Saturday, 10 September 2011

Cold war sites on Arctic cruise

Escape arctic
Aurora Expeditions members at Bukhta Legzdina in the Russian Arctic. Picture: Dylan Coker

A POLAR bear clambering a cliff face hunting eggs; 24-hour daylight; glaciers mirrored in seas next to fields of flowers ... weird and wonderful things happen in the Arctic Circle.

In these cold reaches Novaya Zemlya is a little-known Russian outcrop of two main islands jutting 1000km in a crescent dividing the Barents and Kara seas. It has been off limits for decades and remains difficult to reach.

In the Cold War, it was a nuclear testing site where in 1961 the Russians exploded Tsar Bomba , the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Tests later went underground, with blasts registering up to 6.9 on the Richter scale.

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