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Home → April, 2008

Monthly Archives: April 2008 − News & Stories

Envi­ron­ment: New pol­lut­ants / Rising values of atmo­sphe­ric CO2

It is well known that envi­ron­men­tal pol­lut­ants such as PCBs that ori­gi­na­te from indus­tria­li­zed count­ries accu­mu­la­te in the food chain in the Arc­tic to high levels in spe­ci­es such as Polar bears and Glau­cous gulls, both top pre­da­tors in this envi­ron­ments. Trends in “old” toxins have been obser­ved to be decre­asing in recent years, due to bans of rele­vant sub­s­tances for exam­p­le in the EU. It takes a long time for levels to decrease becau­se all rele­vant sub­s­tances have in com­mon that they are long-lived, they are still used ille­gal­ly and some count­ries have so far fai­led to issue bans.

The bad news is that new orga­nic pol­lut­ants have been found. Pro­duc­tion of che­mi­cals for fire­pro­of mate­ri­als (elec­tro­nics, fur­ni­tu­re, clot­hing) seems to be the most signi­fi­cant source. Per­fluo­rooc­ta­ne­sul­fo­nic acid (PFOS) seems to be an important new thre­at; this sub­s­tance has alre­a­dy rea­ched high levels for exam­p­le in fat tis­sue of Polar bears in Sval­bard. 
Also regio­nal CO2 levels con­ti­nue to show alar­ming trends. CO2 is mixing quick­ly in the atmo­sphe­re over the glo­be, which means that regio­nal trends reflect the glo­bal deve­lo­p­ment. The atmo­sphe­ric obser­va­to­ry on Zep­pe­lin­fjel­let near Ny Åle­sund in Spits­ber­gen, the avera­ge for the first 100 days of 2008 was 391.1 ppm (parts per mil­li­on), as com­pared to 388.8 ppm for the same peri­od in 2007. Sin­gle mea­su­re­ments bey­ond 400 ppm are likely to be obser­ved in 2009. 

Tha­wing ice of a pin­go in Spits­ber­gen. Natu­ral part of the com­plex life cycle of such a per­ma­frost struc­tu­re. Or result of man-made cli­ma­te chan­ge. 

Tha­wing ice of a pin­go in Spits­ber­gen. Natu­ral part of the com­plex life cycle of such a per­ma­frost struc­tu­re. Or result of man-made cli­ma­te chan­ge.

Environment - New pollutants - Rising values of atmospheric CO2

Source: Sval­bard Sci­ence Forum

Acci­dents in Barents­burg

In recent weeks, the Rus­si­an mining sett­le­ment of Barents­burg has suf­fe­r­ed from seve­ral acci­dents. Three per­sons died during a heli­c­op­ter crash at Kapp Heer, the heli­c­op­ter base near Barents­burg, The air­craft col­l­i­ded with a buil­ding during a landing attempt in bad visi­bi­li­ty con­di­ti­ons. On Thurs­day, 17 April, Barents­burg repor­ted fire in the coal mine. One miner was found dead a while later, while a second one is still miss­ing.
The­re are still 500 peo­p­le living in Barents­burg.  

Accidents in Barentsburg - data-lazy-src=

New laws for tou­rism in pro­tec­ted are­as

New regu­la­ti­ons for the gro­wing tou­rist traf­fic in Svalbard’s natio­nal parks and natu­re reser­ves have been in pro­cess for a while. In March 2008, the gover­nor (Sys­sel­man­nen) has published some details, inclu­ding:

  • Ban on cru­de oil (com­mon fuel for lar­ger ships) in natio­nal parks and natu­re reser­ves. The­re may be excep­ti­ons for Kongsfjord (Ny Åle­sund), the sai­ling rou­te into Bell­sund (Sveagru­va) and Mag­da­le­nefjord (important desti­na­ti­on for lar­ge crui­se ships).
  • Cer­tain sites that are con­side­red to have major his­to­ri­cal or bio­lo­gi­cal value and that con­side­red are espe­ci­al­ly vul­nerable will be clo­sed for visi­tors.
  • Addi­tio­nal­ly, tou­rist landings in the natu­re reser­ves in eas­tern Sval­bard will be rest­ric­ted to cer­tain are­as. 
    Legis­la­ti­on is in pro­cess, a time sche­du­le is not published.

The Hau­de­gen sta­ti­on from World War II in Rijpfjord (Nord­aus­t­land) is among­st the sites that are likely to be clo­sed to visi­tors.

New laws for tourism in protected areas


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