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Yearly Archives: 2016 − News


Old coal mines clo­sed

Coal mining has always been an important part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, though of decre­a­sing impor­t­ance today. The signi­fi­can­ce of coal mining is immedia­te­ly visi­ble for every visi­tor to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, as old coal mines can be seen in many pla­ces near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Some of the­se old mines, such as mine 2B abo­ve Nyby­en, local­ly known as julenis­se­gruve (San­ta Claus mine), are popu­lar sites for walks both for locals and visi­tors. The old mining instal­la­ti­ons are inte­res­ting, often with sce­nic views, and fasci­na­ting for pho­to­graph­ers.

The oppor­tu­nities have recent­ly been great­ly redu­ced. Parts of the roof of a con­veyor belt of mine 6 in Advent­da­len have col­lap­sed and the who­le mining faci­li­ty at mine 6 has been clo­sed to the public.
It is said that it will be made acces­si­ble again after dan­ge­rous parts have been remo­ved or secu­red. Lar­ge parts are still inta­ct. But the­re is cur­r­ent­ly no time plan and nobo­dy can say when the mine will be ope­ned again for visi­tors. The dif­fi­cult eco­no­mic situa­ti­on of the mining com­pa­ny, Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni, does not make it easier. At least ever­y­bo­dy invol­ved is awa­re of the high his­to­ri­cal and tou­ris­tic value of the old mining instal­la­ti­ons, which are part­ly pro­tec­ted as part of the cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge. This means that several aut­ho­ri­ties have to be invol­ved in any work to clean up or secu­re the mines, some­thing that is unli­kely to speed up the pro­cess.

Cur­r­ent­ly, mine 1A (“Ame­ri­can mine”, abo­ve the church), 2B (“San­ta Claus mine”, abo­ve Nyby­en), 5 (Enda­len) and 6 (bet­ween Toda­len and Bol­terda­len) are clo­sed until fur­ther noti­ce.

At least, mine 3 is cur­r­ent­ly acces­si­ble as a muse­um for gui­ded groups.

Mine 2B (“San­ta Claus mine”) near Lon­gye­ar­by­en is amongst the old mines which are now clo­sed for visi­tors.

Mine 2B, Longyearbyen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Polar bear shot on Prins Karls For­land

The seri­es of sad news about dead­ly encoun­ters bet­ween polar bears and humans in Spits­ber­gen does not stop: on August 09, a polar bear was shot in the bay Sel­vå­gen on Prins Karls For­land on Spitsbergen’s west coast.

The polar bear was a young fema­le, 2 years old, weig­hing 155 kg.

Sin­ce August 01, 6 Rus­si­an sci­en­tists were based in a camp in Sel­vå­gen. As far as known, the polar bear was for the first time in the vicini­ty of the camp on August 09. As she was in a distance of 130 metres (yes: one hund­red and thir­ty metres!), one of the sci­en­tists fired a warning shot from a fla­re gun. Immedia­te­ly the­re­af­ter, ano­t­her fired two sharp shots from a rif­le. At least one of the­se shots must have hit the polar bear on a distance of 130 m.

The woun­ded ani­mal went into the water whe­re she died soon. The Rus­si­ans towed her to the shore with a rope.

This hap­pen­ed around 10 p.m. The Sys­sel­man­nen was infor­med about 12 hours later. The law requi­res to inform the aut­ho­ri­ties as soon as pos­si­ble in such a case.

Once local inves­ti­ga­ti­ons are com­ple­ted, the case will be for­war­ded the the federal pro­se­cu­tor in Troms og Finn­mark (north Nor­way).

Fur­ther details have not yet been publis­hed, but the distance of 130 m and the short time bet­ween the warning shot and the sharp shots may indi­ca­te that no serious attempt was made to sca­re the bear away and save her life.

The bay Sel­vå­gen a few days befo­re the polar bear was shot on August 09.

Spitsbergen: Selvågen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Polar bear fami­ly shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set: shoo­ter gets fine

The case of the polar bear fami­ly shot in June at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set has been mat­ter of this blog in two pre­vious arti­cles (click here for the first one and here for the second one).

