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Monthly Archives: March 2017 − News


Expe­di­ti­on Ark­ti­ka 2.0: French adven­tu­rer Gil­les Elkaim sen­ten­ced to 30,000 crowns fine

They wan­ted to reach the North Pole in Fri­dt­jof Nansen’s foot­prints, but their expe­di­ti­on ended tem­pora­ri­ly on Spits­ber­gen. The French adven­tu­rer Gil­les Elkaim and his wife Ale­xia star­ted their expe­di­ti­on last year in sum­mer in Kirkenes with his sai­ling ves­sel Ark­ti­ka (not to be con­fu­sed with the local boat Arti­ka II from Lon­gye­ar­by­en). A visit of Spits­ber­gen was actual­ly not plan­ned befo­re 2018 – on the way back. Gil­les Elkaim and Ale­xia Elkaim actual­ly wan­ted to win­ter in the ice north of the New Sibe­ri­an Islands, to con­ti­nue the jour­ney to the North Pole with dog sleds.

Bad wea­ther and a dama­ged engi­ne

Rough wea­ther con­di­ti­ons and a dama­ged engi­ne for­ced them in Octo­ber last year to look for pro­tec­tion in the Duve­fjord. The Duve­fjord is strict­ly pro­tec­ted and a per­mit is requi­red in advan­ce for all tra­vels the­re.

Gil­les Elkaim on his boat Ark­ti­ka – Image: Gil­les Elkaim, publis­hed with kind per­mis­si­on

Gilles Elkaim on his boat Arktika

Spitsbergen’s gover­nor -cal­led Sys­sel­man­nen- said that she was only infor­med by refe­rence to Elkaim’s tra­vel blog about the stay of the Ark­ti­ka in the Duve­fjord. Accord­ing to his own state­ment Elkaim had infor­med the aut­ho­ri­ties on Spits­ber­gen in time on Octo­ber 8th 2016, but did not recei­ve any reac­tion. On Octo­ber 19th, the Ark­ti­ka was towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en by Spitsbergen’s aut­ho­ri­ties.

Sin­ce Elkaim did not want to pay a fine of 25,000 crowns, he ended up in front of the court. The Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties even con­fis­ca­ted the pass­ports of Elkaim and his wife so that they could not lea­ve Spits­ber­gen. Elkaim has now been sen­ten­ced to 30,000 crowns (around 3,300 €) by the regio­nal court Nord-Troms.

Word agains word

Accord­ing to court the adven­tu­rer has vio­la­ted several laws. The Ark­ti­ka ancho­red several times bet­ween strict­ly pro­tec­ted islands bet­ween the 24th of August and the 19th of Octo­ber. Elkaim had impor­ted dogs without per­mis­si­on and did also not pro­per­ly regis­ter their jour­ney.

Elkaim, on the other hand, sees hims­elf as a vic­tim of Nor­we­gi­an bureau­cra­cy and com­p­lains that he has not been ade­qua­te­ly lis­tened to in the tri­al. He refers to the UN Con­ven­ti­on on the Law of the Sea, accord­ing to which ships of all coun­tries have the right to cross sea are­as of other coun­tries. The Con­ven­ti­on also says that ships may be ancho­red in excep­tio­nal occur­ren­ces. In fact, the UN Con­ven­ti­on on the Law of the Sea and Nor­we­gi­an envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws are part­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry.

Elkaim does not accept the ver­dict and wants to appeal. He also com­p­lains that the natu­re reser­ve is extre­me­ly pol­lu­t­ed with rub­bish. He told the Nor­we­gi­an sta­te chan­nel NRK on the pho­ne: “I’m not a cri­mi­nal. What is a crime about going ashore and collect gar­ba­ge in an area that Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties should have clea­ned? What is the mea­ning of a natu­re reser­ve whe­re the polar bear feeds from plastic?”

Plastic was­te: Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly no excep­ti­on on Spits­ber­gen – Image: Gil­les Elkaim, publis­hed with kind per­mis­si­on

Plastic waste: Unfortunately no exception on Spitsbergen

Elkaim wants to stay in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ment Bar­ents­burg until sum­mer, whe­re he was kind­ly accep­ted as he said. Then he want to tra­vel fur­ther towards the North Pole. Hope­ful­ly without any engi­ne dama­ge.

Source: NRK, Ark­ti­ka 2.0 on Face­book

Mel­ting ice in the Arc­tic leads to air pol­lu­ti­on in Chi­na

The enor­mous air pol­lu­ti­on in major Chi­ne­se cities could be rela­ted to arc­tic mel­ting sea ice. This sur­pri­sing link bet­ween glo­bal war­ming and air pol­lu­ti­on is the result of a stu­dy, that has now been publis­hed in Sci­ence Advan­ces.

Air pol­lu­ti­on is not­hing new in China’s big cities. Howe­ver, the haze was par­ti­cu­lar­ly bad in Janu­a­ry 2013, whe­re the limit values were excee­ded in almost all major Chi­ne­se cities for four weeks.

Mel­ting sea ice in the Arc­tic and per­sis­tent snow­fall over Sibe­ria led to a chan­ge in air cir­cu­la­ti­on at the end of 2012. The cold air mas­ses moved towards east to Korea and Japan, while in eas­tern Chi­na the air was not moving at all. In Win­ter the­re are usual­ly strong winds in regi­ons such as Bei­jing.

The sci­en­tists are sure that mel­ting ice and hea­vy snow­fall have at least inten­si­fied the haze. They suspect that simi­lar events will hap­pen in the future and that the Olym­pic Win­ter Games in 2022 could also be affec­ted.

Thick haze in Chi­nas big cities

Luftverschmutzung in China

Foto: Erhard Stenz, Crea­ti­ve Com­mons

Quel­len: Malay­si­an Digest, Sci­ence Advan­ces

Here comes the sun!

In the midd­le of Febru­a­ry she shows herself for the first time after the long polar­night. But first on March 8th her rays reach Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which is sur­roun­ded by moun­tains. The return of the sun is cele­bra­ted by the inha­bi­tants of Spits­ber­gen one week with open-air ser­vices, exhi­bi­ti­ons and con­certs. Even the avalan­che warning, which is still valid, can not cast a shadow on this event.

Wai­t­ing for the sun…

Sun celebration 2016

Many popu­lar Nor­we­gi­an musi­ci­ans are com­ing to Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the­se days. The Elek­tro­po Duo Bow To Each Other, the Rap­per OnklP Og De Fje­r­ne Slekt­nin­ge­ne (“Uncle P and the remo­te rela­ti­ves”) and the most nort­hern blues band of the world, the Advent Bay Pool­boys.

The high­light of the week hap­pens on the 8th of March, when ever­y­bo­dy shows up in front of the old hos­pi­tal to wel­co­me the sun tog­e­ther. Child­ren have their necks deco­ra­ted with a yel­low felt sun. When the sun throws its rays onto the sta­ir steps of the buil­ding for the first time, she will be tra­di­tio­nal­ly gree­ted with cheers and sin­ging and her return will be offi­cial­ly decla­red.

Sources: Sval­bard­pos­ten, Solfestuke.no

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