Posts Tagged "norway"

Survival is just the tip of the iceberg in Blair Braverman’s memoir on Arctic life

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Experiences, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Survival is just the tip of the iceberg in Blair Braverman’s memoir on Arctic life

Spread the News:Share“On a bad day we called it the Goddamn Ice Cube. On a good day Summer Camp on the Moon.”   In her memoir published July 5, writer and musher Blair Braverman recounts her time living in the isolated wilderness of the Arctic, and her struggles to reconcile the many contradictions—both real and perceived—that accompanied her journey. Over the course of its 274 pages, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North provides an honest and eloquent narrative of Braverman’s personal pursuit to create a home in the fjords of Norway and glaciers of Southeastern Alaska. While Braverman’s experiences in the north were not always positive, she persistently returns to the Arctic to overcome her fears and self-doubts–seeking safety in extreme environments and confronting her status as an outsider in a “man’s world.” Her Arctic roots trace back to a young age. Braverman spent a year in Oslo when she was 10-years-old and continuously returned, feeling connected to the country in a way that she never felt in her hometown of Davis, California. A year as a high school foreign exchange student in Norway helped her reestablish her connection. But a host father who made her feel unsafe also made her time there difficult. Braverman was insecure, but not defeated. As testament to her personal strength and character, she pushed herself to return to Norway and struggle through the extreme physical and mental challenges of survival training and dog sledding in the Arctic at the Norwegian Folk School 69°North. “I knew I would never be a tough girl,” she writes in the memoir. “And yet the phrase, with its implied contradiction, articulated everything that I wanted for myself: to be a girl, an inherently vulnerable position, and yet unafraid.” In the far reaches of the North, there were many things to fear—the biting cold, the seemingly unending darkness of winter, being buried alive under the snow. However, Braverman approached these physical challenges head-on throughout her time at 69°North and in the years to follow. “Of course I was scared. But at least I was scared of dangers of my own choosing. At least there was joy that came with it.” There were other equally pressing physical and emotional dangers that Braverman faced, one of which is not exclusive to the Arctic: the danger of men threatening her safety and encroaching on her body. In the eyes of the men Braverman encountered, the Arctic was seen as exclusively male territory. Despite the intimidation, harassment, and dismissal by men, Braverman was determined to have an equal right to also call the Arctic “home.” After completing her survival training at the folk school, Braverman left Norway to work at a summer tour company on a glacier in southeast Alaska. Living on a remote glacier with an aggressive boyfriend, the irony of her job cannot be lost—providing a comfortable experience for tourists to be “explorers” out in the wilderness, when the reality of living in such an environment is anything but comfortable. She writes in the book that she was also “discouraged from acknowledging climate change, even as the glacier melted away beneath us.” While the majority of people may prefer to sweep difficult truths under the rug, Braverman is admirable for her desire to seek it out, regardless of convenience. While Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is, to a large degree, a story of emotional and physical struggle, it is also one of deep admiration for nature and the Arctic. Braverman’s love of the environment is contagious and brought to life through her vivid...

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1,400-Year Old Sledge Thawed Out of Norwegian Glacier

