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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Febru­a­ry-impres­si­ons from Spits­ber­gen

Febru­a­ry-impres­si­ons from Spits­ber­gen

Febru­a­ry can be a beau­ti­ful mon­th in Spits­ber­gen. Espe­cial­ly if it is nice and cold and not as bat­te­red by cli­ma­te chan­ge as last year, when warm air incur­si­ons brought several peri­ods of thawing and rain. This year, we have had good frost for most of the time in Febru­a­ry. Cold, clear wea­ther and not too much wind. The sun is still lar­ge­ly behind the hori­zon and hid­den by moun­tains, but the moun­tain tops star­ted glowing a good week ago and we have had the first rays of sunshi­ne on our fro­zen noses! You still have to do a litt­le trip to enjoy that plea­su­re, the sun won’t reach Lon­gye­ar­by­en befo­re 08 March.

Longyearbyen Camping

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Cam­ping is still a quiet place.

The average tem­pe­ra­tu­re in Febru­a­ry was -11.1°C, “only” 5.1 degrees abo­ve the long-term average which is defi­ned as the average from 1961-1990. Five degrees abo­ve a “nor­mal” tem­pe­ra­tu­re that is impos­si­ble to reach now! That is still a lot. Nevertheless, a mon­th­ly average of -11.1°C invol­ves a lot of fine frost. Even the fjord, Advent­fjord, seems to con­si­der free­zing over again, just for a chan­ge. This has not hap­pen­ed in many years. It is unli­kely to hap­pen this year eit­her, but the­re is at least some initi­al ice for­ma­ti­on in pro­tec­ted in-shore cor­ners.

Ice in Adventfjord and sun on the mountains

Ice in Advent­fjord and sun on Hiorthfjel­let and Advent­top­pen.

You still have to make sure you get out around mid-day to catch some direct sun­rays. An after­noon trip does not bring anything but twi­light. Which can of cour­se also be beau­ti­ful, but if you want the see the sun, then this is not the real thing.

With ski and dogs in Adventdalen

Out with ski and dogs: “rope ski­ing” (snø­rek­jø­ring) in Advent­da­len.

Hiorthfjel­let, the cha­rac­te­ris­tic moun­tain oppo­si­te of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, is a very popu­lar place the­se days. Half-way up the slo­pe, the­re is a hut with some lar­ge anten­nas, which is local­ly known as Tele­lin­ken. Per­fect­ly pla­ced on a slo­pe facing south with a fan­tastic view over Advent­fjord and a good place to catch some first sun­rays!

First sun over Adventfjord

First sun over Advent­fjord.

The air tem­pe­ra­tu­re is minus 20 degrees cen­tig­ra­de, but we enjoy the first direct sun­rays on tho­se few squa­re cen­ti­me­tres of expo­sed skin that we have had for some time …

Arctic sun worshipper

Arc­tic sun wor­s­hip­per.

… and the ama­zing light that the low sun brings back to this cold island.

Mountains, Nordenskiöld Land

Sun­ny views of some moun­tain tops in Nor­dens­kiöld Land.

The­re is not yet much wild­life bey­ond tho­se spe­ci­es that spend the win­ter here, arc­tic fox and rein­de­er. Recent­ly, still in dark time, the­re was a com­mon eider near the shore in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. That one has pro­bab­ly spent the win­ter in Advent­fjord, some­thing that is not com­mon but not unhe­ard of eit­her. A kit­ty­wa­ke has been seen some days ago.

Tracks of an arctic fox on Hiorthfjellet

Tracks of an arc­tic fox on Hiorthfjel­let.

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: 2019-03-02 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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