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Yearly Archives: 2015 − News


New Sys­sel­man­nen: Kjers­tin Askholt

Kjers­tin Askholt will be the new Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard from 01 Octo­ber. The Sys­sel­man­nen is the hig­hest repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment in Sval­bard and is appoin­ted (not elec­ted) for 3 years. This time, the­re were 7 appli­cants, as usu­al most­ly high-ran­king poli­ce offi­cers or the juri­di­cal admi­nis­tra­ti­on.

Kjers­tin Askholt has been invol­ved with the admi­nis­tra­ti­on of the Nor­we­gi­an polar are­as within the Minis­try of Jus­ti­ce sin­ce 2003 and is accor­din­gly expe­ri­en­ced in rele­vant mat­ters. She has announ­ced to empha­si­ze gene­ral con­ti­nui­ty and a con­ti­nuous­ly good rela­ti­onship with the Rus­si­an neigh­bours in Barents­burg. The­re are chal­lenges in both, as the dif­fi­cult situa­ti­on of the coal indus­try, gro­wing tou­rism and the rela­ti­onship with the Rus­si­ans is usual­ly good in Spits­ber­gen but inter­na­tio­nal­ly curr­ent­ly obvious­ly dif­fi­cult, which may reflect on the local dia­lo­gue as well.

Kjers­tin Askholt will be the second woman in the posi­ti­on of the Sys­sel­man­nen. The first one was Ann-Kris­tin Olsen, who was the boss on Skjæringa from 1995 to 1998. Skjæringa is the part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en whe­re the Sysselmannen’s office is loca­ted and a com­mon­ly used local term.

Sys­sel­man­nen from Octo­ber: Kjers­tin Askholt. © Pho­to: Sys­sel­man­nen.

Sysselmannen ab Oktober: Kjerstin Askholt

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

May 17th: Nor­we­gi­an Con­sti­tu­ti­on Day is also cele­bra­ted in the Arc­tic

May 17th is the Natio­nal Day of Nor­way. On this day Nor­we­gi­ans cele­bra­te the Nor­we­gi­an Con­sti­tu­ti­on which was adopted on May 17th in 1814 by the recent­ly estab­lished Con­sti­tu­ent Assem­bly at the small place of Eids­voll in sou­thern Nor­way. A con­sidera­ble act for the coun­try and cou­ra­ge­ous as well, as Nor­way befo­re was gover­ned by the Danish crown for almost 300 years. Offi­ci­al­ly Nor­way was part of the Danish king­dom, the important posi­ti­ons were held by Danes and by the impact of cul­tu­re- and school-poli­tics Nor­we­gi­ans should beco­me Danish.

In 1814, at the end of the Napo­leo­nic Wars, as the ter­ri­to­ri­al reor­ga­niza­ti­on of the Scan­di­na­vi­an count­ries was nego­tia­ted in the Trea­ty of Kiel, the Nor­we­gi­ans took the oppor­tu­ni­ty: They estab­lished a natio­nal assem­bly, gave them­sel­ves a con­sti­tu­ti­on and elec­ted an own king. Yet, it did not work that easy. Nor­way was pres­sed into a uni­on with Swe­den ins­tead and the Swe­dish king also beca­me king of Nor­way in per­so­nal uni­on. But at least Nor­way was a sepa­ra­te king­dom again, the natio­nal assem­bly was trans­for­med into a par­lia­ment (Stort­ing) and the con­sti­tu­ti­on, cele­bra­ted on May 17th, was main­tai­ned. Nor­way beca­me com­ple­te­ly inde­pen­dent in 1905 when the uni­on with Swe­den was sus­pen­ded.

Tra­di­tio­nal­ly the Natio­nal Day is cele­bra­ted with a para­de inclu­ding music, lots of Nor­we­gi­an flags and a diver­si­ty of tra­di­tio­nal cos­tu­mes from the dif­fe­rent parts of the coun­try. In the capi­tal Oslo the para­de moves along Karl Johans Gate and pas­ses the Roy­al Palace. All over the coun­try peo­p­le rai­se the Nor­we­gi­an flag.

