Russian Arctic is melting twice as fast as before / 27 April 2018
The rate of polar cap and permafrost mass loss has doubled in some Russian polar regions in the last 10 years, climate experts say in an article published in Remote Sensing of Environment. Matt Prichard from Cornell University (United States) says that previous observations showed that glaciers in northern Canada were melting faster than those in northern Russia. The scientists studied the Russian part of the ice cap trying to find the reasons. For example, accelerated mass loss on the Franz Josef Land Archipelago in 2011-2015 may indicate temperature fluctuations in the ocean.
Arctic glaciers, as well as alpine, are subjected to rapidly-warming temperatures: recently, the average annual temperatures in the Arctic have gone up 6-7 degrees. This warming has two consequences: a shift in climatic zones and related plants and animals as well as changes in the coming of seasons, especially spring. Recently, scientists have found that spring in the Russian and Canadian Arctic begins two or three weeks ahead of the norm, which also affected the glacier retreat.
Prichard and his colleagues have been trying to understand why these processes impact various parts of the Arctic differently. In order to address this, they have analyzed how the glaciated Franz Josef Land has changed in the last 50 years. They scanned one of the first Soviet land maps of the archipelago dated 1953 and used it to find the initial glacier height and area on the islands. These numbers were compared with the date collected by the ICESat and GRACE satellites in recent years. These satellites monitored the area and thickness of Earth’s ice caps.
The results showed that the ice melt in the Russian Arctic had drastically changed eight or nine years ago. Before 2011, the glacier on Franz Josef Land retreated at a more or less constant rate: about 18 cm per year, losing almost two billion tons of water annually. In general, these rates were comparable to those from the other Polar regions.
The situation has drastically changed during this decade. The retreat has accelerated up to 33 cm per year by 2015, or almost doubled, and the mass of the melted water reached 4.4 billion tons, which is about twice as much as Mount Everest volume.
THE ARCTIC (above) / April 28, 2018. https://go.nasa.gov/2HzbiKf
Transport Ministry, Rosatom yet to reach agreement on Northern Sea Route management / 25 April, 2018
The Russian Ministry of Transport and the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation have so far failed to agree on their administrative function sharing in the management of the Northern Sea Route, with Rosatom looking to operate the route, Viktor Olersky, who is Deputy Minister of Transport and Head of the Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport, told Interfax news agency.
“Rosatom and we are divided on just one issue, the management of the Northern Sea Route and the issuance of local navigation permits. Today, the Northern Sea Route’s administration is currently subordinate to our agency. We see this as a regulatory function, and Rosatom believes that it would be more convenient if they issue navigation permits because the corporation also has its own fleet that escorts other vessels,” Olersky said after a meeting of the presidium of the State Commission for Arctic Development.
Replying to a question as to whether the Ministry of Transport supported Rosatom’s desire to operate the Northern Sea Route and to own the port infrastructure, Olersky noted that the ministry advocated the two-key principle here, with the Ministry of Transport acting as the regulator and Rosatom exercising economic functions.
“I would like to note that we have leased out virtually all our piers under long-term contracts, they are managed by sea transport infrastructure company Rosmorport and are used by legal entities. Understandably, normal legal entities will not have to terminate lease contracts. This is out of the question. Speaking of the sea transport infrastructure, the future of ports and terminals, the scenario remains the same: Those who built the infrastructure will own it, probably including Rosatom,” Olersky explained.
In 2017, Rosatom drafted a federal law authorizing it to manage and oversee Northern Sea Route shipping. The draft document will be submitted to the State Duma soon, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told participants in a meeting of the State Commission for Arctic Development on Tuesday.
The ARCTIC, the Barents Sea, Svalbard Norway & Novaya Zemlya Russia (above) April 28, 2018. Paul Beckwith video: “…methane is now venting into the air at the surface in the Arctic in the Kara Sea off the Russian Island of Novaya Zemlya.” https://go.nasa.gov/2FqzRTI
Novaya Zemlya (Russian: Но́вая Земля́, IPA: [ˈnovəjə zʲɪmˈlʲa], lit. the new land), also known as Nova Zembla (especially in Dutch), is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the Northern island. Novaya Zemlya is composed of two islands, the northern Severny Island and the southern Yuzhny Island, which are separated by Matochkin Strait. Administratively, it is incorporated as Novaya Zemlya District, one of the twenty-one in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. Municipally, it is incorporated as Novaya Zemlya Urban Okrug.
