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Home → March, 2011

Monthly Archives: March 2011 − News & Stories


Cos­ts for search and res­cue

The num­ber of SAR (search and res­cue) ope­ra­ti­ons car­ri­ed out annu­al­ly by the Sys­sel­man­nen and Red Cross has increased to 60-80. Less carefull plan­ning, poten­ti­al­ly due to the avai­la­bi­li­ty of modern com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on tech­no­lo­gy (satel­li­te pho­ne etc) may have con­tri­bu­ted to this deve­lo­p­ment.

Non-resi­dents are obli­ged to app­ly for per­mis­si­on for visits to most parts of Sval­bard. Insu­rance cover for poten­ti­al SAR cos­ts is com­pul­so­ry to obtain any per­mis­si­on. In prac­ti­ce, the Sys­sel­man­nen has, so far, usual­ly not clai­med cos­ts back from the res­cued person(s). As the cos­ts have increased with the num­ber of ope­ra­ti­ons, the bill from now on not be paid any­mo­re by the Nor­we­gi­an tax pay­er, but by tho­se respon­si­ble for the ope­ra­ti­on. This has, in theo­ry, alre­a­dy been the case, but it has usual­ly not been appli­ed, a prac­ti­ce that has now been announ­ced to be chan­ged. Most SAR ope­ra­ti­ons invol­ve heli­c­op­ter flights, which quick­ly invol­ves a bill of 100.000 NOK (curr­ent­ly ca 12.700 Euro) or more.

This appli­es for any trips that requi­re per­mis­si­on and insu­rance. Whe­re this does not app­ly, that is for tou­rists within admi­nis­tra­ti­on area 10 (Nor­dens­ki­öld Land, Dick­son Land, Brøg­ger­hal­vøya), the res­cued person(s) will also in the future have to car­ry the cos­ts only in cases of gross care­less­ness.

SAR-heli­c­op­ter: quite expen­si­ve.

Costs for search and rescue - Helicopter

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Record deple­ti­on of arc­tic ozone

Excep­tio­nal­ly strong cold in the hig­her atmo­sphe­re has in recent weeks led to the loss of about half of the stra­to­sphe­ric ozone. The cold as such is a natu­ral con­di­ti­on, but it inforces pro­ces­ses that lead to the des­truc­tion of ozone whe­re man-made “ozone kil­lers” such as FCKWs are invol­ved. This includes sub­s­tance that have been ban­ned for years, as they remain in the atmo­sphe­re for a long time befo­re they are final­ly bro­ken down.

As the polar air mixes with air mas­ses in lower lati­tu­des, sci­en­tists recom­mend to pay spe­cial atten­ti­on to sun pro­tec­tion against UV radia­ti­on during the coming spring.

Some pro­ces­ses in the arc­tic atmo­sphe­re have very plea­sant results, other ones less so

Record depletion of arctic ozone - Varfluesjoen

Source: Sval­bard Sci­ence Forum

Father puts hims­elf and his two sons at risk

A Swe­dish fami­ly has shown an ama­zing ran­ge of opti­ons to do it the wrong way: The fami­ly, father and two sons (11 and 20 years old), came to Lon­gye­ar­by­en as indi­vi­du­al tou­rists and ren­ted snow scoo­ters and satel­li­te pho­ne (at least!) for a pri­va­te trip to Barents­burg. As even groups accom­pa­nied by gui­des had deci­ded to can­cel their trips to Barents­burg and take alter­na­ti­ve rou­tes becau­se of adver­se wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, the fami­ly recei­ved war­nings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en to chan­ge their plans, pre­fer­a­b­ly in favour of a gui­ded tour. They went any­way, spent a night in Barents­burg and came into trou­ble on the way back – again after igno­ring a war­ning and advice to wait in Barents­burg for bet­ter wea­ther.

The 3 got stuck in Sem­mel­da­len and cal­led for help. Res­cue teams tried repea­ted­ly with snow scoo­ters and heli­c­op­ter, but had to turn around becau­se of dif­fi­cult con­di­ti­ons. Only when the wea­ther impro­ved slight­ly near mid­night, could res­cuers reach the fami­ly, who was alre­a­dy affec­ted by wet and cold.

The Sys­sel­man­nen stron­gly recom­mends indi­vi­du­al tou­rists wit­hout expe­ri­ence to join gui­ded tours and to con­sider wea­ther fore­cast, advice and war­nings from aut­ho­ri­ties and locals careful­ly. As the fami­ly deci­ded to igno­re the­se com­mon sen­se rules com­ple­te­ly, they may have to face the bill for the search and res­cue ope­ra­ti­on, which is esti­ma­ted around 15.000 Euro.

Should be taken serious­ly: win­ter arc­tic

Father puts himself and his two sons at risk - Podbeschniggbreen

Adden­dum: In a let­ter to the edi­tor (Sval­bard­pos­ten 10/2011), the fami­ly sta­tes that, befo­re start­ing the return trip from Barents­burg, the Sys­sel­man­nen advi­sed that they should try, rather than wai­ting for bet­ter wea­ther in Barents­burg. They also wri­te that tech­ni­cal fail­ure of one of the snow­mo­bi­les and bad bat­tery per­for­mance of the ren­ted satel­li­te pho­ne con­tri­bu­ted to the wor­sening of the situa­ti­on, final­ly lea­ding to a call for help.

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

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