Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tipping barrels into the Great Bear

Tipping Barrels from Sitka

‘Tipping Barrels’ is a unique combination of surfing and environmental journalism that follows surfers Arran and Reid Jackson on a trip into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, where they learn more about the region and the issues confronting it.

Links :

  • PacificWild : wildlife conservation on Canada Pacific Coast

Friday, December 9, 2011

Antarctic's hidden world revealed

Map of Antarctica’s landmass without ice cover
(BEDMAP Consortium/British Antarctic Survey)
In the map at the top of this page, the highest elevations are marked in red/black.
The light blue colour shows the extent of the continental shelf.
The lowest elevations are dark blue.
You will note the deep troughs within the interior of the continent that are far below today's sea level.

From BBC

Ever wondered what Antarctica would look like without all that ice?
Scientists have produced the most detailed map yet of the White Continent's underbelly - its rock bed.
Called simply BEDMAP, this startling view of the landscape beneath the ice incorporates decades of survey data acquired by planes, satellites, ships and even people on dog-drawn sleds.
It is remarkable to think that less than 1% of this rock base projects above the continent's frozen veil.

The map is a fascinating perspective but it is more than just a pretty picture - it represents critical knowledge in the quest to understand how Antarctica might respond to a warming world.

Scientists are currently reporting significant changes at the margins of the continent, with increasing volumes of ice now being lost to the ocean, raising global sea levels.
The type of information contained in BEDMAP will help researchers forecast the pace of future events.

"This is information that underpins the models we now use to work out how the ice flows across the continent," explained Hamish Pritchard from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
"The Antarctic ice sheet is constantly supplied by falling snow, and the ice flows down to the coast where great bergs calve into the ocean or it melts. It's a big, slow-speed hydrological cycle."
"To model that process requires knowledge of some complex ice physics but also of the bed topography over which the ice is flowing - and that's BEDMAP."

Dr Pritchard is presenting the new imagery on Monday to the 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world's largest annual gathering of Earth and planetary scientists.

This is actually the second generation of the digital BEDMAP.
The first version, which was produced in 2001, incorporated 1.9 million measurement points. For BEDMAP2, the sampling has been raised to more than 27 million points on a grid spacing of 5km.

"It's like you've brought the whole thing now into sharp focus," Dr Pritchard told BBC News.
"In many areas, you can now see the troughs, valleys and mountains as if you were looking at a part of the Earth we're much more used to seeing, exposed to the air."

The source data comes from a range of international partners.
Dr Pritchard and BAS colleagues Peter Fretwell and David Vaughan have merged it all into a single product.
The project has benefited greatly from the large number of airborne radar surveys that have been flown in recent years.

Unlike rock, ice is transparent to radar.
So by firing microwave pulses through the overlying sheet and recording the return echoes, scientists can plot both the depth of the rock bed and - by definition - the thickness of the ice covering.
Instrumented planes, guided by GPS, will now fly back and forth across the ice in campaigns that can last weeks at a time.
Perhaps the most publicised of these recent efforts was the multinational expedition in 2007/2008 to map the Gamburtsev mountains.

This range is the size of the European Alps with the tallest peaks reaching 3,000m above sea-level - and yet they are still hidden below more than a 1,000m of ice.
"It's fascinating to see the Gamburtsevs in the context of the other big mountains in Antarctica," said Dr Pritchard.
"They're similar in size to the likes of the Ellsworth and the Transantarctic mountains, but of course they're completely buried. It is just because the ice is so thick in the middle of the ice sheet that they're not exposed."

It is clear from BEDMAP2 that there are still two big areas of the continent that need improved coverage.
One of these lies between the Gamburtsevs and the coast; the other runs south of the Shackleton mountain range towards the South Pole.
Look closely at the map on this page and you can see that the yellow colouring in these areas appears quite smudged.
It is very likely that proposals will soon be put to national funding agencies to go and close these data gaps with airborne surveys.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oceans' deepest depth re-measured

From BBC

US scientists have mapped the deepest part of the world's oceans in greater detail than ever before.

