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  • Did you know that there are many similarities between the Arctic and Antarctica? | South Pole 1911-2011
    the regions on Earth where precipitation is lowest Antarctica and the South Pole are land areas covered by ice whereas the ice around the North Pole in the Arctic is pack ice and ice floes that float on the ocean surrounded by land masses It is colder and windier in Antarctica than in the Arctic The lowest temperature ever measured 89 2 C was registered Vostok in Antarctica on 21 July 1983 When it is summer in the Arctic it is winter in Antarctica and vice versa Trees grow in the Arctic but Antarctica has only lichens mosses and a handful of plants The Arctic has indigenous peoples and permanent residents Antarctica has no permanent residents only researchers and others who visit the continent All dry land in the Arctic belongs to some nation whereas Antarctica is international territory The Arctic has tundra where the vegetation is rich in spring and summer Antarctica has no mammals that live on land In the Arctic several land based mammals can be found including reindeer arctic fox and muskox Both the Arctic and Antarctica have seals birds whales fish and krill There are research stations both in the Arctic and in Antarctica The

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  • Did you know that all expeditions to Antarctica must be approved? | South Pole 1911-2011
    in Antarctica is protected it is illegal to collect or otherwise harm plants and animals Photo Kit M Kovacs Christian Lydersen Norwegian Polar Institute Antarctica is the part of our planet that remains least affected by human activities and a strict set of regulations has been put in place to help keep Antarctica as pristine as possible The Antarctic Treaty from 1959 establishes the framework for management of the continent Norwegian citizens who are planning expeditions or other activities in Antarctica must send notification to the Norwegian Polar Institute one year before the activity begins This notification must include information about who will be going there the aims and scope of the expedition plans for cleanup and an analysis of the expedition s potential impact on the Antarctic environment The person in charge of the activity in Antarctica must arrange insurance or guarantees to cover the cost of search and rescue operations and any cleanup that might be required Antarctic flora and fauna are protected it is not permissible to collect or otherwise harm plants and animals The regulations give some leeway for gathering and capturing of individuals for research purposes but only with specific permission All waste produced during

    Original URL path: http://sorpolen2011.npolar.no/en/did-you-know/2011-12-07-all-expeditions-to-antarctica-must-be-approved.html (2014-09-28)
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  • Did you know that the Antarctic sun keeps dogs? | South Pole 1911-2011
    a hint of precipitation falling from nothing in the shape of very fine ice crystals known as diamond dust Diamond dust can form when the air is cold enough for all moisture to freeze often under otherwise clear skies It happens when slightly warmer air up above mixes with the cold surface air layer bringing down water vapour that freezes into minute ice crystals in the colder air What meets the eye is clear air with a sprinkling of bright flashes as the sun is reflected in the ice crystals looking like the twinkling of a thousand tiny diamonds Because these little prisms of ice have regular hexagonal shapes they refract the light in specific directions creating a magnificent palette of rainbow like phenomena that can take many different shapes Just before or after sunrise or sunset we can have a light pillar a vertical column of light growing from the horizon Then there is the common halo a ring around the sun or the moon if the sun is off duty that can be seen throughout the day When the sun gets lower in the sky the sundogs will come out They are twins two bright and often rainbow

    Original URL path: http://sorpolen2011.npolar.no/en/did-you-know/2011-12-06-the-sun-keeps-dogs.html (2014-09-28)
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  • Did you know that penguins used to live in Lofoten? | South Pole 1911-2011
    Norwegian Polar Institute Reindeer and fur seals on South Georgia Photo Kit M Kovacs and Christian Lydersen Norwegian Polar Institute In 1936 nine king penguins arrived in Norway with SS Neptune The birds had been provided by Consul Lars Christensen who was involved in whaling in Antarctica and the National Association for Natural Conservation had organised the whole scheme Two pairs of penguins male and female were released at Røst in Lofoten and two pairs and one juvenile were released at Gjesvær in Finnmark both release sites in northern Norway In the ensuing years other penguin species were released at Røst macaroni penguins and African penguins The birds were placed on islands with easy access to the sea and no predators Over the years that followed penguins were sighted in western Finnmark and along the coast of Nordland This continued until the last observation in 1949 It is not clear whether any of the penguins that had been released managed to reproduce but some evidence suggests that they did Not everyone understood what kind of creature these birds were however One of the Gjesvær penguins wandered into a farmyard in Gamvik in 1937 and was killed by a matron who claimed it was a freak of nature that had invaded her yard Between 1909 and 1925 Norwegian whalers introduced reindeer to the Antarctic island of South Georgia They did this to ensure that there would be enough food for the people at the whaling stations there The reindeer adapted well to the new types of forage and the new climate and have reproduced on the island At present the population numbers around 3000 individuals but they pose a threat to the island s ecosystem through overgrazing and displacement of other species such as seals penguins and petrels There are plans

