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Home → April, 2016

Monthly Archives: April 2016 − News


Polar bear near Lon­gye­ar­by­en ana­es­the­ti­zed and flown out

The Sys­sel­man­nen has deci­ded to ana­es­the­ti­ze the polar bear and to fly it out and far away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was prompt­ly done in coope­ra­ti­on with the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, which is rou­ti­nely doing simi­lar ope­ra­ti­ons in con­nec­tion with field work. The polar bear is now flown out towards the east, to be released some­whe­re safe and far away from the sett­le­ments.

Accord­ing to Sys­sel­man­nen and Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, this ope­ra­ti­on was more gent­le for the polar bear than sca­ring it away with heli­co­p­ters.

Two pho­tos from the ope­ra­ti­on

The polar bear in Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en short­ly after ana­es­the­tiz­a­ti­on. Bio­lo­gists are doing some inves­ti­ga­ti­ons befo­re it is loa­ded into the heli­co­p­ter.

polar bear Longyearbyen

The heli­co­p­ter with the polar bear on its way to the east.

polar bear Longyearbyen

Polar bear near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

A polar bear in the clo­se vicini­ty of Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not an ever­y­day event, it is the first time sin­ce Octo­ber 2014. The poli­ce is out with heli­co­p­ter and snow mobi­le to make sure the situa­ti­on is kept under con­trol, while many onloo­kers are gathe­ring on the rim of Lon­gye­ar­by­en near Advent­da­len.

The bear is on the shore­li­ne in Advent­da­len, may­be (rough esti­ma­te) 2 km away from town. And he (or she?) is the only one who does not care about all the exci­te­ment: he is lying, slee­ping and doing not­hing so far.

Polar bear in Advent­da­len, may­be 2 km away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The pho­to was taken from Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Polar bear near Longyearbyen

Polar bear shot at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken

A polar bear was shot on Satur­day at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken, on the north coast of Spits­ber­gen.

A group of four ski tou­rists from Finn­land, on Spits­ber­gen for a 3 week trip, was on Ver­le­gen­hu­ken when the men were approa­ched by the polar bear. Initi­al­ly, they could sca­re it away with a signal pis­tol, but then the bear approa­ched again and a rif­le shot was fired from a distance of 35 metres. The polar bear was woun­ded and went away. The group alar­med the Sys­sel­man­nen. Offi­cials arri­ving by heli­co­p­ter mana­ged to find the bear in a snow cave in a cliff and shot it.

The body of the polar bear was taken to Lon­gye­ar­by­en for a post mor­tem. Until now, it is only known that it was a male bear weig­hing 116 kg. The weight sug­gests that it was a young ani­mal, pos­si­b­ly mal­nut­ri­tio­ned in addi­ti­on. But this is not con­fir­med infor­ma­ti­on.

The case will rou­ti­nely be a mat­ter of poli­ce inves­ti­ga­ti­on to estab­lish wether or not it was a case of self defen­se. In case of careless­ness, the law opens for fines or even impr­i­son­ment.

The last time a polar bear was shot was in March 2015 in Tem­pel­fjord.

Pho­to – Polar bear shot at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken

The polar bear at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken, which was shot on Satur­day (pho­to © Ire­ne Sæter­mo­en / Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard).

polar bear Verlegenhuken

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen

Several of Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are on the move. A rather sud­den type of advan­ce cal­led gla­cial sur­ge is lin­ked to the inter­nal mecha­nics of ice move­ment. The­se gla­ciers are buil­ding up ice volu­me in the catch­ment area over deca­des to dischar­ge this wit­hin rela­tively short time (typi­cal­ly 1-2 years), some­thing that invol­ves rapid move­ment of up to an impres­si­ve 10 meters per day or even more. As a result, sur­ging gla­ciers are usual­ly stron­gly crev­as­sed.

This beha­viour has recent­ly been obser­ved at Penck­breen (Van Keu­len­fjord) and Aavaats­mark­breen. It is also cur­r­ent­ly known from other Sval­bard gla­ciers. Around 2014, the advan­ce of parts of the ice cap Aus­t­fon­na has attrac­ted atten­ti­on.

The sur­ge beha­viour is lin­ked to ice dyna­mics and not to a cli­ma­ti­cal­ly indu­ced posi­ti­ve mass balan­ce. Altog­e­ther, Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers are suf­fe­ring from a signi­fi­cant loss of ice volu­me, with a ten­den­cy to incre­a­sing speed of loss in recent years due to cli­ma­te chan­ge.

Sur­ging gla­ciers in Spits­ber­gen – Penck­breen Sur­ge

The sur­ging gla­cier Penck­breen (foto April 2016 © Stig Onar­heim, with friend­ly per­mis­si­on).

Penckbreen surge

Source: Feltlogg, Svalbardglaciers.org.

Trap­pers Trail – 09th April 2016

The Trap­pers Trail dog sled race is a good rea­son to be in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on a cer­tain Satur­day in mid April. It has been an annu­al tra­di­ti­on sin­ce 2009. On this wee­kend, 09th and 10th of April, 26 teams are joi­ning the race in one out of three cate­go­ries: ski and pulk with one, two or three dogs, while the mus­her is stan­ding on ski­es. Dog sled with 3-5 DP (dog powers) and dog sled with 6-8 DP.