Its population as of the 2010 Census was 2,429, of which 1,972 resided in Belushya Guba, an urban-type settlement that is the administrative center of Novaya Zemlya District. The population in 2002 was 2,716 (2002 Census). The indigenous population (from 1872 to the 1950s when it was resettled to the mainland) consisted of about 50–300 Nenetses who subsisted mainly on fishing, trapping, reindeer herding, polar bear hunting and seal hunting. Natural resources include copper, lead, and zinc.
Novaya Zemlya was a sensitive military area during the Cold War years and is still in use today. The Soviet Air Force maintained a presence at Rogachevo on the southern part of the island, on the westernmost peninsula (71.61787°N 52.47884°E). It was used primarily for interceptor aircraft operations, but also provided logistical support for the nearby nuclear test area. Novaya Zemlya was the site of one of the two major nuclear test sites managed by the USSR, used for air drops and underground testing of the largest of Soviet nuclear bombs, in particular the October 30, 1961 air burst explosion of Tsar Bomba, the largest, most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.
Tsar Bomba (Russian: Царь-бо́мба, tr. Tsar’-bómba, IPA: [t͡sarʲ ˈbombə], lit. Tsar bomb/King of Bombs;) was the Western nickname for the Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb (code name Ivan or Vanya), the most powerful nuclear weapon ever created. Its test on 30 October 1961 remains the most powerful explosive ever detonated. It was also referred to as Kuzma’s mother (Russian: Ку́зькина ма́ть, tr. Kúz’kina mát’, IPA: [ˈkusʲkʲɪnə ˈmatʲ]), possibly referring to First secretary Nikita Khrushchev’s promise to show the United States a Kuzma’s mother (an idiom roughly translating to “We’ll show you!”) at a 1960 session of United Nations General Assembly.
The bomb had a yield of 50 megatons of TNT (210 PJ). In theory, it had a maximum yield of 100 megatons if it were to have included a U-238 tamper, but because only one bomb was built, this was never demonstrated. The single bomb was detonated at the Sukhoy Nos cape of Severny Island, part of Novaya Zemlya.
The remaining bomb casings are located at the Russian Atomic Weapon Museum in Sarov and the Museum of Nuclear Weapons, All-Russian Research Institute of Technical Physics, at Snezhinsk.
The ARCTIC – detail of BARENTS SEA Svalbard Norway & Novaya Zemlya Russia on the lower right (above) April 27, 2018. The contrast & saturation etc. are maxed to reveal the cracks in the ice; color not true. https://go.nasa.gov/2JBmD9p
31 May 2017
A Defense Ministry unit to clean Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic
A Defense Ministry unit has flown to the Arctic to clean the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry Information and Communications Department reported. According to Deputy Defense Minister Army General Dmitry Bulgakov, the unit will engage in environmental cleanup around the villages of Belushia Guba, Rogachyovo and Severny on the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago. The unit will collect and remove over 2,000 metric tons of scrap metal, reclaim 11.5 hectares of land and pull down 59 buildings.
In addition, the Northern Fleet will send a 30-man environmental cleaning platoon to Kotelny Island. Another platoon, formed in the Central Military District, has started operations in Norilsk. In 2017, the Northern Fleet, the Central and Eastern Military Districts and the 12th Main Directorate of the Defense Ministry have formed environmental cleanup units with approximately 186 officers and personnel to help clean the Arctic of leftover scrap metal and waste.
This year, environmental operations will take place on Novaya Zemlya, Novosibirsk Islands and other areas in the Russian Arctic. In all, the units will collect over 3,900 metric tons of scrap metal.
The ARCTIC – BARENTS Sea, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard Norway, Novaya Zemlya Russia (above) / April 27, 2018. Some enhancement for clarity. https://go.nasa.gov/2Hyh2Eb
In Putin’s Year of Ecology, also nuclear weapon soldiers have to contribute 94 soldiers from the 12th Main Directorate flies to Novaya Zemlya to collect scrap metal at the nuclear weapons test site.
By Thomas Nilsen / June 02, 2017
The reports says nothing about potential radioactivity in the 2,000 tons of scrap metal to be collected and shipped away from Novaya Zemlya this summer. The soldiers, though, have got specialist training before they were flying north this week, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow reports. All 94 soldiers belongs to the 12th Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. This directorate, unlike others, does not belongs to the structure of the General Staff, but is directly under the Ministry of Defense. The 12th Chief Directorate is responsible for safe-keeping, transportation and delivery of nuclear warheads. Also, it is responsible for maintenance of the testing grounds.