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  • Did you know that Africa and Antarctica were once neighbours? | South Pole 1911-2011
    consisted of Antarctica Africa India Australia and South America A cliff face in Jutulhogget not far from the research station Troll Criss crossing magmatic dikes reveal the sequence of events that have occurred deep inside the earth through the eons Photo Synnøve Elvevold Norwegian Polar Institute At that time Dronning Maud Land shared borders with Africa Madagascar Sri Lanka and India About 200 million years ago Gondwana started to break apart and some pieces e g Africa and India began to drift northward towards their current positions Fossilised remains of ferns freshwater fishes amphibians and reptiles prove that Antarctica has not always been covered in ice It is likely that the continent has been glaciated repeatedly during the past 40 million years and it is the eroding power of ice that has sculpted the mountains and landscapes we see today The shapes of the mountains depend on the composition and structure of the bedrock Different types of rock weather differently hard rocks will give rise to nunataks and mountains with sheer cliffs like Stabben in Antarctica Stabben consists of coarse grained syenite a rock that is much more resistant to erosion than the gabbro that makes up most of the

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  • Did you know that Peter I Øy was once a fiery volcano? | South Pole 1911-2011
    sight of the Antarctic Continent That was during his expedition on the sailing vessel Vostok in January 1820 One year later 11 January 1821 he spotted land in a completely different part of Antarctica That was the day he discovered the island he named after the Russian czar Peter I Øy The island lies in the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica about 450 kilometres west of Ellsworth Land on the Antarctic Peninsula The weather was too rough for von Bellingshausen and his crew to go ashore on the island they had named We don t actually know for certain whether anyone ever set foot there before Ola Olstad and the crew of Norvegia landed on 2 February 1929 and annexed Peter I Øy to Norway The island was declared a Norwegian dependent territory in 1931 Peter I Øy is relatively small just 156 km thus being a bit smaller that Bjørnøya in the Barents Sea Most of it is covered with ice only about 5 of its surface is exposed Peter I Øy is volcanic and the highest point on the island is the top of the extinct volcano s crater towering 1640 metres above sea level The peak has

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  • Did you know that the Arctic tern flies between the Arctic and Antarctica? | South Pole 1911-2011
    off the coast of western and southern Africa Of all birds the Arctic tern holds the world record for long distance migration Arctic terns do not nest in Antarctica but there are several bird species that do Approximately 45 species of seabirds and penguins live in Antarctica but only a handful have adapted to the extreme climate farther inland on the Antarctic continent Those few hardy species live at the limit of what is physiologically possible and must fly as much as 11 000 km to find food Seabirds in Antarctica are closely tied to the marine environment and find all their sustenance in the sea Many spend their entire lives at sea and visit land only to nest In Antarctica three groups of seabirds predominate penguins seven species albatrosses six species and petrels 23 species Penguins make up an entire 85 of the total body weight biomass of Antarctic seabirds Antarctic petrel Photo Stein Ø Nilsen Norwegian Polar Institute Thick layers of subdermal fat masses of insulating down and thick impermeable plumage make it possible for seabirds to survive in Antarctica The subdermal fat insulates but is also an important energy reserve in times when there is little food The nesting season in Antarctica lasts from the end of November to the end of February The breeding cycle has evolved so that food availability will be optimal at the time when the chicks become independent from their parents For many species Antarctic krill is the most important prey Data from Antarctic petrels fitted with satellite transmitters show that these birds can fly as much as 11 000 km in search of food They fly over ice covered waters several times more extensive than the Barents Sea Foraging trips that long mean that the chick must be able to wait

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  • Did you know that the South Pole sees only one day per year? | South Pole 1911-2011
    also the middle of a very long day lasting exactly 6 months The summer solstice marks the point of time when the sun will be heading down again for the first time since June To put it in physical terms this happens because the rotational axis of the Earth is tilted in relation to the plane of the planet s orbit around the sun At summer solstice the Earth will be reaching the point in its orbit where the southern end of the rotational axis has its maximum inclination towards the sun The southern end of the rotational axis is by definition the South Pole so you might say that this is the day when the Pole points as much towards the sun as it will ever do during a year As seen from the ground the sun will culminate in its path across the sky having reached an elevation of roughly 23 5 degrees above the horizon What is unusual about the Pole is that the sun stays at that elevation the whole day It does not rise in the morning nor go down in the evening it merely circles the horizon at the same elevation throughout the 24

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