Amphibious Trilogies

Reverse worlds

Day 8 on the Floating Arctic University Expedition
Friday 29 June 2019
reflections, islands, ponds, poles, passages

NASA says that ‘the primary difference between the Arctic and Antarctica is geographical. The Arctic is an ocean, covered by a thin layer of perennial sea ice and surrounded by land. Antarctica, on the other hand, is a continent, covered by a very thick ice cap and surrounded by a rim of sea ice and the Southern Ocean’. (Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice, 2019)

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

During the summer melt season the Arctic sea ice’s edge retreats toward the North Pole, only to re-grow during the Arctic winter. Antarctic sea ice expands during the winter, only to melt back largely to the continent’s edge in summer.

Listening to lectures on the ship, we hear of the affect of climate change in both of theses polar regions. As the Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that hold a lot of ice, together they act as circumpolar air conditioners for the Earth’s system. In short, the Arctic is experiencing high temperatures, leading to significant sea ice loss. The Antarctic is experiencing a colder climate, leading to significant sea ice expansion.

Today, we expect to see the first glimpse of Svalbard on the horizon. In anticipation Brynjar scouts around.

He tells me this; when viewing a landscape photography, the sea will always be perceived or imagined as always pointing to the north.

OCTOPA whispers: Do not be hoodwinked by this photograph. Remember, we are on a ship floating on waves and winds. It took Amanda some time to capture the image as one would expect from a horizon; a transitional moment between the motion of the ship, up down, side to side.

What happens is that I really get a strong sense of the polar Arctic. I perceive it as a set of scattered islands surrounded by sea. I have witnessed melting icebergs and sea ice floating further south, yet here, close to Svalbard, I now see snow capped mountains and glaciers, engulfed and bounded by the gulf sea.

Thoughts fly to the Antarctic. Once again, I imagine the continent as a large water basin that holds about 70% of freshwater on planet Earth, a frozen pond lying on the crust of the earth.

So now I have it. In Amphibious Trilogies, Arctic is island, Antarctic is pond. The Earth is an island cosmically aligned. The pond is about the world, ontologically placed. Hmmm.

But that’s not all. Let’s recap.

You might have seen this imagery before; the Lecture on the North Sea Route by Barbara Schennerlein. This image has captivated me. I suppose that the cone represents the Magnetic North Pole.

For many centuries people have relied on this field using compasses as a navigational tool pointing to the North. While the geographic North Pole sits on the top of the globe, the Magnetic North Pole has been always changing. In recent years scientists have found a substantial shift near the Magnetic North, which now is heading rapidly into Siberia. The roaming of the pole is a problem for boats, aeroplanes and migrating birds depend on compasses rather than GPS navigation.

That the pole is not static is due to movement and turbulence that moves around Earth’s liquid outer core made up of iron and nickel. This molten ocean generates an electric field. It changes, sometimes unpredictably, much like the weather.

Today, the magnetic south pole is moving much more slowly that the north. Earth’s magnetic field is getting weaker prompting scientists to suggest that the north and south poles will eventually swap polarity. It has happened before, many times in the past, the last some 780,000 years ago. The question is when this reversal will happen.

In Amphibious Trilogies we have our own amphibious planet. If you are reading this, then you’re in this topsy turvy tiny world, a terrella of sorts. Whether being submerged or emerged there is no real up nor down, no real north or south, nor east and west, for that matter. The surface of the water is the horizon, the interface is for becoming amphibious.


Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice: How Are They Different? (2019, April 10). Retrieved from


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.