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Arctic glacial melting has exposed 5 new islands
Posted on 30/10/2019

EcotourismRussia

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Last week, Russian state news agency TASS reported the Russian Navy to have officially found 5 new islands in the Arctic Ocean northwest of the Russian mainland in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

The islands were found as part of the Altai expedition charted through the Russian Navy but they were actually first spotted by Marina Migunova, a student researching her final coursework in 2016. Migunova, who now works as an engineer for the Russian Navy, was analysing satellite imagery when she came across the Islands ranging in size from 900 to 54,500 square metres previously covered by glacial ice. An expedition was then launched in August this year where scientists, documentary filmmakers and geographers joined the exploration and was celebrated in the Russian press.

However, this discovery is far from positive.

Temperatures in the arctic region have been 5 to 6 degrees warmer than in recent years which has contributed to unprecedented levels of glacial ice loss. This process of glacial melting is having an extreme effect on the climate with around 30 islands being discovered in the Arctic Circle over the last 5 years.



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Putin has pledged to ship a colossal 80 million tons of goods through the Northern Sea route by 2024 alongside increasing research and military presence in the arctic circle. This decision makes abundantly clear the Russian leader's priorities: considering business interests over that of our struggling climate.

The commander of the northern fleet expedition force described the temperatures during their expedition as ?warm' and mentioned how this process has enabled access to islands unavailable in previous years.



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Worse still, sea ice melting is proving actively profitable for Russia. As glaciers disappear or shrink, key trade routes such as that in the North Sea will have longer seasonal access and the availability of natural resources in the Arctic region such as oil, gas and minerals will increase. This potential for new oil and gas fields around the region has also piqued interest from the neighbouring USA and Canada.

One could then argue that when the explorers tried to land on one the islands, nature fought back as an angry walrus attacked their landing craft. This could be interpreted as a sort of one-walrus-protest against Russia's push to increase trade shipments in the Northern Sea.