Monday, 31 December 2012

Around Marguerite Bay, Antarctic peninsula:
three research stations

Marguerite Bay is a major bay on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, along the Fallières Coast. The bay is bounded on the north by Adelaide Island and on the south by George VI Sound and Alexander Island.

In the background, the Antarctic Peninsula with the Ice Shelf on the Fallières Coast.

George VI sound, a 483 km long bay, usually frozen, between Alexandra Island and the Peninsula coast.
Located at 71°S, 68°W

By this time of the year, Summer is reaching its best days in Antarctica.  Temperatures may rise from -10º to 5º at most, and even some forms of vegetal life show up on rocks, now free of ice.

Three research stations are located close to the shores of Marguerite Bay: San Martin, an argentinian base at the small Barry Island; Rothera and Fossil Bluff, two UK bases, at the large islands of Adelaide and Alexandra.

San Martin, Barry Island

Barry Island is a small island, one of the Debenham Islands.
Coordinates: 68°08′S, 67°07′W.

Barry Island was charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) under John Riddoch Rymill, who used the island for a base in 1936 and 1937.

Argentina built the San Martín base in 1951, located on this island. Around twenty people live there all year round.

San Martín was for many years the southernmost station in the world, south of the Polar Circle. 

Maguerite Bay (or Margaret Bay) is a place of wonderful iced mountains scenery:

 At sunset

Through the 24-hour sunlight days of summer

To the west:

Rothera research station, Adelaide island
At 67° 34’ S, 68 ° 08’ W

The island is 140 km long and heavily glaciated with mountains of up to 2565m height. The station is built on a promontory of rock.

BAS Rothera Station was established in 1975 to replace old Adelaide Island Station. It is a large facility open throughout the year, and in the summer the population will peak at just over 100 people.

In the winter months, April to mid October, a compliment of around 22 will be continuing the science work and looking after the station infrastructure.

The Bonner laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility for terrestrial and marine biology: three dry labs, one wet lab, aquarium, library, microscope room...

Bransfield House, where the main comunity services are located, is the hub of the base: dining room, bar, library and TV rooms, computer rooms, communication facilities, meteorological facilities, dried food storage and kitchen.

Rothera serves as the capital of  the British Antarctic Territory.

The docking quay has regular visists from the BAS ship RRS James Clark Ross

The base also has 2 Twin Otters that allow fast support to Fossil Bluff station.

Stonehouse bay, a large body of water.  
Adelaide Island's largest glacier, the Shambles Glacier, calves into this bay (far right).

To the south:

Fossil Bluff, Alexandra island, George VI sound

Latitude 71°20' S, Longitude 68°17' W

This small base was established on Alexander Island in 1961. It is about 225 miles south of Rothera,

With summer-only occupation since 1975, the bluff is a collection of buildings and facilities, at the centre of which lies the hut.

Fossil Bluff only houses four people.

 The main hutt, named Bluebell Cottage

The base is operated by Twin Otters from Rothera station (90 to 110 minutes flight)  during the Antarctic summer season.

Giza Peak, backing the station to the West.

Summer in Antarctica can also be colourful:

Antarctic Pearlwort, a rare flowering plant in the Antarctic region, extends to as far as 60º South along the western coast of Antarctic Peninsula.

An almost-sunset at Rothera, the night of a long Summer day.

This was my New Year post. Happy 2013 for all visitors!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas wishes

Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the heart

Bernarda Fink sings one of the most sublime Bach arias: Merry Christmas for all, and happy holidays!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The long arctic night

In the high arctic latitudes, the sun is absent for two months. But sometimes, lucky days, the full moon shines:

Down here in lower latitudes we don't often value the precious sun light and warmth. Those are priceless but free gifts to be thankful for.

Photo: Carl Skou, Kullorsuaq, Greenland

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

'Le' Wildcat Café - heritage site in the Northwest Territories, Canada

The Wildcat Café is located in the heart of Yellowknife, on old town's Wiley Road.

Coordinates 62°27′N, 114°20′W

In 1992, the cabin was declared a heritage site as an important old building, one of the earliest permanent buildings in town.

Built in 1937-1938 by prominent pioneers Willie Wiley and Smokey Stout, the Wildcat is a reminder of pioneering days.

The Café is a vintage log cabin structure and represents the mining camp style of early Yellowknife.

The Wildcat was a gathering place for the founders of Yellowknife: prospectors, miners and pilots.

Prospectors wheeled and dealed, community members held meetings and banquets, while visitors came and went.

Great place to try caribou, bison, muskox, arctic char in addition to the usual cuisine. And a coffee.

In 2011, the city of Yellowknife decided to completely renovate the log building, which had settled far into the ground and was leaning dangerously in several directions at once.

Reconstruction and repair continued during the summer of 2012 and the opening has been delayed due to a number of unforeseen problems.

