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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Vin­kelstas­jon, neigh­bour rein­de­er and Sci­ence Slam

Vin­kelstas­jon, neigh­bour rein­de­er and Sci­ence Slam

Time is fly­ing, the­re is always some­thing to do. Most­ly stuff that isn’t worth men­tio­ning, but it is real­ly fil­ling the days. Ever­y­day life. Pro­jects. Work.

Yes, and life. Friends. Being out­side.

Being out­side is obvious­ly one main rea­son for living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It will soon be full moon and the sky is most­ly clear. The light is pure magic. The Nor­we­gi­ans have a beau­ti­ful word for that: “trol­sk”. May­be you can use “trol­lish” to trans­la­te it? It is “magi­cal”, but that does not real­ly hit the nail on the head. With “trol­sk”, we don’t asso­cia­te Har­ry Pot­ter but rather some kind of fai­ry­ta­le magic with a slight under­to­ne of dan­ger and gloo­mi­ness. Just like the arc­tic: of breath­ta­king beau­ty, but with a touch of dan­ger lur­king some­whe­re hid­den, often not being visi­ble. Trol­sk.

Most tours do cur­r­ent­ly not go any­whe­re remo­te. That is not the point now. You will find the who­le beau­ty of the polar night in Longyearbyen’s vicini­ty. It is of cour­se always an idea to go some­whe­re without arti­fi­cial light.

Adventdalen in the polar night

Advent­da­len in the polar night.

The­re is, of cour­se, a lot of arti­fi­cial light in and near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Whenever the­re is a nort­hern light you have to go to a sui­ta­ble place for undis­tur­bed obser­va­ti­on and pho­to­gra­phy. A bit of arti­fi­cial light does, of cour­se, not hurt, often it has a charme of its own. Like the Vin­kelstas­jon in Enda­len, which used to be a part of the old coal cable­way. Today, it is illu­mi­na­ted during the polar night, pro­vi­ding a lovely eye­cat­cher in the dark land­s­cape.

Vinkelstation Endalen

The Vin­kelstas­jon in Enda­len used to be a part of the coal cable­way in the past.
Today, it is part of the local histo­ry and, in the dark time, a light instal­la­ti­on.

It is part of the prac­ti­cal aspects of moving around in the dark that high-vis jackets and reflec­tors are stron­gly advi­sed. Other­wi­se, the risk of being hit by a car is signi­fi­cant and one day it will crash.

The rein­de­er don’t know that. They tend to stand just next to the road. And the don’t look left or right befo­re they start cros­sing it.

When you lea­ve the house in the morning and the­re is a rein­de­er next to the ent­ran­ce in the dark, then it can give you a bit of a sud­den weak-up. As soon as you rea­li­se that the big fur­ry ani­mal just in front of you is actual­ly a rein­de­er, it is a bit of a reli­ef which feels qui­te good.

Reindeer, Longyearbyen

Rein­de­er in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The­re is a lot going on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in terms of cul­tu­re, edu­ca­ti­on and sci­ence. In Janu­a­ry, the­re is the Sval­bard­se­mi­nar. Experts of various fiel­ds offer pre­sen­ta­ti­ons to tell the public about their field of know­ledge. The­se pre­sen­ta­ti­ons are usual­ly in Nor­we­gi­an, hence not an attrac­tion for inter­na­tio­nal visi­tors, but if you under­stand Nor­we­gi­an, then they are usual­ly very inte­res­ting.

This week, the­re was a “Sci­ence Slam” sche­du­led. Several sci­en­tists tal­ked about their work and rese­arch results in short lec­tures which were sup­po­sed to be as enter­tai­ning as edu­ca­ti­ve. Ever­ything was allo­wed as long as it is not gene­ral­ly for­bid­den and nobo­dy is har­med. This worked altog­e­ther qui­te well.

SIOS Svalbard, Svalbardseminar, UNIS

SIOS Sval­bard intro­du­cing them­sel­ves in the Sval­bard­se­mi­nar at UNIS.

In the pho­to abo­ve, SIOS Sval­bard (“Sval­bard inte­gra­ted arc­tic earth obser­ving sys­tem”) staff are intro­du­cing their orga­ni­sa­ti­on, the design and pur­po­se of which is hard to grasp in just a few words. SIOS is kind of a meta-sci­en­ti­fic orga­ni­sa­ti­on, try­ing to ensu­re that effi­ci­ent collec­ting and exchan­ge of all sorts of data is working smooth­ly in prac­ti­ce, bey­ond bor­ders of dif­fe­rent natio­na­li­ties, pro­jects and fiel­ds of sci­ence.

And then, the­re is of cour­se Maar­ten Loo­nen, the Dut­ch spe­cia­list for bird migra­ti­on, arc­tic geese and tun­dra. We meet him qui­te regu­lar­ly in Ny-Åle­sund in the sum­mer, whe­re he has been part of the regu­lar out­fit as long as even the oldest ones can remem­ber. In a way that you just can’t imi­ta­te, Maar­ten mana­ges to squee­ze a lot of know­ledge into a few minu­tes that is hard to remem­ber – unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, becau­se it is fasci­na­ting stuff. Just an examp­le: geese have a com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent diges­ti­on sys­tem than rein­de­er. Wha­te­ver a geese puts into herself at the front end will lea­ve her again at the rear end after 1-2 hours. Rein­de­er need much more time for the same pro­cess, but they make use of a much hig­her pro­por­ti­on of the ener­gy and nut­ri­ents stored in the plant mate­ri­al that they take up. Which means that what lea­ves a goose’s butt (my wor­d­ing, not Maarten’s) is still per­fect­ly good food for a rein­de­er. But not always, that depends again on what the goo­se has eaten. And you can actual­ly see it on the colour of the drop­pings. And so on and so forth. I just can’t recall all of it, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly. If you ever have a chan­ce to lis­ten to Maar­ten Loo­nen: go for it!

Maarten Loonen, Svalbardseminar bei UNIS

Maar­ten Loo­nen tal­king about arc­tic migra­ting birds, main­ly geese and their impor­t­ance for the arc­tic tun­dra, in the Sval­bard­se­mi­nar at UNIS.

Final­ly, my cur­rent ceter­um cen­seo: I have made a new pho­to book, focus­sing on aeri­al pho­to­gra­phy and thus showing the Arc­tic from a very unsu­al per­spec­ti­ve. In theo­ry, the book is in Ger­man, but in prac­ti­ce, it does hard­ly have text. 134 out of 137 pages do just have stun­ning pho­tos, pla­ce­n­a­mes and a litt­le map. Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (2) – Aeri­al Arc­tic shows Jan May­en and Sval­bard from the air.

Norwegens arktischer Norden (2) - Aerial Arctic

Rolf’s new pho­to book Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (2) – Aeri­al Arc­tic shows Jan May­en and Spits­ber­gen from a new and stun­ning per­spec­ti­ve.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2019-01-20 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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