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 6 comments

1,400-Year Old Sledge Thawed Out of Norwegian Glacier

Spread the News:Share  In the most recent issue of the Journal of Glacial Archaeology (JGA), a team of Norwegian scientists from the Hordaland County Council and University Museum of Bergen announced their discovery of a prehistoric sledge freed from the ice.  The discovery, announced in the 2015 article, followed significant melting of the Vossaskavlen Glacier in western Norway. A team of Norwegian surveyors discovered the artifact, after they spotted what appeared to be poles marking a route over the glacier, approximately 50 meters from the ice edge at an altitude of 1500 meters.  Upon further examination, the team of archaeologists found 21 wooden fragments with signs of craftsmanship. Radiocarbon dating puts the age of the pine wood sledge fragments between 545-655 AD, or to the beginning of the Late Iron Age. This makes it the oldest sledge ever found in Norway. According to the article, the archaeologists determined the wood originated from a sledge by way of several clues, such as rounded notches on several pieces. These notches indicated that the pieces were likely used as supports between the runners and the deck that stored cargo. Previous archaeological finds in the northern part of the Vossaskavlen, including skis dating back to the medieval period, a spearhead from the Early Iron Age, and arrowheads from the Late Iron Age, support the notion that the area was frequently used as an east-west crossing route, as well as for hunting. The archaeologists hypothesized the region could have once been used to transport trade goods over a two kilometer stretch of the glacial plateau in the warmer months, or employed by hunters to carry large prey, such as reindeer, back to their villages during the cold months. The archaeologists from Hordaland County Council and University Museum of Bergen were not able to be reached GlacierHub regarding queries on the specifics of the expedition and further comments on the historical significance of the find by time of publication. Approximately eight kilometers east of the archaeological site lies a mountain village named Hallingskeid, which is believed to have been a meeting point for trade and festivities between the people of east and west Norway. Historians speculate the trade route was only in use when the weather was warm, as the inclement winter climate hampered trade and other social and professional activities.   However, the artifacts were found at the edge of a flat two kilometer section of the glacier, and would have made transporting goods across that distance significantly easier.  The archaeologists hypothesize the sledge could have been left each season to help in the transportation of trade goods, then forgotten or abandoned, and finally buried under the ice for the next 1,400 years. The article states two types of sledges were historically used.  One was lighter, equipped with ski runners, and pulled by humans.  The other was stronger, heavier, outfitted with sleigh runners, and pulled by horses.  The remnants discovered in 2014 appear to have originated from the lighter variety. Until a major melting event in the summer of 2006, most of the plateau was covered in glacial ice and snow.  Additional melting between 2006 and the time of discovery released the remains of the sledge from the ice that preserved it for nearly one and a half millennia. According to the Archaeological Institute of America, between 2006 and 2013 more than 1600 artifacts have been found in Oppland County, Norway, which is northeast of Vossaskavlen, alone. This explosion of artifacts brought on by rapid melting of glaciers and ice patches brought on by rising global temperatures presents an opportunity for archaeologists to locate well preserved...

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Photo Friday: Jostedalsbreen Glacier

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Jostedalsbreen Glacier

Spread the News:ShareJostedalsbreen Glacier, the largest glacier in northern Europe, is located within Jostedalsbreen National Park which was founded in 1991 in Norway. The Jostedalsbreen Glacier is so large that it alone covers over a third of the park and separates two of the longest fjords in the world. It is fitting that Norway has such an imposing glacier since the most iconic Norwegian characteristics—fjords and valleys—owe their creation to past glacial movements. Scientists have flocked to this glacier for centuries to study its retreat since the Little Ice Age, particularly with an interest in studying post-glacial vegetation and landscape. As climate change accelerates glacial retreat across the world, a degree of urgency is added to the quest to learn from Jostedalsbreen Glacier’s retreat. Sometimes, the past can help us prepare for the future.   - MattW -/Flickr Karen Blaha/Flickr Karen Blaha/Flickr Guttorm Flatabø/Flickr Roman Königshofer/Flickr Spread the...

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Glacier Retreat Ushers in Arachnids

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Glacier Retreat Ushers in Arachnids

Spread the News:ShareHarvestmen— a spider-like arachnid— are among the first creatures to inhabit land in the wake of glacier retreat, according to a recent study by Sigmund Hågvar and Daniel Flø in the Norwegian Journal of Entomology. The land where glaciers have recently melted is an ideal habitat for creepy-crawlies including spiders, beetles, and other invertebrates. Perhaps surprisingly, these predators are often the first species found on this new land, before herbivores and even plants, although classical theories in ecology state that it should be the other way around. The authors suggest that this reversal is made possible by the availability of two types of prey: insects that fly in from neighboring areas or are carried in by the wind, and midges that hatch in the carbon-rich puddles formed by meltwater from the retreating glaciers. Although Hågvar and Flø mention other species in their article, the study focuses on Mitopus morio, a common spider-like creature in the arachnid family called a harvestman (Opiliones). In America, harvestmen are commonly known as daddy-longlegs. These creatures are both predators and scavengers, since they consume living and dead invertebrates. Having a relatively short life cycle of only one year, young harvestmen hatch during snowmelt in spring and die as mature adults in the fall. Due to their habit of living on newly uncovered land, harvestmen are considered pioneer invertebrates. Harvestmen are found across Norway, but Hågvar and Flø focused on the ones living in areas of glacier retreat, specifically at the Midtdalsbreen Glacier near the mountain village Finse. This glacier drains the eastern portion of the Hardangerjøkulen (Hardanger Ice Cap). The study was conducted in different areas— on land that was uncovered 205 years ago and on more recently uncovered terrain. Hågvar and Flø found that harvestmen greatly outnumbered spiders except at the oldest site, and also outnumbered the total number of carabid beetles located at three of the sites (areas uncovered 40, 160 and 205 years ago). In the land that has been uncovered for three years, harvestmen follow the glacier retreat, living alongside the glacier’s edge. The creatures live on barren ground, meaning there doesn’t need to be any vegetation for them to thrive. The lack of vegetation allows them to move freely, and the empty land is better heated by the sun— an important benefit for these cold-blooded organisms. The study found that the harvestmen thrive best during warm and dry years. Because of the quick establishment of life on what is considered inhospitable land, harvestmen serve as a reminder that nature is remarkable and surprising. Spread the...

