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Daily Archives: 13. May 2013 − News & Stories


Climate change: fjord ice on the west coast of Spitsbergen strongly reduced

A recent visit of the Norwegian environmental minister Bård Vegar Solhjell to the research settlement Ny Ålesund in Kongsfjord has put climate change back in the political debate in Norway. According to leading local scientists, the boat excursion into Kongsfjord would have happened with snow mobiles just 10 years before, following exactly the same route. The loss of solid fjord ice in many fjords on the west coast of Spitsbergen especially during the last 2 years is indeed alarming. This leads to massive problems for example for Ringed seals, who cannot give birth and raise their offspring without good fjord ice. Hardly any Ringed seal, generally the most abundant arctic seal, has been born and raised successfully in Kongsfjord in recent years.

The loss of solid fjord ice in the fjords on the west coast of Spitsbergen especially during the last two winters is indeed dramatic. This involves problems for example for Ringed seals, which need solid ice and good snow conditions to raise their offspring successfully. Hardly any young Ringed seal has survived in Kongsfjord during the last 10 years.

The increase of sea surface temperatures on the west and north coasts of Spitsbergen during the last 2 years is significant and has reduced the drift and solid ice considerably. In eastern Spitsbergen, the development is less dramatic and the ice conditions are comparatively normal. On the west coasts, many fjords remain largely open. Mostly, only inner reaches of the fjords are frozen over.

The Norwegian environmental minister has spoken of clear signals for an already ongoing warming.

Ringed seal in Tempelfjord, early May 2013. Here, the fjord ice is currently still solid.

climate change Spitsbergen: Sveagruva

Source: Aftenposten

Store Norske: black gold yields red numbers

The Norwegian mining company Store Norske is currently operating deeply in red numbers. After several good years, an exception in Spitsbergen’s mining history, the loss was near 234 million Kroner (29 million Euro) in 2012, and 2013 is not expected to be much better. The main reasons are said to be low prices on the world market for coal and the increasingly difficult conditions in the main mine Svea Nord near Sveagruva, which is now operating in marginal parts of the coal seam, with lower quantities and inferior qualities.

A new mine is expected to operate from 2015 at Lunckefjellet, north of the current mine Svea Nord, but only until 2018.

Store Norske reacts by cutting down costs. Employees will have to face release, and the daughter company Store Norske Gull, which has been prospecting for gold for years at St. Jonsfjord on the west coast of Spitsbergen, will not continue its activities in 2013.

Sveagruva in Van Mijenfjord: the current centre of coal mining in Spitsbergen.

Spitsbergen mining - Sveagruva

Source: Finnmarken.no

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