Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nicolas Peissel of BELZEBUB2 will talk about 2012 Northwest Passage - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ???

Nicolas Peissel will talk about his summer 2012 voyage through the Northwest Passage in a small sailboat at a free public talk Jan 12, 2013
The lecture and photo recollection will be held at 8 p.m. in room 1A1 in the Ewart Angus Centre at the McMaster hospital building. For more information, visit
Questions that the crew on BELZEBUB2 should answer:
1. Did you have a GPS aboard BELZEBUB2?
2. Did you download the GPS tracklines to your computer?
3. When you video recorded your voyage, why did you not show the GPS positions displayed by the GPS unit?
4. Did you observe at any time the POLAR BOUND commanded by David Scott Cowper?
5. Did you attempt to contact POLAR BOUND by VHF radio during your voyage?
6. What evidence do you have of the actual route you claim to have navigated? 
7. Did your webmaster handcraft your website voyage route graphic? Who is your webmaster?
8. Why do you claim to have navigated the McClure Strait route without so much as a Spot GPS tracker for proof?
9. Does any of your pictures or videos show headlands or prominent landmarks? Please provide captions to said graphics on your website,
10. What are your future voyaging plans?

Journey's end for Arctic heroes

LOCAL HEROES who risked their lives in the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War 70 years ago will be rewarded with a medal from the British Government.

The announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron was welcomed this week by Eccleshall Arctic Convoy veteran Donald Gray, Stone MP Bill Cash and Joyce Farnham, president of Stone’s Royal British Legion women’s branch.

Councillor Farnham’s campaign to honour the Arctic Convoy veterans was featured in the Newsletter last year.

She said: “It’s excellent news and everybody is so delighted about it. I think there are only about 200 veterans left but it is better late than never.”

Mr Cash paid tribute to Councillor Farnham’s efforts and John Caudwell’s financial support for a memorial for Bomber Command, unveiled in London last year.

He said: “I am delighted that both the Arctic Convoy veterans and Bomber Command are at last being honoured.”

Mr Gray, 89, embarked on six perilous Arctic Convoy missions between 1944 and 1945. He endured freezing conditions to escort vital supply ships through Arctic waters to Russia.

He was awarded the Russian Medal by the Russian Government in 1988 but it took 62 years for the British Government to issue an Arctic Badge, let alone a medal.

Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the convoy route as “the worst journey in the world”.

Mr Gray said: “I was pleased to hear they are going to issue a medal – we have waited for 70 years.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

S/V BEST EXPLORER (ITA) - 2012 NWP Video Recap

Video Link:


Students on Ice expedition provides unique learning experience for youth

Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Derrick Dalley.

The provincial government is providing $12,000 in financial support to allow a student from Newfoundland and Labrador to participate in the 2013 Students on Ice Expedition later this year.

The Students on Ice program is an educational expedition that takes place in the Arctic region. It focuses on learning about the environment and exploring the unique landscape of the northernmost area of the globe.

“The Students on Ice program offers a valuable opportunity for young students to experience first-hand Canada’s unique Arctic ecosystem,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Derrick Dalley. “Our government is very supportive of such initiatives, which encourage youth to become involved in activities that promote science and education, and provide a greater understanding of our marine environment and conservation issues.”

The program provides for in-depth learning about the Arctic environment and northern Indigenous cultures, while participants explore solutions to pressing global challenges. Participants are also inspired to make a difference in their own communities.

The 2013 excursion will explore the eastern Canadian Arctic and western Greenland between July 14 and 28. It will involve 70 international high school students, 14 to 18 years old, a team of 35 scientists, historians, artists, explorers, educators, innovators and polar experts, and 30 public and private sector leaders.

“Participants on Students on Ice expeditions become exceptional polar ambassadors who work to raise awareness in their home communities about the importance of many polar and global issues,” said Geoff Green, founder and executive director of Students on Ice. “We are delighted that once again this year, thanks to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, a student from Newfoundland and Labrador will get the opportunity to visit the Canadian Arctic, one of the world’s most unique places, and then bring back the knowledge they have gained to their friends, family, schools and communities. On behalf of Students on Ice and our many partners, I sincerely thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for contributing to the Students on Ice Arctic expedition and providing young people with a meaningful, positive and profound experience in their lives.”

