The Arctic is the northernmost region on Earth, defined as the area within the Arctic Circle, a line of latitude about 66.5° north of the Equator. That circle at the top of the world includes the Arctic Ocean and a few bits of land: northern parts of Russia, the state of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and the northern tips of Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Teeming with wildlife — polar bears, puffins, whales, seals, arctic foxes, and narwhals — the land and sea blend, ice reaching to the horizon and the sky in vast stretches of blue and white. It can seem quite romantic, this part of the globe with months of darkness and light at opposite ends of the calendar.
But as history tells, it’s also perilously dangerous, a place where humans are likely to lose their way, to freeze, or to simply disappear.
In this episode, we take a quick romp through the Arctic expeditions of the 19th century and get curious about the archipelago of Svalbard (150 islands off the coast of Norway). Then we discuss five books that transported us to the Arctic Circle, including lyrical nonfiction, adventure tales, and one ghost story that would make the bravest soul shake in their fur-lined boots.
Read the full transcript of Episode 28 — Arctic: Otherworldly Beauty That Might Kill You.
The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) conducts observations and research in the Arctic. The website is nerdily fascinating.
The 10 largest cities within the Arctic Circle. Related: The Norwegian city of Tromsø is known as the ‘Paris of the North’.
And no big deal, just a 400-year-old Greenland shark.
The photos in this essay are so very good: How Families Eat In The Arctic: From An $18 Box Of Cookies To Polar Bear Stew
You just really need to see this:
Reindeer Cyclones are a real thing... a swirling mass of threatened reindeer stampeding in a circle making it impossible to target an individual.. here the fawns are in the middle— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) March 30, 2021
This herd is on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, in the Arctic Circle
A quick timeline of explorations of the Northwest Passage, including John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, Francisco de Ulloa, Henry Hudson, and Roald Amundsen.
The Franklin Expedition is the most famous and most mysterious of the explorations in the Arctic Circle. History.com lays out the whole story. Here are 20 things you probably don’t know about the doomed expeditiion; and the tragic story of the canned food that may have doomed the crew of the Terror and Erebus.
The wreck of the HMS Terror was discovered in 2016. Here’s a video of an underwater exploration:
As Dave explained in his intro to Two Truths and a Lie, ‘Svalbard is a fascinating place. If you were going to go to the ends of the earth, you might pick Svalbard as one of the ends.’
Should you want to visit Svalbard (we really want to!), here’s an overview of getting to Svalbard. The most common route is a 3-hour flight from Oslo, Norway, to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. However, you might consider a trip on an expedition ship. This post So you want to go to Svalbard? also has helpful info.
The goal of the Global Music Vault is to ‘create a safe haven that protects and preserves the most precious and important world musical expressions of all times. From irreplaceable cultural and heritage music to the biggest modern day hits.’ Billboard Magazine has more on the project.
We name-dropped ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and Louis Prima in the show, we we’re taking that as an excuse for a musical interlude:
Greer Macallister talked to the Chicago Review of Books about her novel The Arctic Fury.
Our podcast episode Newsroom: From Clacking Typewriters to Viral Video.
The website for author Barry Lopez is a wonderful way to spend some time on the internet. Sadly, he died in January 2021; here’s his obituary from The New York Times and The Guardian.
Michelle Paver was a guest on the Richard and Judy Bookclub to discuss her ghost story Dark Matter. Her personal story about going to the Arctic is great!
Book Club Babble shared a Q&A with Lily Brooks-Dalton about her novel Good Morning, Midnight. (Careful! This one includes a few spoilers.)
Related: The title of her novel comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson:
How could I — of Him?
So — Goodnight — Day!
That puts the Heart — abroad
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