods are threatening possible anthrax contamination from sites used to dispose of infected cattle in the Siberian republic of Yakutia, a sanitary official said on Friday. The Siberian republic has 259 anthrax landfill sites, 28 of them are under threat from flooding, posing a possible health threat to the population in seven regions. The situation is being made worse by global warming, which is causing Siberia's permafrost to melt, leading to soil erosion. "If landfill sites are eroded by flood waters, there is a threat of water contamination and subsequent infection of animals by anthrax spores that are active for 100 years," a spokesman for the regional department of Russian consumers rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor said. "In Yakutia, the last disposals were conducted in the 90s, therefore, anthrax bacterial spores will remain active for a long time," he added. In addition, the exact locations of many sites are unknown due to a lack of records. Anthrax affects both wild mammals and domestic cattle that ingest or inhale the bacterial spores while grazing. Humans can contract the disease if they are exposed to the blood or tissue of infected animals. It can be highly lethal, but in some forms responds well to antibiotic treatment.
Posted 29 March 2009; 8:05:20 PM. Permalink
(Deborah Zabarenko/Reuters, 24 March 2009) -- "A thick pancake of shiny black" covered the still waters of Prince William Sound in the hours after the Exxon Valdez split open in an ecological disaster that offers lessons for any future forays for Arctic oil, eyewitness and conservationist Dennis Kelso recalled. As Alaska's environment conservation chief 20 years ago, it was Kelso's job to enforce clean-up standards around the supertanker on March 24, 1989, as it leaked oil into prime fishing grounds. The Valdez ultimately spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaskan waters, fouling 1,300 miles of coastline and disrupting or killing marine wildlife. The clean-up cost more than $2 billion and is still proceeding. Exxon, now known as ExxonMobil, paid some $1 billion in damages, and state and federal governments are seeking $92 million more. Kelso, now with the environmental group Ocean Conservancy, remembered traveling to the spill site in a small Coast Guard vessel with Alaska's then-Governor Steve Cowper, about six hours after the Valdez hit Bligh Reef. ... Kelso saw the Valdez spill and its aftermath as a systemic failure. "It was the breakdown of an industrial system that the public had been assured would not break down," he said. "And because it was thought to be so reliable, some of the safeguards had been dismantled." Beyond the ecological devastation, Kelso said, the damage from the Valdez disaster calls into question whether Arctic offshore drilling should be part of U.S. energy strategy. Clean-up and recovery of oil has never been successfully accomplished in rough, ice-laden Arctic water, he said. The Bush administration's decision to offer millions of acres (hectares) of oil and gas leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Bristol Bay were based on 40-year-old information that failed to take the effects of global warming into account, Kelso said.
Posted 26 March 2009; 4:22:21 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 23 March 2009) -- A fourth explosion rocked long-threatening Mount Redoubt at 1:39 a.m. [on 22 March] after three eruptions earlier tonight [21 March] sent an ash cloud an estimated 50,000 feet into the air, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported. The first eruption came at 10:38 p.m. Sunday followed by another at 11:02 p.m., and a third at 12:14 a.m. today. Winds are carrying the ash plume north toward the Susitna Valley, and an ash advisory has been issued for the area until 4 a.m., the National Weather Service said. Ash is not expected in Anchorage or Wasilla at this time, the Weather Service said. An FAA official at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport early Monday told the Anchorage Daily News that there were no immediate plans to close the airport. Alaska Airlines canceled some flights today after the eruptions as a safety precaution. The airline's Web site suggested travelers check for updated flight information. The AVO describes the eruptions as "four large explosions."
