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Yearly Archives: 2020 − News & Stories


Polar bear shot at Lon­gye­ar­by­en cam­ping in August: pro­cee­dings clo­sed

The out­co­me did not come as a sur­pri­se: the case against a man who shot a polar bear on Lon­gye­ar­by­en cam­ping in the ear­ly morning of 28 August, when a man died after being atta­cked by the bear, is now clo­sed, no char­ge will be brought up. It was, evi­dent­ly, a case of defence of ano­t­her per­son. The bear had ent­e­red the camp­si­te area in the morning of 28 August, when tho­se few per­sons who were the­re were all slee­ping, so initi­al­ly nobo­dy noti­ced the bear. The polar bear then atta­cked Johan “Job” J. Koot­te from the Nether­lands while he was slee­ping in his tent. Ano­t­her per­son who had been slee­ping ano­t­her tent had access to a wea­pon and fired a shot against the bear, who then moved away.

The bear was later found dead on the par­king place next to the near­by air­port.

Longyearbyen camping

The site of the tra­gic events of 28 August 2020: Lon­gye­ar­by­en cam­ping (archi­ve image).

When a polar bear is kil­led, a case is always and auto­ma­ti­cal­ly ope­ned becau­se the spe­ci­es is strict­ly pro­tec­ted in Sval­bard. Now the Sys­sel­man­nen infor­med that the case is offi­cial­ly clo­sed: it was a case of defence of a third per­son – the shot was fired in an attempt to save someone’s life – and thus legal.

Tra­gi­cal­ly, the attempt to save Kootte’s life was not suc­cess­ful. He died from his inju­ries befo­re he reached the hos­pi­tal.

Ano­t­her case is still open. This con­cerns the ques­ti­on wether Lon­gye­ar­by­en cam­ping, whe­re Koot­te was employ­ed during the sea­son, should have taken other secu­ri­ty mea­su­res, with respect to the Nor­we­gi­an labour pro­tec­tion law (arbei­ds­mil­jøl­ov).

Nort­hern news: bank and bat­te­ries

The polar night is usual­ly not a time of big news from the north, and the cur­rent dark sea­son fol­lows that tra­di­ti­on – for­tu­n­a­te­ly, as news have too often not been good ones this year. A polar bear that was seen in Advent­da­len did not bother to come clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which is good. The­re is, so far, no avalan­che risk rele­vant for the sett­le­ment, which is also good. In pre­vious win­ters, avalan­che warnings have led to evacua­tions of parts of Lon­gye­ar­by­en over weeks or even mon­ths.

But that does altog­e­ther not mean that not­hing hap­pens at all. A lot hap­pens behind the sce­ne to fight the eco­no­mi­c­al con­se­quen­ces of the coro­na cri­sis, which have hit Lon­gye­ar­by­en hard, even though the­re has not been any con­fir­med infec­tion in Spits­ber­gen so far.

A bat­te­ry for Lon­gye­ar­by­en

This is some­thing that pro­bab­ly ever­y­bo­dy can agree on: the coal power plant, built in 1982, is a stone-age kind of power solu­ti­on for Lon­gye­ar­by­en, an other­wi­se rather modern place. But it is a mat­ter of hot deba­te what kind of ener­gy sup­ply Lon­gye­ar­by­en may have in the future.

But one thing appears to be cer­tain: any ener­gy sup­ply that invol­ves rene­wa­bles will requi­re some kind of ener­gy sto­rage sys­tem. Important steps have now been made in this direc­tion, as Sval­bard­pos­ten reports: the muni­ci­pa­li­ty (Lokals­ty­re) has deci­ded to dedi­ca­te 40 mil­li­on kro­ner in the bud­get for 2021 to a bat­te­ry park next to the power plant. The sta­te com­pa­ny Eno­va is sup­po­sed to cover the rest of the cos­ts which are esti­ma­ted at 60 mil­li­on kro­ner in total.

The bat­te­ry park is expec­ted to also make today’s ener­gy sup­ply che­a­per, more reli­able and to redu­ce green­house gas emis­si­ons signi­fi­cant­ly when ener­gy peaks can be buf­fe­red by the bat­te­ry rather than by the coal power plant its­elf.

Coal power plant Longyearbyen

Today’s coal power plant in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: not exact­ly an up-to-date ener­gy solu­ti­on.