In the Nor­we­gi­an Arc­tic May 17th was cele­bra­ted as well, not only on Spits­ber­gen, in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, among the rese­ar­chers in Ny Åle­sund and in the mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va, but also at the meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal sta­ti­ons on the remo­te islands of Bjørnøya, Jan May­en and Hopen. Even the crew of the rese­arch ves­sel RV ´Lan­ce´, fro­zen in the ice north of Spits­ber­gen, orga­ni­zed a para­de: across the ice, once around the ship. After­wards the­re was a par­ty onboard. The sta­ti­on on Bjørnøya was visi­ted by the crew of the coast­guard ves­sel KV ´Har­stad´, incre­asing the num­ber of par­ti­ci­pan­ts at the para­de signi­fi­cant­ly. It is also said, that they could win some new mem­bers for the Bjørnøya Nude-Bathing-Asso­cia­ti­on. The smal­lest May 17th cele­bra­ti­on was held on Hopen. At least with 4 per­sons (and the 4 sta­ti­on dogs) all inha­bi­tants were pre­sent.

The para­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en stops at the war memo­ri­al.
Pho­to: © RS

nationalfeiertag-4

In Lon­gye­ar­by­en the para­de moved from the church to the city cen­ter and fur­ther to the war memo­ri­al whe­re flowers were laid down and spee­ches were held. The spea­k­ers were Robert Her­man­sen, for­mer CEO of the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni and the Rus­si­an Con­sul Gene­ral in Barents­burg, Jurij Grib­kov, who con­gra­tu­la­ted the Nor­we­gi­ans to the cele­bra­ti­on of their Con­sti­tu­ti­on. After­wards the para­de moved to the Sval­bard­hall whe­re a meal was ser­ved and the cele­bra­ti­on con­tin­ued with seve­ral events, espe­ci­al­ly for the child­ren. In his speech the Sys­sel­man­nen Odd Olsen Ingerø empha­si­zed Norway´s sove­reig­n­ty over Sval­bard and con­firm­ed the vali­di­ty of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Win­ter sea­son coming to an end; polar bear fami­lies in Bil­lefjord

Inspi­te of tha­wing peri­ods in April, the win­ter sea­son has las­ted for quite a long time. Now it is coming to an end. In late April, the wea­ther had final­ly sta­bi­li­zed with tem­pe­ra­tures below zero and many sun­ny days, brin­ging good tou­ring wea­ther bey­ond 17 May, the Nor­we­gi­an natio­nal day.

The spring has brought new inha­bi­tants to inner Isfjord: two polar bear fami­lies have been regu­lar­ly seen in Bil­lefjord and Tem­pel­fjord, inclu­ding one with 3 cubs, a gre­at rari­ty. This very plea­sant fact brought con­tro­ver­si­al dis­cus­sions regar­ding snow mobi­le traf­fic in the­se fre­quent­ly visi­ted fjords. The Sys­sel­man­nen (local aut­ho­ri­ties) asked the public seve­ral times to exe­cu­te good self con­trol and keep traf­fic to an unavo­ida­ble mini­mum. Nevert­hel­ess, small groups were obser­ved seve­ral times too clo­se or too long near the bears.

Expe­ri­ence for exam­p­le from Tem­pel­fjord in 2013 shows that polar bears, inclu­ding fami­lies with young off­spring, do not neces­s­a­ri­ly suf­fer from fre­quent traf­fic. In that spring, a mother with 2 first year cubs spent seve­ral months in Tem­pel­fjord, which was fre­quent­ly visi­ted by lar­ge num­bers of groups. Respectful beha­viour con­tri­bu­ted to the well-being of the bear fami­ly, which was gene­ral­ly not visi­bly affec­ted by traf­fic, but see­med to enjoy a good and healt­hy peri­od, with regu­lar hun­ting suc­cess.

Unfort­u­na­te­ly, both cubs from 2013 are most likely dead by now. One died in Bil­lefjord a short time after tran­qui­liza­ti­on for sci­en­ti­fic reasons. The­re is now evi­dence for the tran­qui­liza­ti­on being the cau­se of the death, but the assump­ti­on is not far away.

