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Home → December, 2014

Monthly Archives: December 2014 − News & Stories


Pho­to trip: arc­tic win­ter, Spits­ber­gen 2015

One inten­se week of arc­tic win­ter impres­si­ons in Spits­ber­gen in ear­ly March 2015: polar land­scapes in the quick­ly chan­ging light of the low sun on the boun­da­ry bet­ween polar night and mid­night sun, when the light is chan­ging from day to day. That is the pur­po­se of our new pho­to trip into the arc­tic win­ter, for the first time im March 2015.

Using motor sled­ges (snow scoo­ters) as effec­ti­ve means of trans­por­ta­ti­on, we can get to various places in dif­fe­rent are­as to maxi­mi­ze the varia­ti­on of our land­scape expe­ri­ence and pho­to set­tings. The key is to have enough time and a small group to be fle­xi­ble and make the best of wha­te­ver situa­ti­on occurs. Alex­an­der Lembke as pho­to­gra­phic lea­der, Doreen Lam­pe as motor sledge expert and Rolf Stan­ge will make sure we maxi­mi­ze our oppor­tu­ni­ties during this week.

This tour will be Ger­man spea­king. Hence, the site about this tour is also Ger­man. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on, plea­se click here.

Foto trip in the arc­tic win­ter: gla­cier front fro­zen in fjord ice.

Foto trip in the arctic winter: glacier front

Site of the week: White-bea­k­ed dol­phin

The new site of the week at spitsbergen-svalbard.com is a recent­ly crea­ted site about the White-bea­k­ed dol­phin. Dol­phins are not exact­ly what you intui­tively expect in the arc­tic, so it is quite sur­pri­sing to learn of many the­re actual­ly are. But not on the coas­tal waters and fjords of Spits­ber­gen, rather in the open Barents Sea. In recent years, I have regu­lar­ly done the crossing from Nor­way to Bear Island and Spits­ber­gen in the begin­ning of the arc­tic ship­ping boat sea­son. The abun­dance of wha­les and dol­phins in the Barents Sea has always ama­zed me. White-bea­k­ed dol­phins are the nor­t­hern­most repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the dol­phin fami­ly.

Click here to get to the new site of the week.

White-bea­k­ed dol­phin in the Barents Sea.

White-beaked dolphin

Coal mining not pro­fi­ta­ble: Store Nor­ske cuts 100 jobs

The Nor­we­gi­an coal mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni (SNSK) will redu­ce the num­ber of employees as a reac­tion to their loss-making mining acti­vi­ty in Spits­ber­gen. Rapidly fal­ling world mar­ket pri­ces for coal encoun­te­red rising cos­ts for mining in the mar­gi­nal parts of the old mine Svea Nord and for the explo­ita­ti­on of the new mine at Lun­ckef­jel­let. At an avera­ge coal pri­ce of 75$ per ton the com­pa­ny curr­ent­ly loo­ses 10$ with every ton being extra­c­ted (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Coal mining in Spits­ber­gen under pres­su­re from Novem­ber 2014).

Under high pres­su­re Store Nor­ske eva­lua­tes seve­ral pos­si­bi­li­ties of reac­ting to this eco­no­mic cri­sis in order to save coal mining on Spits­ber­gen for the near future. It has alre­a­dy been deci­ded that ca. 100 of the 340 jobs at Store Nor­ske will be cut as soon as pos­si­ble. The decis­i­on was published in the end of Novem­ber and in the mean­ti­me the first group of 30 employees has been infor­med, that their con­tracts will run out. It is esti­ma­ted, that all in all ca. 600 jobs on Spits­ber­gen are direct­ly or indi­rect­ly depen­ding on Nor­we­gi­an mining. In addi­ti­on to the employees of Store Nor­ske the­se figu­res main­ly include jobs at sup­pli­ers and ser­vice com­pa­nies, in the tra­ding sec­tor and at public ser­vicers, as school and kin­der­gar­ten. If the Nor­we­gi­ans had to sus­pend coal mining com­ple­te­ly, this would have a very strong impact on the rela­tively small com­mu­ni­ty of only ca. 2000 inha­bi­tants in the city of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. In 2013 Store Nor­ske did alre­a­dy cut 80 jobs, one pos­si­ble reason for the mode­ra­te popu­la­ti­on decli­ne in Lon­gye­ar­by­en after a lon­ger peri­od of growth. A signi­fi­cant expan­si­on of the two other strong eco­no­mic sec­tors, tou­rism and rese­arch, as a com­pen­sa­ti­on for a pos­si­ble sus­pen­si­on of coal mining can not be expec­ted in the short term.