Posted 23 March 2009; 12:57:39 PM. Permalink
(George Bryson/Anchorage Daily News, 18 February 2009) -- Shoreline bluffs between Barrow and Prudhoe Bay are tumbling into the Beaufort Sea about twice as fast as they were just 25 years ago, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. That could eventually pose problems for coastal villages and oil-drilling ventures, said USGS geographer Benjamin Jones, lead author of a paper published this week by the American Geophysical Union. The research by Anchorage-based USGS scientists and others focused on a 40-mile-long swath of coastline near Teshekpuk Lake—a fossil fuel and wildlife-rich area highly valued by oil companies and Native subsistence hunters. It lies within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, about 90 miles southeast of Barrow. In the 1960s and 1970s, about 20 feet of shoreline there eroded into the sea each year, the study found. The loss of land increased to about 28 feet a year during the 1980s and 1990s. From 2002 through 2007, however, the rate of erosion at the site jumped to 45 feet per year. That might just represent a temporary period of heightened erosion in a region that seems to erode faster than just about anywhere else in the circumpolar Arctic, Jones said. Or it might be a dramatic manifestation of climate change. The authors note that the fastest erosion occurred during a period of rapid decline in summer sea ice, which, when present, protects the coastal bluffs from summer storms.
Posted 21 February 2009; 10:23:44 PM. Permalink
(Mike Williams/BBC News, 5 February 2009)-- Kiruna, Sweden - Inside the Arctic circle, in the far north of Sweden, there is a city on a hill. Kiruna is a glittering place—even your breath sparkles, turning crystalline as you exhale. Looming over the city are the mountainous slag-heaps of the LKAB mine and, in the early hours of every day, Kiruna shudders and trembles as nearly 100 tons of high explosives detonate more than 1km underground, liberating thousands of tons of iron ore from the heart of the mountain. You can feel the blast more than you hear it—feel it in your chest and through the soles of your feet. The seam of magnetite runs from the top of Kiruna mountain, deep into the rock below, sloping underground towards the city. But the hollowed out earth is shifting now, cracking under Kiruna as the mountain slips sideways. So, they have decided to move the city, 4km (2.5 miles) down the road. Some buildings will be torn down and replacements built. Others will be dismantled, stone by stone, and reassembled in a new landscape. And some, like the magnificent wooden church, once voted Sweden's most beautiful building, will be lifted whole, and transported slowly down roads as yet unbuilt. Ann Helen Karlstroem lives close to the mine and her home will be among the first to go. ... "I am going to be a little sad because I thought our grandchildren could see where their parents were growing up," she says. Her husband, Erling, just wants to make sure their new home in this city in the wilderness is as big as the old one. He, like most people in Kiruna, are resigned to the move. Without the mine, the city would struggle to survive. But there is resistance from some of those who lived here first—the indigenous Sami people. For more than 2,000 years they have herded reindeer and they say the transformation of Kiruna will cut deep into their grazing lands and the migration paths of their animals. Hans-Goran Partopuoli learned to herd reindeer the hard way - walking and skiing long distances through a frozen landscape, to follow his animals. ... Hans-Goran explains why he is so worried about the plans to move the city. "It will make the grazing lands smaller for us," he says. "And they are building a new railway across the path where we go with the reindeer… so that's why we are very worried about this." To move Kiruna will take decades, but plans for the new railway are well-advanced and the electricity grid to power the new city is already in place.
Posted 6 February 2009; 3:11:37 PM. Permalink
(AP via Taiwan Times, 4 February 2009) -- Rescuers say a small helicopter crashed in the Norwegian Arctic and one person on board was killed. Norway's Rescue Coordination Center says a second person suffered minor injuries when the Eurocopter AS350 went down in heavy snow showers near the Swedish border. Recuse leader Anne Holm Gundersen says it is unclear why the aircraft crashed Wednesday during a flight from its base in the northern town of Harstad to Alta. Only two people were on board the five-passenger craft owned by Harstad company HeliTeam. The company said both were Norwegian but did not identify them by name.
Posted 6 February 2009; 10:40:01 AM. Permalink
(Regnum, 26 January 2009) -- An earthquake of magnitude 5.3 occurred in Yakutia. The tremor was registered at 06:30 local time (00:30 Moscow time). According to the Seismic Branch "Yakutsk", the earthquake was felt in the town of Tynda, but no damage was reported.
