ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barneo Bear Incident–(Updated)

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It sadly seems that the Russians are incapable of getting through a of year running a tourist trap at the North Pole without doing something that causes the heads of the politically correct to explode. Of course, the politically correct are very touchy  sensitive, and I myself have been known to pass through polite circles leaving accidental craters in my wake. But the Russians can’t seem to avoid offending elitist whack jobs nature-lovers.

Two years ago it was a crashed jet that besmirched the pristine snow.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/arctic-sea-ice-barneo-2016-the-mystery-of-the-missing-jet/

Last year they offended the Norwegians by having soldiers march about, and the Norwegians offended the Russians by instituting a three-day-wait for tourists going to Barneo, so bags and backgrounds could be checked.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/arctic-sea-ice-some-barneo-bombast/

Sadly I think tourists may have been turned off by how badly they were treated last year. Norway may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg, by being so politically correct, for Svalbard stood to make a nice chunk of change from North-Pole-tourism. Or perhaps the elite are nervous about their wealth, with Hillary losing, and are less willing to pay $30,000 for a five day junket to the North Pole. In any case, there seem to be far fewer tourists this year.

Not that I pay any attention to all the fun they are having. Nope, not me. I am utterly focused on the sea-ice in the background, and I’m not at all jealous. Nope, not me. Disinterest is my middle name.

In any case, this year everything has gone like clockwork, but as they collect snow to melt for water, who is the water for?

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However it was with great dismay I then noticed they were already disassembling the tourist lodges, two weeks early.

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However there was hope for the future. The lack of customers might be explained by the failure of Norway and Russia to iron out their differences until the last minute. Also the wonderful efficiency of the crew might be seen as practice, and as a dry run for next year.  What’s more, commitment to landing on the sea-ice might be seen in the fact a small passenger airplane called the L-410, (originally developed in the late 1960’s), was resurrected and production has started again, and one landed at Barneo.

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A few skiers did show up, and found beautiful weather and conditions that appear far better than last year’s. (I love the pictures they post, which allow me to study the sea-ice.)

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Right at this point, when it seemed the Russians might get through a year without offending anyone, a 1500 pound bear walked up to introduce itself to a 140 pound woman, and the woman was politically incorrect, whipping out a gun and blasting the bear.  There may have been a desire to hush up the incident, but it later made the Barneo Facebook page. Here is a translation:

“Our season rarely follows a rigid schedule: one day we’re relocating the camp because of a crack, another day we’re trying to deliver spare parts from Moscow for broken tractors, and so on. We did this season without such kind of a cataclysm, but… An incident has occurred, a sticky one, and – most importantly – a dangerous kind of event.

I already used to tell about bears who terrorize skiers on the route: invaders are walking within 50 meters from the group, men put them off with rocket launcher, and they get back after a while. Each group leader has a rifle for that case.

So, a few days ago it happened that one skier fired a pistol at a bear. She had a Magnum, a combat weapon. I’m not a gun expert but I know this unit has a huge penetrating power. The bear was wounded and then disappeared. It’s hard to say how appropriate it was for the purpose of self-defense; it really may be do-or-die situation. But. The group leader Dirk Dansercoer did not informed the chief expedition leader at the Barneo Station about the incident. He did not informed the person responsible for safety of all of us. It means that people who wounded a dangerous creature concealed the fact that all groups following the same course are in danger from now on. It’s hard to predict how a wounded bear behave.

As soon as we started to get troubling messages that one of the groups is followed by a bear leaving footsteps of blood, we explored from Dirk Dansercoer (who already was at Longyearbyen) the details of the incident. Today all the groups are aware of that danger, they have established a day-and-night duty. And we scheduled a hotwash for all of the guides to elaborate rules for that sort of incidents.”

I can’t really blame a woman for defending herself, but I just know the Russians will catch hell for this. (Groan)

Not that I care. Disinterestedness is my middle name. What is it to me if a lady has a bear for dinner, or vice-versa? All I care about is sea-ice, right?

The ice Barneo is sitting on has slowed its drift in the kind weather, though the temperatures are slowly dropping, from -15°C on April 16 to -24°C on April 18 (which demonstrates the Arctic continues to lose heat under clear skies, despite 24-hour-a-day sunshine. The sun is simply still too low. Any warming is still imported from the south. But the imported air chills more slowly now.)

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 UPDATE

There is more to this than meets the eye. From yesterday’s Barneo Facebook page:

In the matter of yesterday’s message about the bear incident: as we just learned, the case is more complicated than it appears to be. Mr. Dansercoer misinformed us. Now the incident is exploring by Norwegian Police; as far as we know, they have a footage and witness testimony. We’ll inform our readers as soon as we get exact knowledge.