The ver­dict of the public pro­se­cu­tor in Trom­sø has now been publis­hed. The shoo­ter has got a fine of 20,000.00 NOK (just abo­ve 2100 Euro) becau­se of negli­gence (“uakt­som­het”). The man has accep­ted the fine, the ver­dict is accord­in­gly in for­ce.

Polar bear fami­ly shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set – Cour­se of action

The polar bear mother and her cub had been around the hut alrea­dy for a while, when the shoo­ter wan­ted to sca­re her away with a rub­ber bul­let. The the wea­pon, pro­bab­ly a pump-action shot­gun, was loa­ded with a mix­tu­re of sharp ammu­ni­ti­on and rub­ber bul­lets. The shoo­ter did not know exact­ly how the wea­pon was loa­ded and fired a sharp car­tridge rather than a rub­ber bul­let, kil­ling the polar bear mother ins­tead of sca­ring her away with a harm­less hit.

The­re was no acu­te dan­ger to human life during the situa­ti­on, as the shoo­ter was on the roof of the cabin and the second per­son insi­de.

Both trap­pers are back on Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set and will con­ti­nue their win­te­ring. A few days ago, ano­t­her polar bear that could not be sca­red away from the sta­ti­on area had been tran­qui­li­zed and flown out to Nord­aus­t­land by the aut­ho­ri­ties.

Polar bear fami­ly at Nor­dens­kiöld­breen (archi­ve image, Sep­tem­ber 2012).

Spitsbergen: polar bear family

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Fema­le polar bear and cub shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set: case goes to Trom­sø

The sad shoo­ting of a mother polar bear and her first year cub has been the mat­ter of the last news pos­ting on this web­site. A trap­per wan­ted to sca­re the polar bear away with a rub­ber bul­let, but by mista­ke he took a sharp car­tridge and fired a let­hal shot at the bear. The cub was later on the same day shot by the poli­ce, as it did not have a chan­ce for sur­vi­val on its own in the arc­tic wil­der­ness.

Now the aut­ho­ri­ties in Lon­gye­ar­by­en have deci­ded that the case will not be nego­tia­ted local­ly wit­hin the insti­tu­ti­on of the Sys­sel­man­nen, which would be the nor­mal pro­ce­du­re. Ins­tead, the case will be for­war­ded to the public pro­se­cu­tor in Trom­sø. It was said that this is becau­se of the lar­ge public inte­rest in the case. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the trap­pers are using a hut owned by the Sys­sel­man­nen. It may be that the Sys­sel­man­nen wants to pre­vent any cri­ti­cism of being pre­ju­di­ced at an ear­ly sta­ge.

The hut at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set in Wij­defjord was ori­gi­nal­ly built pri­va­te­ly as a trap­pers hut but has now been sta­te pro­per­ty for a num­ber of years. Out of the many huts owned by the Sys­sel­man­nen, this is the only one which is lent to pri­va­te per­sons who want to live the­re for a year as trap­pers. The pur­po­se is to keep the tra­di­ti­on ali­ve. It is a con­di­ti­on that the trap­pers have to hunt actively, which does of cour­se not inclu­de polar bears. The­se are strict­ly pro­tec­ted. Spe­ci­es that are hun­ted inclu­de main­ly rein­de­er, polar fox, ptar­mi­gan and seals.

Polar bear fami­ly at Nor­dens­kiöld­breen (archi­ve image from sep­tem­ber 2012).

Spitsbergen: polar bear family

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

Fema­le polar bear and cub shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set

A fema­le polar bear and her first year cub were shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set (inner Wij­defjord) in Spits­ber­gen on June 13 (during the sea­son, news are updated with delays. The focus is cur­r­ent­ly on the tra­vel blog). Two per­sons are cur­r­ent­ly living at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set to win­ter the­re as trap­pers.

The bear had been in the vicini­ty of the hut for a while, pro­bab­ly becau­se of nests of Com­mon eiders in that area. It is com­mon that polar bears eat eggs and chicks of tun­dra bree­ders during the bree­ding sea­son. It is, howe­ver, uncom­mon that a mother bear with a cub comes clo­se to human pre­sence.

One of the two inha­bi­tants of the hut was insi­de, the other one was on the roof to sca­re the bear away with warning shots. While doing so, it came to a fatal mista­ke: rather than with a rub­ber bul­let as inten­ded to sca­re the fema­le polar bear away without inju­ry, the shoo­ter loa­ded his gun with sharp shot. This pro­ved to be let­hal on a distance of 8.5 metres.