The second one of tho­se 2 cubs was most likely the one that was shot near Fred­heim in late March 2015 by tou­rists in their camp. The bear had inju­red one per­son in a tent and was then inju­red with seve­ral bul­lets from a revol­ver. It was later shot by the poli­ce.

The­se obser­va­tions indi­ca­te that a lar­ger num­ber of well-con­trol­led tou­rists, with respectful beha­viour, is less of a pro­blem than a smal­ler num­ber of visi­tors (inclu­ding sci­en­tists) with more unu­su­al acti­vi­ties, invol­ving a hig­her risk. An inte­res­t­ing impres­si­on, as the public recep­ti­on of tou­rists is gene­ral­ly much worse than that of sci­en­tists.

Curr­ent­ly, the grea­test public con­cern is about the polar bear fami­ly with 3 cubs. Dis­cus­sions in social net­works make it clear that the­re is public con­cern and inte­rest, at least local­ly, and the­re is litt­le tole­rance for beha­viour that might dis­turb or even end­an­ger the bears. On the other hand, the mother has alre­a­dy been mark­ed by sci­en­tists, which invol­ves tran­qui­liza­ti­on of at least the mother. It is not known in public wether the sci­en­tists used snow mobi­les or heli­c­op­ters to get within shoo­ting ran­ge, but in any way this can safe­ly be assu­med to be a trau­ma­tic expe­ri­ence for the who­le fami­ly, within a peri­od that is belie­ved to be so sen­si­ti­ve for the sur­vi­val of the young bears that the Sys­sel­man­nen asks the public to mini­mi­ze traf­fic in the same area.

Now, the snow mobi­le sea­son is over any­way, which will make life for the polar bears a bit more quiet, as indi­vi­du­al do not have the oppor­tu­ni­ty any­mo­re to get too clo­se to the bears.

Polar bear fami­ly in Bil­lefjord, April 2015

a3j_Billefjord_28April15_102

Rus­sia pro­tests against Nor­we­gi­an oil deve­lo­p­ment in the Barents Sea

Rus­sia is using every oppor­tu­ni­ty to chall­enge the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment in the Arc­tic. Alre­a­dy in ear­ly March, the Rus­si­an ambassa­dor has filed a sharp diplo­ma­tic note to the Nor­we­gi­an minis­try of for­eign affairs to pro­test against the ope­ning of blocks for oil and gas in the Barents Sea.

Accor­ding to the Rus­si­ans, the area in ques­ti­on should be gover­ned by the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, which would give other count­ries more rights to make use of poten­ti­al resour­ces. The fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment would, at least, not be a dome­stic Nor­we­gi­an issue any­mo­re.

The Rus­si­an reaso­ning, howe­ver, lea­ves a mixed impres­si­on at best: it is argued that Spits­ber­gen has a shelf area on its own, to which the rele­vant area belongs. Hence, the area should be trea­ted as part of Spits­ber­gen, accor­ding to the Rus­si­an govern­ment, and not as part of the Nor­we­gi­an eco­no­mic zone.

It is com­mon­ly accept­ed, as is illus­tra­ted in the image in this artic­le, that the­re is one con­ti­nuous shelf from main­land Nor­way up to Spits­ber­gen, and this shelf belongs to Nor­way. This is cer­tain­ly the per­spec­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment, which is cer­tain­ly shared by the Rus­si­an govern­ment when it comes to their own shelf are­as north of Rus­sia. The­re is no geo­lo­gi­cal or juri­di­cal reason to defi­ne a sepa­ra­te “Spits­ber­gen Shelf”.

The con­ti­nen­tal shelf in the Barents Sea (light blue) is com­mon­ly con­side­red one con­ti­nuous shelf. The arrow marks the posi­ti­on of Bear Island (Bjørnøya).