While on the expedition, students participate in lectures, workshops, hands-on activities and small group seminars. They also have extraordinary wildlife encounters, educational day excursions, visits to remote Arctic communities and archeological sites, and opportunities to acquire first-hand knowledge and insight into the dynamics of climate change. This year marks the sixth Newfoundland and Labrador student sponsored to participate in the Students on Ice Arctic Expedition under the department's Coastal and Oceans Strategy program. About $59,800 in funding has been provided since 2010.

More information on the Students on Ice program can be found by visiting

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Canadian Arctic Expedition Proof Silver Dollar

Passionate about making people discover Canada through its coins, the Royal Canadian Mint is today pleased to commemorate the watershed discoveries of the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition on its 2013 Proof Silver Dollar. This flagship of the Mint’s collector coin program celebrates another milestone of Canadian history by reviving the fascinating story of intrepid explorers, mapping Canada’s Far North and studying its people, wildlife and resources to gain knowledge and understanding of previously unseen and unvisited parts of our planet. The legacy of this historic undertaking is now preserved in 99.99% pure silver on the 2013 Proof Silver Dollar and several other 2013 Mint collector products.
camint arctic exped silver proof dollar lg Canadian Arctic Expedition Proof Silver Dollar
“The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to issue a great variety of collector coins which bring events of our past back to life and spark interest in learning more about Canada’s fascinating history,” saidIan E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “The Canadian Arctic Expedition was one of our greatest adventures of the early 20th century and we are delighted to bring back the spirit of exploration and discovery by devoting our 2013 Proof Silver Dollar to its 100th anniversary”.
camint gold arctic Canadian Arctic Expedition Proof Silver DollarIn addition to the 2013 Proof Silver Dollar, the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition is commemorated on: the 2013 Brilliant Silver Dollar; the 2013 Fine Silver Proof Set; the 2013 $100 Gold Coin; and a duo of 99.99% pure gold and silver kilo coins. All these products can be ordered by directly contacting the Royal Canadian Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or on the Internet at These coins will also be sold at the Mint’s boutiques in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver as well as through the Mint’s global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets. Please see attached backgrounder for further product information.

About the Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada’s circulation coins. An ISO 9001-2008 certified company, the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit.

Arctic Oscillation switches to negative phase - colder winters means later ice openings?

Arctic sea ice extent for December 2012 remained far below average, driven by anomalously low ice conditions in the Kara, Barents, and Labrador seas. Thus far, the winter has been dominated by the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, bringing colder than average conditions to Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, and Canada.

The average sea ice extent for December 2012 was 12.20 million square kilometers (4.71 million square miles). This is 1.16 million square kilometers (448,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month, and is the second-lowest December extent in the satellite record.
At the end of December, ice extent in the Atlantic sector remained far below normal, as parts of the Kara and Barents seas remained ice-free. Ice has also been slow to form in the Labrador Sea, while Hudson Bay is now completely iced over. On the Pacific side, ice extent is slightly above normal, with the ice edge in the Bering Sea extending further to the south than usual. The Bering Sea has seen above-average winter ice extent in recent years and is the only region of the Arctic that has exhibited a slightly positive trend in ice extent during the winter months.
Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of January 7, 2013, along with daily ice extent data for the previous five years. 2012 to 2013 is shown in blue, 2011 to 2012 in green, 2010 to 2011 in pink, 2009 to 2010 in navy, and 2008 to 2009 in purple. The 1979 to 2000 average is in dark gray. The gray area around this average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Although the Arctic gained 2.33 million square kilometers of ice (900,000 square miles) through the month, ice extent in the region remained far below average. Ice growth remained slow in the Kara and Barents seas where air temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. Air temperatures over Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago were also slightly above average, while temperatures over Alaska were 2 to 7 degrees Celsius (4 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than average.
Winter sea ice variability is largely confined to the peripheral seas surrounding the Arctic Ocean. In the past, the dominant pattern of winter sea ice variability showed a distinct out-of-phase relationship between the Labrador and Greenland-Barents seas, with a less prominent seesaw pattern in the Pacific sector, between the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. In recent winters however, this out-of-phase relationship no longer appears to hold in the Atlantic sector. Ice extent has remained below average in both the Labrador and the Barents seas.
Successive winters with anomalously low sea ice in the North Atlantic have led to higher mortality rates for seals in the region. The United States government recently added the bearded and ringed seals to the list of creatures threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Figure 3. Monthly December ice extent for 1979 to 2012 shows a decline of -3.5 percent per decade. 