Under the­se cir­cum­s­tances it is not only the manage­ment of Store Nor­ske but also the local govern­ment in Lon­gye­ar­by­en which is con­cer­ned and inten­si­ve­ly occu­p­ied with fin­ding solu­ti­ons to ensu­re coal mining on Spits­ber­gen. The­r­e­fo­re, mem­bers of Store Nor­ske as well as the mayor of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Chris­tin Kris­toff­er­sen, recent­ly tra­ve­led to Oslo for nego­tia­ti­ons with ban­kers, the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment and the par­lia­ment.

Old coal mine: has seen bet­ter days in the past (Hior­th­hamn-mine oppo­si­te Lon­gye­ar­by­en).

Coal mine near Longyearbyen (Hiorthhamn)

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Site of the week: nor­t­hern lights

The new site of the week at spitsbergen-svalbard.com is about nor­t­hern lights (auro­ra borea­lis). It fits well as a fol­low-up to mid­night sun and polar night, which was the last week’s site.

The nor­t­hern lights page has been crea­ted recent­ly to offer some back­ground, pho­tos and some basic pho­to­gra­phic hints for nor­t­hern light pho­to­gra­phy. Click here to get to the nor­t­hern lights page.

Nor­t­hern light abo­ve Advent­fjord.

Northern light

Novem­ber wet and warm

The num­ber 52 is sto­rytel­ling. This is the amount of pre­ci­pi­ta­ti­on (mm per months) mea­su­red in Novem­ber in LOn­gye­ar­by­en, in con­trast to a nor­mal month­ly avera­ge of 15 mm. This makes Novem­ber 2014 the wet­test Novem­ber in Lon­gye­ar­by­en ever sin­ce meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal recor­dings were star­ted in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Until now, the record was held by Novem­ber 1993 with 46.5 mm.

Ny Åle­sund recei­ved an ama­zing 73.2 mm, but this was not enough to beat the record from Novem­ber 1993, which is an ama­zing 230.3 mm.

Also the tem­pe­ra­tures were abo­ve avera­ge, in Lon­gye­ar­by­en -6.4 degrees cen­ti­gra­de com­pared to an avera­ge of -10.3. The reason for the warm and wet wea­ther is the high fre­quen­cy of low pres­su­res coming from the west with warm and moist air. Nor­mal­ly, the­re is a stron­ger eas­tern influence with col­der and drier air in Novem­ber.

The wea­ther made its­elf felt in dai­ly life: A few snow mobi­les are now fro­zen solid on a ice-cover­ed ground, and it may take the next real thaw to make them move again. This may or may not hap­pen befo­re May. And the hos­pi­tal cer­tain­ly had an abo­ve avera­ge num­ber of pati­ents who had slip­ped on clear ice. It is recom­men­ded to use spikes and light or a reflec­tor if you walk around in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the­se con­di­ti­ons.

Clear ice under a thin snow cover made wal­king in Lon­gye­ar­by­en dan­ge­rous at times in Novem­ber.

Clear ice

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Bear Island: Boun­da­ry stone in a bound­less sea

A vir­tu­al jour­ney to a fasci­na­ting arc­tic island, as expe­ri­en­ced and writ­ten by Rolf, published on the blog tof­fee­fee or The World accor­ding to Dina. Enjoy!

Bear Island: Boun­da­ry stone in a bound­less sea.

Bear Island: Boundary stone in a boundless sea

Site of the week: mid­night sun and polar night

The site of the week at spitsbergen-svalbard.com is a com­ple­te­ly new page: mid­night sun and polar night. Ever­y­bo­dy knows that the sun does not shi­ne any more in the arc­tic sin­ce late Octo­ber. But what exact­ly is the dif­fe­rence bet­ween “dark time” and “polar night”? How is the cour­se of the “light sea­sons” over the year? This is what the new page mid­night sun and polar night is about.

Site of the week at spitsbergen-svalbard.com: mid­night sun and polar night.

polar night

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