Kontinentalschelf Barentssee

Source: Alas­ka Dis­patch News: Rus­sia pro­tests oil deve­lo­p­ment in Sval­bard zone

Store Nor­ske bai­lout

The Nor­we­gi­an coal mining com­pa­ny in Spits­ber­gen, Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni (SNSK), has been in dif­fi­cul­ties for a while (see Decem­ber news: Coal mining not pro­fi­ta­ble: Store Nor­ske cuts 100 jobs). The low world mar­ket pri­ces for coal are the main reason. The SNSK has alre­a­dy cut a lar­ge num­ber of jobs, which is reason for ner­vous­ness in a place as small as Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which may suf­fer stron­gly from a signi­fi­cant loss of jobs, both eco­no­mic­al­ly and soci­al­ly.

Hence, a decis­i­on by the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment comes as a reli­ef for many in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: As minis­ter of eco­no­mic affairs Moni­ca Mæland announ­ced during a press con­fe­rence, SNSK will get a cre­dit of 500 mil­li­on Nor­we­gi­an kro­ner (about 60 mil­li­on Euro). The com­pa­ny had asked for 450 mil­li­on NOK, less than it will actual­ly get now.

Mæland made it clear that the cre­dit does not come wit­hout some con­di­ti­ons: it is not to be taken as a gua­ran­tee for the long-term exis­tence of coal mining in Spits­ber­gen. Future govern­ment poli­tics in Sval­bard, which set the frame­work for the deve­lo­p­ment, are to be defi­ned in a govern­ment poli­cy state­ment (“Sval­bard­mel­ding”), which comes every 5-10 years. The next Sval­bard­mel­ding is curr­ent­ly under pre­pa­ra­ti­on in the minis­try of jus­ti­ce. The cur­rent cre­dit still needs appr­oval from the Stort­ing (Nor­we­gi­an par­lia­ment). And the land pro­per­ty of the SNSK, which is an important local land owner, is to be trans­fer­red to the govern­ment. This shall streng­then Nor­we­gi­an sove­reig­n­ty and is likely to be more of a sym­bo­lic cha­rac­ter, rather than having major prac­ti­cal con­se­quen­ces.

The cre­dit for SNSK has led to com­mon reli­ef in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Coal mining in Spits­ber­gen: an indus­try with future or only with a lot of histo­ry?

coal mining, Spitsbergen

Source: NRK

Rus­si­an Vice pre­mier Rogo­zin in Spits­ber­gen

The sud­den sur­fa­cing of the powerful Rus­si­an poli­ti­ci­an Dmit­ry Rogo­zin, vice pre­mier and lea­der of the Rus­si­an government’s new Arc­tic Com­mis­si­on, stir­red Nor­we­gi­an offi­ci­als up. Rogo­zin is on an EU sanc­tion list and not wel­co­me in Nor­way, as was sub­se­quent­ly made clear by the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment.

Rogo­zin pro­vo­ked the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment by men­tio­ning that the Nor­we­gi­an sove­reig­n­ty is limi­t­ed in Sval­bard (the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty makes undis­pu­ta­b­ly clear that Nor­way has full sove­reig­n­ty over the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go, but it does inde­ed put some limits to the exe­cu­ti­on of the sove­reig­n­ty). Accor­ding to Rogo­zin, nobo­dy could be kept from visi­ting Sval­bard.

It is not known how Rogo­zin, who made his arri­val known via twit­ter, arri­ved at the air­port at Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but it is safe to assu­me that he did not tra­vel trough main­land Nor­way. Rogo­zin soon con­tin­ued to the Rus­si­an drift ice sta­ti­on Bar­neo near the north pole, whe­re he made fur­ther pro­vo­ca­ti­ve comm­ents in an inter­view to Rus­si­an sta­te TV: “Last year, we had the his­to­ri­cal reuni­fi­ca­ti­on of Sevas­to­pol and the Cri­mea. This year, we pre­sent a new view and new powerful stress on the deve­lo­p­ment of the Arc­tic. Basi­cal­ly, its is all about the same …” and he con­tin­ued: Rus­sia is now “start­ing to get more con­scious about ter­ri­to­ry, its inte­rests and bor­ders”. Rus­sia is known as natio­na­list and expan­sio­nist.

Norway’s for­eign minis­ter Bør­ge Bren­de did not lea­ve any doubts that “peo­p­le on the sanc­tions list, peo­p­le that have been cen­tral in brea­ching inter­na­tio­nal law in Ukrai­ne, are not wel­co­me to the main­land or to Sval­bard”.