Average Arctic sea ice extent for December 2012 was the second lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2012, the linear rate of decline for December ice extent is -3.5 percent per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average. While the winter ice extent for the Arctic as a whole shows only modest declines, large negative trends are now found in nearly all of the peripheral seas, with the exception of the Bering Sea.
Figure 4. This image shows sea level pressure anomalies averaged for December 2012, compared to averages over the period 1981 to 2010. Sea level pressure was above average over Eurasia, extending into the Kara and Barents seas, and across Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.

The most important mode of variation in the Arctic’s winter atmospheric circulation is the Arctic Oscillation. When the Arctic Oscillation is in a negative mode or phase, sea level pressure is higher than normal over the central Arctic and lower than normal over middle latitudes. This pattern tends to keep the high Arctic relatively warm. It brings colder weather to Europe and North America because air masses can cross into and out of the high Arctic more easily. This pattern tends to favor the retention of thick ice in the Arctic basin by reducing the outflow of ice through the Fram Strait and strengthening the Beaufort Gyre, a clockwise circular pattern of ice drift in the central Arctic. The opposite conditions generally hold for a positive Arctic Oscillation pattern.
The specific influence of this winter’s negative Arctic Oscillation will depend not only on the strength of the sea level pressure anomaly, but also on the location of the sea level pressure center of action. While a negative Arctic Oscillation pattern tends to favor more ice in summer, this was not the case during the extreme negative Arctic Oscillation winter of 2009 to 2010.
The overall effect on the ice cover remains to be seen. Recent studies have argued that that strong warming of the atmosphere in autumn from summer sea ice loss favor the negative Arctic Oscillation phase.
Figure 5. The graph above shows January to December Arctic sea ice extent for the two lowest extent years in the satellite record. Year 2012 is shown in blue and 2007 is shown in green. The 1981 to 2010 average is shown in light blue while the 1979 to 2000 average is in dark gray. Sea Ice Index data. About the data 

While the year began with lower than average extent for the Arctic as a whole, extent in the Bering Sea was at record high levels for much of the winter. The seasonal decline of ice extent began slowly, such that in mid-April, extent for the Arctic as a whole was briefly near average levels.
Extent began dropping rapidly beginning in May, and by the end of the melt season on September 16, extent was at the lowest level recorded in the satellite record of 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). While summer weather conditions were not as favorable for ice loss as during 2007, the year of the previous record low, an unusually strong cyclone in August helped to quickly break up the already thin and fragmented ice cover in the Chukchi Sea. This cyclone—remarkable in its intensity and its duration—lasted for thirteen days, of which ten days were spent in the Arctic basin.
While it appears that a record low extent would have been reached even without the cyclone, thinning over the last several decades has made the ice more vulnerable to such storms, compared to earlier decades when the Arctic Ocean was dominated by thick, multiyear ice.
The annual average extent is now declining at a rate of -4.5 percent per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average and -4.6 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The 1981 to 2010 period is the 30-year climatology used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for their climate normals. Thirty years is a commonly-used period to define average or normal climate conditions. It is long enough to capture much climate variability, such as the different modes of the Arctic Oscillation, and short enough to be relevant for human timescales, such as agricultural cycles. NOAA updates its climate normals every ten years. For Arctic sea ice, use of the 1981 to 2010 period results in a lower extent than the 1979 to 2000 period, as seen in Figure 5, because the low extents of the last decade are included.
Record low ice extent was not the only remarkable event in the north. In June, Northern Hemisphere land snow cover set a new record for the least amount of snow cover in the 45-year record. A month later, the Greenland ice sheet experienced melt over more than 90 percent of its surface area, the largest melt extent recorded during the satellite data record.

Further reading

Simmonds, I. and I. Rudeva.  2012. The great Arctic cyclone of August 2012. Geophysical Research Letters39, L23709, doi:10.1029/2012GL054259.
Jaiser, R., K. Dethloff, D. Handorf, A. Rinke, and J. Cohen. 2011. Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation. Tellus A, 64, 11595, doi:10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.11595.
Stroeve, J. C., J. Maslanik, M. C. Serreze, I. Rigor, W. Meier, and C. Fowler. 2011. Sea ice response to an extreme negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation during winter 2009/2010, Geophysical Research Letters 38, L02502, doi:10.1029/2010GL045662.