But then I suppose the lawyers got involved. From today’s page:

Victor Boyarsky, a member of the International Polar Guides Association, has just informed us that the Bear Shooting Case study is scheduled soon after completion of the Barneo season. They will make a decision after consultations with all the people involved. Until that moment we won’t make any comments on the matter.
http://www.polarguides.org/ipga-guides/guide-directory.html…

What interests me most is the mention of “footage.” Now, that would be an interesting bit of film to see. I hope it appears on You Tube. But I suppose the reputation of an arctic guide is at stake, so we should be patient. I do know one thing: Those bears could care less about our rules and regulations.

In other news, a new lead (crack in ice with, initially, open water exposed), apparently has made one end of the runway unusable, so they extended the other end. I can’t find any pictures of it yet, nor a description of how wide it is, but here is a nice picture of a “pressure ridge” (what happens when the two sides of a “lead” slam closed):

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WHO IS SMARTER? SCIENTISTS OR POLAR BEARS?

(A blogger named “lectrikdog ” suggested this fragment of an earlier post should be a post all on its own, so I decided to take the advice.)

The thing that bothers me about typhoons is the same thing that bothers me about summer thunderstorms. It seems obvious to common sense that they uplift warmth and lose it to outer space, but common sense is, I have been told, wrong. By the time air is uplifted to the top of a powerful typhoon it has been chilled to -70°C, and air that cold has no heat left in it to lose. They can measure it with satellites, and the satellites show cloud tops at -70° are not radiating heat like a cloudless desert baked to +110°.  It makes sense to me. Obviously a cold stove does not radiate heat like a stove that is cherry red.

However my common sense simply doesn’t give a -bleep-. It knows a thunderstorm cools a summer day, and that is that. I don’t care if satellites can’t see any heat escaping. It is gone. (We have been going through a late summer heat wave here in New Hampshire, and a passing storm brought us wonderfully refreshing breezes today, even though the storm didn’t hit us.)

In like manner, my common sense knows typhoons cool the planet. Maybe I can’t explain why, but some things you just know. A small child might not understand electricity, but after sticking a fork into an outlet one time, the child has enough common sense to not repeat the experiment.

This morning I pointed out polar bears don’t care if scientists state there is no food out beyond the continental shelf, they go out there and get fat. Polar Bear healy-aug-24-2015-polar-bear-v-tim-kenna(Photo Credit: Tim Kenna)

In a way bears are smarter than scientists. And in a way I was nearly as smart as a bear, at age ten.

A half century ago my gang was faced with crossing thin ice, and many doubted the ice would support our weight. I was a ten-year-old leader, oldest and wisest. Somewhere I had learned ice can support more weight if you spread your weight out, so I lay down and slithered across the ice spreadeagled on my belly.  Flush with success, I turned, raised an index finger, and grandly pronounced, “This ice is safe!” I also was so filled with confidence that I stood up, and promptly plunged down waist-deep into ice-water, to the joy of the rest of the gang, who didn’t always approve of the egotism involved in my leadership.

Polar Bears may be worse egotists, for all I know, but they do not raise index fingers and make ridiculous pronouncements, most likely because they don’t have index fingers and can’t talk to the verbose degree we can. Scientists, on the other hand, do have index fingers, and make a lot of scientific pronouncements, and can be verbose.

After making careful measurements of the load-bearing ability of ice, and the weight of a polar bear’s massive paws, and consulting engineers who know far more about such stuff than they do, they pronounce ice cannot hold up a bear. (They are much like my gang once was.) The bear doesn’t care. Even though they often swim ice water that would freeze a man in 300 seconds, and have been known to cross hundreds of miles of open water, they apparently don’t always like to get wet, if they don’t have to. So, when they get to thin ice they do exactly what I did at age ten:

A polar bear slides across thin Actic Ocean ice Aug. 21, 2009.

(Photo Credit: Patrick Kelly)

In short, some scientists need to get out more. They have no actual experience of the outdoors. They spend far too much time glued to computer screens, and despite the exactitude of their measurements, Polar Bears are smarter than they are.