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Norway’s Gift to Finland: A Mountain and a Snowfield

Posted by on Dec 24, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Norway’s Gift to Finland: A Mountain and a Snowfield

Spread the News:ShareNorway may present its neighbor Finland with an unusual gift: a mountain 1331 meters in elevation, with a permanent snowfield at its top. This peak, Halti, lies a few hundred meters on the Norwegian side of the boundary between the countries.  Though it is small by Norwegian standards—it does not appear on the ranking of the country’s 200 tallest mountains—it would become the highest peak in Finland. The current summit to hold that record, Haltitunturi, is just 7 meters lower; it is a high point on a ridge that descends from Halti itself. (A kilometer to the north, further within Norwegian territory, there is a higher peak,  Raisduotthaldi, which rises to 1361 meters in elevation; it has not been offered as a gift.) To accomplish this transfer, Norway would cede only a tiny portion of its territory, a triangle 1.5 hectares in area. The idea was first proposed in the 1970s by Bjørn Geirr Harsson, the former chief engineer of the Statens Kartverk, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, after he had observed the close proximity of the summit to the border while on a helicopter survey of the region.  When he learned earlier this year that Finland would be celebrating the centennial of its independence from Russia in 2017, he decided that this anniversary would be a good occasion to bring his idea into fruition.   The Facebook page that discusses this gift has over 10,000 likes, with numerous comments from Norwegians and Finns, nearly all of them positive, and a few positive comments from others as well. Liisa Malkki, a Finnish anthropologist at Stanford University, shared this enthusiasm in a recent email to Facebook, in which she described the idea as “a beautiful breath of imagination from Norway!”  In another email interview, Rasmus  Gjedssø Bertelsen, a Danish political scientist at the University of the Arctic in Tromsø, Norway, expressed a similar sentiment, calling it “a great gesture from Norwegians.” The story has attracted attention in the press and social media in Norway and Finland, in the other Nordic countries of Sweden and Denmark,  and in more distant countries, include the UK,   Russia and Turkey. These stories note that the full diplomatic negotiations to accomplish this transfer have yet to begin, though the Norwegian Mapping Authority and its Finnish counterpart have both expressed their support.  A recent post on Gizmodo describes the idea as “truly embracing the Christmas spirit—the part where you give of yourself.” The theme of holiday generosity is also expressed by CNN, whose story calls the proposed transfer “the pinnacle of gift-giving.” Moving #mountains: #Norway wants to give #Finland a new highest #peak @CNNI https://t.co/K0AEb8uEQI — Markus Ahonen (@MarkusAhonen) December 18, 2015 By contrast, the centennial itself has attracted less attention. Only a few bloggers have emphasized the long, tangled history between Finland and Russia, pointing out that the Soviet Union invaded Finland during World War II. The Soviets occupied  border territories and retained them after the end of the war. The Finnish residents of these areas were evacuated to Finland.  More recently, tensions between Norway and Russia have increased. The cooperation between the countries declined after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, and deteriorated further when  Russian military planes entered Norwegian airspace earlier this year. GlacierHub has found that some Finns find the mountain important, not only for its height, but also for its links to glaciers and ice and to cryosphere science.  Antti E.K. Ojala and his colleagues conducted paleomagnetic dating of sediments in nearby lakes to trace the activity of the Halti Glacier, a large mass of ice on the higher portions of the mountain, which they...

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