The bank doesn’t always win

It is usual­ly the bank that wins in the end, but not always. SpareBan­ken Nordnor­ge deci­ded ear­lier this year to clo­se their branch office in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which is – was – Spitsbergen’s only bank. Not sur­pri­sin­gly, this decisi­on has been met with strong cri­ti­zism local­ly. Many bank ser­vices are avail­ab­le only, but many ques­ti­ons remain open, inclu­ding important ones for which cli­ents often pre­fer to meet someo­ne in their bank in per­son. And ano­t­her poten­ti­al pro­blem, a bit more Lon­gye­ar­by­en-spe­ci­fic, is the ques­ti­on of the many non-Nor­we­gi­an locals who need to iden­ti­fy them­sel­ves for cer­tain tran­sac­tions. The­re is the idea that the post office may pro­vi­de this ser­vice in the future.

And yet ano­t­her ques­ti­on, also rele­vant for tou­rists, is cash. Spitsbergen’s one and only ATM has been out of ser­vice for a long time alrea­dy, becau­se of pro­blems with the cash sup­ply. It is not yet clear what the solu­ti­on might be. Various paying methods without cash are wide­ly used in Nor­way inclu­ding Lon­gye­ar­by­en the­se days, but many still want some cash in the wal­let and it is still legal ten­der, sup­po­sed to be avail­ab­le any­whe­re in the coun­try.

Any­way, the bank clo­sed for good on 18 Decem­ber des­pi­te of local pro­test. The staff was offe­red a warm fare­well by local choirs, and cele­bra­ti­ons are said to have ended in the popu­lar Karls­ber­ger Puben just oppo­si­te the road.

The Arc­tic Wed­nes­day: polar online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons

Our plan B, ori­gi­nal­ly kind of an emer­gen­cy solu­ti­on to replace the can­cel­led live dates in Novem­ber and Decem­ber, tur­ned out to be ama­zin­gly suc­cess­ful, to our gre­at sur­pri­se. So we, Bir­git Lutz and Rolf Stan­ge, have now sche­du­led the “Arc­tic Wed­nes­day”: a seri­es of online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons whe­re we can pick up selec­ted topics. Let’s tra­vel tog­e­ther online to the beau­ti­ful, cold ends of the world! We will start on 13 Janu­a­ry with a seri­es of six dates, every Wed­nes­day for six weeks. Bir­git and I have selec­ted a ran­ge of topics ran­ging from adven­ture and tra­vel through histo­ry to envi­ron­ment, which we hope you will enjoy.

The Arctic Wednesday: polar online presentations

The Arc­tic Wed­nes­day: polar online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons with Bir­git Lutz and Rolf Stan­ge.

The pre­sen­ta­ti­ons will be in Ger­man. I know the­re are a lot of Ger­man-spea­king visi­tors to the Eng­lish site, for examp­le from the Nether­lands – this is why I inclu­de this brief note here in Eng­lish. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on, plea­se refer to the Ger­man ver­si­on of this page (chan­ge lan­guage by cli­cking on the flagg sym­bol on top of this page).

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Sys­sel­man­nen beco­mes Sys­sel­mes­ter

The Sys­sel­man­nen is the hig­hest repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an government in Spits­ber­gen. Cur­r­ent­ly, Kjers­tin Askholt holds this posi­ti­on as the second woman in histo­ry. The posi­ti­on is cal­led Sys­sel­man­nen no mat­ter if a woman or a man is in office.

Accord­ing to new Nor­we­gi­an law, all offi­cial names for govern­men­tal insti­tu­ti­ons will have to be gen­der-neu­tral as of next year. This tur­ned out to be a bit of a chal­len­ge regar­ding the Sys­sel­man­nen. Ide­as dis­cus­sed in public inclu­ded fun­ny words such as Sys­selshe­riff or Sys­sel­høv­ding (-chief), but not­hing real­ly use­ful.

Sysselmann becomes Sysselmester

Sys­sel­mann beco­mes Sys­sel­mes­ter in 2021.

Now a descisi­on has been made: Sys­sel­man­nen will be chan­ged to Sys­sel­mes­ter. All invol­ved appe­ar to be hap­py with this solu­ti­on. The Sys­sel­man­nen is also poli­ce chief or, in Nor­we­gi­an, poli­ti­mes­ter (poli­ce mas­ter), some­thing goes well along with the new desi­gna­ti­on.

