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Home → March, 2010

Monthly Archives: March 2010 − News & Stories

Seed vault is gro­wing

The seed vault near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, that is sup­po­sed to secu­re glo­bal gene resour­ces for future gene­ra­ti­ons, has now more than half a mil­li­on samples of seeds from food crops. This makes Spitsbergen’s seed vault the lar­gest coll­ec­tion of its kind in the world.

The latest samples include high­ly resistant beans from South Ame­ri­ca, straw­ber­ries from the Kuri­les in the nor­t­hern Paci­fic and Ame­ri­can soja beans.

The seed vault was ope­ned in Febru­ary 2008. The arc­tic per­ma­frost pro­tects seeds of corn, beans, and other cul­tu­re crops from plant dise­a­se, cli­ma­te chan­ge, war impact and natu­ral desas­ter. So far, only one out of three cham­bers is in use; the other ones are sup­po­sed to be used in 25 and 100 years, respec­tively.

The ent­rance to the seed vault near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. (© Pho­to: Hagen Held)

Seed vault is growing

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Infor­ma­ti­on about the eco­sys­tem Barents Sea: Barent­s­Por­tal

The joint Nor­we­gi­an-Rus­si­an Com­mis­si­on on Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion has published a web­site and a report with com­pre­hen­si­ve, inte­res­t­ing infor­ma­ti­on about the Barents Sea eco­sys­tem, rele­vant for admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the envi­ron­ment.

Click here to get to the Barent­s­Por­tal.

It looks grey, but is actual­ly com­plex and needs envi­ron­men­tal con­side­ra­ti­on: The Barents Sea
(At Bear Island).

Information about the ecosystem Barents Sea: BarentsPortal

Source: Barent­s­por­tal

Fewer ships during sum­mer sea­son 2010

Fewer small crui­se ships (so-cal­led expe­di­ti­on ships) will visit Spits­ber­gen during the upco­ming sum­mer sea­son of 2010. The reasons include the eco­no­mic­al cri­sis, but also new safe­ty requi­re­ments, espe­ci­al­ly new fire-fight­ing (sprink­ler) sys­tems that are very cos­t­ly to install.

Seve­ral ships that have been crui­sing Spitsbergen’s coast exten­si­ve­ly during recent years will not return again: Ori­go (25 pas­sen­ger capa­ci­ty), Gri­go­riy Mik­heev (44), Ale­xey Marys­hev (44), Pro­fes­sor Molch­a­nov (54) and Pro­fes­sor Mul­ta­novs­kiy (54). The recent deve­lo­p­ment is to replace the­se smal­ler ships with a les­ser num­ber of slight­ly lar­ger, modern ones.

Will not come back: MV Pro­fes­sor Mul­ta­novs­kiy (here in Green­land).

Fewer ships during summer season 2010

Source: AECO

Sun­fest in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The first sun­rays after the polar night are alway an event in the Arc­tic. Now the time has come for Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and the event will be mark­ed with a num­ber of cele­bra­ti­ons and cul­tu­ral events, star­tign 07 March, the so-cal­led »sol­fest­u­ke« (sun fes­ti­val week).

Alway an event in the Arc­tic: The last sun­rays befo­re and the first ones at the end of the polar night.

Sunfest in Longyearbyen

Source: Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re

Tou­rists melt Spits­ber­gen …

… some­thing like this was one of many head­lines in Nor­we­gi­an news­pa­pers after a report had been published about green­hous gas emis­si­ons in Sval­bard. The report was com­pi­led by KliF (»Kli­ma og forur­en­snings­di­rek­to­rat«, Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ty on emis­si­ons) on request from the Nor­we­gi­an Minis­try of the enri­von­ment. Accor­ding to the report, lar­ge over­sea crui­se ships are respon­si­ble for the bulk of the 50 % increase of cli­ma­te-rele­vant gas emis­si­ons from 2000 to 2007, fol­lo­wed by coal mining (inclu­ding coal ship­ping) and ener­gy pro­duc­tion.

The report has recei­ved strong cri­ti­cism from seve­ral sides for using wrong data. For exam­p­le, the total use of fuels by over­sea crui­se ships in the regi­on has been cal­cu­la­ted to be 20,208 tons for 2007, but could easi­ly shown to be far less (7,764 tons, with careful assump­ti­ons, pro­ba­b­ly less) by using data from the Sys­sel­man­nen. Simi­lar­ly, too lar­ge num­bers have been used for coal trans­port ships and the coal power plant in Barents­burg (assu­med 45,000 tons coal per year, but the con­sump­ti­on capa­ci­ty is appar­ent­ly only 30,000 tons).

The report is prin­ci­pal­ly wel­co­med, but it is cri­ti­cis­ed that offi­ci­al reports that advi­se poli­tics use wrong num­bers, whe­re cor­rect ones could easi­ly be obtai­ned. KliF said that the aim was to give a gene­ral pic­tu­re and time to achie­ve cor­rect details could not be affor­ded. Cri­tics fear that care­less use of vital data dama­ge faith of com­pa­nies and popu­la­ti­on in (envi­ron­men­tal) sci­ence and, con­se­quent­ly, admi­nis­tra­ti­on that is based on such data. It is deman­ded that the report should be with­drawn and a revi­sed ver­si­on should be published.

Accor­ding to the report, green­house gas emis­si­ons within Spits­ber­gen (Sval­bard in Nor­we­gi­an) amount to 1 % of the emis­si­ons in Nor­way. It is assu­med that, until 2025, coal mining decli­nes, but tou­rism may dou­ble. For 2007, local ener­gy pro­duc­tion has con­tri­bu­ted with 44 % to Spitsbergen’s total volu­me of rele­vant emis­si­ons (58 % in 2000), over­sea crui­se ships with 16 % (2000: 12 %) and coal trans­port ships from Svea with 14 % (2000: 12 %).

How much is it? That’s what we want to know.
Coal power plant in Barents­burg.

Tourists melt Spitsbergen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten, inclu­ding let­ters to the edi­tor from Tryg­ve Steen (AECO, in Sval­bard­pos­ten 08/2010), Ter­je Aune­vik (Port agen­cy Pole Posi­ti­on Spits­ber­gen, edi­ti­on 09/2010) KliF report

Evo­lu­ti­on of Polar bears

Ana­ly­sis of a polar bear jaw­bo­ne that was found on Prins Karls For­land has not only yiel­ded an age of 110.000 to 130.000 years, but also pro­vi­ded new infor­ma­ti­on on the evo­lu­ti­on of the spe­ci­es. The results con­firm that the spe­ci­es “polar bear” is very young inde­ed and had split from brown bears as recent­ly as around 150.000 years ago, as DNA ana­ly­sis from the fos­sil have shown. Adapt­a­ti­on to the high arc­tic envi­ron­ment must then have been rather fast and effi­ci­ent.

Polar bear skull in arc­tic desert-kind of tun­dra.
Fos­sils are rare­ly found as polar bears spend most of their life on drift ice and usual­ly die the­re.

Evolution of Polar bears - Palanderbukta

Source: Nor­we­gi­sches Polar­in­sti­tut


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