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Home → March, 2013

Monthly Archives: March 2013 − News & Stories


Arte­facts from polar histo­ry lost in muse­um fire in Ita­ly

A fire in the muse­um of sci­ence in Nap­les (Napo­li) in Ita­ly hast led to the loss of irre­triev­a­ble arti­facts from polar histo­ry. The exhi­bi­ti­on was meant to focus on tho­se aspects of polar histo­ry which are shared by Ita­ly and Nor­way, such as the air­s­hip expe­di­ti­ons to the North Pole by Roald Amund­sen and Umber­to Nobi­le, who star­ted 1926 and 1928 in Ny Åle­sund. Now, both coun­tries have lost some of their polar heri­ta­ge.

Accord­ing to media, fire rai­sing was the rea­son for the dis­as­ter, which has des­troy­ed the muse­um and thus 175 jobs. The­re is no infor­ma­ti­on about peop­le being inju­red. The moti­ve is belie­ved to be a local con­flict about the attrac­ti­ve muse­um esta­te.

Some of the lost arti­facts were brought to Nap­les from Nor­way espe­cial­ly for the exhi­bi­ti­on. Lost are, amongst others, the ski­es that Fri­dt­jof Nan­sen has sup­po­sed­ly used during his famous cros­sing of the Green­land inland ice in 1888, clothes used by Nobi­le during his North Pole flight with the Ita­lia in 1928 and the log­book of the Nor­ge, the air­s­hip that was used by Amund­sen, Nobi­le and Ells­worth and their crew on their famous flight from Ny Åle­sund across the North Pole to Alas­ka in 1928. It was most likely on this occa­si­on that the North Pole was seen by man.

The air­s­hip Nor­ge in 1926 near Ny Åle­sund befo­re taking off for the North Pole. The log­book is now lost fore­ver.

Airship Italia, Ny Ålesund.

Source: Aften­pos­ten

Spits­ber­gen under pres­su­re

Spits­ber­gen is cur­r­ent­ly com­ing under strong pres­su­re – regar­ding the wea­ther. The meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­ons in Sval­bard are registring record-high air pres­su­re values, stron­ger than anything that has been mea­su­red in histo­ry of local mea­su­re­ments, which is part­ly going back into the 1920s. A new record has been estab­lis­hed at the auto­ma­tic wea­ther sta­ti­on on small Karl XII Øya (-island) north of Nord­aus­t­land, whe­re 1054,7 hPa were regis­tered a few days ago, signi­fi­cant­ly more than the old record of 1051,9 hPa from 1929.

Nort­hern Green­land has cur­r­ent­ly part­ly even hig­her values. The high pres­su­re is respon­si­ble for a peri­od of calm, clear and cold wea­ther, much to the delight of locals and tou­rists. The fore­cast for the Eas­ter wee­kend in Spits­ber­gen is, howe­ver, pre­dic­ting clouds, but still tem­pe­ra­tures well below free­zing. The cold wea­ther is also bene­fi­cial for wild­life and the deve­lo­p­ment of fast ice in fjords and drift ice east of Spits­ber­gen. The north coast is still lar­ge­ly ice-free, due to the influ­ence of more tem­pe­ra­te waters that have come up with the West Spits­ber­gen Cur­rent (“Gulf Stream”) from fur­ther south. On the eas­tern side, the drift ice has recent­ly even reached Bjørnøya (Bear Island), whe­re the first polar bears in 2 years have alrea­dy been seen!

High pres­su­re over Green­land and the Euro­pean Arc­tic. Image: mountainforecast.com.

Spitsbergen weather - High pressure over Greenland and Spitsbergen.

Source: adressa.no

Jan May­en expe­di­ti­on 2014 – plans are get­ting shape

Our plans for an expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en in 2014 are get­ting shape. We are now aiming at the time from 28 June to 12 July 2014 (from and to Isafjor­dur, Ice­land). Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about this exci­ting trip. We have alrea­dy more inte­res­ted peop­le than pla­ces avail­ab­le, so plea­se get in touch soon if you are inte­res­ted in joi­ning (con­ta­ct).