From 01 July 2021, the Sys­sel­man­nen will be histo­ry and Oslo’s hig­hest repre­sen­ta­ti­ve in Sval­bard will be the Sys­sel­mes­ter from then on. A lot of work still needs to be done until the old desi­gna­ti­on has disap­peared from all offi­cial logos on paper, on means of trans­port, of which the Sysselmannen/Sysselmester has an ama­zing amount, and else­whe­re.

Even that: Spits­ber­gen screen­saver

How cool is that: an arc­tic screen­saver! The next-best thing after actual­ly being the­re is having the Arc­tic on the screen. Get the Spits­ber­gen screen­saver now! The pro­duct descrip­ti­on is Ger­man, but the screen­saver does not inlcu­de any lan­guage bey­ond pla­ce­n­a­mes, so it doesn’t mat­ter as soon as you have got it in the screen.

The screen­saver inclu­des 133 stun­ning images of the arc­tic sce­ne­ry of Jan May­en and Spits­ber­gen, taken from a fasci­na­ting aeri­al per­spec­ti­ve. The selec­tion is based on the pho­tos fea­tured in the pho­to book Aeri­al Arc­tic.

Spitsbergen screensaver

Arc­tic online: the Spits­ber­gen screen­saver.

Click here for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on about the arc­tic screen­saver – it has never been so good to hang out in front of the screen!

Spitsbergen screensaver

133 fasci­na­ting aeri­al images of Jan May­en and Spits­ber­gen.

The bad news is: the screen­saver is for PC com­pu­ters only. It won’t work on other ope­ra­ting sys­tems such as Apple etc.

Online pre­sen­ta­ti­on: Spits­ber­gen – Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den

The live pre­sen­ta­ti­ons that I had sche­du­led didn’t work this year, so let’s go online! We will meet on the inter­net and tra­vel Spits­ber­gen through the arc­tic sea­sons, from the polar light to the mid­ni­ght sun.

The first date, Wed­nes­day, 9 Decem­ber, is almost ful­ly boo­ked, so the­re will be a second date on Tues­day, 22 Decem­ber.

This pre­sen­ta­ti­on will be in Ger­man, but I know the­re are a lot of Ger­man spea­king visi­tors also on the Eng­lish site here, hence the offer also here on the Eng­lish web­site – if you under­stand some Ger­man, plea­se don’t hesi­ta­te to join me on Wed­nes­day!

Spitzbergen - Norwegens arktischer Norden

Spitz­ber­gen – Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den: impres­si­ons from the arc­tic sea­sons, from the polar night to the mid­ni­ght sun.

For fur­ther details, plea­se chan­ge to Ger­man at the top of the page or visit my online shop by cli­cking here to buy tickets.

Pho­to prints with Spits­ber­gen drift­wood frames

Still mis­sing a real­ly beau­ti­ful Christ­mas pre­sent for yourself or a beloved one? Here comes the solu­ti­on for all arc­tic enthu­si­asts – no, not for all of them, just for four lucky ones, becau­se each of the­se four high qua­li­ty prints comes in exclu­si­ve sin­gle edi­ti­on. Just once, no more.

So final­ly I have done what I had initi­al­ly on my mind when I star­ted with the idea of the pic­tu­re frames made from real Spits­ber­gen drift­wood. Initi­al­ly, the idea was about my pic­tures. I wan­ted them to get good … well … frame con­di­ti­ons. This worked so well that the frames somehow took of with a life on their own, without the pic­tures.

Now I have got four pho­to­gra­phic high­lights, selec­ted amongst ten thousands, many of which would easi­ly have deser­ved the same honour. But the­re is now just four and no more. Two images show polar bears – the­re was just no way around the king of the Arc­tic – and two fea­ture Spitsbergen’s stun­ning gla­cier land­s­capes in the ama­zing light of the arc­tic win­ter.

Here they are. Four images, four pic­tures, four frames. Exact­ly one ori­gi­nal of each one. No copies.

The colours of the prints come out much bet­ter than on the pho­tos here that show the prints tog­e­ther with the frames.

Gla­cier front on Spitsbergen’s east coast: Heu­g­lin­breen in Mohn­buk­ta

Glacier front on Spitsbergen's east coast: Heuglinbreen in Mohnbukta

Gla­cier front on Spitsbergen’s east coast: Heu­g­lin­breen in Mohn­buk­ta.