It is, howe­ver, unli­kely that this will make of an impres­si­on on the Rus­si­an vice pre­mier.

Rus­si­an vice pre­mier Dmit­riy Rogo­zin at the Rus­si­an drift ice sta­ti­on Bar­neo near the north pole (twit­ter pho­to)..

Rogozin

Source: Barents­ob­ser­ver

Arc­tic voy­a­ges 2015: Jan May­en, Spits­ber­gen

Two tickets have beco­me available again on the expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en 2015 (15th-27th June) due to a can­cel­la­ti­on. Demand is high, the Jan May­en expe­di­ti­on in 2016 is alre­a­dy ful­ly boo­ked.

In June 2015 we are sai­ling to Jan May­en

Jan Mayen: Beerenberg

The­re is also still the oppor­tu­ni­ty to join us on the voya­ge in Spits­ber­gen (15th-25th Sep­tem­ber) 2015 with SV Anti­gua, with focus­ses on gla­cier hikes and pho­to­gra­phy, next to the “more usu­al” landings and walk, which we will cer­tain­ly also do. This voya­ge will be Ger­man spea­king.

… and in Sep­tem­ber 2015 with SV Anti­gua to Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers.

Spitzbergen September 2015 mit SV Antigua: Gletscher

Ant­ar­c­tic pan­ora­ma: Cape Ada­re

The­re is a new pan­ora­ma tour (vir­tu­al tour) from Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, name­ly from Cape Ada­re in the Ross Sea. Cape Ada­re is one of the most famous, but rare­ly visi­ted places in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca: in 1895, it was the site of the first well-docu­men­ted landing on the con­ti­nent, and in 1899 it was the site of the very first win­tering on the con­ti­nent, by an expe­di­ti­on led by Kars­ten Borchgre­vink. The­se sto­ries are short­ly sum­ma­ri­zed in the new pan­ora­ma tour, and so is the visit of the nor­t­hern par­ty under Camp­bell during Robert F. Scott’s final expe­di­ti­on with Ter­ra Nova.

The pan­ora­ma tour docu­ments the his­to­ric huts at Cape Ada­re and gives impres­si­ons of the ama­zing sce­n­ery of the place at the nor­t­hern­most end of Vic­to­ria Land, being part of the famous Trans­ant­ar­c­tic Moun­ta­ins. Cape Ada­re is also home to the lar­gest colo­ny of Adé­lie pen­gu­ins in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca, which means in the world.

In ear­ly Febru­ary, I was lucky to spend a rare good wea­ther day at Cape Ada­re. On this occa­si­on, I shot the pan­ora­mas which are now assem­bled to this new pan­ora­ma / vir­tu­al tour (click here to get to the tour). Enjoy a vir­tu­al trip to Cape Ada­re!

Vir­tu­al tour of Cape Ada­re, site of the first landing and win­tering in Ant­ar­c­ti­ca and home to the lar­gest colo­ny of Adé­lie pen­gu­ins.

Kap Adare Panorama-Tour

The arc­tic blog con­tin­ued

The arc­tic blog is now con­tin­ued! Sin­ce mid March, I am back in Spits­ber­gen and fre­quent­ly out on tour. Came­ra, an open eye and eager­ness to see and expe­ri­ence arc­tic sce­n­ery, wild­life and histo­ry are always with me, and this results in pho­to gal­le­ries and litt­le sto­ries from tra­vels out in the arc­tic wil­der­ness, published in my arc­tic blog, which will be con­tin­ued for most of the year. A trip to Tem­pel­fjord makes the begin­ning, fol­lo­wed by the event of the year in Spits­ber­gen, the solar eclip­se. Enjoy some vir­tu­al high lati­tu­de tra­ve­ling!

Click here for the over­view of the blog.

