This page is a catch-all for useful or just interesting information ... that has been useful to us for the preparation and making this voyage. Yet, there still is huge space for the unknown ... If you think we missed something important, please let us know.

What is the Arctic


Arctic comes from the Greek 'arktos', the bear - not the polar bear (Ursus Maritimus), but the constellations of the great and the small bear that characterize its heaven.

The Arctic is roughly the area between the Arctic Circle and the geographic North Pole. More detailed definitions rely on climate observations, eg the isotherm of +10 ° C in July from where trees will no longer grow ...

The Arctic is the refrigerator that helps regulate the climate of the earth. Any disturbance is felt globally. It is in the Arctic where we are witnessing the most dramatic global warming. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet would raise ocean waters of 7 meters and directly affect all coastal areas ... see this simulation

This could occur; see the observation of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Map source : AMAP Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Best maps and GIS

Maps of Norway:

Maps of Svalbard:

Maps of Iceland:

Maps of Greenland:

Lenght of day and twilight in the Arctic

Twilight and sun in Qeqertat - horizontal axis = date; vertical axis = time (application 'twilight' - Peter Gallinelli)

Part of what make the Arctis specific is the very special day - night pattern. In opposition to a widely spread idea, there is more daylight in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world. Whilst potential sunshine hours are the same at any location on earth (aproximately 50%), one will observe only 20% of dark night at 77° North, half of what occurs close to the equator. Of course this is applicable also to the far South. The effect is even more amplified due to the high reflectivity of of snow and ice (albedo).

Annual graphs for latitudes 60°N, 65°N, 70°N, 75°N : click to enlarge

The free Twilight program calculates annual graphs for any location on earth ... have a look here.

What does the arctic night look like?

You may try to imagine the arctic night with information concerning sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset and twilight in the tables here below.

There are 3 types of twilight:

Definition > Wiki

Civil Twilight: is from sunset to the time at which the sun is 6° below the horizon. At this time, there is enough light for objects to be clearly distinguishable without artificial illumination. Civil twilight is the definition of twilight most widely used by the general public. Navigation by sight is generally possible till the end of civil twilight.

Nautical Twilight: is the time when the centre of the sun is 12° below the horizon, and only general or vague outlines of objects are visible, when it becomes too difficult to perceive the horizon. This term goes back to the days when sailing ships navigated by using the stars. The use of a sextant to measure the altitude angle of stars required horizon visibility.

Astronomical Twilight: is the time at which the sun is 18° below the horizon. It is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. During the evening, this is the point where the sky completely turns dark.

Light is of course only available when the sky is clear...

Useful tables

sunrise - sunset

moonrise - moonset

civil twilight

nautical twilight

astronomical twilight

Source of data : U.S.Naval Observatory,

The graphs here below show the contents of the tables in a more colorful way: horizontal axis = date, vertical axis = time

Qeqertat : latitude 77.5°N
Central Europe : latitude 46.5°N
Singapor: latitude 2°N

But of course light is not equal to solar energy. Due to the low sun altitude solar flux is limited. This is the main reason why the Arctic is cold. Here below the same tables with calculated clear sky solar fluxes:

Qeqertat : latitude 77.5°N
Central Europe : latitude 46.5°N
Singapor: latitude 2°N

We didn't expect that the moon would not rise or set for long periods. But this is perfectly normal above 70° latitude.

Qeqertat : latitude 77.5°N
Central Europe : latitude 46.5°N
Singapor: latitude 2°N

During the arctic night the moon is of big importance. The full moon periods are magical; the amplification of the moon shine by snow and ice put the scenery of the north into an intense blue light. This is konwn as 'blue moon'. When there is complete darkness, one will witness the most impressive sta rlight, and depending on location and time, one is likely to see northern lights. During summer you will experince the other extreme. You will see neither stars nor northern lights; even though present all year long they cannot bee seen due to the intense daylight lasting 24/7.

The graphs here above are made with the free Twilight program that calculates twilight, moon shine and solar energy for any location on earth ... to zoom in and more information, follow this link.


Some links to follow actual weather and forecasts ...

Animated forecast : overview
Animated weather : Windy




463 m
45.93 °N
6.11 °E
7 m
63.79 °N
20.28 °E
138 m
64.09 °N
21.82 °W
86 m
64.19 °N
51.68 °W
61 m
72.69 °N
77.97 °W
77 m
76.53 °N
68.75 °W

Boat routing software

qtVlm is a weather routing software for virtual and real sailing boats.
A great GPL licensed routing software : Virtual Loup de Mer : uses 7 days GRIB files and much more...