(A hat-tip to http://polarbearscience.com/ , which is a wonderful (and perhaps the best) source of information about bears, and to http://iceagenow.info/ ,  which often includes tales of arctic wildlife unnaturally far south, among headlines and links to stories of arctic weather the mainstream media seems inclined to shun.) (The view of the fat bear taken by Tim Kenna was from the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, now approaching the Pole. Learn more here: http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2015/08/24/moving-into-the-realm-of-the-polar-bear/  and here: http://polarbearscience.com/2015/08/25/arctic-basin-polar-bears-researchers-spot-fat-pregnant-female-from-icebreaker/#more-68092

Barely Bearable —Media silliness regarding Polar Bears—

I have pretty much avoided the topic of polar bears, in my discussions about arctic sea ice, because right from the start I saw them as a sort of media icon, even a false god, and simply didn’t think they had much to do with the weather at the North Pole. And they don’t. When I’ve mentioned polar bears it is primarily because they are opportunistic feeders, and when scientists place the cameras and buoys I like so much out on the sea-ice, such scientists run the risk of becoming a bear’s snack. So actually it is only to emphasize the guts of those scientists that I bring up the topic of bears.

Bears do mess up my observations. Initially they just tracked up the snow, adding a new variable to the plethora of variables that influence the melt. I was even tempted to call their footprints “unnatural”, back on October 15, 2012. Bear 1 np-last-year-bear-tracks-oct-npeo_cam2_20121015124807 And if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes they got in the way of my viewing the ice.Bear 2 polarbearframe_zpsb90ba2d3And another time they not only left tracks, but some sort of booger on the camera lens,Bear 3 np-aug-6-8-footprints And from there it was a short step to just plain flattening the cameraBear 4 np-aug-6-9-camera-tipped And therefore it should be obvious that, as much as I might like to avoid the entire subject of bears, they refuse to be ignored.

Not that the media will let you ignore them. Bears seem part of their plan to get people behaving in a manner they think is politically correct, concerning the topic of Global Warming.

Bears are sort of cute, when viewed from afar, and if you can touch a person’s heart by showing a cute bear stranded on a dwindling iceberg, and suggest the cute bears are facing extinction due to the callous use of fossil fuels, then you don’t have to bother prove the ice is actually dwindling. The sentimental suckers are sobbing, and having so much fun blubbering and blowing phlegm into Kleenex, that science comes second.

Of course seals are also cute. Some might even argue they are cuter. And it just so happens that polar bears lurk by the holes in the sea-ice where seals surface to breathe, and brain them with a single swipe of a massive paw, and hook the unconscious seal up onto the ice with their huge claws, and then proceed to get their white fur red, gorging on the seal. But the media doesn’t show those pictures, because it fails to further the “cause”,  which is dependent on bears being “cute”.

People who live in the north are under no illusions about how bears get so fat in the spring, and how many seals they eat, and how bears also might eat a neighbor, if the opportunity arose. However Northerners are not in a hurry to tell tourists who come north to see bears that the bears aren’t so cute, or to scorn the media’s “cause”. After all, “the customer is always correct”, and you don’t want to offend the tourists. You need to quell the urge to roll your eyes, and instead nod and look sympathetic, as tourists speak blathering nonsense.

In like manner, scientists also don’t want to offend the customer, who is forking out the money that allows them to tramp about the arctic rather than working a Real Job at a Burger King. Some scientists have even taken it a step further, and do more than nod sympathetically. They produce ridiculous “studies” that further the “cause”.

For example, most bears are complete gluttons, when it comes to chowing down on cute seals, and by the time the ice melts away and they come ashore they are downright pudgy.Bear 7 polar-bear-nanortalik-05_henrik-hansen However that will not alarm the public.  It is better to find some elderly bear, who has trouble hunting and who is often robbed by young, punk bears, when he does catch a seal.Bear 5 stirling-and-van-meurs_2015-in-press-fig-1 This bear is not scrawny due to Global Warming. He is old, and guess what? When we get old we die. It may not be cute, but it happens to every human, and also to bears.

However if you are a scientist in need of funding, it may keep you alive a bit longer if you can make up some sort if link between old bears being skinny and fossil fuels. It will please the customer by supporting the “cause”.

Now it just so happens that a bear, waiting by a hole in the ice for a seal, may see a porpoise pop up, because porpoises are occasionally trapped by shifting ice into small areas they cannot escape, as escape would involve travelling too far under water without breathing. And, as I said earlier, bears are opportunistic feeders, especially if they are old and hungry. They do not become fussy, and say, “Sorry, I don’t eat porpoises.” They go ker-slam with a giant paw, and hook the flesh from the water.  doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612 Now, scientists are also opportunistic feeders, when it comes to linking everything under the sun to Global Warming, and therefore there will eventually be a headline in the Washington Post, “Thanks Global Warming; Now Polar Bears Are Eating Dolphins.”