The arc­tic blog is con­tin­ued: pho­tos and sto­ries from tra­vels in Spits­ber­gen, Jan May­en and Green­land.

arctic blog

Almost doubling of snow mobi­le acci­dents

Emer­gen­cy ser­vices and hos­pi­tal have got a record-high num­ber of mis­si­ons and pati­ents from snow mobi­le acci­dents this year. Until late March, the hos­pi­tal had 38 pati­ents in tre­at­ment with inju­ries rela­ted to acci­dents from snow mobi­le dri­ving. In 2014, the equi­va­lent num­ber was 21. Inju­ries often include frac­tures.

The data base is not suf­fi­ci­ent to ana­ly­ze reasons, but this season’s insta­ble wea­ther may have con­tri­bu­ted with bad visi­bi­li­ty at times and icy sur­faces.

The pro­por­ti­ons of locals and tou­rists is also not known. Seve­ral serious acci­dents included local dri­vers, such as the young man who died in an ava­lan­che in Janu­ary and the exten­si­ve search and res­cue mis­si­on on the east coast. In late March, a young man from Lon­gye­ar­by­en fell into a 6 m deep snow who­le with his snow mobi­le and recei­ved hea­vy head inju­ries. He is still in hos­pi­tal in Trom­sø, not in a life-threa­tening con­di­ti­on any­mo­re but he his being kept in an arti­fi­ci­al coma.

The num­bers of par­ti­ci­pan­ts on orga­ni­zed tours have not rea­ched the levels of the record years of 2007 and 2008 again, but the num­bers of indi­vi­du­al snow mobi­le ren­tals have increased, indi­ca­ting a lar­ger num­ber of tou­rists indi­vi­du­al­ly in the field. Tho­se who are out on indi­vi­du­al trips with limi­t­ed expe­ri­en­ced and wit­hout local know­ledge have to remem­ber that they are tra­ve­ling with a strong vehic­le that can quick­ly reach high speed in ter­rain that has all the poten­ti­al traps and dan­ge­rous that the win­ter arc­tic may have. Uneven ter­rain, wind­ho­les in the snow etc. can be dif­fi­cult to see in bad wea­ther or poor light con­di­ti­ons, which may quick­ly result in dan­ge­rous acci­dents.

Enjoya­ble evening on tour with snow mobi­les. But the wea­ther is not always as nice as here.

Snow mobile, sunset

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten (14, 2015)

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­teaser: the mys­tery sol­ved

The Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­teaser – what does the pho­to at the bot­tom show? – has got a lot of nice repli­es. A sel­ec­tion of ans­wers (my own trans­la­ti­on of tho­se that were sent in Ger­man):

  • Clo­se-up of Hump­back wha­le skin
  • Clo­se-up of Wal­rus skin in black & white
  • Ice sur­face. It looks like some­thing has ground it (like the sur­face at a cur­ling court (Swe­den beco­me world champs yes­ter­day!)). So that has to be my guess. Not a cur­ling court, but a ice cover­ed sur­face that been groun­ded in some way. May­be from dog sledge skids?
  • Ice struc­tures
  • Is it fro­zen water from below with trap­ped air bubbles?
  • A warm item (e.g. a warm kett­le) put on fro­zen water.
  • An aeri­al pho­to of fro­zen mud flats at low tide.
  • I thought fro­zen water at first, but I don’t think that’s right.
  • Not polished con­cre­te?
  • Iced-over stroma­to­li­thes that got a gla­cio­lo­gi­cal hair­cut
  • Nega­ti­ve imprint of a fos­sil fern
  • think it is water over some fro­zen soil or some­thing….
    actual­ly i have no clue even after sta­ring for 30 minu­tes at the pic­tu­re!
    in any case: it is beau­tiful! 🙂
  • A true con­ch in shal­low water?
  • May­be a shoe sole
  • A rather rare iron struc­tu­re on a geo­de (or part of it)
  • Pro­fi­le of a snow mobi­le belt
  • Clo­se-up of ice struc­tu­re
  • A dog in a river bed / ice sur­face

A num­ber of inte­res­t­ing and sur­pri­sin­gly varied ans­wers! It seems to have been more dif­fi­cult than I had thought, and this shows how much came­ra and lens may help to see things that other­wi­se are hid­den or that we see, if at all, in a dif­fe­rent way. All tho­se who have seen gla­cier ice have had this phe­no­me­non near them (but not neces­s­a­ri­ly seen it and paid atten­ti­on to it).