The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific runs for about 2,500km and extends down to 10,994m.
This measurement for the deepest point - known as Challenger Deep - is arguably the most precise yet.
The survey, conducted by the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM), was completed to help determine the exact extent of US waters in the region.
"We mapped the entire trench, from its northern end at Dutton Ridge, all the way to where it becomes the Yap Trench in the south," explained Dr Jim Gardner from CCOM, which is based at the University of New Hampshire.
"We used a multibeam echosounder mounted on a US Navy hydrographic ship.
This instrument allows you to map a swath of soundings perpendicular to the line of travel of the ship. It's like mowing the grass.
And we were able to map the trench at a 100m resolution," he told BBC News.
The distance to the bottom of Challenger Deep has an error associated with it of about plus or minus 40m.
The figure of 10,994m is slightly less than some other recent measurements in the modern era, but they are all broadly similar.
A location in the trench about 200km to the east of Challenger goes almost as far down.
This spot, known as HMRG Deep, has a depth of 10,809m.
It is extraordinary to think that both Challenger and HMRG extend deeper below sea level than Mount Everest rises above it.
Dr Gardner said his team's survey put a huge effort into getting the "sound speed profile" of the water column correct - this measure of how the echosounding signals speed and slow as they descend is the largest source of error in the measurement.

He presented the results of the mapping here at the 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world's largest annual gathering of Earth and planetary scientists.
The US State Department funded the study because it wants to know whether the exclusive economic zone encompassing the American territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands can be pushed out beyond its current limit of 200 nautical miles (370km).
This may be possible if the shape of the seafloor fulfils certain requirements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
But the data also has high scientific interest in that it gives geologists a clearer picture of the structures in one of the most fascinating subduction zones on Earth.
It is at the trench where a huge slab of Pacific oceanic crust is being pulled down under the adjacent Philippines tectonic plate.
Researchers are keen to know what happens when underwater mountains, or seamounts, go over the edge and are swallowed.
There has been considerable debate over whether the descent of the seamounts can influence the frequency and scale of big earthquakes.
It has been suggested they might create extra friction that can then be released suddenly to trigger major tremors.
"Our data shows they're getting really fractured as they go down," said Dr Gardner.
"As soon as the Pacific Plate starts bending down, it cracks that old, old crust. That crust is really brittle. It cracks right through the seamounts. Certainly in the Mariana Trench, the seamounts get splintered and whittled away, and then get subducted. What I don't see are remnants of seamounts being accreted to the inner wall of the trench."
What is evident, however, is the pile of material this creates across the axis of the trench in a number of places.
Dr Gardner describes four "bridges" that stand as much as 2,500m above the floor of the depression.

'Race to the bottom'

The survey is also highly topical in that four teams are about to send manned submersibles into the trench to explore its depths.
So far, only two humans have visited Challenger Deep - Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the research bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960.
But those that are racing to return to the deepest of the deep are Virgin's Oceanic submarine, which will be piloted by Chris Welsh; Triton submarines, which is based in Florida; James Cameron is said to be backing another effort in a bid to film the Mariana Trench; and DOER Marine, which is backed by Google's Eric Schmidt and oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

There is renewed interest in the trench and new submersibles will soon dive its depths.
These missions will be a huge gamble for those involved, both in terms of finance and reputation, as well as posing a serious safety concern for the pilots.
Dr Earle told BBC News: "In 1960, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard knew only that they were descending in the bathyscaphe Trieste to what was thought to be the deepest place in the sea - the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. "
The terrain was unknown, unmapped - truly a dive into a deep mystery.
Today, as explorers begin to return to that deepest place, they can do so with a high-resolution map in hand, thanks to technologies that did not exist half a century ago.
"In broad strokes, the ocean's great mountain ranges, valleys are now defined in maps derived from satellite observations and sonar swaths from research vessels, but only about 5% of the ocean has been explored and mapped with the detail comparable to Earth's above-ocean terrain, or the surface of the Moon, Mars, or Jupiter. "

In 1960, it seemed that nothing humans could do could alter the nature of the ocean - or if we did, it wouldn't matter.
Now we know that the ocean is Earth's 'life support system', the blue heart of the planet, the key to climate, weather, planetary chemistry.
We also know that the ocean is in trouble owing to what we are putting into it - and what we are taking out.
"High-resolution maps of the iconic Mariana Trench may inspire action to fill in the blanks for the rest of Earth's surface - under the sea. At the very least we should have a good map of the part of the Earth that keeps us alive."