It is arc­tic win­ter and we are stan­ding on the fro­zen fjord next to the migh­ty ice cliff of Heu­g­lin­breen in Mohn­buk­ta on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. The sun has retur­ned after the polar night, but it is still low on the sky, thus cas­ting stun­ning light over the sce­ne­ry and making the beau­ti­ful blue and green colours of the ice shi­ne out.

To the Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-shop: High qua­li­ty pho­to print with Spits­ber­gen drift­wood frame: Gla­cier front on Spitsbergen’s east coast: Heu­g­lin­breen in Mohn­buk­ta

Polar bear in Horn­sund

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Polar bear in Hornsund

Polar bear in Horn­sund.

An impres­si­ve, strong male polar bear that we could obser­ve from the sai­ling ship Anti­gua on the icy shore of Horn­sund. This par­ti­cu­lar polar bear was so impres­si­ve that one crew mem­ber later got it tat­too­ed on his shoul­der! That is not on offer here, but the print of the pho­to of this beau­ti­ful ani­mal is without any doubt an eye-cat­cher on the wall, just as this par­ti­cu­lar polar bear in Horn­sund in real life.

To the Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-shop: High qua­li­ty pho­to print with Spits­ber­gen drift­wood frame: polar bear in Horn­sund

Moun­tain and gla­cier land­s­cape in Tem­pel­fjord

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Mountain and glacier landscape in Tempelfjord

Moun­tain and gla­cier land­s­cape in Tem­pel­fjord.

It is ear­ly March and we are stan­ding on top of a litt­le moun­tain on the shore of Tem­pel­fjord. The sun, just having retur­ned after the polar night, is still low in the sky even mid-day, cas­ting ama­zing light over the who­le sce­ne, with inten­se colours and long shadows on the crev­as­sed gla­cier Tuna­b­reen.

To the Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-shop: High qua­li­ty pho­to print with Spits­ber­gen drift­wood frame: Moun­tain and gla­cier land­s­cape in Tem­pel­fjord

Polar bear fami­ly in Tem­pel­fjord

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Polar bear family in Tempelfjord

Polar bear fami­ly in Tem­pel­fjord.

We aren watching the famous (by several docu­men­ta­ries) fema­le polar bear “Frost” as she enjoys a play­ful and rela­xed day out on the ice in Tem­pel­fjord tog­e­ther with her two litt­le cubs. The­se were a good five mon­ths old at the time of pho­to­gra­phy in ear­ly May. At this time of year, the­re are ple­nty of seals lying on the ice and the litt­le polar bear fami­ly can enjoy life without worries, some­thing that comes clear­ly through on this pho­to. A beau­ti­ful expe­ri­ence, both out the­re in natu­re and as a pic­tu­re on the wall.

To the Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com-shop: High qua­li­ty pho­to print with Spits­ber­gen drift­wood frame: Polar bear fami­ly in Tem­pel­fjord

Polar bear dead during sci­en­ti­fic ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on: case clo­sed

A polar bear died in Sep­tem­ber after ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on by sci­en­tists of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te. The ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on was done as part of an annu­al rou­ti­ne pro­gram­me to gather data from a lar­ger num­ber of polar bears.

Polar bear skull

Life is dan­ge­rous, also for polar bears. Even drow­ning due to sci­en­ti­fic ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on seems to be a rea­listic risk. But we don’t know what hap­pend to this polar bear.

The case was inves­ti­ga­ted by the Sys­sel­man­nen, as always when a pro­tec­ted ani­mal in Spits­ber­gen comes to harm. The result shows that the polar bear most likely died from drow­ning: it appears likely that the head of the bear ended up in a water-fil­led ter­rain depres­si­on befo­re the sci­en­tists arri­ved on sce­ne. A let­hal side effect of the ana­es­the­tic that was used (Mede­to­mi­din) can, howe­ver, not be exclu­ded, or a com­bi­na­ti­on of both fac­tors, accord­ing to an offi­cial press release.

The Sys­sel­man­nen could not iden­ti­fy legal­ly rele­vant beha­viour. The case has thus been clo­sed.

The mou­se hunt is ope­ned

In Sval­bard the hun­ting sea­son is open – for mice! Ever­ything else in the video, I wan­ted to try some­thing new.

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Mice on Sval­bard

Addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re with Arc­ti­ca II: 28.8.-5.9.2021

We have can­cel­led all trips this year – now it is time to make new, fresh plans. For the arc­tic sum­mer sea­son 2021, we have sche­du­led one addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re with SY Arc­ti­ca II.

