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Monthly Archives: November 2011 − News & Stories

Polar bear rese­arch: field sea­son 2010

Every year, field bio­lo­gists from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te work on Polar bears in Spits­ber­gen by anes­the­tiz­ing them from heli­c­op­ters. Then, the bears are mea­su­red, samples are taken and in some cases a sen­der is atta­ched to the bear to fol­low their migra­ti­ons. Due to adver­se wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, the 2010 sea­son was less suc­cessful than usu­al: only 53 bears were caught, inclu­ding 25 adults, the remai­ning youn­ger ones. 70 % of the­se 53 had been caught befo­re.

This kind of work, that often invol­ves fol­lo­wing fle­e­ing bears for some distance with heli­c­op­ters, is con­tro­ver­si­al, but data regar­ding popu­la­ti­on, migra­ti­on and con­cen­tra­ti­ons of envi­ron­men­tal toxins would be dif­fi­cult to aqui­re other­wi­se.

Polar bear fami­ly, Spits­ber­gen

Polar bear research - field season 2010

Sources: Sval­bard­pos­ten, Nor­we­gi­sches Polar­in­sti­tut.

High levels of envi­ron­men­tal toxins in Glau­cous gulls

First results of fieldwork for a mas­ter the­sis by Anja Johan­sen Hau­ge­rud show that glau­cous gulls in Spits­ber­gen are still suf­fe­ring from envi­ron­men­tal toxins. Samples taken in Kongsfjord in 2010 and 2011 were found to have high levels of sub­s­tances such as PFC, PCB, PFAS which are used for exam­p­le in impreg­na­ti­on for out­door clot­hing, fire extin­gu­is­hing foams and sur­face finis­hing of fry­ing pans and coo­king pots and assu­med to have nega­ti­ve effects on, among­st others, the hor­mo­ne sys­tem.

Glau­cous gull in Spits­ber­gen

High levels of environmental toxins in Glaucous gulls - data-lazy-src=

Gold­rush in St. Jons­fjord

The public hea­ring regar­ding the appli­ca­ti­on for fur­ther geo­lo­gi­cal inves­ti­ga­ti­ons of the gold occur­rence near St. Jons­fjord is com­ple­ted. 12 Insti­tu­ti­ons inclu­ding the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te and seve­ral govern­men­tal depart­ments have for­ward­ed their comm­ents to the Sys­sel­man­nen, who will con­sider them when issuing the detail­ed requi­re­ments for the envi­ron­men­tal audi­ting.

The cur­rent pro­ce­du­re con­cerns is limi­t­ed to geo­lo­gi­cal inves­ti­ga­ti­ons, inclu­ding dril­ling. In case the occur­rence should be eco­no­mic­al, then the appli­ca­ti­on for a poten­ti­al mine would be a com­ple­te­ly new pro­cess on a lar­ger sca­le and with open out­co­me.

St. Jons­fjord is at the west coast of Spits­ber­gen, bet­ween Isfjord and Kongsfjord, out­side the pro­tec­ted are­as

Goldrush in St. Jonsfjord

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

MS Nord­stjer­nen: final sea­son in 2012

MS Nord­stjer­nen, built in 1956 in Ham­burg, is one of the last clas­si­cal, old-style Hur­tig­ru­ten ships. Until 2008 she was a regu­lar sum­mer guest in Spits­ber­gen; sin­ce then, she was used in regu­lar traf­fic along the Nor­we­gi­an coast. In 2011, she will be back for one last sea­son in Spits­ber­gen for a clas­si­cal pro­gram­me of 3-day crui­ses along the west and north coast.

MS Nord­stjer­nen is the last ship in Spits­ber­gen car­ry­ing out crui­ses that remind of the style of clas­si­cal crui­ses of the ear­lier 20th cen­tu­ry. After the 2012 sea­son, she will be taken out of traf­fic.

A clas­si­cal ship at a clas­si­cal place: MS Nord­stjer­nen in Mag­da­le­nefjord


Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Mili­ta­ry use of SvalSat?

The Spits­ber­gen trea­ty (often cal­led “Sval­bard trea­ty”) does not allow mili­ta­ry faci­li­ties in Sval­bard. It has often been a mat­ter of deba­te what is actual­ly to be con­side­red a “mili­ta­ry faci­li­ty”, but per­ma­nent instal­la­ti­ons may cle­ar­ly not ser­ve mili­ta­ry pur­po­ses.

The Nor­we­gi­an aut­hor Bård Worm­dal has now clai­med in a new book that the satel­li­te anten­nas of SvalSat on Pla­tå­berg near Lon­gye­ar­by­en are regu­lar­ly used to down­load data from mili­ta­ry satel­li­tes. Worm­dal wro­te this hap­pen­ed, among­st others, during the NATO ope­ra­ti­ons in Libya. This would be a clear vio­la­ti­on of the rules of the Spits­ber­gen trea­ty, which is still in force.

SvalSat is a sys­tem of satel­li­te anten­nas to down­load data from satel­li­tes in polar orbits. The 7 anten­nas are owned by Kong­sberg Satel­li­te Ser­vices who is respon­si­ble for the over­all ope­ra­ti­on, EUMETSAT, NASA and the Ame­ri­can wea­ther ser­vice. Ser­vices such as GPS and the future Euro­pean equi­va­lent Gali­leo also buy capa­ci­ties.

SvalSat on Pla­tå­berg near Lon­gye­ar­by­en: Civil or “dual use”?.


Source: NRK Nyhe­ter


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