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Home → January, 2015

Monthly Archives: January 2015 − News & Stories

Young man died in snow ava­lan­che

About 7 km south of Lonye­ar­by­en, in Fard­a­len, a 21-year-old Nor­we­gi­an was found dead under a snow ava­lan­che on Satur­day 24th of Janu­ary.

As the Sys­sel­man­nen reports, the poli­ce in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was infor­med on Satur­day noon about a lar­ge ava­lan­che in Fard­a­len which cover­ed parts of the snow­mo­bi­le track lea­ding through the val­ley. Res­cue teams of the Red Cross and the Sys­sel­man­nen were sent to the sce­ne of the acci­dent imme­dia­te­ly and about one hour after being infor­med they found the young man´s body. Despi­te of the quick reac­tion it was unfort­u­na­te­ly too late for res­cuing him. The man´s body was lying clo­se to his snow­mo­bi­le which was also cover­ed by snow. No other per­sons could be detec­ted and as it tur­ned out later, no one else was miss­ing.

Fard­a­len is a popu­lar snow­mo­bi­le rou­te for trips to for exam­p­le Barents­burg or to the deser­ted mining sett­le­ment in Coles­buk­ta. The dan­ger of ava­lan­ches in Fard­a­len is not given by par­ti­cu­lar­ly high and steep moun­ta­in­si­des, it occurs by the rou­te through the val­ley lea­ding through very nar­row and win­ding pas­sa­ges.

View into Fard­a­len


Sources: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

Polar bear gathe­ring on Hopen

The days bet­ween Christ­mas and New Year´s Day the crew of the Nor­we­gi­an wea­ther sta­ti­on on the remo­te island Hopen was visi­ted by an excep­tio­nal­ly high num­ber of polar bears. On sin­gle days up to six polar bears were con­ve­ned around the small group of hou­ses, as the station´s cook, Bjørn Ove Fins­eth, reports on the station´s offi­ci­al web­site. Among them the­re was also a mother tog­e­ther with its two 2-years old cubs. They found a com­for­ta­ble place to rest on the sta­ti­ons heli­c­op­ter landing place. As mem­bers of the crew have to lea­ve their shel­te­ring quar­ters con­stant­ly for meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal mea­su­res they were forced to cha­se the bears away again and again. As Fins­eth sug­gests, this was the reason for some busy days bet­ween the years. For­t­u­na­te­ly the­re was never a cri­ti­cal situa­ti­on neither for humans nor ani­mals.

The small, stre­ched island Hopen belongs to Sval­bard. It is loca­ted in the far sou­the­ast of the archi­pe­la­go. Sin­ce 1945 the Nor­we­gi­ans ope­ra­te a meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­on the­re. Curr­ent­ly the sta­ti­on is run by a crew of four per­sons during win­ter­ti­me. Hopen is one of the bree­ding places for polar bears in Sval­bard.

Nor­we­gi­an meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­on on Hopen in sum­mer. Polar bear pic­tures on the web­site of the meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­on


Source: web­site of the meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­on on Hopen

Ant­ar­c­tic semi-cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on: Ross Sea expe­di­ti­on

It is more than 13 months ago that I have been to Ant­ar­c­ti­ca. Time to get back, no doubt. Today (Fri­day, Janu­ary 09) we are start­ing in Ushua­ia with MV Ort­eli­us. Tonight, we will get the two heli­c­op­ters on board, and then we’ll cross the bel­oved Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge, hea­ding for the Ant­ar­c­tic Pen­in­su­la. But we want to get much, much fur­ther than that: Peter I Island, the Ross Sea and Camp­bell Island are on the wish­list for the next cou­ple of weeks … advan­ced Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, as one might be tempt­ed to say.

Fol­low us on my regu­lar blog on antarctic.eu – almost dai­ly news from the very deep south. And keep your fin­gers crossed for good wea­ther and ice con­di­ti­ons!

Tre­asu­red memo­ries from the Ross Sea trip in ear­ly 2013: curious Emper­or pen­gu­ins in McMur­do Sound. See what the next weeks will bring 🙂

Emperor penguins, Ross Sea

New Nor­we­gi­an spy ship in the Barents Sea

The Nor­we­gi­an Intel­li­gence Ser­vice (Norsk Etter­ret­ningst­je­nes­ten) is get­ting a new spy ves­sel for ope­ra­ti­ons in the Barents Sea. As it´s four pre­de­ces­sors the ship is named Mar­ja­ta. It will be put into ser­vice offi­ci­al­ly in 2016. Sin­ce the 1950s the Nor­we­gi­an Intel­li­gence Ser­vice is prac­ti­cing civil and mili­ta­ry sur­veil­lan­ce in the Barents Sea, sin­ce 1966 with an own ves­sel.