The teams are star­ting at 1200, fol­lowing upon one ano­t­her every two minu­tes, from the area next to For­skings­par­ken (Sval­bard­mu­se­um, UNIS) under cheer­ful shou­ting of the onloo­kers. One or the other team does, of cour­se, make a stop on the left or right side to say hel­lo to a par­ti­cu­lar friend, some­thing that usual­ly invol­ves the dogs more than the mus­hers and is part of the fun, which is what it is all about. Then, they disap­pe­ar in the gre­at white not­hing in Advent­da­len (it is snowing today).

The race is taking the teams to Kapp Lai­la in Cole­s­buk­ta and tomor­row back along ano­t­her rou­te, a distance of altog­e­ther 75 km, inclu­ding some deman­ding ascents. A tough trip under a com­pe­ti­ti­on, but distance and ter­rain are well wit­hin what trai­ned dog teams regu­lar­ly do.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Over the years, the Trap­pers Trail dog sled race has built up a good repu­ta­ti­on bey­ond Lon­gye­ar­by­en and it is an estab­lis­hed part of the annu­al seri­es of events that attract both locals and visi­tors.

Good and safe trip to all par­ti­ci­pants!

Eas­ter brain­tea­ser: the ans­wer

This year’s Eas­ter brain­tea­ser brought a sur­pri­sing and inte­res­ting result – none of the ans­wers was right. May­be I have unde­re­sti­ma­ted the dif­fi­cul­ty of the ques­ti­on? It loo­ks like it. Even several sea­so­ned col­leagues who should have been the­re 10 times or more have not reco­gni­zed the place.

This is even more sur­pri­sing as the pho­to does not show an unknown bay, but one of Spitsbergen’s most famous pla­ces: Virgo­ham­na on Dans­køya. It was Virgo­ham­na whe­re the Swe­de Salo­mon August Andrée star­ted his tra­gic North Pole voya­ge in 1897, fol­lo­wed by the Ame­ri­can Wal­ter Well­man, who star­ted at the same place in 1906, 1907 and 1909, not get­ting any­whe­re near the pole eit­her, but with an out­co­me less tra­gic.

Becau­se of the histo­ry and the Har­bour seals that can some­ti­mes be seen the­re, Virgo­ham­na is a popu­lar place to visit still today. Alrea­dy the abo­ve-men­tio­ned expe­di­ti­ons attrac­ted curious tou­rists, who came on ships that were ancho­ring in Virgo­ham­na, just stay­ing and wai­t­ing for the expe­di­ti­ons to take off. The old pho­to must have been taken on one of the­se occa­si­ons.

Still … no right ans­wer. The ans­wers sent in are sug­ges­ting Spitsbergen’s real coal har­bours: Bar­ents­burg, Cole­s­buk­ta, Advent­fjord, Pyra­mi­den. This is cer­tain­ly due to the mis­lea­ding cap­ti­on. Virgo­ham­na does not have anything with a coal har­bour to do, the­re is no coal any­whe­re in that area. The news­pa­per redac­tion which used the pho­to did pro­bab­ly not have a more appro­pria­te one, so they used Virgo­ham­na, gues­sing nobo­dy would know the dif­fe­rence. They were obvious­ly right! This is, of cour­se, mean 🙁 but the land­s­cape fea­tures are cha­rac­te­ris­tic, and tho­se who have been the­re should have had a fair chan­ce 😉 or not? The view shown in the lower, recent image is seen every year by hund­reds.

As the­re is no right ans­wer, but an Eas­ter brain­tea­ser without a win­ner would be a rather sad affair, a win­ner was drawn by lot. The pri­ce goes to Tom­my H. in the Nether­lands – congra­tu­la­ti­ons! Tom­my will be con­ta­c­ted.

Whe­re is that? The ans­wer: Virgo­ham­na!

Easter brainteaser: where is that? The answer: Virgohamna

A simi­lar view of Virgo­ham­na on a grey sum­mer day in 2015 (loo­king east from the wes­tern end of the bay).

Virgohamna 2015

No direct flights from Hel­sin­ki to Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Finn­air had announ­ced last year to offer direct flights from Hel­sin­ki to Lon­gye­ar­by­en for 3 mon­ths in sum­mer 2016. The tickets had been for sale for a while alrea­dy, but as it tur­ned out now, the Nor­we­gi­an avia­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty is unab­le to grant per­mis­si­on for the­se flights due to a con­ven­ti­on bet­ween Nor­way and Finn­land from 1978 that regu­la­tes air traf­fic bet­ween the­se two coun­tries. It has later been repla­ced by an agree­ment that regu­la­tes air traf­fic in the who­le Euro­pean Eco­no­mic Area (EEA), but as Sval­bard is not part of the EEA, the older con­ven­ti­on is still in for­ce here. One is left with the impres­si­on that the who­le thing is a bureau­cra­tic slip or a fools day joke if this post had been out a day ear­lier, but it is a fact for the time being.

Finn­air has announ­ced not make use of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to file an offi­cial com­p­laint, which might still have led to a short-term chan­ge of the legal situa­ti­on. The com­pa­ny has rather deci­ded to can­cel the flights and to re-imbur­se cus­to­mers who have alrea­dy bought a ticket.

The tou­rism indus­try in Lon­gye­ar­by­en had alrea­dy been loo­king for­ward to about more 3000 guests during a local­ly other­wi­se rather calm sea­son.

Wel­co­me to Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port: cur­r­ent­ly not for Finn­air.

Longyearbyen airport: Finnair currently not welcome

Source: Highn­orth­news

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