Links :

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Red October for real: maps suggest Soviet subs cruised Canadian Arctic

Visitors walk on the deck of the Soviet-era submarine Juliett 484 stand in Providence, R.I., on Aug. 28, 2002.
The old Soviet Union may have been just as familiar with Canada's Arctic waters as Canadians.
Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage.

The old Soviet Union may have been just as familiar with Canada's Arctic waters as Canadians.
Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage.
Those charts, which may offer the first documentary proof of the widely held belief that Soviet nuclear submarines routinely patrolled the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War, are still in use by Russian vessels.

A Soviet era nautical map charts the Canadian coastline in Nares Straight, which separates Ellesmere Island with Greenland, in this photo by UBC international law professor Michael Byers from on the bridge of the Academik Ioffe in August 2011.

In some places, they are preferred to current Canadian charts.
"In some cases the Russian charts are more detailed than the Canadian ones and the navigators have them out on the chart table beside the Canadian ones in order to cross-reference any questionable soundings," said Aaron Lawton of One Ocean Expeditions, an adventure tourism company that charters the Russian-owned ship Academik Ioffe for Arctic cruises.
"I have travelled on the Ioffe in the Canadian Arctic for (many) seasons and have generally found that the vessel has always cross-referenced the Russian charts," Lawton said in an email from on board the Ioffe off the Antarctic coast.
The Ioffe is owned by the Moscow-based P.P. Shirsov Institute of Oceanography.

Vladimir Tereschenkov, head of marine operations, said the Russian charts were published by the Russian Hydrographic Service.
The sections seen by The Canadian Press are photographs of charts in current use on the Ioffe.

Compiled from information gleaned over the years up to 1970, they are clearly marked with Soviet insignia, including the red star and the hammer and sickle.
Both sections are of highly strategic Arctic waterways.
One map is of a section of the Northwest Passage in Barrow Strait, southwest of Resolute.
All deepwater vessels navigating the passage, including submarines, must pass through there.
The other section details a choke point on Nares Strait off Cape Isabella between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
Not only does Nares Strait pass the U.S. air base at Thule in Greenland, it links the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and avoids waters east of Greenland that were heavily NATO-patrolled during the Cold War.

Both sections of the charts contain many more depth soundings than corresponding modern Canadian charts.
"That was surprising, especially up in that area," said Alex MacIntyre, a highly experienced Canadian ice pilot who was advising the captain last summer on board the Ioffe.
"The thought immediately came to mind, how did they get all those soundings?"
MacIntyre saw the charts one evening last summer on the Ioffe's bridge, where he was joined by passenger Michael Byers, a Canadian academic and Arctic expert who was a guest lecturer on the ship as it cruised the Northwest Passage.

CHS Canada nautical charts coverage on the Marine GeoGarage

Byers was also struck by the detail of the Soviet charts.
"The difference was immediately apparent," he said.
"The density of soundings on the Soviet chart was much greater than on the Canadian one."
Byers points out that Nares Strait is still choked with thick, hard, multi-year ice and would have been even more so 50 years ago.
Both he and MacIntyre believe the only way the Soviet government could have acquired data for the charts is from nuclear submarines secretly patrolling the Arctic.
"It confirms what many of us assumed," said Byers.

