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Monthly Archives: June 2017 − News

Less mer­cu­ry in polar bears – due to cli­ma­te chan­ge?

If sea ice is gra­du­al­ly with­drawing as a result of cli­ma­te chan­ge, the level of mer­cu­ry in polar bears could decre­a­se.

Healt­hi­er food on land thand on ice: Polar bear

Healthier food on land thand on ice: Polar bear

In an US-Ame­ri­can stu­dy, hair sam­ples of polar bears were inves­ti­ga­ted in the Beau­fort Sea north of Alas­ka from 2004 to 2011. The result: In male ani­mals, the levels of mer­cu­ry decli­ned by about 13% per year, but not in fema­les. This is pro­bab­ly due to dif­fe­rent fora­ging habits of the sexes. Fema­le polar bears cha­se main­ly rin­ged seals from the ice, which in turn feed on mer­cu­ry-con­ta­mi­na­ted fish. Male polar bears also feed from land on bear­ded seals and stran­ded bowhead wha­les, which are only slight­ly con­ta­mi­na­ted with mer­cu­ry.

If the ice in the polar regi­ons is now more and more decli­ning due to cli­ma­te chan­ge, polar bears could incre­a­singly shift their fora­ging habits to prey which can be found on land, e.g. stran­ded bowhead wha­les.

Accord­ing to the stu­dy, the lower con­cen­tra­ti­on of mer­cu­ry in the polar bears is not a con­se­quence of a redu­ced mer­cu­ry con­cen­tra­ti­on in the envi­ron­ment.

Source: ACS Publi­ca­ti­ons

Evacua­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en ended after four mon­ths

In mid-Febru­a­ry, an avalan­che from the moun­tain Suk­ker­top­pen hit houses in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and des­troy­ed two buil­dings. 92 house­holds were evacua­ted. The last inha­bi­tants in way 226 could now return to their houses on the wee­kend.

Whe­ther and for how long they can stay in their homes is still com­ple­te­ly unclear. Exten­si­ve secu­ri­ty mea­su­res are plan­ned to pro­tect the houses from avalan­ches. Howe­ver, several houses in the avalan­che area may have to be demo­lis­hed. Pro­bab­ly the resi­dents in way 226 can only use their houses during the sum­mer.

Place whe­re the avalan­che acci­dent occu­red

Lawinenunglück 21.02.2017

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Old ammu­ni­ti­on found in polar bears bodies

An auto­psy reve­a­led shot­gun ammu­ni­ti­on in the fat tis­sue of the bodies of two polar bears. One, a fema­le with a cub, was shot in June 2016 in Aus­t­fj­ord­nes. Only two mon­ths later a Rus­si­an rese­ar­cher shot ano­t­her fema­le polar bear in For­lan­det.

Polar­be­ar with cub

Polarbear with cub

The shot was encap­su­la­ted in the fat and fle­sh of the bears in both ani­mals, which means it must have hit them well befo­re they were kil­led in 2016. Ammu­ni­ti­on was found in several pla­ces of the bodies. Knut Fos­sum, envi­ron­men­tal direc­tor for the Sys­sel­man­nen (Gover­nor of Spits­ber­gen), pre­su­mes that the shots were fired from a rela­tively short distance. Pro­bab­ly someo­ne wan­ted to sca­re away the polar bears with pel­lets, but hit them. Shot is unli­kely to hurt a polar bear serious­ly, but serious inju­ry may occur if, for examp­le, a joint or an eye is hit. Vete­ri­na­ri­ans refer to the case of a rein­de­er that was kil­led with an air­gun. Addi­tio­nal­ly, even smal­ler inju­ries may lead to pain and inflamma­ti­on.

Polar bears are strict­ly pro­tec­ted on Spits­ber­gen, inju­ring them or kil­ling them will be punis­hed. Shoo­ting at a bear with shot­guns to sca­re it away is both unsui­ta­ble and ille­gal.

How long the polar bears alrea­dy car­ri­ed the ammu­n­ii­on in their bodies and whe­ther they suf­fe­red from pain, is not cer­tain.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Floo­ding of Glo­bal Seed Vault attracts inter­na­tio­nal media – eight mon­th after!

Inter­na­tio­nal media repor­ted for several weeks about a lecka­ge in the Glo­bal Seed Vault, whe­re seeds of all coun­tries are stored for thousands of years.

Glo­bal Seed Vault – Seeds for genera­ti­ons?

Global Seed Vault

The floo­ding actual­ly hap­pen­ed – but alrea­dy in Octo­ber 2016! An arti­cle in the Nor­we­gi­an news­pa­per Dag­b­la­det in May 2017 men­tio­ned the leaka­ge with cor­rect date. But on 19th May 2017 an inat­ten­ti­ve jour­na­list of “The Guar­di­an” made a cur­rent mes­sa­ge out of that arti­cle. High tem­pe­ra­tures in com­bi­na­ti­on with weeks of rai­ny wea­ther were men­tio­ned, which final­ly led to a flood in the ent­ran­ce area of the Glo­bal Seed Vault. Ever­ything cor­rect, just more than half a year ago.

A mes­sa­ge, but no news

Even the big media houses Reu­ters and Vox jum­ped on the band­wa­gon, appar­ent­ly without che­cking the source. A pho­ne call to Hege Njaa Aschim would have been enough to cla­ri­fy the misun­derstan­ding. Aschim is press offi­cer of Stats­by­gg, a sta­te-run com­pa­ny who mana­ges and main­tains the Glo­bal Seed Vault. But after all, nume­rous other news­pa­pers, radio and TV sta­ti­ons wan­ted to know more pre­cise­ly: Hund­reds of press requests reached Aschim in one week! She could cor­rect, that it was a real mes­sa­ge, but not real­ly news.

Decep­ti­ve secu­ri­ty?

The fact that the Glo­bal Seed Vault, which has actual­ly been con­struc­ted for eter­ni­ty, must alrea­dy be repai­red after less than ten years, seems almost less important now. The actu­al camp, which now con­tains near­ly one mil­li­on seed packets from 73 insti­tu­tes and gene banks, was not affec­ted by the water. Howe­ver, a trans­for­mer was des­troy­ed and the fire bri­ga­de had to pump the tun­nel, which leads 100 meters down to the actu­al camp.

Deeply locked in in the per­ma­frost, the Glo­bal Seed Vault was belie­ved to be safe from floo­ding. Now inves­ti­ga­ti­ons are to be made as to how the camp can be secu­red against warm peri­ods. 37 mil­li­on crowns (ca. 3,8 mil­li­on Euros) will be pro­vi­ded for that.

Source: Dagens Nærings­liv


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