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Monthly Archives: July 2017 − News

Polar row: In a row­boat to Spits­ber­gen

If you want to tra­vel to Spits­ber­gen in an envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly way, perhaps you should join the­se five men: the Nor­we­gi­an Tor Wigum, the Welsh­man Jeff Wil­lis, the Ame­ri­can Car­lo Fac­chi­no, the Indian Roy Tat­ha­ga­ta and the Ice­lan­dic Fiann Paul want to row from Trom­sø to Spits­ber­gen today!

Fiann Paul is the lea­der of this expe­di­ti­on named “Polar Row”. The­re is no doubt about his qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on. He has alrea­dy cros­sed the Atlan­tic Oce­an, the Paci­fic Oce­an and the Indian Oce­an in record time in a rowing boat. Fiann Paul has pre­pa­red the expe­di­ti­on for one year. Sin­ce the oars­men can not expect any help from sea cur­r­ents, they will have to row con­ti­nuous­ly 24 hours a day. In doing so, the team chan­ges with the tasks: Some will row for two hours. During this time, the others may eat, sleep or inspect the boats or their own inju­ries.

It is plan­ned to tra­vel the almost 1000 kilo­me­ters long rou­te in 9 to 13 days. The expe­di­ti­on will arri­ve in Lon­gye­ar­by­en at the latest in the begin­ning of August.

Ple­nty of equip­ment and strong ner­ves

Expe­di­ti­on lea­der Fiann Paul doesn’t worry too much about the phy­si­cal effort or the cold. All par­ti­ci­pants are phy­si­cal­ly and mental­ly very strong, he told the news­pa­per Sval­bard­pos­ten. An accom­pany­ing boat is not inclu­ded, but safe­ty equip­ment such as sur­vi­val suits, res­cue vests, a res­cue boat and a satel­li­te pho­ne. Only if the equip­ment fails or the­re are pro­blems with the boat, it could be dif­fi­cult.

If the expe­di­ti­on suc­ceeds, it should be the first regis­tered rowing tour of this kind. Howe­ver, the­re are sto­ries of peop­le who have tra­v­eled the rou­te bet­ween Trom­sø and Spits­ber­gen (or a part of it) in a rowing boat due to a ship­w­reck.

The Bar­ents Sea, also cal­led the devil’s dance floor, on a sai­ling ship – that is one thing. It is ano­t­her thing on a rowing boat.

Barents Sea

Rowing for a good cau­se

The expe­di­ti­on also pur­su­es two fur­ther goals: the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge will inves­ti­ga­te how the extre­me tour affects the par­ti­ci­pants psy­che. In addi­ti­on, 20,000 Bri­tish pounds (around € 22,600) are to be collec­ted via a crowd­fun­ding plat­form. With this money a school will be built in the Hima­la­y­an regi­on in 2018.

And Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not yet the end of the expe­di­ti­on. After a few days break, they will con­ti­nue to the nort­hern­most city of Ice­land Sig­lufjörður – about 2000 km, also in the rowing boat.

To the expe­di­ti­ons home­page.

Sources: Sval­bard­pos­ten, Polar­row-Home­page

Sval­bard rein­de­er is doing well

The Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te coun­ted 1374 Sval­bard rein­de­er in the Advent­da­len around Lon­gye­ar­by­en this year. Many cal­ves were obser­ved and only a few dead rein­de­er found. This is a trend that has been obser­ved for years: The rein­de­er popu­la­ti­on has been gro­wing slight­ly in this regi­on for years.

Well-fed Sval­bard rein­de­er, an ende­mic sub­s­pe­ci­es of the rein­de­er

Svalbard reindeer

The rein­de­er have been coun­ted sin­ce 1979 on Spits­ber­gen by the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te and the Sys­sel­man­nen – the Gover­nor of Spits­ber­gen. At that time only 457 rein­de­er were coun­ted in Advent­da­len. It is esti­ma­ted that a total of 10.000 to 11.000 rein­de­er live on Spits­ber­gen.

Cli­ma­te chan­ge has variuos effects

Up to now, it has been assu­med that rein­de­er suf­fer from the incre­a­sing rain. In win­ter, the rain forms a lay­er of ice on the ground and the rein­de­er have more dif­fi­cul­ties approa­ching the lichens and gras­ses. Hig­her tem­pe­ra­tures in the autumn seem to com­pen­sa­te for the dete­rio­ra­ti­on in the living con­di­ti­ons for rein­de­er. Last year, high tem­pe­ra­tures in Octo­ber and Novem­ber made it pos­si­ble for the rein­de­er to build fat reser­ves so they could sur­vi­ve the cold win­ter.

The situa­ti­on is a bit dif­fe­rent for rein­de­er north of Spits­ber­gen: on the Brøg­ger­hal­vøya peninsula/ Kongsfjor­den, the stock remains sta­ble. Here, the fjords have remai­ned free of ice in recent years, so that the Rein­de­er can hard­ly migra­te to avoid bad fee­ding con­di­ti­ons.
Glo­bal war­ming could the­re­fo­re have dif­fe­rent effects in the dif­fe­rent cli­ma­te zones on Spits­ber­gen.

Less dead rein­de­er in the Advent­da­len could mean bad news for ano­t­her spe­ci­es: The polar fox feeds from rein­de­er car­cas­ses. Less dead rein­de­er means, he must switch to other food sources.

Some­ti­mes curious: Sval­bard rein­de­er

Svalbard reindeer

More arti­cles about the Sval­bard rein­de­er

Source: Nord­lys, Sval­bard­pos­ten


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