Jan May­en: our desti­na­ti­on for 2014.

Jan Mayen expedition 2014 - Jan Mayen

Polar bears: still legal prey for tro­phy hun­ters after lates CITES con­fe­rence

The latest CITES con­fe­rence has not been suc­cess­ful in put­ting a ban on hun­ting polar bears. Several coun­tries inclu­ding Cana­da and Green­land still allow limi­ted hun­ting, inclu­ding tro­phy hun­ting for rich for­eign hun­ters. As can be expec­ted, this is met with sub­stan­ti­al cri­ti­cism by envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­sa­ti­ons. During the latest CITES con­fe­rence in Bang­kok, Den­mark was amongst the coun­tries that expres­sed worries about a com­ple­te ban on hun­ting. Den­mark is spea­king for Green­land inter­na­tio­nal­ly. Accord­ing to the CITES trea­ty, each EU coun­try has a vote on its own in the con­fe­rence. The­re is, howe­ver, an agree­ment that the EU coun­tries agree on their vote or do not vote at all. As a result, important votes for a glo­bal ban on polar bear hun­ting were mis­sing and an agree­ment was con­se­quent­ly not reached.

CITES is the legal­ly bin­ding Con­ven­ti­on on Inter­na­tio­nal Tra­de in End­an­ge­red Spe­ci­es of Wild Fau­na and Flo­ra.

It is wide­ly accep­ted that cli­ma­te chan­ge is gene­ral­ly the most serious glo­bal thre­at for polar bears, fol­lo­wed by pol­lu­ti­on with envi­ron­men­tal toxins. But regio­nal­ly, pres­su­re from hun­ting can be signi­fi­cant, or at least its con­se­quen­ces for regio­nal popu­la­ti­ons are not unders­tood.

In Spits­ber­gen, whe­re Nor­we­gi­an law is valid, polar bears are and remain ful­ly pro­tec­ted.

Result of a suc­cess­ful hunt on polar bears in east Green­land.

Polar bears CITES - Polar bear hunt, Scoresbysund, Greenland.

Source: Spie­gel Online

Esmark­breen-inci­dent – case clo­sed by Sys­sel­man­nen

The Sys­sel­man­nen have con­clu­ded their inves­ti­ga­ti­on of the let­hal inci­dent in August 2012 at Esmark­breen (Ymer­buk­ta) (see Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-news of August 2012). Juri­di­cal­ly, the case is now clo­sed, as no hard evi­dence for cri­mi­nal­ly rele­vant beha­vious was found.

The acci­dent hap­pen­ed on 21 August 2012 when ice mas­ses bro­ke off and fell down from the cal­ving cliff of Esmark­breen in Ymer­buk­ta. The ice did not fall into the water, but onto dry ground. Two Zodiacs of the French tou­rist boat Pola­ris I, each with 6 pas­sen­gers and a dri­ver, were in the vicini­ty. A woman was hit by a pie­ce of ice and died almost immedia­te­ly. It could not be estab­lis­hed if the boat was clo­ser to the gla­cier than 200 metres, which is the mini­mum distan­ces as recom­men­ded by the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te.

This sec­tion of the cal­ving cliff of Esmark­breen in Ymer­buk­ta is res­ting on rocks at sea level.

Esmarkbreen-incident - Esmarkbreen, Ymerbukta.

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Drift ice at Bear Island

After a long peri­od with very litt­le ice, the drift ice has now sur­roun­ded most of the eas­tern parts of the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go. It has even reached Bear Island (Bjørnøya) again, much to the delight of the crew of the wea­ther sta­ti­on!

Drift ice in Her­wig­ham­na, near the wea­ther sta­ti­on on Bear Island (Bjørnøya), on 1 March 2013.

Drift ice at Bear Island (Bjørnøya).

Sources: Nor­we­gi­an ice chart, Bjørnøya-Blog of the wea­ther sta­ti­on

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