The Wildcat Cafe is currently scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2013. It is now one of Yellowknife's most popular attractions.

The residents only disagree om the article : Le Wildcat, or The Wildcat ? As for now, the The wins.

It is surely a warm comfort to have a nice coffee in the Wildcat.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Tyko Vylka, a Samoyed / Nenets artist

The Nenets are a branch of Samoyed native people of northern Siberia, an arctic population related to the north-scandinavian (Laponia) sami. They are a nomadic people, living traditionally in tents, herding reindeer and hunting bears and seals. For centuries abandoned and then used as a cheap labour force in plants, they have now started to be respected and to have their environment and costumes protected.

I have been posting here about Novaya Zemlya archipelago, off the coast of arctic Siberia; these islands' native population is a small Nenets tribe, that was expelled from the islands as the nuclear program began.

From that ethnic group came Tyko Vylka, a man that would play a major role in local History in soviet times. But also he came to be a renowned and broadly appreciated artist, and that is what I'm writing about now.

Tyko Vylka was born in 1886, at Belushya Guba, Novaya Zemlya, and grew up among the Nenets hunters.

He was a storyteller, social and political activist , but mainly he was the most famous Nenets painter and author, notable for his Arctic landscapes.

The fabulous landscape of Novaya Zemlya inspired most of Vylka works.

The creative activity of self-taught primitivist Tyko Vylka is one of a kind. It is original and inimitable, though his style is as simple as that of a child. Painting was Tyko Vylka’s hobby and a passion for life.

Belushya Guba, 1950

In 1909, Vylka leaves for Moscow, where he studied painting . In 1910, in Arkhangelsk, an exhibition "Russian North" presented for the first time Vylka's work.

Auroras are frequent over Belushya Guba.

Many of his paintings date back to the 1950s. By that time the painter had moved to Arkhangelsk.

Art Musem of the Arctic, Arkhangelsk - Vylka works on the right.

The theme in all Tyko Vylka’s paintings is the longing for his motherland and the idea of getting the world to know more about Novaya Zemlya through art.

Seing the Matochkin Strait

Nenets on Matochkin

Matochkin strait

Arkhangelsky Arctic Museum of Art:

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

yupiii, 150 000 at last !

Celebration day, as I reach a magic number of viewers, one hundred and fifty thousand!

This is the statistic of the 10 most visited posts on Ultima Thule:







04/09/2010, 3 comentários




(I still wonder why Oymyakon is the winner...)

Thank you all so much !

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Belushya Guba, main town in Novaya Zemlya (continued)

Belushya Guba is a small permanent settlement on the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, in a sheltered bay of the southern island .

There are presently around 2 000 people living in Novaya Zemlya's only town.

Belushya Guba ( "beluga whale bay", in russian: Белу́шья Губа́, or just Belushye, Belushka) is also the administrative center of Novaya Zemlya.

Coordinates: 71.5° N, 52.3° E

Belushya Guba was founded in 1895. The settlement started to flourish in 1954, when Novaya Zemlya became established as a nuclear test site.

Largely home to military personnel and their families, the town is being looked to as a future oil and mining hub as Arctic shipping lanes develop. It has recently been upgraded with colourful painting and new services.

The new church, landmark of a washed and painted Belushya Guba for the 21st century.

Two icons of Russia, the orthodox church and a statue of Lenine, facing defiantly each other.

Colourful playground for the local school

A new lifestyle arrives with democracy and economic growth.

At present, the town offers a middle school for 560 people, kindergartens, apartment houses, hotels, shop, a hairdressing salon, a photo studio, several consumer services, hospitals with 200 beds, a clinic, the base Club, sports center with a 25 m. swimming pool...

Belushya Guba's main and best building - the House of Officers

Rogachevo airbase

The airfield lies around 9 kilometers northeast of Belushya Guba.

It is the major airport of the archipelago, receiving two scheduled flights from the mainland each week. Rogachevo was founded in the 1950s as a staging base for long-range bombing missions.

The port at Belushya Guba

Novaya Zemlya is becoming popular with cruise ships looking to catch glimpses of the isolated polar bear population that inhabit the islands, as well as their mountains and glaciers.

The natural conditions allow year-round sailing of all types and classes of vessels with minimal cost for icebreaking support. The bay is well protected from high surf and drifting ice.

The bay is located in a zone of warm sea currents. Natural conditions allow for all types and classes of ships, with minimal need for ice-breaking support. The bay is well protected from sea turbulence and penetration of drifting ice.

The temperature in Belushya Guba ranges from −12°C  to +10°C  in the summer months.


Aurora over Belushya

Due to its arctic location north of the polar circle, Belushya Guba is often the scenery of magnificent auroras.

Next post: Tyko Vylka, an artist from Novaya Zemlya, arctic Russia