"The Soviet navy was extremely capable and also was willing to take considerable risk. Sending submarines into the Canadian archipelago, which was heavily monitored by NATO, thousands of miles away from Soviet assistance, was a perilous thing to do. It was a phenomenal accomplishment."
Byers said the charts are the first public proof he's seen of that theory.
They suggest that the capabilities of the Soviet navy portrayed in movies may not be entirely fiction.
"I can't help but think back to 'The Hunt for Red October,' where Sean Connery plays the captain of a Soviet nuclear missile submarine and relies on the accuracy of Soviet charts to avoid a torpedo that's been shot at his ship," Byers said.
"These charts indicate that the Soviets were in fact that competent."

Canadian government sources acknowledge that the Soviet charts seem to incorporate Canadian data, but they have no explanation for the additional information they contain.
"We are not sure yet what to make of the difference in sounding-density," said one.
So-called "field sheets" — records of raw data from Canadian hydrographers — are more detailed than the published Canadian charts.
Field sheets are available, but only through application.
Nares Strait has been surveyed three times between 1962 and 2003; the Barrow Strait six times between 1960 and 1989.
Byers said the existence of the Soviet charts doesn't pose a threat to Canadian sovereignty over those waters.
"This Soviet activity was covert," he said.
"At no point did the Soviet Union challenge Canada's sovereignty claims."

The charts do, however, present a buying opportunity, he suggested.
"It would seem prudent, for both shipping safety and economic efficiency reasons, for the Canadian government to obtain a complete set of the Soviet charts so as to determine their potential utility. It might also be possible to obtain the Soviet equivalent of field sheets and an effort to do so should certainly be made."

Although Canada is improving its knowledge of the northern oceans, most of that mapping involves High Arctic waters in preparation for an extended continental shelf claim under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
Sea lanes within the Arctic islands are getting less attention.
"At the current rate of charting, it will take 300 years for the Canadian Hydrographic Service to bring all our charts for the Canadian archipelago to world standards," Byers said.
He points out three ships ran aground in the Arctic last summer.
"Those three groundings focused attention on the inadequacy of our charts. That's where the Soviet charts are most interesting. "
This is first and foremost an opportunity for Canada to acquire some very valuable new data.

Links :
  • EVC : Russian nautical maps
  • Chart Pilot : Nautical charts published by Head Department of Navigation and Oceanography of Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (HDNO MD RF). The Russian collection contains 6800 nautical navigation charts, and over 1500 of them are bilingual (Russian and English).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Ocean" creatures that evolved in huge Lake under threat

part I / II / III / IV

From NationalGeographic

One of the world's largest lakes, Lake Tanganyika (map), has evolved over time to act more like an ocean, housing colorful animals such as jellyfish in water up to a mile (1.5 kilometers) deep.

Many of the African lake's diverse assemblage of freshwater creatures—including snails, crabs, and sponges—bear an uncanny resemblance to their marine counterparts.
(See pictures of colorful sea creatures.)
"You can put Tanganyika snail species next to marine species, and they look more or less identical," said Tony Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland who has studied the lake's creatures.
Colin Apse, an Africa and U.S. freshwater-conservation advisor for the Nature Conservancy, added, "There are almost 300 species of fish in the lake that you'll find nowhere else in the world, and many of them are brightly colored and dart around just like coral reef fish."
"If you're snorkeling, it can be easy to forget that you're not in the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean." (See coral reef pictures.)

The lake, which contains some 17 percent of Earth's available surface fresh water, is an important source of water and food for millions of Africans whose countries—Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—share its 420-mile-long (676-kilometer-long) coastline.
"The vast majority of people around the lake are living on a dollar a day or less, and they are completely dependent on the lake," Apse said.

But the lake is now at risk from pollution, overfishing, and other human-caused threats, conservationists say.
(Also see "On Africa's Largest Lake, Fishers Suffer Falling Stocks, Rising Demand.")

