VIDEO: Sami reindeer corral

February 8, 2015

After attending the Arctic Frontiers conference in January, I joined Sami herdsmen outside the town of Tromsø, Norway as they corralled and separated reindeer trapped along the coast by early snows in autumn. The animals were finally headed by truck to the highlands to join herds that had already migrated to high mountain plateaus.

Lowland, coastal winters are deadly and expensive. Successive layers of ice caused by alternate rain and freeze cycles cover pastures like a steel sheet, making natural foraging impossible. This can lead to starvation. The herdsmen I met outside Tromsø were spending $1500/day feeding specially-formulated food pellets and hay to some 2000 reindeer. For the herdsmen, the sooner their animals made it to higher ground, the better.

Winter temperatures in the highlands are bitterly cold, but that makes snow dry and fluffy, which insulates the tundra pasture so reindeer can easily paw out an existence. Even in the highlands, though, life is tough. White-tailed eagles and wolverines prey upon herds, cutting calf survival to 10% some years. Reindeer do not usually bear twins like sheep, so the loss of a single calf hits hard.

CLICK PHOTO FOR VIDEO INTERVIEW:

5D3_2015

Sami reindeer herdsman, Johan Isak Oskal, tends his herd.
© Randall Hyman

 

Since the early 1980s, climate change has steadily made reindeer ranching even more difficult, bringing rain-freeze cycles to the highlands rather than just the coastal lowlands. This is bad news for reindeer and bad news for traditional Samis, Scandinavia’s only indigenous people. Once heavily dependent upon reindeer, only 3% of northern Norway’s 50,000 Samis now follow this semi-nomadic, rugged outdoor lifestyle.

Mining, power lines, roads and expanding communities are steadily encroaching upon ancestral lands, but Samis are beginning to see one bright spot: cultural tourism. With greater awareness of the threats facing the Sami way of life, foreigners are coming in increasing numbers to experience this unique culture. Several Sami companies offer visitors a range of traditional activities, from half-day reindeer sledding to week-long treks following the annual migration from highlands to lowlands in April.

CLICK PHOTO FOR VIDEO MONTAGE OF ROUNDUP AND SLEDDING:

5D3_2067

Musing over her legacy, a Sami girl studies father’s initials on parka as family rounds up herd.
© Randall Hyman

Alicia Patterson Fellowship

January 5, 2015

The year is off to a great start with the news that I have been awarded a 12-month Alicia Patterson Foundation grant, American journalism’s oldest writing fellowship, as well as receiving the Foundation’s top honor of being their Josephine Patterson Albright Fellow.

CLICK PHOTO BELOW FOR MORE INFO:

6P5A1990

Glacial ice sits on frozen fjord in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

 

Norwegian Embassy feature

November 5, 2014

The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington just launched a website series showcasing one American each month whose work focuses on the Arctic. They chose me as their inaugural feature for the month of November. The monthly series is leading up to April when Canada will hand over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to the United States from 2015 through 2017.

CLICK PHOTO TO READ THE EMBASSY FEATURE:

30305-03118

Seabirds scatter as glacier plummets into ocean in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Northern Lights article in SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

October 15, 2014

While at the Arctic Frontiers science and policy conference in Tromsø, Norway last January, I did a story about the booming phenomenon of Northern Lights tourism. “Seeing the light” is on everyone’s bucket list these days, and you can read more about it in my story that appeared online in Smithsonian Magazine this month.

CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW TO “SEE THE LIGHTS”:

30302-01912

Northern Lights shimmer above Lofoten Islands. © Randall Hyman

NBC-TV affiliate interview

October 1, 2014

As the list of venues grows where I have presented my video/photo lecture show on climate change and sustainability, the NBC affiliate television station in St. Louis recently interviewed me about my travels in the Arctic as a Fulbright Scholar and beyond.

1412203793006-Still1001-00006

Display of Randall Hyman’s photos at lecture.

Paleoclimate and clams articles in DISCOVER MAGAZINE

September 12, 2014

A trilogy of articles for Discover Magazine’s Field Notes department covers my recent trip with a team of scientists off the north tip of Norway studying clams for insights into Arctic climate change past and present.

CLICK ON PHOTOS BELOW TO READ EACH OF THE THREE ARTICLES:

DPP_0343

Arctica islandica clam at Ingøya, Norway. © Randall Hyman

SECOND ARTICLE:

6P5A5825

Scientists deploy rack of clams fitted with electronic loggers. © Randall Hyman

FINAL ARTICLE:

6P5A5330

Scientists examine trove of shells washed ashore at Ingøya in storm. © Randall Hyman

 

 

 

 

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 23rd

June 23, 2014

On the final day of my week-long editorship of Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page exactly one month ago, here are the last three Arctic Oracle images and texts published. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 19

Scientist walks across thinning pack ice 500 miles from North Pole. © Randall Hyman

Post 20

Newly-hatched kittiwake chick. © Randall Hyman

Post 21

Northern Lights shimmer over Lofoten Islands. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 22nd

June 22, 2014

On the sixth day of my week-long editorship of Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page one month ago, here are the three Arctic Oracle images and texts published. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 16

Sea angel. © Randall Hyman

Post 17

First night of midnight sun in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 18

Russian trawler’s catch. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 21st

June 21, 2014

On the fifth day of my week-long editorship of Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page one month ago, here are the three Arctic Oracle images and texts published. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 13

Scientist releases weather balloon at science base in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 14

Emaciated, stranded polar bear looks for meal on land. © Randall Hyman

Post 15

Scientist sets up GPS to track glacial flow. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 20th

June 20, 2014

On the fourth day of my week-long editorship of Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page one month ago, here are the three Arctic Oracle images and texts published. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 11

Bearded seal on ice in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 10

Randall Hyman sits on iceberg in Arctic Ocean.