On advice by a polar bear spe­cia­list of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, the poli­ce shot the cub on loca­ti­on the same day. The cub, being about 6 mon­ths old, did not have a chan­ce for sur­vi­val on its own.

As all cases of polar bears kil­led, the inci­dent is now mat­ter of legal inves­ti­ga­ti­on at the Sysselmannen’s office in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Polar bears are com­ple­te­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen. Only in cases of self defence, a kill is exempt from punish­ment.

The two trap­pers, Nor­we­gi­ans 28 and 29 years old who had stu­di­ed at UNIS and worked as gui­des in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, retur­ned to Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set after poli­ce ques­tio­ning in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The case of the group of ski tou­rists from Fin­land, who had inju­red a polar bear at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken north on Spits­ber­gen which then had to be shot by the poli­ce, has been clo­sed mean­while. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, it was not a cri­mi­nal act.

Pho­to

Hap­py litt­le polar bear fami­ly in Kongfjord. The mother is chewing on remains of a dead wal­rus, while her first year cub is play­ing with a pie­ce of drift­wood. Nor­mal­ly, fema­le polar bears with off­spring stay away from human pre­sence. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the­re are excep­ti­ons to this rule.

Polar bear family, Spitsbergen

Sources: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

Sval­bard­mel­ding: new Nor­we­gi­an white paper for Spits­ber­gen-poli­tics

The Nor­we­gi­an government publis­hes a stra­te­gy paper to defi­ne a frame­work for Spits­ber­gen-rela­ted poli­tics every cou­p­le of years. The last one came in 2009 and the new one had been announ­ced a while ago. Local play­ers were eager­ly wai­t­ing for it, hoping for new and posi­ti­ve impacts for the local deve­lo­p­ment espe­cial­ly in times whe­re one of the major local eco­no­mic dri­ving for­ces, the coal mining indus­try, is lar­ge­ly col­lap­sing.

Now it is the­re, the new Sval­bard white paper was publis­hed this week and it is now wide­ly dis­cus­sed in regio­nal media.

Most com­men­ta­tors are disap­poin­ted, all in all. The new Sval­bard­mel­ding is a descrip­ti­on of obvious deve­lo­p­ments rather than a packa­ge of impul­ses to dri­ve future deve­lo­p­ment. Comments are quick­ly drif­ting into the details of local eco­no­mic poli­cy, and may­be that is what is new about it: eco­no­my is more important than it was in the 2009 paper. But it is no news that coal mining is of decre­a­sing impor­t­ance. More year-round full time jobs are to be crea­ted, pre­fer­a­b­ly in the pri­va­te sec­tor, but public insti­tu­ti­ons may just as well incre­a­se their local pre­sence. The future fate of the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske remains unclear, and so does the ans­wer to the ques­ti­on who will fill the gap that Store Nor­ske has left in Longyearbyen’s eco­no­my as a major indus­tri­al actor. Local ide­as to deve­lo­p­ment Longyearbyen’s indus­try as a fishe­ry port are not taken much fur­ther by the new Sval­bard­mel­ding. The­se are amongst the ques­ti­ons that locals want to have ans­we­red.

Neit­her is the­re much cla­ri­ty about flight traf­fic. Due to his­to­ri­cal con­tracts and Spitsbergen’s spe­cial poli­ti­cal situa­ti­on, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is cur­r­ent­ly not open as desti­na­ti­on for sche­du­led flights from non-Nor­we­gi­an air­ports. Recent­ly, Finn­air has can­cel­led flights alrea­dy sche­du­led and in sale for this sum­mer, much to the reg­ret of the local tou­rism indus­try.

Ano­t­her important issue is local power sup­ply. It is not a secret that the coal power plant, ori­gi­nal­ly built in 1983, is not going to last fore­ver. The ques­ti­on of the future electri­ci­ty sup­ply is going bey­ond the tech­ni­ca­li­ties of how power is get­ting into sockets in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: the visi­on of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, a small and electri­cal­ly iso­la­ted com­mu­ni­ty, as a labo­ra­to­ry for tech­no­lo­gy for the ener­gy sup­ply of the future, has been dis­cus­sed for qui­te a while alrea­dy. A cle­ver rea­liz­a­ti­on of this visi­on might crea­te know­ledge of glo­bal impor­t­ance and local jobs. The new Spits­ber­gen white­pa­per does not make much of a con­tri­bu­ti­on to the­se ide­as. Important impul­ses for the­se deve­lo­p­ments are not expec­ted from the new paper.