Posted 28 January 2009; 10:07:37 AM. Permalink
(Reuters via The Star Online (Malaysia), 14 January 2009) -- OSLO - A Russian trawler is sinking in Arctic waters off northern Norway and 19 crew members have been picked up by another Russian vessel, a Norwegian rescue official said on Tuesday. "I can confirm that 19 persons have been picked up," Geir Mortensen, spokesman for Norway's Joint Rescue Coordination Centres, said on Norwegian commercial television TV 2 news. The crew went to lifeboats before being rescued off the island of Bjoernoya in the Barents Sea by another Russian trawler in the vicinity, he said. Norwegian online news service Nettavisen reported that the captain of the Topaz had died and the vessel had sunk, citing an official at the shipowner JSC Murmansk Trawlfleet. Rescue officials could not confirm that the ship had sunk or whether the captain was among those rescued or not. Mortensen said two helicopters with medical personnel aboard were flying to the Russian vessel that picked up the men near Bjoernoya, the southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago. He said it was not clear what caused the shipwreck. "We got a report that it was listing and taking on water," he said.
Posted 13 January 2009; 2:25:19 PM. Permalink
(Kevin Chupka/ABC News, 24 December 2008) -- BARROW, Alaska - This is a town perched atop the world and on an icy Arctic Ocean, a town whose very existence is being altered by a melting sea most argue Mother Nature never intended. Barrow is the northernmost town in the United States, and in the winter is connected by the frozen ocean to the North Pole. The only way to and from the town for much of the year is by plane. Alaska Airlines flies in and out twice a day in converted Boeing 737s. The front half of the plane is given over completely to cargo, to allow for traveling Barrow residents to stock up on items that are hard to come by in this remote town, such as toilet paper and soup. ... Not everyone in town depends on the Nabiscos and Krafts of the world for their food, however. Nearly two-thirds of Barrow's citizens are Inupiaq, an Eskimo tribe that has subsisted off the land and sea for generations, hunting and fishing to survive instead of driving to the market. But now, their way of life is at risk because of the warming of the planet. The ocean that used to be frozen solid by mid-October now stays largely liquid until December or January. Erosion is chewing away at Barrow's borders, so much so that some in town imagine a day, not too far away, when they'll have to move the town further inland. ... It's not just the physical town that faces the dangers of a melting and encroaching ocean. Whaling, the chief industry here, is also in peril. The Inupiaq depend on the practice to survive Barrow's harsh winters. "If half of your meal is not the whale, then you'll have chapped lips all the time and your skin will dry up," Edwards said. "The air [here] has no moisture in it because it already has frozen and dropped and when you live in the Arctic you cannot stay very long in the cold unless your body can generate the fat that can counteract the cold. ... As a human being, we don't have the ability to make this fat like this, so we have to borrow it from the animal."
Posted 26 December 2008; 2:00:09 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 3 December 2008) -- Canadian scientists say they fear avian cholera could put the future of some eider duck colonies in the Arctic in jeopardy. Avian cholera is a potent bacteria-based disease that has affected common eider duck colonies in southern Nunavut and in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec in the last few years. "It is having devastating impacts on some of the largest colonies in the Canadian Arctic," said Grant Gilchrist, a research scientist with the National Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa. While avian cholera is highly contagious among waterfowl and other bird species, it cannot be passed on to humans. The disease has mainly hit colonies in the Hudson Strait and northern Hudson Bay. The East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Southampton Island has been particularly hard hit, as more than 4,000 common eider ducks were found dead there over the past few years. Gilchrist said almost 1,500 eider ducks were found dead on the island this year alone. That number accounts for about 33 per cent of all breeding females that nest there, he added. "It is targetting the breeding population of birds, which are typically long-lived," he said. "It's having detectable declining impacts on the populations during the summertime." Gilchrist said scientists are in contact with local hunters and trappers' organizations in several communities, hoping that hunters will report observations on where avian cholera is having an impact.
Posted 4 December 2008; 11:12:50 AM. Permalink
(David Landes/The Local, 6 November 2008) -- Sweden's military is testing a mobile airport in the north of the country which it hopes to deploy in the wake of natural disasters at home or overseas. By simply opening a few large containers, the Swedish military can set up a fully functioning airport basically anywhere, reports the Piteå-Tidningen newspaper. In development since 2002, the system includes an air traffic control tower, radar, and landing lights, all of which can be easily packed up and transported. "The equipment is to be used domestically but I see advantages for international missions. If a tsunami destroys a permanent airport, you can set up our stuff in an open field and quickly begin transporting in aid by plane," said Lars Kjellgren of the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), to the newspaper. Tests are currently being carried out at the Missile Test Range North (RFN) in Vidsel, and several countries have already expressed an interest in the technology. "The equipment is so unique that we're being visited this week by military officials from Poland, the Netherlands, and England," said Kjellgren. In December the mobile airport equipment will be handed over to the Armed Forces, which can then start to put the system to use.
