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Home → September, 2012

Monthly Archives: September 2012 − News & Stories


Most recent ice chart

The recent ice deve­lo­p­ment is more than inte­res­ting and it is well worth to have a look at the latest ice­chart. It is a long time ago sin­ce the­re has been simi­lar­ly litt­le ice in the nor­the­ast Atlan­tic, and one can only hope that the near future will see more ice again near the coasts of Spits­ber­gen and Franz Josef Land after the usu­al sea­so­nal mini­mum in late Sep­tem­ber.

Most recent ice chart - 20-09-2012

The ice chart as of Sep­tem­ber 20 (© Nor­we­gi­an meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal insti­tu­te, met.no).

Source: http://www.met.no/Hav_og_is/

Oil explo­ra­ti­on in the Bar­ents Sea

While Norway’s public atten­ti­on was focus­sed on the pro­cess against assas­sin Brei­vik, the Nor­we­gi­an oil giant Sta­toil has announ­ced more explo­ra­ti­ve acti­vi­ty for 2013. 2 or 3 explo­ra­ti­ve wells are plan­ned for the Hoop field, 250 km north of Sørøya which is near Norway’s North Cape, are plan­ned for the 2013 sea­son. The well are just a good 100 nau­ti­cal miles sou­the­ast of Bear Island.

The swift pro­gress is met with cri­ti­zism by envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­sa­ti­ons: the Hoop field is not far from the sea­so­nal ice edge and the eco­lo­gi­cal­ly very important polar front, but far from capa­ci­ties in case of acci­dents and oil spills.

Oil riggs in the North Sea.

Oil exploration in the Barents Sea

Source: NRK

Over­nights in Lon­gye­ar­by­en sta­ble

Spitsbergen’s hotels and guest­houses have had 11,200 over­nights in July 2012, near 2/3 of the­se con­nec­ted to tou­rism. 56 % of the guests were Nor­we­gi­an, 8 % less than in July 2011, which means that inter­na­tio­nal tou­rism has seen a rela­ti­ve incre­a­se of impor­t­ance.

The tur­no­ver growth of 3% is accord­in­gly due to incre­a­sed pri­ces.

Hotel in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Overnights in Longyearbyen stable - Longyearbyen

Source: Sta­tis­ti­sches Zen­tral­bü­ro Nor­we­gen

Crui­se tou­rism in nort­hern Nor­way on the growth

38,500 pas­sen­gers have visi­ted Spits­ber­gen during the 2012 sea­son, a growth of 75 % com­pa­red to 2011. The growth is wit­hin the sec­tor of big­ger over­sea crui­se ships, which are signi­fi­cant­ly incre­a­sing in size. The num­ber of ship visits has remai­ned rela­tively con­stant, and so did the num­ber of pas­sen­gers and ships wit­hin the sec­tor of small expe­di­ti­on crui­se ships.

An average growth of 41 % is repor­ted from other ports in nort­hern Nor­way.

MS Aida Cara (pas­sen­ger capa­ci­ty 1339) in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, July 02.

Cruise tourism in northern Norway on the growth

Source: NRK

Sai­ling­boat crui­sing the north coast of Spits­ber­gen was lost

Last week a small sai­ling­boat crui­sing the north coast of Spits­ber­gen sank after it got into shal­low water. The two 70 year old eng­lish sai­lers could be res­cued by heli­co­p­ter after they had spent two hours in their rub­ber life boat. Due to a tech­ni­cal defect, they could not use their life raft. Final­ly they mana­ged to infla­te a rub­ber boat which was also on board. Des­pi­te real bad fly­ing con­di­ti­ons and snow­fall the heli­co­p­ter could trans­fer the sai­lers to Lon­gye­ar­by­en hos­pi­tal.

The shal­lows near the mouth of Raudfjord are clear­ly mar­ked on nau­ti­cal charts.

The north coast of Spits­ber­gen. View from Mof­fen Island.

Sailingboat cruising the north coast of Spitsbergen was lost

Ear­th­qua­ke near Spits­ber­gen

On Sunday (Sep­tem­ber 02), the­re was a weak sub­ma­ri­ne ear­th­qua­ke, for­ce 5.2 on the Rich­ter sca­le. It was too weak to make its­elf felt in the sett­le­ments of Spits­ber­gen. If at all, then an alert obser­ver in Ny Åle­sund, the sett­le­ment nea­rest the epi­cent­re, might have obser­ved the ground moti­on.

Two days ear­lier, the­re was a stron­ger ear­th­qua­ke near Jan May­en, which was clear­ly felt at the sta­ti­on on Jan May­en and cau­sed some minor dama­ge. The midd­le ocea­nic ridge bet­ween Spits­ber­gen and Green­land is a con­stant source for fre­quent ear­th­qua­kes, but only rare­ly stron­ger ones. Spits­ber­gen its­elf is not an ear­th­qua­ke zone, except a minor ear­th­qua­ke zone in Storfjord, and ear­th­qua­kes strong enough to be obser­ved by peop­le are rare events.