Weather FAX on sea

JWX is a Java short-wave weatherfax receiver/converter
A great GPL licensed software : JWX : connects to a quality short wave receiver ...

The Beaufort scale...


Presence of ice is one of the main features of the arctic ... and a constraint. A vessel such as the Integral 60 is strong, but only 20 tons displacement make it possible to break trough barely 10 to 15cm of ice ... when conditions are good. In any case, we compose with and not against nature...

Nanuq in Upernavik's isfjord, august 2016

Ice poles are useful to position the bow, not to push away ice floes...


Estimation of ice thickness

Relationship between accumulated frost degree days (0°C) and ice thickness (cm)

After Bowditch Practical Navigator, Fig.3304b.

Wind chill

Cold + WInd = Danger

Here below is a table that estimates wind chill, valid on bare skin. Corollary : protect yourself!

clic to zoom
Table extracted from : Refroidissement éolien. (2014, novembre 14). Wikipédia, l'encyclopédie libre. Page consultée le 22:28, avril 11, 2015 à partir de

Hypothermia and frostbite :

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia

Shivering (may be absent in later stages)
Lack of coordination
Confused or unusual behaviour
Body temperature below 35º C (95º F)

First Aid

Remove any wet clothing and dry the casualty
Warm the person gradually by wrapping him or her in sleeping bags and dry clothing
If available, use heat sources such as hot water bottles or heating pads to assist warming avoid direct contact with skin), or use body heat
If the casualty is alert, give warm liquids to drink
Get medical attention as soon as possible

Signs and Symptoms of Frostbite

Shivering (may be absent in later stages)
Lack of feeling in the affected area
Skin that appears waxy
Skin that is cold to the touch
Skin that is discoloured (flushed, white, yellow, blue)

First Aid

Cover the affected area
Handle the area gently - do not rub!
Warm the area gently by immersing it in water warmed to 40.5º C (105º F).This may require melting snow on a portable stove.
Keep the frostbitten part in the water until it looks red and feels warm.
Bandage the area with a dry, sterile dressing. Avoid breaking any blisters.
Get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not thaw the frozen part if there is a possibility of refreezing.

Source :

Navigation near the magnetic north pole

Be careful not to follow your compass to the blind : magnetic declination can be above 40 ° and the horizontal component is weak...

Source : -
Declination (magnetic variation) in region of north pole at 2015.0 from the World Magnetic Model . Red - positive (east), blue - negative (west), black - zero. Contour interval is 5°.

Source : Geophysical Institute – University of Alaska – Fairbanks -

Aurora borealis - northern lights

Forecast ... click on the picture

Source image : NOAA space weather prediction center

It still has to be dark (see nautical twilight, definition)



  • Paul Emile Victor, Joëlle Robert-Lamblin, La civilisation du phoque, Tôme 1, éd. A. Colin & R. Chabaud, 1989
  • Paul Emile Victor, Joëlle Robert-Lamblin, La civilisation du phoque, Tôme 2, éd. R. Chabaud, 1993
  • Jean Malaurie, L'appel du Nord, éditions de La Martinière, 2001
  • Jean Malaurie, Ultima Thulé, édition Bordas, 2000
  • Qunerseeq Rosing, Inuit - my photographs. Pictures from Greenland 1959-92, ISBN 8790133579
  • B. Klin, D. Duard, Le Bateau Igloo, éditions Arthaud, 1994
  • Jorn Riel, Soré - Sangen for livet 1-3, Lindhardt og Ringhof, 1985 (english translation available)

Sailing directions

  • Admiralty Sailing Directions, Arctic Pilot Volume II
  • Admiralty Sailing Directions, Arctic Pilot Volume III
  • Sailing directions PUB.181, Greenland and Iceland, U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Pub.180, Sailing Directions Planning Guide Arctic Ocean, U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Willy Ker, Christopher Thornhill, Faroe, Iceland and Greenland, Royal Cruising Club Foundation, Imray, 1998
  • RCCPF / Andrew Wilkes, Arctic and Northern Waters, RCC Pilotage Foundation, Imray, 2014


Source of flags : Wikipedia



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peter.gallinelli September 2018