Pop Culture
Sep 03, 2008, 05:25AM

Migration Instincts

Animals from birds to deer have the same seasonal instincts: head to warm weather in the winter and cold weather in the summer. But this year one student took her instincts to the extreme. As part of a scientific research program studying life in extreme environments, she visited an Arctic landscape full of nonstop sunlight and sulphuric springs.

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Photo by Zena Cardman

Our destination was the McGill Arctic Research Station on Axel Heiberg Island. Located at 79o26’N, Axel Heiberg is an alien landscape in its own right. It’s the kind of place I’d only seen in National Geographic specials: starkly beautiful plains, red-tinged mountains, and colossal white glaciers. Eight of us were crammed into a tiny twin-otter plane along with our cargo, which finally landed on a terrifyingly small patch of tundra.

Round-the-clock sunlight took some getting used to, but I adapted quite well to the stunning landscape. Our toilet — more or less a rusting can with a plastic seat fixed to its rim — boasted what must be the best view of any toilet in the world. We were camped at the edge of Expedition Fiord, nestled between massive glaciers and perched above perennial springs.


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