Posted 5 November 2008; 11:59:18 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 16 September 2008) -- A short, sharp earthquake shook the Icelandic capital Reykjavik this morning at 7.25 am. The quake measured approximately 3.6 on the Richter Scale and woke many inhabitants in the area. The epicentre of the earthquake was north of Krisuvik on the Reykjanes Peninsula, a distance of some 25 km from Reykjavik and only 15 km from the suburb of Hafnafjordur. The Icelandic Meterological Office said in a press release that earthquakes this size occur occasionally in this area. At the time of writing, there have been no reports of injuries or damage to property in the Icelandic press. This is the second time this year that an earthquake has been felt in Reykjavik. A powerful quake on 29th May 2008, which originated in the southern town of Selfoss, measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale.
Posted 17 September 2008; 8:21:33 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiak, 14 July 2008) -- Two elderly Danes were killed by a glacial wave while visiting the Kangerluarsuk Fjord in western Greenland. A giant wave resulting from ice that melted and dropped from a glacier swept five Danish tourists into the icy Kangerluarsuk Fjord on Greenland's west coast Sunday, killing two, reports KNR radio. Uummannaq assistant police chief Carl Borup said that the tragedy occurred while the group of 15 tourists from the boat 'Kisak' stood on a plateau at the glacier to take pictures. 'Witnesses said that there was suddenly a loud sound like a helicopter and a huge wave came pouring in on them,' said Borup. Five tourists were pulled into the water, three of whom were rescued by emergency teams. The two men killed were 70 and 73 years old and both from the Copenhagen area. The 73-year-old man's body was found immediately after the wave hit, but the 70-year-old was not found until later that evening
Posted 15 July 2008; 3:24:54 PM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2008) -- Lonnie Kennedy was taking everything in stride Monday after a volcano next to the cattle ranch where he lives with his family on Umnak Island exploded over the weekend. "No worries," Kennedy said when asked how he and the family were doing after being rescued by a fishing vessel that brought them Sunday to Dutch Harbor. The volcano, on the other hand, was still agitated, spewing out a huge plume of ash reaching more than 6 1/2 miles high. "It is still kind of upset," said John Power, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory. "It is still pushing out ash. It is still behaving explosively." The Okmok Caldera, a 3,500-foot volcano on the island about 60 miles west of the fishing port of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, erupted at 11:43 a.m. Saturday. The volcano is 6 miles across and contains more than a dozen cones. The volcano's significant ash cloud was moving in a southeasterly direction Monday over the North Pacific. A light amount of ash was reported in Dutch Harbor on Saturday, but there has been little if any accumulation since.
Posted 15 July 2008; 1:14:52 PM. Permalink
(Reuters via Science Daily, 13 July 2008) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A volcano in Alaska's Aleutian chain erupted on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash 35,000 feet into the air and prompting the evacuation of the 10 people who live on the eastern side of the island, officials said. Okmok Volcano, located on Umnak Island, had an explosive eruption that started just before noon and was continuing through Saturday night, reported the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the joint state-federal agency that monitors Alaska's volcanoes. The volcano rises to 3,520 feet (1,073-metre) and is located about 65 miles southwest of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, a major fishing port with 4,300 full-time residents, and about 900 miles southwest of Anchorage. Shortly after the eruption, the residents of the island's cattle ranch, located close to the volcano, placed a call seeking evacuation, the U.S. Coast Guard said. A fishing vessel took the Umnak residents to Unalaska, the Coast Guard said. In Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, residents have been showered with a light ashfall, said Jennifer Adleman, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. … Okmok Volcano is highly active, with about 16 eruptions occurring every 10 to 20 years since 1805, she said. The last eruption was in 1997, an event that produced ash clouds and a lava flow that traveled five miles across the volcano's caldera floor, she said. There is a small Aleut village, Nikolski, that is also located on the other side of Umnak Island. That village of about 40 people is to the west of Okmok Volcano and out of the southeasterly path of the ash cloud.