This is how the pic­tu­re was taken:

What is this? Gla­cier ice!

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Easter brainteaser: What is this? Glacier ice!

A macro pho­to of gla­cier ice in an ice cave in a gla­cier, with tri­pod and macro lens, to make smal­lest details visi­ble. The brain­teaser pho­to shows very small air bubbles in gla­cier ice. The indi­vi­du­al bubbles and chan­nels are smal­ler than 1 mm. The area shown on the pho­to is, in rea­li­ty, an esti­ma­ted 4×6 mm lar­ge, or rather: small. This net­work of air bubbles was ori­en­ted in a plain par­al­lel to the very clear ice sur­face, about 2-3 cm deep in the ice, which altog­e­ther made it pos­si­ble to pho­to­graph it. Plea­se don’t ask me how exact­ly this pat­tern of air chan­nels comes into exis­tence, I don’t know. Plea­se tell me if you know.

The first pri­ce for “Clo­se-up of ice struc­tu­re” goes to Ste­pha­nie in Scot­land! Ste­pha­nie, the choice is yours!

The second pri­ce goes to Leip­zig and the third one to Swe­den. Con­gra­tu­la­ti­ons to all win­ners and a big thanks to all who sent their ans­wers! It was fun, and that was the who­le pur­po­se of it.

What is this? Very small bubbles and chan­nels of air trap­ped in gla­cier ice

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com Easter brainteaser

spitsbergen-svalbard.com Eas­ter brain­teaser

Update: I haven’t got an ans­wer so far that real­ly hits the nail on the head. The ques­ti­on will remain open and ent­ries can be filed until the ans­wer appears as a new spitsbergen-svalbard.com news ent­ry.

An Eas­ter brain­teaser on spitsbergen-svalbard.com? Yes, why not. I took the pho­to recent­ly here in Spits­ber­gen. And the first one who can tell me what it shows will recei­ve any item (your choice) of the books, post­cards or calen­dar on this web­site (see right side or click here). The second and third inco­ming ans­wers – being cor­rect – have the choice within post­cards or calen­dar. Ent­ries by email (cont­act).

Not dif­fi­cult, is it?

The ans­wer has to be cor­rect and con­cre­te. Ever­y­thing that is not wrong is cor­rect, unless it is wrong. I (Rolf Stan­ge) deci­de if it is con­cre­te (someone has to do it). It is not enough to wri­te that it is a bit of Spits­ber­gen. This would be cor­rect, but not con­cre­te.

To make it easier, you can down­load a lar­ger file of the same pho­to by cli­cking here.

Good luck – and hap­py Eas­ter!

What is this?

spitsbergen-svalbard.com Easter brainteaser: what is this?

Per­ma­cul­tu­re: vege­ta­bles, fresh and tasty from the arc­tic

Modern life in the arc­tic is deman­ding con­sidera­ble resour­ces. Food stuffs are impor­ted over long distances, which is cos­t­ly and burns a lot of fuel. Many visi­tors get a bit ner­vous when they see the pri­ces for food in the high north, and so-cal­led fresh vege­ta­bles are not always as fresh as you might want.

Food was­te is shred­ded and washed straight into the fjord tog­e­ther with was­te water, altog­e­ther a gre­at was­te. Ano­ther solu­ti­on would be high­ly desi­ra­ble, both from an envi­ron­men­tal and an eco­no­mic per­spec­ti­ve.

Thin­king local food in the arc­tic, most peo­p­le would pro­ba­b­ly have reinde­er steaks on their mind, which is obvious­ly not the solu­ti­on. Local vege­ta­bles? Nega­ti­ve. Even the Rus­si­an (Sov­jet, back then) sett­le­ments Barents­burg and Pyra­mi­den were, in a way, more advan­ced, with con­sidera­ble local pro­duc­tion in green­hou­ses and sta­bles for cows, pigs etc., most of which have been aban­do­ned years ago.