Freshwater Version of an Ocean

In the early 1900s, scientists proposed that Lake Tanganyika and the ocean were once connected, and that the lake's creatures are descendants of an ancient "marine incursion."
Subsequent studies, however, have shown that the lake and the ocean were never directly connected.
Instead, Lake Tanganyika is a so-called rift lake, a body of water created when sections of Earth's crust—in this case, the eastern and central subsections of the African tectonic plate—drift apart.
Due to the nature of their creation, rift lakes can be extremely deep, and Lake Tanganyika is no exception. (See more lake pictures.)
The lake's incredible depth could also help explain the unusual diversity of its creatures, scientists say.
Because it's so deep, the lake has persisted for millions of years and outlived shallower lakes.
In this way, Lake Tanganyika is like a freshwater version of the ocean, which has endured for eons largely due to its depth.
"The fact that it's persisted for a long time has given opportunities for [the evolution of new species], and for ancient lineages to be maintained within the lake," Wilson said.

Lake Spurred Predator-Prey Evolution

The lake's unusually long "life" may have also allowed an evolutionary arms race to develop, with both predators and prey evolving ever more elaborate ways to best their opponents.
For example, some fish and large-clawed crabs have "developed very specialized feeding mechanisms to crush snail shells," Wilson said.
At the same time, the snails and other invertebrate prey have developed counter-adaptations, such as thicker armor with spikes and knobs that make their exteriors harder to crack.
A similar process is thought to have influenced the evolution of marine snails, something which may help to explain why the two groups of snails resemble one another.
(See "Pictures: How Bubble-Rafting Snails Evolved.")

Wilson thinks that continued study of the lake could yield further insight into how evolution works in watery habitats."
Because Lake Tanganyika is in many ways intermediate between most freshwater lakes and the ocean, it offers unique insights into the origins of aquatic biodiversity."

Overfishing, Deforestation Threats to Lake

But studying the lake might be tough in the future due to certain threats—particularly overfishing.
In addition to being a source of nourishment for local people, the lake's fish are also exported as food and as aquarium pets.
The demand has caused some companies to resort to illegal fishing methods, including the use of small nets along the shore that ensnare baby fish.
"They're scooping up the future generations of fish," the Nature Conservancy's Apse said.
Cutting down surrounding forest for firewood and to make room for farms also ultimately harms the lake.
"If you do that right next to rivers and streams, that leads to a lot of runoff sediments, which go out in big plumes into the lake and disrupt the ability of fish to breed," Apse said.

Save Lake Tanganyika? Treat it Like an Ocean

To address these problems, the Nature Conservancy has teamed up with the Lake Tanganyika Authority, an intergovernmental organization created in 2008 that includes members from the four countries on the lake.
The partnership plans to develop a comprehensive plan to protect parts of the water body.
One possibility is to borrow methods that have proven successful in marine environments.
"Protecting the entire lake would be fantastic but is unfortunately not realistic," Saskia Marijnissen, a Burundi-based technical advisor for the authority, said in an email."
The lake is situated between four countries that include some of the fastest growing human populations on the planet.
"One idea is to protect those sections of the lake that are most vital for fish breeding. These "microscale protected areas" would resemble the marine sanctuaries that help safeguard important sections of the oceans, and could be effective even if they are only a few dozen feet across."
Studies have shown that if you exclude fishing from particular areas of the lake, you can have spill-off benefits to neighboring areas where people fish," the Nature Conservancy's Apse said.
(See "Pictures: Best Marine Park? Booming Fish Leap and Swarm.")
Increasing protection of national parks surrounding Lake Tanganyika—including Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where primatologist Jane Goodall conducted her chimpanzee studies—would also benefit the lake's creatures.
Lake Tanganyika has potential to become a popular ecotourism site, which could provide further incentives for countries to protect it, the Nature Conservancy's Apse added.
"From my perspective, it's the best place for tourism in the world, because you can wander through an amazing forest and see chimpanzees and then jump into the equivalent of coral reef snorkeling—but in fresh water that is kind of the perfect temperature."

Cooperation Key in Lake Protection

The success of any protection plan for the lake will eventually require the cooperation of all four countries that share its borders.
Such a scenario will be difficult, but not impossible, said the University of Zurich's Wilson.
For instance, there's a precedent.
In 1994, the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environmental Facility funded a five-year program called the Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project to develop a sustainable-management plan for the lake.
"This project required a close collaboration among the four countries that make up the Lake Tanganyika coastline and supported the development of scientific infrastructure and training in local communities," Wilson said.