Posted 13 July 2008; 5:54:43 PM. Permalink
(Bellona, 7 July 2008) -- A fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) has agreed to grant aid in the amount of €70 million to four projects cleaning up nuclear contamination in Northwest Russia. As manager of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund, the EBRD signed the funding agreements with Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, Nuclear Engineering International reported. The largest contract is worth €43 million and covers dismantling a former service ship's damaged spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. The five-year project will involve dismantling Lepse at its Murmansk moorings after retrieving spent fuel and safely managing its radioactive waste. Another €20 million project involves creating local temporary services over three years for transporting, then storing, spent nuclear fuel from Andreyeva Bay, just 50 kilometers from the Norwegian border. There, 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies from nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers "are kept in unsafe condition," according to the EBRD. The project aims to create safe buffer storage, while a long-term "overall remediation plan to retrieve and ship the fuel for treatment or long-term storage" is developed, said a bank memorandum. A third project, of €5.6 million, involves the defuelling by Rosatom of 1960s-built Papa class nuclear submarines over two-and-a-half-years, with spent fuel being unloaded and stored safely. This will "improve the environmental situation and reduce risks of nuclear and radiological accidents," said the EBRD. And a fourth €5.1 million grant will help improve radiation monitoring and emergency response systems in the Arctic Arkhangelsk Region, which also has sites of substantial nuclear materials and devices. The money will over two-and-a-half years go toward installing modern monitoring and communications systems and develop emergency plans covering all nuclear hazards in the region. The Administration of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences will manage this project.
Posted 9 July 2008; 1:54:51 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 30 June 2008) -- MOSCOW - International researchers investigating the Tunguska Event, an explosion exactly 100 years ago in central Siberia, say acid rain traces in the region back up the theory that the blast was caused by a meteorite. On June 30, 1908, an explosion equivalent to between 5 and 30 megatons of TNT occurred approximately 7-10 km (3-6 miles) above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote Siberian region. "Extremely high temperatures occurred as the meteorite entered the atmosphere, during which the oxygen in the atmosphere reacted with nitrogen causing a build up of nitrogen oxides," one of the authors of the joint research, Natalia Kolesnikova, told RIA Novosti. Kolesnikova said a similar impact 66 million years ago wiped out a significant portion of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs. The Tunguska blast flattened 80 million trees, destroying an area of around 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles). However, despite the shockwaves being detected as far away as the United Kingdom, the Tunguska Event went largely unnoticed, eclipsed by global events leading up to WWI, the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war. It took almost 20 years, until 1927, before a research expedition led by Leonid Kulik, a leading meteorite expert at the Academy of Sciences, first managed to visit the remote Siberian region and see the awesome destruction caused by the blast, and to take witness statements from locals living in the area. It was assumed that a huge meteorite had hit the area, although Kulik failed, during his research in Siberia, to find an obvious crater. In 1930, a British astronomer suggested the blast could have been caused by a small comet, composed of ice and dust, which would have been vaporized on impact with the Earth's atmosphere. The research carried out by the Moscow State Lomonosov University, Italy's Bologna University and Germany's Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig backs up the most likely theory of a meteor explosion.
Posted 30 June 2008; 7:06:13 PM. Permalink
(Xinhua, 24 June 2008) -- MOSCOW - Three earthquakes jolted Russia's far eastern region of Yakutia on Monday, causing no casualties or destruction, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Tuesday. The first quake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale occurred at around 18:00, Moscow time (1500 GMT) and the following quakes in the same area were weaker, Itar-Tass cited the Far Eastern regional center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. "The earthquakes were not felt in the republic' s settlements. There have been no casualties or destruction," the ministry's Far Eastern center reported. There's a small population in Russia's vast far east and the epicenters were reportedly some 150 to 160 km away from the settlements.
Posted 24 June 2008; 8:58:23 PM. Permalink