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Monday, September 24, 2012

Expedition To The Arctic

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A remote wildernessDuring the Boreal summer, between June and September, the Arctic becomes the land of the midnight sun, where the sun does not set below the horizon and the ice melts just enough to venture into the European Arctic's remote wilderness. Travelling by Zodiac remains one of the best ways to get up close to icebergs in Bjørn Oer (the Bear islands) in Scoresby Sund, eastern Greenland, where icebergs the size of apartment blocks dot the water in the thousands.


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During the Boreal summer, between June and September, the Arctic becomes the land of the midnight sun, where the sun does not set below the horizon and the ice melts just enough to venture into the European Arctic's remote wilderness. Travelling by Zodiac remains one of the best ways to get up close to icebergs in Bjørn Oer (the Bear islands) in Scoresby Sund, eastern Greenland, where icebergs the size of apartment blocks dot the water in the thousands.


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A flock of kittiwakes feed in the nutrient-rich waters in front of the Samarinbreen glacier. The frequent calving of icebergs from the glacier face disturbs the water and causes nutrients and plankton to rise to the surface of the water, an easy feed for the birds


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The 54-passenger Aurora Expeditions vessel, the Polar Pioneer, drops anchor in the iceberg-dotted bay of Harefjord in Scoresby Sund, Greenland, while passengers hike across the surrounding wildflower-and-grass covered tundra. 


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The town of Ittoqqorrtoormiit, population 400, is one of the most remote villages in Greenland. Established in 1925 due to food shortages in the south, the town is heavily subsidised by the Danish government, which maintains a territorial claim to Greenland for the rich mineral deposits that lie in the permafrost.


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Two cheeky children from Ittoqqorrtoormiit commandeer a Zodiac on the shores. Only a half dozen cruise ships visit the remote community in eastern Greenland each summer.


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One of the most remote settlements on the planet, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, was established as a coal mining town but has since grown to include a university, a number of hotels and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which ensures that the genetic diversity of the world's food crops is preserved for future generations. Anyone who leaves the town centre must be on alert: Svalbard is also home to 3,000 polar bears, who occasionally wander into the township. 


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Expeditioners hike across the tundra at Alkhornet in Svalbard, where lichen, moss and fungi thrive from the fertiliser left each season by the guillemot birds that use the cliffs as a nesting site.


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In preparation for the winter when they will find little prey, the wily arctic fox will bury small parcels of food, normally small chicks that have fallen from their clifftop nest, in the ground around their den. 


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Two wooden planks reinforce the door of an old trappers hut in Gnalodden, Svalbard, to protect it from both the elements and curious polar bears. Just beyond, the sheer, cloud-covered cliff is a nesting site for 20,000 guillemots and 2,000 kittiwake birds.


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A purple wildflower stretches towards the midnight sun in Greenland. Surprisingly warm, the tundra along the east coast of Greenland is a lush paradise filled with flowers, bees, moths and butterflies.


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The Sefstrom glacier in Alpefjord, Greenland, is accessible only in the summer. The glacier's brown colour is caused by the powerful ice grinding into the dirt and rock of the surrounding cliffs. 


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A polar bear enters the water near Greenland by crushing the edge of an ice floe. During the summer, the low ice levels make it difficult for the fierce predator to hunt seals. 


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As the sun begins to dip towards the horizon, it is only a matter of time before the Arctic's stunning landscape is ruled by ice yet again.

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