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Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates

We've arrived and we're unpacking, shopping, setting things up. The food that Al Maha kindly provide for us is great. The sun is shining, it's warm during the day and not too cold during the night to sleep under the stars (but there are plenty of tents too).

Today we are working with Greg on the research side (I hope you've read the 2016 expedition report to set the scene for you) and tomorrow we are tying up loose ends. And then we'll see you at the right place and time on Saturday morning. Safe travels to get you there.

In another piece of excellent news, we're a finalist for the 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards! That in itself is another great feather in our cap. Now wish us luck for the final round, which entails an assessor joining our team for the week, who will take part in the expedition as normal, as will a journalist from National Geographic, and they will both want to talk to the rest of the team, so be nice to them please ;)

See you soon!

https://youtu.be/0Ib0pX9Ak9M
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No ‘pause’ in rising global temperatures: Study confirms NOAA estimates of ocean warming

New research has confirmed the results of a 2015 study led by scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that showed there has been no “pause” in global warming.

No ‘pause’ in rising global temperatures: Study confirms NOAA estimates of ocean warming

In a paper published in Science in June 2015, a group of scientists led by Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, detailed the results of their analysis that corrected for various sources of bias in the data on global surface temperatures, showing in the process that global warming had not gone on hiatus after all.

Climate deniers were not convinced, however. Among them was Republican Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, who subpoenaed communications between the NOAA scientists in an attempt to prove that they had rushed their research into publication in order to bolster the Obama Administration’s climate policies.

But new research published yesterday in the journal Science Advances confirms NOAA’s findings about ocean warming over the past two decades.

https://news.mongabay.com/2017/01/no-pause-in-rising-global-temperatures-study-confirms-noaa-estimates-of-ocean-warming/?n3wsletter
New research has confirmed the results of a 2015 study led by scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that showed there has been no “pause” in global warming.
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Beautiful article about our Costa Rica turtle expedition (plus an expedition selection overview), just out in UK's "Country Life" magazine > http://issuu.com/biosphere-expeditions/docs/cr-countrylife16
Three page feature about Costa Rica turtle expedition, plus expedition overwiew
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Another accolade: We're a finalist for the 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards! That in itself is another great feather in our cap. Now wish us luck for the final round. > https://www.wttc.org/tourism-for-tomorrow-awards/winners-and-finalists-2017/
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Update from our Arabian desert expedition / working holiday volunteering with oryx and wildcats in the United Arab Emirates

Hello and welcome to the first expedition diary entry of 2017, for our Arabia expedition to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). I am Matthias Hammer, founder and executive director of Biosphere Expeditions, and also your expedition leader for this expedition. Other key people are Greg Simkins, head of the DDCR and also our expedition scientists, as well as expedition leaders in training Tessa Merrie and Amadeus DeKastle.

And then of course there’s you, the expedition team. There will be a full complement of 12 of you from the UAE, UK, USA, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, as well as a journalist for National Geographic Traveller and an assessor from a major travel award, which I can’t tell you about yet, since there’s a news embargo until the shortlists are officially announced on 16 Jan. But suffice it to say that it’s great just to make it onto the shortlist, which in itself is a major feather in our awards cap.

But enough of this for now. Let’s focus on you all getting there and the work ahead.

I hope your preparations are going well and you are starting to get excited. Tessa and I will fly from Norwich in the UK via Amsterdam to Dubai on Tuesday and set things up with Greg, Tessa & Amadeus. Amadeus will be coming from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and you will all be coming from Europe, the USA and the Middle East.

Once we are all together, we will follow the recommendations of the 2016 expedition report, which was published at the end of December. Do have a look at this to be prepared. The methodology we will use and the skills you will need are explained in the report and there is also a YouTube playlist with it. We will follow the cell methodology, use camera traps and GPSs, as well as binoculars and spotting scopes. You might also want to watch some sand driving technique videos on YouTube; there’s plenty of them and this is a good skill to have too.

I’ll be in touch again from Dubai (then also with my contact number there). Good preparations and safe travels. I look forward to meeting you all.

Regards

Matthias Hammer
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It is with great pleasure that we can announce the publication of our 2016 Slovakia expedition report.

The report contains the good news of stable populations of wolf, bear and lynx in Slovakia’s Veľká Fatra National Park, as evidenced by annual expeditions and data collection from 2012 to 2016.

2016 saw the fifth year of the Slovakia lynx, wolf & bear expedition to the Vel’ka Fatra National Park. The study site in the Lubochnianska valley continues to support large carnivores, which have disappeared from most of their former ranges across Europe due to hunting and habitat destruction. The expedition runs when the valley slopes and trails are usually covered in snow providing a canvas on which the tracks and trails of the large carnivores are painted. Participants in 2016 came from Germany, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, the UK and USA. They walked a total of 460 km along 33 transects, covering 26 (2 x 2 km) grid cells. Expedition scientist Tomas Hulik described this as “a really great effort, which has resulted in the recording of 32 wolf signs, five lynx signs and four bear signs, as well as the collection of six wolf scat and urine samples, which can be used for DNA analysis.” The findings are written up in this report and presented to the government’s national park and national forestry departments to help inform estimates of large carnivore numbers in Vel’ka Fatra National Park and thereby aid their conservation.

Meanwhile, the 2017 expedition starting on 5 February, will continue to monitor the Vel’ka Fatra's large carnivore populations, expand camera trapping to include both more traps and scent stations, and push for DNA analysis of all samples collected by the expeditions to identify individuals from samples, estimate species densities, survival rates and population trends. We still have a few places left on the expedition, so join us now, if you can!

> http://biosphereexpeditions.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/j/FEE6521391F8DF90/0A63559D8192B3FBF6A1C87C670A6B9F
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It is with great pleasure that we can announce the publication of a scientific paper based on our Maldives coral reef expedition work. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in making this happen!

The results are a mixed bag of heavy coral bleaching during the 2016 global bleaching event, when our post-bleaching surveys "showed corals in areas of deeper waters waters on the outside of atolls to be (a) either still bleached, some two months after the bleaching event, (b) recovered, or (c) not to have been bleached at all" with "more sheltered reefs within the central lagoons showed mass colonisation by algal turfs, encroachment of vulnerable reefs by Discosoma corallimorphs, and Crown-of-Thorns invasions". The silver lining amongst the bleaching gloom was that some sites showed "extraordinary resilience to temperature-induced bleaching".

> see the paper at http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/images/stories/pdfs/publications/Rufford2016.pdf
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ADVANCING WILDLIFE CONSERVATION - FOR NATURE, NOT PROFIT
Introduction
Biosphere Expeditions: Ethical wildlife holidays - where sustainable travel meets hands-on conservation

Make your holiday count. Join our wildlife conservation expeditions in remote and beautiful places around the world. Go places where others don't, learn new skills and experience hands-on conservation in action.

Biosphere Expeditions is an award-winning not-for-profit conservation organisation, and a member of IUCN and the UN’s Environment Programme. For us successful conservation is the collective effort of individuals. We invite everyone to join us on our wildlife and wilderness projects all over the world. Whether young or old, become a citizen scientist for one or two weeks, or more.

The foundation of our work is science and local need. We focus on sustainable conservation projects that target clearly defined, critical issues that humankind has the power to change. International volunteers work hand-in-hand with local biologists and communities to drive positive outcomes for biodiversity - the creation of a protected area for snow leopards in the Altai is just one recent example.

Biosphere Expeditions is a member of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum. Achievements include the implementation of our conservation recommendations and species protection plans by numerous national and regional governments and NGOs, the creation of protected areas on four continents, scientific and lay publications, as well as capacity-building, training and education all over the world.
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