The new Mar­ja­ta will be one of the most advan­ced ships of its kind. It is lar­ger, has a bet­ter sen­sor capa­ci­ty and a wider ope­ra­tio­nal ran­ge than its direct pre­de­ces­sor which will stay in ser­vice until 2016. As the new ship will be able to cover a lar­ger area, it is sup­po­sed that it will also ope­ra­te in polar waters bey­ond the Barents Sea, for exam­p­le around Spits­ber­gen. The Nor­we­gi­an Parliament´s decis­i­on to build a new ship ins­tead of impro­ving the old one is, accor­ding to Kjell Grand­ha­gen, chief of the Intel­li­gence Ser­vice, a signal that a con­ti­nuous Nor­we­gi­an pre­sence in the Arc­tic is of high prio­ri­ty. In the long run Nor­way, as well as the other Arc­tic sta­tes, has geo­stra­te­gic inte­rests in this regi­on, con­cer­ning first of all access to natu­ral resour­ces. A new deve­lo­p­ment can be seen in the poor rela­ti­onship to the neigh­bor Rus­sia.

As Rus­sia announ­ced, the coun­try is plan­ning to inten­si­fy its mili­ta­ry acti­vi­ty in the Arc­tic (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news Rus­sia inten­si­fies mili­ta­ry acti­vi­ty in the Arc­tic from Febru­ary 2014) and after the poli­ti­cal deve­lo­p­ment in Ukrai­ne resul­ting in ten­si­ons bet­ween Rus­sia and NATO seve­ral cases of bor­der vio­la­ti­ons by the Rus­si­an mili­ta­ry were reco­gni­zed in Nor­way and other Scan­di­na­vi­an sta­tes. As a reac­tion on Russia´s acti­vi­ties in Ukrai­ne the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment recent­ly deci­ded to sus­pend its long las­ting coope­ra­ti­on with the Rus­si­an mili­ta­ry con­ti­nuous­ly until the end of 2015. This coope­ra­ti­on is alre­a­dy inter­rupt­ed sin­ce March 2014.

Howe­ver, in the fields of coast­guard, bor­der guards, search and res­cue ope­ra­ti­ons and the Inci­dents at Sea Agree­ment both count­ries will con­ti­nue coope­ra­ti­on as well as the cont­act bet­ween the Nor­we­gi­an Defen­se Head­quar­ters and Rus­si­an Nor­t­hern Fleet will be con­tin­ued. The­se coope­ra­ti­ons are sup­po­sed to ensu­re secu­ri­ty and sta­bi­li­ty in this regi­on.

One of the new Nor­we­gi­an spy vessel´s tasks will be to regis­ter and to docu­ment all mili­ta­ry acti­vi­ties clo­se to Nor­t­hern Nor­way so that pos­si­ble devia­ti­ons from the norm can be reco­gni­zed.

Nor­way is kee­ping a big eye open in the Barents Sea (here a coast­guard ves­sel in Kinn­vi­ka, Nord­aus­t­land). Neigh­bour Russia’s mili­ta­ry acti­vi­ties are good reason.

Norwegian coastguard ship

Sources: forsvaret.no, regjeringen.no, Barents­ob­ser­ver

Digi­tal map Spits­ber­gen

The new year (hap­py new year to all visi­tors of this web­site, by the way!) has a good start, with a slight­ly delay­ed Christ­mas pre­sent from the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment: as announ­ced, the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te has made the digi­tal maps from the Arc­tic and Ant­ar­c­tic available as down­loads. So far, the nice digi­tal maps from Spits­ber­gen, Jan May­en and the Ant­ar­c­tic (Peter I Island, Dron­ning Maud Land) could only be view­ed online. Now, they can be down­loa­ded in pixed-based and vec­tor file for­mats and used under “Crea­ti­ve Com­mons Attri­bu­ti­on 4.0 Inter­na­tio­nal (CC BY 4.0) Licen­se”. This means the maps can now be used off­line in the field and by aut­hors, web­site owners and others for publi­ca­ti­ons and this will make some peo­p­le hap­py, inclu­ding the pre­sent owner.

More on the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te web­site (Nor­we­gi­an).
To get to the down­load site, click here.

TopoS­val­bard, the digi­tal Spits­ber­gen map. Now, the map data can be down­loa­ded for off­line use. © Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te.

digital map Spitsbergen


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