Antarctic Research Stations That Didn’t Survive

Maintaining a research station on the world’s coldest, harshest, and most remote continent requires many things: a scientific mandate to give it purpose; a continuous influx and exchange of personnel to prevent isolation-induced burnout; constant structural maintenance and restocking and supplies; and, most importantly, the government support and funding to keep them operating. While the…

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Svalbard: Google Street View, Pyramiden, and the Global Seed Vault

Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Source: HylgeriaK, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Longyearbyen_panorama_july2011.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. This week saw the latest TBG article for Google Sightseeing commemorate the newly-released Google Street View imagery for the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard; the northernmost such imagery released to date (you can view the article here). The imagery begins in the picturesque world’s northernmost…

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The Aurora Australis

Source: A. Sparrow, http://www.flickr.com/photos/49937157@N03/7574363700/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. The vast majority of people on Earth (around 88 to 90 percent) live in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, when it comes to natural light displays in the atmosphere, the northern lights or aurora borealis (named after the Greek name for the…

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Smeerenburg: A 17th-Century European Ghost Town in the Arctic Ocean

If someone were to bring up a visit to a 17th-century European ghost town in conversation, one’s thoughts would probably turn to images of old stone farmhouses, an empty town square, or perhaps even a small castle.  An Arctic whale blubber processing station barely ten degrees south of the North Pole is probably not one…

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Devon Island: The Largest Uninhabited Island on Earth

Canada’s Devon Island is the 27th largest island on Earth.  At 55 247 km2 (21 331 sq mi), it’s about the same size as Croatia, yet not a single person lives on the island year-round.  Thanks to its forbidding climate and terrain, Devon is the largest uninhabited island on the planet. Devon Island is largely…

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Who Claims Antarctica?

Antarctica has long been famous for being the only continent in which no government holds power.  While not truly uninhabited thanks to the thousands of personnel present in research stations, the world community generally looks at Antarctica as terra nullius – belonging to no one.  That is not to say, however, that no one claims…

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Deception Island

Hot tubs. Volcanism.  Cruise tourism.  Graffiti. Century-old gravestones.  Not exactly the first things which come to mind when someone says ‘Antarctica’.  But not only can these things be found on the frozen continent, they can be found in one place. Source: Treehill, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deception_Island_Map.svg.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence. Just off the northern tip of the Antarctic…

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1891 Stielers Handatlas Nord-Polar-Karte

Click image to expand (5099×4250). Above is the sixth plate of the 95-plate 1891 Hand-Atlas über alle Theile der Erde und über das Weltgebäude, better known as simply Stielers Handatlas (8th ed.). Although printed periodically since 1758, the Stieler atlases recorded their greatest renown in the late 19th and early 20th century, beginning with the tenure…

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