But crea­ti­ve peo­p­le are working on solu­ti­ons to grow vege­ta­bles local­ly, fresh and envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly. A start up pro­ject cal­led Polar Per­ma­cul­tu­re Solu­ti­ons is deve­lo­ping tech­ni­ques in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for advan­ced green­hou­ses to grow vege­ta­bles in per­ma­frost are­as wit­hout high ener­gy and water con­sump­ti­on. First tests are pro­mi­sing: accor­ding to Polar Per­ma­frost Solu­ti­ons, pars­ley, cori­an­der, basil, papri­ka, sum­mer squash, mini corn, oni­ons, let­tuce, toma­toes, egg­plant, red chi­li pep­pers and more have alre­a­dy been grown suc­cessful­ly. Food was­te is used to pro­du­ce soil and fer­ti­li­zer with bio­lo­gi­cal tech­ni­ques (sounds bet­ter than worms, but that’s what it is)

Fresh, tasty, local pro­duc­tion and envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly – we are loo­king for­ward to see the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment!

Fresh vege­ta­bles of local pro­duc­tion in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: so far an uto­pia, hop­eful­ly soon a rea­li­ty that makes a lot of sen­se for the envi­ron­ment and eco­no­my.

Polar Permaculture

Source: Polar Per­ma­cul­tu­re

Lower ext­ent of win­ter sea ice in the Arc­tic

During this win­ter sea­son 2014/2015 the sea ice in the Arc­tic has exten­ded much less than it usual­ly did.

As the U.S. Natio­nal Snow and Ice Data Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Colo­ra­do reports, this win­ter the ice likely rea­ched its maxi­mum extend as soon as Febru­ary 25th. This is 15 days ear­lier than the avera­ge of the years 1981 to 2010 which ser­ves as the refe­rence peri­od.

More alar­ming is the fact that the ext­ent of sea ice on this date had not pro­cee­ded very far yet. Inde­ed, sin­ce the begin­ning of the satel­li­te record the maxi­mum ext­ent of Arc­tic sea ice has never been as low as in this win­ter. On Febru­ary 25th the ice cover­ed an area of 14.54 mil­li­on squa­re kilo­me­ters. This is 1.1 mil­li­on squa­re kilo­me­ters less than the long term avera­ge and 130.000 squa­re kilo­me­ters less than the for­mer nega­ti­ve record of 2011. All are­as were affec­ted except for the Labra­dor Sea and the Davis Strait bet­ween Green­land and Cana­da. The­re was a remar­kab­ly low ext­ent of ice on the Paci­fic side of the Arc­tic and in the Barents Sea west of Nova­ya Sem­lya and sou­thwest of Spits­ber­gen.

After rea­ching its low maxi­mum on Febru­ary 25th the sea ice ext­ent initi­al­ly decreased signi­fi­cant­ly (with regio­nal varia­ti­ons) and then increased again in the second half of March. Howe­ver, a new maxi­mum could not be rea­ched. Curr­ent­ly the ice is retrea­ting again, accor­ding to the time of the year.

It can be expec­ted that the low ext­ent of sea ice in win­ter will also lead to less ice in the sum­mer sea­son. This sce­na­rio is sup­port­ed by the effect that open water sur­faces are absor­bing more solar ener­gy and are warm­ing up fas­ter than ice sur­faces which reflect most of the sun­light (see also Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com news: Retre­at of Arc­tic sea ice acce­le­ra­tes glo­bal warm­ing from Febru­ary 2014).

Sea ice in nor­t­hern Spits­ber­gen.

Sea ice in Spitsbergen

Source: Natio­nal Snow and Ice Data Cen­ter

Joy­ous news from the Habi­tat Res­to­ra­ti­on Pro­ject in South Geor­gia

Good news from the Habi­tat Res­to­ra­ti­on Pro­ject in South Geor­gia in the news sec­tion of the ant­ar­c­tic coun­ter­part of this web­site (click here).

Sea­birds near South Geor­gia: thanks to the Habi­tat Res­to­ra­ti­on Pro­ject, popu­la­ti­ons espe­ci­al­ly of smal­ler spe­ci­es can be expec­ted to increase signi­fi­cant­ly in years to come.

Seabirds near South Georgia

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