Rainer Island - Franz Josef Land


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General, landscape: nearly circular island of an area of 140 km², a maximal height  of ca. 280 m above sea level, diameter ca. 14 km, which is almost completely covered by the Wostok-2 icecap. Over the last decades, the ice dome has gained considerably in thickness in its middle, while shrinking somewhat at its rims. The only ice-free zone is the rocky Cape Beuermann, peeking out into the icy sea towards North. Its surface rocks are mid- to early Triassic sediments, which have been found only here in the extreme northeast ofr Franz Josef Land on the surface (also: Eva-Liv and Hoffmann Islands) - elsewhere they are deep down underground in the archipelago.

Biology: As the very few icefree areas of the island are mostly rocks or stony shore, vegetation is minimal and mostly restricted to lichens and mosses. Without major rock cliffs or scree slopes suitable for bird colonies, and lacking larger tundra areas, there is also very little birdlife.

History: Rainer Island was discovered during Payer´s sledge tour from the TEGETTHOFF to the North in April 1874, but plays no further role in the history of the archipelago.

Name: given in 1874 to honour Rainer Joseph Johann Michael Franz Hieronymus, archduke of Austria, one of the sponsors of the TEGETTHOFF expedition. On the original map, the island is called" Erzherzog Rainer Insel".

Tourism: Being almost completely glaciated and with a very uniformous scenery, the island is normally ignored by tourism. In late June 2007, Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich visited it during their 1300 km tour, following the route of Nansen and Johansen from North Pole to Kap Flora.


Rainer Island from southwest with the almost continuous ice cliff. The cold ice has caused a thin layer of local fog above the upper part of the ice cap.
This view on Rainer Island from a longer distance from south shows nicely the gently rounded ice cap covering practically the whole island.

Last Modification: 16.09.2012