At Novaya Zemlya, the soldiers will work from Belushaya Bay, the main military settlement on the archipelago. Not far away is the southern test-range where low- and medium-yield atmospheric and surface nuclear explosions were carried out between 1955 and 1962. Also, two underwater explosion took place in Chernaya Bay. Six underground nuclear tests were carried out in the area after 1963.
The northern test site is located at the Matochkin Strait dividing the northern and southern islands of Novaya Zemlya where all nuclear bomb tests took place inside mountain tunnels. From Belushaya Bay, the environmental clean-up team is set to reclaim 11.5 hectares of land, including demolishing 59 buildings, the Ministry of Defense reports.
* Russia’s floating nuclear power plant prompts protests as it heads for the Arctic
Russia has put to sea a controversial floating nuclear plant to supply far-flung Siberian outposts with power as part of its potentially lucrative development of the Arctic region. The Akademik Lomonosov vessel was towed from its shipyard in St Petersburg on Sunday (Australian time), bound for the Russian naval port of Murmansk, a city of 300,000 people, where its reactors are to be loaded with nuclear fuel.
The Lomonosov will then be put into service in 2019 in the Arctic port of Pevek, Siberia, where it will supply electricity and heat to the town and oil rigs. Its wattage also will be used to desalinate seawater. The 474ft vessel can supply about 70 megawatts of electricity, enough for support 200,000 people.
Its owner, Rosatom, the state nuclear energy agency, had originally planned to fuel the twin reactors while it was docked in St Petersburg. But pressure from residents and neighbouring Norway’s Foreign Ministry forced the agency to load fuel at Murmansk, traditional home of Russia’s submarines and Arctic naval fleet.
What Russia wants in the Arctic
Russia is expanding its presence in the Arctic region to exploit rich oil and gas reserves and the thawing Northern Sea Route.
Chinese ships can reach Germany within 40 days using the Arctic route. Russia predicts trade will reach almost 60 million tonnes by 2020. The northern route, which is entirely within Russia’s exclusive economic zone, is the shortest shipping route from China to Europe. The distance from St Petersburg to Vladivostok along the route is about 40 per cent shorter than via the Suez Canal, potentially allowing Asian cargo transporters to reach Northern Europe about nine days faster. Typically, the route would only be free of ice for about two months a year, but climate-induced melting of ice is increasing this time, making it more viable.
Moscow is strengthening its military presence in the region as both a result of the changing climate and in preparation for greater commercial activity.
In late 2017 Russia sent the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker, Sibir, to the region to clear a path for Russian ships to deliver gas to Asia. …
“The floating nuclear power plants will typically be put to use near coastlines and shallow water … contrary to claims regarding safety, the flat-bottomed hull and the floating nuclear power plant’s lack of self-propulsion makes it particularly vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones.” Rosatom denies the Greenpeace claims, saying it is not an environmental threat, and noting that its twin reactors are tried and tested versions of those used in Russian naval vessels.
Russian officials also note the operating system is totally different from the Sixties-era “graphite-moderated” Chernobyl reactor – a technology that had been abandoned long before the ageing plant melted down. Rosatom says the vessel will be replacing an ageing nuclear plant scheduled for decommission.
China is Planning a “Polar Silk Road”
By The Strategist 2018-04-27 / Mike Scrafton
Under Xi Jinping, China has a grand strategy to reshape the current geopolitical landscape. Xi has set out an integrated and coherent set of ideas about China’s ultimate objectives in the international system, and how it should go about achieving them over the coming decades.
That’s the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese government ‘has mobilized the country’s political, diplomatic, intellectual, economic and financial resources’ to meet ‘the most pressing internal and external economic and strategic challenges faced by China’.
The effective power of China’s political–economic model to implement a grand strategy is evident in the Arctic. The release of China’s Arctic Policy white paper in January coincides with what the US National Snow and Ice Data Center describes as ‘the second lowest Arctic maximum [extent of Arctic sea ice] in the 39-year satellite record’. The Chinese white paper outlines a proposal ‘to jointly build a “Polar Silk Road”’ with existing BRI partners in order to ‘facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic’.
In China, there’s no partisan debate over the scientific consensus on global warming like that found among political elites in the US. Climate change is simply accepted as an objective fact that needs to be accommodated. The white paper opens by saying, ‘Global warming in recent years has accelerated the melting of ice and snow in the Arctic region.’ The ‘development of shipping routes in the Arctic’ as the ice retreats is therefore a goal because those routes will ‘become important transport routes for international trade’.