The only con­cre­te task that is heral­ded by the Sval­bard­mel­ding is 10 mil­li­on NOK (cur­r­ent­ly just abo­ve 1 mil­li­on Euro) for new accom­mo­da­ti­on, also as a reac­tion to the loss of 11 houses during the avalan­che in Decem­ber 2015.

The new Spits­ber­gen white paper (Sval­bard­mel­ding) does not bring any sur­pri­ses or major unex­pec­ted impul­ses to the local deve­lo­p­ment.

Longyearbyen: New Svalbardmelding (Spitsbergen white paper)

Sources: amongst others. highnorthnews.com, Sval­bard­pos­ten, regjeringen.no.

Jan May­en 2016: one seat avail­ab­le

One fle­xi­ble and deter­mi­ned expe­di­tio­ner can join us in June 2016 on our expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en on short noti­ce – one seat has beco­me avail­ab­le again due to a can­cel­la­ti­on. This is your chan­ce to join us on 13th June 2016 in Ísaf­jörður, when we set sail for Jan May­en to spend an exci­ting (rough­ly) 6 days the­re, poten­ti­al­ly inclu­ding the opti­on to climb Bee­ren­berg or to hike all over the island, as far as you can and want to.

For more infor­ma­ti­on about this ama­zing as well as deman­ding trip, click here or get in touch.

Click here for some pho­tos and pan­ora­mas from Jan May­en. The­re is also a link to the web­cam of the Nor­we­gi­an sta­ti­on on Jan May­en.

Jan May­en: view to Bee­ren­berg. One per­son can join us again in June 2016 on our sai­ling, hiking and clim­bing expe­di­ti­on to Jan May­en.

Expedition Jan Mayen 2016: one seat available

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

Ear­th­qua­ke in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The­re was an ear­th­qua­ke yes­ter­day (Tues­day, 29th March) in Spits­ber­gen that was clear­ly felt in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. At 1231 hours, houses were shaken and a loud rum­ble was heard and felt. Some thought of an avalan­che or a small avalan­che from the roof of their house. In some cases, fur­ni­tu­re moved up to 30 cm and pla­tes were chat­te­ring in shel­ves and on tables.

Many peop­le were initi­al­ly afraid, which is under­stand­a­ble con­si­de­ring that Lon­gye­ar­by­en has felt the dest­ruc­ti­ve powers of natu­re qui­te recent­ly during the avalan­che befo­re Christ­mas. Peop­le in the admi­nis­tra­ti­on buil­ding (Nærings­by­g­get), oppo­si­te the post office, spon­ta­ne­ous­ly deci­ded to evacua­te for some minu­tes. The ear­th­qua­ke was also clear­ly felt in Bar­ents­burg. No dama­ge occur­red any­whe­re as far as known.

The epi­cent­re is in Storfjord, west of Edgeøya. The hypo­cent­re (epi­cent­re with fixed ver­ti­cal posi­ti­on) is assu­med to be at 10 km depth. The ear­th­qua­ke reached 5.3 on Richter’s sca­le, making it strong enough to poten­ti­al­ly cau­se dama­ge, but far from the dest­ruc­ti­ve for­ce that turns cities into ashes or cau­ses Tsu­na­mis else­whe­re in the world.

The­re are acti­ve faults (lar­ge cracks in the crust) in Storfjord which are fre­quent­ly causing ear­th­qua­kes. Recent ones were noti­ced in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014, the stron­gest one being the one from Febru­a­ry 2008, which reached a remar­kab­le 6.2 on Richter’s sca­le. In addi­ti­on comes a lar­ge num­ber of ear­th­qua­kes that is recor­ded by seis­mic instru­ments, but not noti­ced in public.

This is what the ear­th­qua­ke on Tues­day loo­ked like. (Serious­ly: this is of cour­se a fake image, com­po­sed of several frames taken out of one pho­to.)

Earthquake Longyearbyen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

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