The­se geo­lo­gi­cal faults in Bill­efjord were respon­si­ble for strong ear­th­qua­kes in the geo­lo­gi­cal past. Today, they are silent.

Earthquake near Spitsbergen: Spitzbergen, SV Noorderlicht. 12.-27. August 2012

Source: Lofo­ten-Tid­ende

Polar bear alarm sys­tem: user reports

Polar bear alarm sys­tems for camps are a nui­sance: essen­ti­al for safe­ty unless you have a reli­able polar dog or enough man­power to hand­le a night­watch, but cur­r­ent­ly hard to obtain local­ly in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. In Octo­ber 2011, this page repor­ted about a Bri­tish sys­tem made and dis­tri­bu­t­ed by Arc­tic Limi­ted. First user reports are now avail­ab­le.

Next to the fact that the sys­tem from Arc­tic Ltd. is, in con­trast to other ones, easi­ly avail­ab­le, it has several advan­ta­ges in com­pa­ri­son to other sys­tems which have com­mon­ly been used in Spits­ber­gen until recent­ly. With older sys­tems, the one-way com­pon­ents (the ban­gers) were the hea­vy and expen­si­ve parts. With the sys­tem from Arc­tic Ltd., the hea­vy and (rela­tively) expen­si­ve parts are the trig­ger mecha­nisms, which last fore­ver. The ban­gers are blank car­tridges: shot car­tridges depri­ved of the shot, so they are cheap and light­weight and can be car­ri­ed in num­bers. This is use­ful, as it is hard to avoid occa­sio­nal unin­ten­ded trig­ge­ring (wind, inob­ser­van­ce, rein­de­er, …).

User reports agree that the bang should be lou­der. Accord­ing to Arc­tic Ltd., spe­cial ban­gers are avail­ab­le that meet this demand. Ano­t­her ques­ti­on is that of the ide­al string, which should be as thin as pos­si­ble to be invi­si­ble for polar bears and to avoid unin­ten­ded trig­ge­ring. It has, howe­ver, to be very strong and it should not be elastic (then a bear might feel it befo­re the sys­tem trig­gers).

Strong posts are essen­ti­al for reli­able func­tio­n­ing. For the aut­hor, alu­mi­ni­um pipes have ser­ved the pur­po­se well. Reli­able ancho­ring to the out­side of the camp with thin cords and tent pegs or hea­vy stones is also cri­ti­cal, other­wi­se pul­ling the string may bend the posts rather than trig­ger the ban­gers.

Two sets of trig­gers and strings, one hig­her and one lower on the same set of posts around the camp, will also incre­a­se safe­ty noti­ce­ab­ly.

The impor­t­ance of pro­per­ly set­ting up a good sys­tem must not be under­sti­ma­ted, as is shown by the dead­ly attach of a polar bear on a Bri­tish camp in Spits­ber­gen in August 2011 (see reports on the­se pages).

Polar bear alarm sys­tem from Arc­tic Ltd., atta­ched to an alu­mi­ni­um pipe with cable con­nec­tors and strong tape.

Mini­mum record of drift ice in the arc­tic

The Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal insti­tu­te is fol­lowing the drift ice deve­lo­p­ment in the arc­tic sin­ce 30 years now, and simi­lar insti­tu­ti­ons in other arc­tic nati­ons do the same with simi­lar results: the­re has never been less ice than the­re is now. Even in Sep­tem­ber 2007, the mini­mum year so far, the­re was more ice than now. The­re are about 3 mil­li­on squa­re kilo­me­tres ice less than in 1979, an area 8 times lar­ger than Nor­way (without Spits­ber­gen).

It is not only the area that is lost, but also the chan­ge in qua­li­ty that makes experts worry. In the past, arc­tic sea ice used to be lar­ge­ly of lar­ge, strong, thick floes mul­ti-year ice. The­se have lar­ge­ly disap­peared. Now, most of the ice con­sists of much thin­ner one-year ice, which does not com­pa­re to the stron­ger, older ice in thic­kness, sta­bi­li­ty and as a habi­tat for the arc­tic eco­sys­tem.

The drift ice is cur­r­ent­ly far north from any coast in the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go, but the ice loss is far more dra­ma­tic on the other side of the arc­tic, north of wes­tern arc­tic Cana­da, Alas­ka and Sibe­ria.

Ice in Hin­lo­pen Strait, mid July 2005.
This year, the area is com­ple­te­ly ice free.

Minimum record of drift ice in the arctic

Source: Nor­we­gi­sches Meteo­ro­lo­gi­sches Insti­tut

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