The sea ice is disappearing at a greater rate than expected. Arctic-capable shipbuilding technology is advancing in parallel. A South Korean-built Arc7 LNG carrier transited the Northern Sea Route in December 2017. The passage marked a major milestone—the first time a shipping vessel has made independent passage without the support of an ice-breaker during that time of year. The Arc7 LNG carrier is one of 15 of the new class being built for the Yamal LNG project on the Kara Sea. This isn’t just ‘one of the largest and most complex LNG projects in the world’. The project is half-owned by Russia, 20% owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation and, significantly, 10% funded by China’s ‘Silk Road Fund’.
China’s partnering with Russia aligns China’s ‘geopolitical and economic interests’, providing it with a strategic stake in the Arctic, as well as access to LNG and potentially to other resources.
Geographically Russia already has a huge advantage in the Arctic. If the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf decides in Russia’s favour on the Lomonosov Ridge claim, it will increase Russia’s exclusive economic zone by 1.2 million square kilometres. The Arctic is believed to hold up to one‑third of the world’s untapped oil and gas reserves, as well as extensive but as yet unquantified mineral riches.
The Northeast Passage overlaps the Northern Sea Routh through Russian waters, which is most of its length. It’s the shortest route from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Traversing along the northern coast of Siberia, it cuts travel time from China to Europe by at least 12 days compared to the Suez route.
While the commercial advantages are obvious, the strategic importance of that route lies in the fact that ‘both China and Japan import 80% of their oil through the Strait of Malacca’. The so-called ‘Malacca dilemma’ of a potential US naval blockade of the straits in a conflict makes establishing the Arctic alternative all the more attractive.
Russia recognises the northern route’s importance and launched the world’s biggest ice-breaker in 2016, one of four being constructed. China already has one Arctic-capable ice-breaker and is building another to enter service in 2019.
In contrast, the Americans’ ability to operate year round in the Arctic is limited because the US has only one heavy and one medium ice-breaker that are operational. Both are beyond their life-of-type. At best the US might get a new Arctic-capable ice-breaker around 2025. Professional assessments suggest that the US needs six, but significant investment in ice-capable shipbuilding capacity would be required.
Even before the Arctic white paper, China’s ambitions were evident. Although not an Arctic nation, China has used diplomacy, trade, investment and research in pursuit of its Arctic objectives while trying to avoid a resource rush from which it might be excluded.
BERING STRAIT, Kamchatka Peninsula Russia, & Alaska – Aleutian Islands (above) April27, 2018. https://go.nasa.gov/2HyjBGj
Cargo transit along Russia’s Northern Sea Route expected to rise by 50% this year
27 Apr, 2018
The major sea passage in the Russian Arctic, the Northern Sea Route, is seeing significant growth in cargo flow, according to Deputy Head of Maritime and River Transport Yury Kostin. From the current 9.93 million tons, “I would forecast the cargo flow at 12-14 million tons in 2018,” he told TASS, adding that “most likely it would be even bigger.” Kostin said there was almost 200-percent growth since the first quarter of 2017. “The main cargoes are minerals, food and fuel to local settlements, and transit shipments,” he said, adding that more than 660 licenses were issued last year for the route’s transit.
The BERING Strait, Russia & Alaska (above) April 27, 2018. https://go.nasa.gov/2FnpyzX
China and Russia battle for North Pole supremacy
Melting ice and ample resources spark race with US over Arctic
OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writer April 10, 2018
As global warming melts sea ice across the far north, the region is becoming a development hot spot, with major powers like Russia and China seeking control of resources and transport routes. This creates a potential security flashpoint, too.
In March, a large ship carrying liquefied natural gas left Russia’s Yamal Peninsula, which juts out from northwestern Siberia and contains some of the world’s biggest gas reserves. The vessel was carrying the first India-bound shipment of LNG from the peninsula through Arctic waters via the Bering Strait.
Russian energy giant Novatek is producing LNG in Yamal. “The first cargo delivered to the growing Indian market is an important development step,” Lev Feodosyev, Novatek’s first deputy chairman, said of the shipment.
Climate change made it possible.
