Status Report

NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 25, 2012 – Bjørnøya, Norwegian Sea

By SpaceRef Editor
April 25, 2012
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The clouds swirling over the Norwegian Sea parted in late April, 2012, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite to glimpse snow-covered Bjørnøya sitting in the dark blue sea. MODIS captured this image on April 22, 2012 at 11:20 UTC (1:20 p.m. local time). Bjørnøya, also called Bear Island, is located midway between the Norwegian mainland to the south and Spitsbergen to the north. With an area of only 176 square kilometers and measuring only 20 km in length (north to south), and about 15 km at its widest, the island seems very small and isolated when viewed from space. Although small, the land is rugged, with a steep and almost unapproachable coastline, with only one usable harbor. Settlements have appeared on the island from time to time since its discovery by Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemskerk in 1596, but no settlement has lasted for long. Today Bjørnøya is uninhabited except for workers at a meteorological station located in the north. The island once served as a base for whaling, hunting as fishing. The island was a killing ground for walrus. According to the Norwegian Polar Institute, the early hunters killed about 900 walrus annually between 1605 and 1607, and after 200 years of hunting, few animals remain. The oldest cultural remains found on Bjørnøya are skeletal remains at the sites where walrus were commercially slaughtered. In 2002 the area was made a nature reserve, which offers protection to the fauna and flora as well as the rich marine life found in the surrounding waters.

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SpaceRef staff editor.