Post 12

Scientist researches Arctic tern migration. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 19th

June 19, 2014

Next in the Smithsonian Magazine series, here are the three Arctic Oracle images and texts published exactly one month ago on the magazine’s Instagram page. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 08

Scuba diver gathers marine samples in the Arctic Ocean. © Randall Hyman

Post 07

Diver triumphantly pumps fists after finding plankton beneath ice 500 miles from North Pole. © Randall Hyman

Post 09

Entire face of glacier calves in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 18th

June 18, 2014

Following up on the previous post, here are the three Arctic Oracle images and texts published exactly one month ago on Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page. Click each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram page:

Post 06

Puffin portrait in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 05

Dog sledding in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 04

Young Svalbard reindeer. © Randall Hyman

Smithsonian Magazine Instagram, May 17th

June 17, 2014

From May 17th through May 23rd, I hosted Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram page and featured my Arctic Oracles project. I posted text and photos three times a day covering important aspects of the changing Norwegian Arctic. Here are the postings, one month later, day by day. Today’s three photos and text originally published May 17th. Click on each photo to retrieve the corresponding Instagram posts:

Post 01

Randall Hyman stands on ice pack beside research ship 500 miles from North Pole.

Post 02

Scientists take core samples of fjord ice in Svalbard, Norway. © Randall Hyman

Post 03

Norwegian children celebrate 17th of May in Kirkenes, Norway. © Randall Hyman

VIDEO & PHOTO GALLERY: Return of the Sun

January 21, 2014

It is soldagen, or Sun Day, here in Tromsø, Norway, far above the Arctic Circle. Last time folks here saw the sun was mid November, and there is great anticipation on this clear frigid day in the third week of January, especially among the children. My day begins at 9:00 a.m. (still very dark in mid morn), attending a speech by the Norwegian prime minister on Arctic foreign and domestic policy in the wake of climate change. While she is from Norway’s right-wing party, there is no debate in Scandinavia about whether climate change exists, just debate about how to deal with the problems and opportunities, as avidly discussed this week at the Arctic Frontiers international conference. After another speech from Greenland’s first female prime minister about her determination to put traditional indigenous lifestyles above exploitation of the country’s lucrative mineral and petroleum resources, I slip out of the dark auditorium to catch a city bus for the coast.

When I was last here in July, kids were swimming in skimpy suits in the cold waters, but today the rocky shore is covered with snow and sheets of ice. Only three girls with a sack of cordwood get off the bus with me. The shore is empty, save for a couple of photographers shivering in the 15F° weather. Distant snowy mountain peaks are already glowing in the rosy first light of sunrise at 11am, but here the southern tip of Tromsø Island is still in shadow. The three girls begin building a fire, and soon more groups arrive, lighting fires along the shore. Suddenly a woman runs forward excitedly pointing and shouting. I swing around and, lo and behold, at 11:04 a.m. the sun has returned from her winter slumber.

Even I, having only spent a few days here, am giddy with excitement. It is the sun, in all her glory, beaming across the ocean from behind a mountain, dancing across the calm waters on this frigid winter day. I run along the shore photographing people’s reactions, and then it is over at 11:11am just as I catch a group of kids sitting on ice-covered beach rocks around a fire with the sun setting behind them.

 

7D2_5102

Norwegian schoolchildren celebrate sun’s return in Tromsø, Norway. © Randall Hyman

(click above photo for video!)

I ask someone where all the school groups are that traditionally come each year to celebrate along the shore. A woman tells me they are on their way and will still see the sun rise. Impossible! It has already set! I suddenly hear the distant commotion of hundreds of boots shuffling down a snowy path carrying hordes of chattering children. Here they are, crowds of them, with suns painted on their faces and decorated paper headbands.

As the kids gather above the beach, the sun magically reappears from behind the distant mountains, as promised, playing peek-a-boo between peaks, tracing a low path along the horizon. Kids are darting wildly everywhere, waving, pointing and jumping with glee. Before it is all over, an hour has passed and the sun has set and risen three more times. I finally join the crowds of happy children and teachers marching from the beach up icy streets back to school.

For me, the celebration is still missing one thing. A girl walking her huge, fluffy white Samoyed dog (never did a dog look better suited for such an icy climate) suggests I duck into the Tromsø Museum to warm up and get some hot chocolate. I discover they have no cafe, but the receptionist escorts me into the staff cafeteria where a party is underway with workers happily drinking hot chocolate and munching on the traditional solbolle, or sun buns— sweet dough, fried like donuts and sprinkled with sugar, some with cream or raspberry filling. My hands are thawing, my spirits are high and my celebration is complete.  The sun has returned home to the Arctic, and so have I.

CLICK PHOTO TO WELCOME THE SUN BACK:

5D3_6523

Norwegian schoolchildren greet sun after almost two months without sunrise in Tromsø, Norway. © Randall Hyman

VIDEO: Shattered Arctic lecture

January 6, 2014

For those who have the stamina, here is a link to a video of my lecture, “Shattered Arctic,” at the St. Louis Zoo in December 2013. It contains much of the same material used in my lectures across North America about the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Through photos and videos, I present the Arctic as a crystal ball for the rest of the globe, exploring what is happening there and what it is telling us about our future. I also delve into what North Americans can do to improve that future. It’s over an hour long, but the first ten minutes are the most important. Enjoy!

CLICK POSTER TO GO TO LECTURE:Shattered STL Zoo poster-page-001

 

 

 

error: Content is protected !!