For now, however, the Nature Conservancy and the Lake Tanganyika Authority are focusing their efforts on fisheries management in Tanzania.
(Read about the global fisheries crisis in National Geographic magazine.)
One project involves working with lake communities to develop co-managed protection plans, which would encourage locals to take the lead in developing and monitoring fisheries rules.
"We are developing some really successful examples in a few places," Apse said.
"We want to literally bring people over across the lake, within and between countries, to learn from these examples, so that over time it [catches] fire."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Permafrost loss worse climate peril than thought

University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Katey Walter Anthony takes us onto a frozen lake in Fairbanks, AK to demonstrate why methane gas has "exploded" onto the climate change scene.

From AFP

The threat to climate change posed by thawing permafrost, which could release stocks of stored carbon, is greater than estimated, a group of scientists said on Wednesday.
By 2100, the amount of carbon released by permafrost loss could be "1.7-5.2 times larger than those reported," depending on how swiftly Earth's surface warms, they said.

In volume terms, this is about the same as the amount of greenhouse gases released today from deforestation, they said.
But the impact on climate could be 2.5 times greater, as much of the gas will be methane, which is 25 times more efficient at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide (CO2), they said.
Deforestation today accounts for up to 20 percent of total greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The study, published in the British journal Nature, coincides with a 12-day UN conference on climate change, unfolding in Durban, South Africa.
It touches on one of the biggest sources of concern, but also a major area of uncertainty, in climate science.
Permanently iced land covers around a quarter of the land in the northern hemisphere.
In essence, it is a carbon store, holding in icy stasis the organic remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago.

The worry is that as temperatures rise, the soils defrost, microbes decompose the ancient carbon and release methane and CO2 to the atmosphere.
Documented evidence suggests this is already happening in parts of the tundra and at the perimeter of ice lakes.
Release of the gas adds to the greenhouse effect, which stokes warming and thus causes more permafrost to thaw -- in other words, a vicious circle, or "positive feedback" in climate-speak, results.

In their article, 41 international scientists who work in the Permafrost Carbon Research Network said the potential stocks of stored carbon were bigger than thought.
This is because of a fresh look at how the inventory is calculated, they explained.
Until now, experts measured carbon in the top one metre (3.25 feet) of permafrost, but in some places, the deposits are many times deeper because of the freeze-thaw cycle and the way organic sediment is deposited.
"The latest estimate is that some 18.8 million square kilometers (7.25 million square miles) of northern soils hold about 1,700 billion tonnes of organic carbon," they write.
"That is about four times more than all the carbon emitted by human activity in modern times and twice as much as is present in the atmosphere now."

Only part of this carbon would be released, depending on the scenario for warming.
The team used four well-known scenarios.
The lowest saw 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of Arctic warming by 2040 compared to the average for 1985-2004, which ramped up to 2 C (3.6 F) by 2100.

Links :

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Google Apps adventures: voyage through climate change

In 2009, Traffic began working with Norwegian polar explorer Børge Ousland to support an expedition planned for Summer 2010.
His goal was to be the first to sail through both Passages of the North Pole in a single voyage, and the first to circumnavigate the Arctic in a single season.
A feat explorers have tried and failed to do for 500 years.
Behind the scenes, they used Google Apps as their project hub — creating a 24/7 connection between Traffic, the expedition and media partners and sponsors around the world.
They worked on pre-production planning in real-time with Docs, updated and shared schedules via Calendar, and the whole team could get a snapshot of the latest content and news via their Google Site.
Gmail was the email backbone of the project.
Using Google Apps saved an incredible amount of time, and because everything was in the cloud, everyone had access on the fly.
Even from the Arctic.

From ExplorerPoles

Norwegian Borge Ousland is one of the most famous polar explorer of our times.
He has crossed, solo, both the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic.

Børge Ousland was born 31st of May 1962 in Oslo Norway.
He grew up on Nesodden outside Oslo.
After high school he trained as a diver and worked from 1984 to 1993 as a saturation diver in the North Sea.
In the period 1989-1991 Børge served his military service in the Norwegian Special Naval Forces.