Arctic sea ice has been steadily shrinking due to our planet’s rising average temperatures. The maximum ice coverage hit the lowest level on record in 2017. By as early as 2030, the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of ice in the summer, according to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a working group under the intergovernmental Arctic Council. …
For Russia, the Yamal project is just the beginning. “The Northern Sea Route will become the key to the development of the Russian Arctic region and the regions of the Far East, and by 2025 its traffic will increase 10-fold to 80 million tons,” Putin said of a key transport route in his State of the Nation address on March 1. “Our task is to turn it into a truly global, competitive transit artery.”
Moscow is also launching a second Yamal LNG project, called Arctic LNG 2, with gas development scheduled to start in 2019. It wants to boost the region’s total annual LNG production to 50 million tons by 2030.
Putin told about discovery of new Arctic islands as ice cover thins
Society & Culture
April 28, 2018
The islands were identified on satellite images by school students Artyom Makarenko and Viktoria Sayenko / St PETERSBURG, April 27. /TASS/.
President Vladimir Putin voice support on Friday for a proposal to give the name Khrustalny [Crystal] to one of the newly discovered islands of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago separating the Barents and Kara seas. Participants in a session of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographic Society told him about two new islands that had been discovered by general school students Artyom Makarenko and Viktoria Sayenko.
The islands reemerged in the process of melting of glaciers near the Novaya Zemlya. They were identified on images obtained with the aid of satellites for remote sounding of the Earth’s crust. Valeria Sayenko personally told Putin that after the opening of the two islands Russia’s territory had increased by 290,000 sq. km. She also asked the President to give the name Khrustalny to an island in honor of a summer camp, which is part of the world-famous Artek children’s summer recreation facility in Crimea.
“I think we’ll meet the request of the discoverers halfway if the trustees don’t have objections,” Putin said. He also asked if other islands might have disappeared after the thickness of ice while the newly discovered ones reemerged from under the ice cover. Putin quoted an expert assessment saying that accumulation of ice and snow occurs in some areas of the Arctic simultaneously with ice thinning in other areas. Sayenko said to this that the melting of ice in the Arctic was proceeding at a fast enough pace at present and therefore there was a prospect of discovering more new islands.
On Russia’s northernmost Arctic coast, a large-scale corruption case
Two men with close ties to the Ministry of Defence are charged with theft of almost 3 billion rubles in connection with the building of new Arctic Navy bases.
By Atle Staalesen / April 20, 2018
According to prosecutors, Dmitry Bushmanov and Aleksey Ekkert stole 2,9 billion rubles (€38 million) in connection with the construction of Navy base objects in Novaya Zemlya, Wrangel Island and Cape Shmidt.
The two men own the construction company Rusalians Stroy, which in 2014 won the multi-billion rubles tender. Up to 3.2 billion rubles of state money was transferred to the company as advance payment. A lion’s share of that money was subsequently stolen by Dmitry Bushmanov and Aleksey Ekkert, prosecutors say.
According to newspaper Kommersant, a big number of additional cases against Rusalians Stroy have been filed during the last years. Still, none of the men have pleaded guilty, and in a court hearing last week they won a partial victory when the judge decided that the case will be returned to the general prosecutor for further assessment. According to the judge, several law violations had been made during the investigation, Kommersant reports.
Ekkert and Bushmanov have been behind bars since early 2016. Both men have close connection with state apparatus. Aleksey Ekkert before 2009 worked in the Ministry of Defence. He has also worked in the regional administration of Nenets Autonomous Okrug and oil company Rosneft.
The case against Rusalians Stroy comes as Russia has invested big sums in the construction and upgrade of Arctic military bases. By early 2017, about 1,000 workers were busy building more than 100 military objects in five Russian Arctic archipelagos. All objects were originally to be completed in the course of 2017.
Among them are 30 buildings and facilities on Alexandra Island, the base in Franz Josef Land. A similar number of objects are erected on the island of Wrangle and in Cape Shmidt, the two far eastern bases. New technical positions and social infrastructure have been under construction also in Rogachevo, the military base on Novaya Zemlya.
The base of Kotelny in the New Siberian Island was reportedly ready to be handed over to the Northern Fleet already in mid-December 2016. Included in that project is the upgraded Temp airfield and the 12,000 square meter big trefoil-shaped Severny Klever housing and administration complex.
In April 2017, the 14,000 square meters military complex at the Nagurskoye base on Aleksandra Land, the northernmost of the islands of Franz Josef Land, was completed and ready for use.
Nuclear power for Novaya Zemlya mining
Rosatom considers to take use of small-scale nuclear reactors for the projected Pavlovsky mine in Novaya Zemlya.
