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Monthly Archives: August 2010 − News & Stories


His­to­ri­cal hut burnt in Bruce­by­en

One of four his­to­ri­cal huts in Bruce­by­en burnt com­ple­te­ly down on August 17. A group of young hikers had left hot ashes behind when they left the hut, which had been built in 1919/1920 as part of a coal mining camp.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Rein­de­er hunt

The annu­al rein­de­er hun­ting sea­son was ope­ned August 15. The hun­ting are­as are limi­ted and the num­ber of ani­mals taken is con­trol­led. The popu­la­ti­on bet­ween Sas­senda­len and Grøn­da­len, whe­re the hun­ting are­as are loca­ted, has been on the decre­a­se during the last 5 years and the­re has been a low num­ber of cal­ves this year.

Rein­de­er calf and cow in Toda­len, late June 2010.

Reindeer hunt

Source: Sys­sel­mann

Natu­ral emer­gen­cy har­bours in Spits­ber­gen

The Nor­we­gi­an coas­tal aut­ho­ri­ties have been out on a field trip around Spitsbergen’s coasts to eva­lua­te loca­ti­ons whe­re ships might seek shel­ter in case of emer­gen­cy. Repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, the minis­try of the envi­ron­ment, the gover­nor and the Nor­we­gi­an rese­arch insti­tu­te on mari­ne tech­no­lo­gy (MARIN­TEK) were on board during the field crui­se.

On the west coast, the best sites known so far are in Mag­da­le­n­efjord, Trygg­ham­na and Horn­sund. The experts and offi­cials invol­ved want to dis­cuss fur­ther sites and publish their recom­men­da­ti­ons wit­hin 2010. The need for more emer­gen­cy shel­ter sites is seen becau­se of incre­a­sed ship traf­fic in Sval­bard waters.

Quel­le: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Sea ice, planc­ton and rela­ted issu­es …

The polar sea ice has its widest dis­tri­bu­ti­on during the late win­ter. The return of the sun­light in spring brings the algal bloom under the ice floes. As a result, zoo­plank­ton comes from deeper water lay­ers to the ice to feed on the algae. The­se small ani­mals are again prey for lar­ger orga­nisms such as fish and seals and thus, direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, for the who­le rest of the food chain up to polar bears. The basics of this sys­tem are com­mon know­ledge, but sci­en­tists are still working on many important details.

Mari­ne bio­lo­gists from the uni­ver­si­ty in Lon­gye­ar­by­en (UNIS) have found out that the litt­le crustaceae (in this case Cala­nus gla­cia­lis) are per­fect­ly adap­ted to the sea­so­nal deve­lo­p­ment of sea ice in spring. The adult fema­les eat as much as they can in the twi­light under the clo­sed sea ice cover, until they are able to repro­du­ce. Two mon­ths later, their off­spring is lar­ge enough to pro­fit from a second algal bloom when the sea ice breaks up. The­se young, fat crustaceae are ide­al food for polar cod, seals, sea­b­irds such as guil­lemots and wha­les.

In case the sea ice is get­ting thin­ner and thin­ner due to cli­ma­te chan­ge, the bre­ak­up will be ear­lier and the second algal bloom accord­in­gly ear­lier. As a result, the young phy­to­plank­ton might not yet be old enough to feed suf­fi­ci­ent­ly, which might lead to signi­fi­cant wea­ke­n­ing of this important link in the arc­tic food chain, pos­si­b­ly lea­ding to major dis­tur­ban­ces of the arc­tic eco­sys­tem as we know it.

Sea ice, plancton and related issues ...

The colou­ra­ti­on of the ice is due to algae. In the midd­le a beached repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the arc­tic mari­ne fau­na that depends on the algal bloom for food.

Source: Sval­bard Sci­ence Forum

New dino­saur fos­sils

It has been know for a long time that Spits­ber­gen is an Eldo­ra­do for pala­en­to­lo­gists, inclu­ding tho­se spe­cia­li­zed in dino­sau­ria. The dis­co­very of a Plio­saur at Janusfjel­let, north of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, in 2007 has rai­sed world­wi­de atten­ti­on not only amongst spe­cia­lists. In 2009, three ske­le­tons of Icht­h­y­o­sau­ria (mari­ne car­ni­vo­r­ous dino­saurs) were found and to be retrie­ved this year, when the sci­en­tists made ano­t­her spec­ta­cu­lar dis­co­very: a Ple­sio­saur with a three meter long neck. Now, the rese­ar­ches want to use their fin­dings to recon­struct the cour­se of evo­lu­ti­on in the polar sea of the Cret­ace­ous.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

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