Of course, it helps if you can get a picture of an elderly, skinny bear by a porpoise carcass.doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612 Perhaps it should be mentioned at this point (because the media won’t) that polar bears are at the top of the food chain, and therefore don’t die because of another animal, unless a man hunts them. So what do they die of?  What is the death-by-natural-causes for a polar bear?  It is starvation. Not cute, but a fundamental fact every polar bear scientist knows. Also a good many people who live in the north know it as well.

Therefore, when a scientist goes off the deep end and throws his integrity to the wind, producing a “study” that suggests old bears are starving due to Global Warming, all the other scientists know he has sold his soul. All the local people know he has sold his soul. And, even when they don’t want to offend the customer, or disrupt the gravy-train of funds for the “cause”, a sort of contempt leaks into the banter one hears, if one frequents arctic sites seeking information about sea-ice, as I do.

Perhaps people do recognize the difference between fiction for a “cause”, and truth. Perhaps there is even hope for the human race. For I keep seeing signs that the fiction created for the “cause” has passed some sort of limit, and credulity has been stressed beyond its bounds, and people can’t help themselves. They have started to burst out laughing.

Another example involves mother bears, and where they chose to have their cubs, which are definitely cute.Bear 9 svalbard-female-with-cubs_roy-mangersnes-wildphoto_june-23-2015 It turns out that a mother bear requires a solid foundation of sea-ice upon which to dig her den, within which she gives birth to her cubs and nurses them until they are big and strong enough to follow her about. Mother bears will not stand for shoddy ice, and if conditions are not suitable along the coast of Svalbard, they will head several hundred miles in seek of the proper ice, and perhaps build a den along the coast of Franz Josef Land. Then, if conditions improve by Svalbard the following year, they will head back.

However such simple truth does not feed the cravings of the “cause”. The “cause” demands a tragic tale of no baby bears being born on Svalbard one year, and a pointing finger jabbing at nasty, nasty fossil fuels as the culprit.  However who will be the scientist who will utter such nonsense?

You need someone to make a Jon Aars of themselves, who will prove his compassion with a touchingly tender picture of compassion for a baby bear. Bear 10 svalbard-cub-w-jon-aars_norsk-polarinstitutt_june-2015-article Ordinarily such nuzzling of a baby polar bear would be a quick way to get yourself killed. Where is the mother bear? Oh, I get it. She is laying drugged on the ice.

In any case, when the mother bears came back to Svalbard this year, Jon Aars had the decency to report the facts. Never mind that he got a lot of mileage, and caused all sorts of sobbing and a great increase in the consumption of Kleenex, a year earlier.

However the people who live up there do notice.  And they do care about their bears, even if it is only to usher a bear out of town.Bear 13 polar-bear-nanortalik-04_henrik-hansenBear 11 polar-bear-nanortalik-07_henrik-hansenBear 15 polar-bear-nanortalik-06_henrik-hansenBear 12 polar-bear-nanortalik-09_henrik-hansen

Such people know their own children are much cuter than polar bears.  When it comes to the “cause”, their children come first.

However the most delicious irony I chanced upon was in an article from up in Svalbard, where they were thrilled to have a mother bear raising rare triplets.  The local people were worrying about whether snowmobiles might upset the mother bear. During the discussion, the reporter produced the following wonderful observations

“Experience for example from Tempelfjord in 2013 shows that polar bears, including families with young offspring, do not necessarily suffer from frequent traffic. In that spring, a mother with 2 first year cubs spent several months in Tempelfjord, which was frequently visited by large numbers of groups. Respectful behaviour contributed to the well-being of the bear family, which was generally not visibly affected by traffic, but seemed to enjoy a good and healthy period, with regular hunting success.

Unfortunately, both cubs from 2013 are most likely dead by now. One died in Billefjord a short time after tranquilization for scientific reasons. There is no evidence for the tranquilization being the cause of the death, but the assumption is not far away.

The second one of those 2 cubs was most likely the one that was shot near Fredheim in late March 2015 by tourists in their camp. The bear had injured one person in a tent and was then injured with several bullets from a revolver. It was later shot by the police.

These observations indicate that a larger number of well-controlled tourists, with respectful behaviour, is less of a problem than a smaller number of visitors (including scientists) with more unusual activities, involving a higher risk. An interesting impression, as the public reception of tourists is generally much worse than that of scientists.”

In conclusion, I have decided that back when I avoided the topic of polar bears, I had no idea of all the fun I was missing.

A wonderful site, if you are interested in the topic of polar bears, and reality versus the “cause”, is:  http://polarbearscience.com/