By Atle Staalesen / February 26, 2018
The proposal was presented by researchers at the ATOMECO conference in Moscow. A mini-NPP with 6,6 MW capacity would be able to deliver the necessary power for the development of the Pavlovsky mine, the researchers from the NIKIET institute argue.
The NIKIET is a research and design organisation subordinated to the state nuclear power company Rosatom. The researchers believe their 400 ton heavy model «Shelf», a capsule with reactor originally designed for offshore projects, can be applied in the Pavlovsky mining. According to Aleksandr Pimenov, institute General Director for innovative projects, the mini-NPP will be able to deliver power at less than half the cost of alternative solutions, a press release informs.
The construction of the Shelf reactor would cost about 6,7 billion rubles, Pimenov told RIA Novosti. The Pavlovsky is owned and developed by Rosatom itself. It holds an estimated 2,48 million tons of zink and 549,000 tons of lead. ARMZ, the mining subsidiary of Rosatom, intends to start construction of the project plant in year 2020 and launch production in 2023.
Novaya Zemlya is priority in 2018, says Northern Fleet
Expeditionary forces will make comprehensive explorations of the country’s biggest Arctic archipelago.
By Atle Staalesen / February 15, 2018
It covers a strictly militarised territory of more than 83,000 square km and stretches north of the 74th parallel. The two major islands of the archipelago constitute a key foothold of the Russian Armed Forces and is an area of enhanced military interest. One of the top priority tasks of the Northern Fleet in 2018 is the complex exploration of Novaya Zemlya, Head Commander Nikolay Yevmenov made clear this week. …
The need for this kind of activities has increased after the formation of the Northern Fleet as a joint strategic command structure in 2014, says Admiral Yevmenov. We have a need for enhanced knowledge about the region, he argues.
«The increase in the number and scope of the Navy expeditions and the revitalisation of military preparedness in Arctic waters, archipelagos and adjacent territories requires a comprehensive and complex study of the areas,» Yevmenov says. There is a major number of military infrastructure objects in the area. Many of them of historical importance and can hardly be applied today. However as objects of historical importance, they still deserve attention, Admiral Yevmenov argues.
The expeditions will follow the historical routes made by 19th century explorers and study military sites and facilities built during the Second World War. Of special interest are bases and infrastructure developed by German occupiers during the war, as well as Soviet post-war Navy facilities in the area, the Northern Fleet informs.
Novaya Zemlya is closed military area strictly controlled by the Russian Armed Forces. It has a population of about 2,900, the lion’s share of which lives in Belushya Guba, the settlement located on the southwestern part of the archipelago. Between 1973 and 1975, the southern island of Novaya Zemlya was used for larger underground nuclear tests. Of the seven detonations that took place in the area, several ventilated radioactive gases to the atmosphere because the explosions were not deep enough in the ground. From 1976 to 1990, all underground nuclear tests took place at the northern test-range in the Matochin Straight. Since 1990, only so-called sub-critical nuclear tests have been conducted at Novaya Zemlya.
Atomic icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy sets speed record for reaching the North Pole / 17 August 2017
The atomic icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy has set a new record, making the journey from Murmansk to the North Pole in just 79 hours. This is twice as fast as the journey made by the icebreaker Arktika, which in 1977 became the first surface vessel to reach the North Pole, according to Andrei Smirnov, director of Atomflot Shipping.
The atomic icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy reached the North Pole at 2.33 am Moscow time on August 17, 2017, making the journey to commemorate the Arktika’s historic voyage which took place in 1977. The route was covered in record time, 79 hours from departure from Atomflot’s dock in Murmansk, Smirnov said. 40 years ago the journey lasted for 176 hours, with the Arktika leaving Murmansk at 8 pm Moscow time on August 9, 1977, and arriving at the North Pole at 4 am Moscow time on August 17.
Smirnov noted that this is the 124th time a surface vessel has reached the North Pole. “Over these 40 years, surface vessels have completed the journey 124 times, with Soviet and Russian ships accounting for 111 of these voyages,” he said.
The atomic icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy, under the command of Captain Dmitry Lobusov, marked the 40th anniversary of the first surface journey to the North Pole, repeating the route taken by the pioneering icebreaker Arktika four decades earlier. A conference was organised on board the 50 Let Pobedy, with members of the State Duma and Federation Council, representatives of the Rosatom state corporation and polar explorers from different generations taking part in a series of lectures and discussions. Participants will also take part in a ceremony in the North Pole which will involve planting a Russian flag there.