2006, North Pole in winter.
On the 23rd of March 2006, Borge Ousland and Mike Horn became the first explorers to reach the North Pole during the Arctic winter.
This expedition is one of the highlights in Borge Outland's list of achievements.
On January 23rd, Borge and expedition partner Mike Horn left Cape Arktichesky and started the battle against the cold and darkness on the dangerous drifting ice.
After more than two months, fighting open water, polar bears, minus 40 conditions and an infection that nearly killed Mike, they reached the Geographical North Pole 23rd of April.

2003, Crossing Patagonia ice cap.
That year, the couple Ousland/Ulrich succeeded in crossing the Patagonian Ice Fields without outside support.
The expedition started by kayak from Tortel, over the inland ice fields on skis and sled, and 54 days later they finally paddled to Puerto Natales in their kayaks.
The combination of Thomas as a mountain climber and Børge as a polar veteran was very successful on this very difficult expedition that, for example, included a 600-meter rappel.

2002, Reconnaissance trip to Patagonia.
Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich made a reconnaissance trip to Patagonia in Chile to study the area for a new expedition.
Up to that point nobody had managed to cross the southern Patagonian Ice Field unsupported; the third largest glacier in the world after Antarctica and Greenland.

2001, From Siberia to Canada, solo.
Børge Ousland reached another milestone by being the first to cross the Arctic alone from Siberia to Canada via the North Pole in 82 days.

1996-97, Crossing of Antarctica (Berkner to McMurdo, solo and unsupported).
The very next year, 1996-97, he successfully completed the crossing of Antarctica alone and without receiving any supplies underway.
He started November 15 from Berkner Island in the Weddell Sea and he reached the McMurdo base by the Ross Sea on January 17.
He had then been underway 64 days and covered a distance of 2845 km.
The lowest temperature experienced was minus 56 degrees Celsius.
At start the sledge weighed 178 kilos.
The maximum altitude reached was about 3400 meter above sea level.

1995, Crossing of Antarctica (attempt).
The next challenge was to be the first to cross Antarctica alone without support from coast to coast via the South Pole.
In 1995 Ousland had to abandon this trip due to frost injuries after having passed the South Pole itself.
Although he did not complete the crossing, he then became the first person to have skied alone without support to both poles.

1994, From Siberia to NP, solo and unsupported.
Although the North Pole trip in 1990 had created a lot of interest in Norway and abroad, it was nothing compared to the attention created following his solo trek to the North Pole in 1994, also completed without any outside support.
He started from Cape Arktichesky in Northern Siberia on March 2, 1994 and arrived at the North Pole 52 days later on April 22.
After successfully completing this expedition Børge Ousland has worked full time on expeditions and the tasks associated with these.

1993, From Frans Joseph Land to Svlabard.
Børge Ousland and Agnar Berg attempted in 1993 to ski across the drift ice from Frans Josef Land to Svalbard, but the expedition had to be aborted when they encountered large areas of open water.

1990, First unsupported ski trek to NP.
The next expedition was in 1990 when Børge, Geir Randby and Erling Kagge set out from Ellesmere Island in Canada for the North Pole without receiving any supplies underway.
Randby had to be picked up due to an injury, but Ousland and Kagge completed the trip in 58 days (March 8 to May 4, 1990).
This was the first unsupported ski trek to the North Pole; a distance of 800 km.

1986, Skiing accross Greenland.
In 1986 Børge and two of his diving colleagues, Agnar Berg and Jan Morten Ertsaas, skied across Greenland.
In 37 days they traveled from Angmassalik on the east coast to Umanak on the west coast, a distance of 800 km in direct line.
At that time only a few had traveled across the inland ice since Fritjof Nansen and five companions first made the crossing in 1888.

Ousland has twice climbed mountains higher than 8 000 meters in the Himalayas (Cho Oyo in 1999; in 2003 he had to turn back just below the peak of Mount Everest).

Links :