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Monthly Archives: July 2010 − News & Stories


Two paddlers and an bear

Two young Norwegians had set out to circumnavigate the whole archipelago of Spitsbergen, including Nordaustland, in their sea kayaks, but their journey came to a very sudden end on the north coast of Nordaustland, when they were taken by surprise by an aggressive polar bear in their tent during the night. The trip wire, which had been set up correctly, was not triggered when the bear entered the camp and dragged one of the two young men out of his sleeping bag and away from the camp. The second paddler managed to shoot the bear soon. Both men were soon brought to hospital with the governor’s helicopter. The injuries of the one who was pulled out of the tent by the bear were not serious and he recovered quickly, as expected.

It is still unknown why the trip wire had failed when the bear walked through. Two pins were pulled out of the mechanism, as they are supposed to, but the alarm mines did not explode. A few days earlier, some wind had been enough to trigger the alarm.

Two paddlers and an bear

During summer, when the sea ice is retreating from the coast, access to seals, their main prey, is more difficult for polar bears. If they remain on shore, they will try to find carrion, bird eggs or anything else that is digestable, which can make hungry bears dangerous also for man. In Spitsbergen, it is common (and required) to protect camps with trip wire during the night. Alternatively, dogs can serve the same purpose.

Source: Svalbardposten and Sysselmannen

New geodetic station planned in Ny Ålesund

The Norwegian mapping authority wants to establish a new geodetic station at Brandalspynten near Ny Ålesund. Both the Norwegian Polar Institute and NERC (Natural Environment Research Council, Großbritannien) are against the plan in its current shape. They agree that existing infrastructure should be used for the purpose, rathern than building new bridges and roads. NERC fears that other projects might follow in case authorities open for establishing new buildings and infrastructure outside Ny Ålesund. Until now, the area around Brandalspynten is untouched wilderness.

Ny-Ålesund.

New geodetic station planned in Ny Ålesund - Koldewey

Source: Svalbardposten

Underground CO2 storage in Adventdalen

Researches are currently working to establish the reservoir capacity of sandstone layers in Adventdalen for carbon dioxide. The equipment used for previous tests has not been strong enough to explore the full potential. Testing is done by pumping water into the layers 970 metres under the surface, starting with a rate of 10 liters/minute and increasing gradually to 500 liters/minute. The results will help to evaluate the question if the layers in question are suitable to store large amounts of carbon dioxide safely. If so, carbon dioxide will be pressed down in liquid state, thus water as testing substance. A 400 meter thick permafrost layer is supposed to keep the liquid gas inside. If testing works according to plan, UNIS scientists plan to continue with further test drillings in 2011.

Adventdalen in summer 2010: the street from Longyearbyen to mine 7 is passing the old northern light observatory and the blue, chimney-like building were test drilling for the CO2 storage site is carried out.

Underground CO2 storage in Adventdalen - Nordslysstation

Source: Svalbardposten

Will Bear Island get its own cenotaph?

The fishery support vessel »Petrozavodsk«, that ran aground on Bear Island in May 2009, will until further remain in its position on the southeastern coast of the island. Authorities have not yet decided how to deal with the wreck. Several options have been discussed, amongst them leaving it where it is, sinking it in deeper waters or cutting it up and removing it. All of these options have in common that they have environmental effects and are expensive. Meanwhile, the vessel has broken up into two parts, which are still on the rocks directly under several hundred meters high, near-vertical cliffs, which makes all operations difficult and dangerous. Oil, fuel and other dangerous liquids and goods were removed soon after the wreckage; it cannot be excluded that further dangerous substances have remained on board.

Source: Svalbardposten

Third EISCAT-antenna

The installations of EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter) near mine 7 will be enlarged with a third antenna, which will be the biggest one. The project is mainly financed from China, that is interested in the data because of planned space operations. The additional antenna may be operative in 2013.

EISCAT-antenna 2008: one out of four similar installations in Scandinavia. The system is run by 7 nations.

Third EISCAT-antenna

Source: Svalbardposten

Polar Star aground

On June 30, MV Polar Star ran aground on a rock north of Hornsund (south of Dunøyane). The surprising aspect is the fact that the shallow is actually marked on the most recent sea charts, but as it turned out, older versions were used on board, which do not include the rock. There were no injuries or losses and damage to the hull was not significant. The governor’s vessel and the coast guard were soon in the area to evaluate the situation and assist, if necessary. The 67 passengers of MV Polar Star were soon transferred to MV Fram, another cruise ship that was in the area. MV Polar Star could continue its regular service already July 03.

MV Polar Star has been used as cruise ship in Spitsbergen waters for a number of years and has frequently visited the area in question before.

Dunøyane north of Hornsund, where MV Polar Star ran aground on June 30. The coast of the main island in the background.

Polar Star aground - Nordre Dunoya

Sourcen: Sysselmannen, Svalbardposten und Miljøstatus på Svalbard

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