Of cour­se we can’t pre­dict the future, but con­si­de­ring the various news about vac­ci­nes we think we can be opti­mistic. After our tra­di­tio­nal, long Spits­ber­gen voya­ge with Arc­ti­ca II in August, the­re will be one more trip with this lovely litt­le sai­ling ship,starting 28 August and finis­hing on 05 Sep­tem­ber.

Spitsbergen 2021 with Arctica II: additional departure

Arc­ti­ca II on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen: addi­tio­nal depar­tu­re in 2021.

Due to all the can­cel­la­ti­ons of the 2020 sea­son, the­re is a lot of inte­rest in upco­m­ing trips, so now we can offer 9 addi­tio­nal pla­ces and defi­ni­te­ly a uni­que and inten­se expe­ri­ence.

This depar­tu­re will be Ger­man spea­king. The detail­ed descrip­ti­on of the voya­ge inclu­ding the pri­ce will fol­low soon, and then it will also be pos­si­ble to make reser­va­tions. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on or reser­va­tions, plea­se don’t hesi­ta­te to get in touch with my col­league Uwe Maaß in the office of the Geo­gra­phi­schen Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft or with me if you have any ques­ti­ons about the trip, the iti­nera­ry or the ship etc.

Plea­se click here for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on about Arc­ti­ca II Ger­man. And have a look at the triplogs and pho­to gal­le­ries from the voya­ges that we have done in the past to get a good idea of how they are going and what might hap­pen. This trip will be shor­ter than the long trip in August, so we don’t plan to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te Spits­ber­gen. The focus will be on hiking and natu­re expe­ri­ence in the major fjord sys­tems on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen, such as Isfjord, Bellsund, For­landsund and Kongsfjord. The hikes will, in average, be lon­ger than tho­se that we usual­ly do, for examp­le, on Anti­gua. Plea­se have a look at my page about arc­tic ter­rain (Ger­man) to get an idea of the con­di­ti­ons we will meet out in the field.

Polar bear in Advent­da­len

Again, the­re is a polar bear in Advent­da­len, not far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It was seen for the first time on Sunday near Ope­raf­jel­let by a group of hikers; the Sys­sel­man­nen deci­ded to pick up the group by heli­co­p­ter to be on the safe side.

Polar bear in Adventdalen, helicopter

Polar bear in Advent­da­len: a heli­co­p­ter is used to remo­ve an ana­es­the­ti­sed bear from the area (archi­ve image).

It is said that the polar bear in ques­ti­on is a lar­ge male, pos­si­b­ly the same ani­mal that was in the Advent­fjord area in sep­tem­ber. Attempts to sca­re it away with a heli­co­p­ter did not make much of an impres­si­on on the bear. As of Wed­nes­day, the polar bear was still in Advent­da­len, whe­re he was so far stay­ing wit­hin a limi­ted area. So far, the Sys­sel­man­nen has no plans to ana­es­the­ti­se the bear and to fly it out. It is assu­med that the bear will just con­ti­nue with his ever-las­ting search for food and move on soo­ner or later.

The public is asked to be awa­re and alert.

Lice found in fur of arc­tic foxes

An alar­ming dis­co­very: lice have been found in the fur of arc­tic foxes. So far, arc­tic foxes were gene­ral­ly found to be free of lice, both on the Scan­di­na­vi­an main­land and in Spits­ber­gen.

Arctic fox: lice detected

Arc­tic fox with win­ter fur in good order. The fur can be affec­ted by lice to a degree that it does not insu­la­te any­mo­re suf­fi­ci­ent­ly.

A taxi­der­mist beca­me scep­ti­cal when he saw fur from Arc­tic foxes from Spits­ber­gen, which had been caught a year ago. The fur was visi­b­ly affec­ted in the neck area, with less hair than nor­mal, and small ani­mals were visi­ble in the fur. The­se were later iden­ti­fied as lice by a spe­cia­list in Trom­sø, as was now repor­ted by Sval­bard­pos­ten.

The foxes in ques­ti­on were caught a year ago in Bøda­len and Cole­s­da­len, both south of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Now, all local fox hun­ters are encou­ra­ged to keep their eyes open. Should lice inde­ed be about to get estab­lis­hed in arc­tic foxes, then the con­se­quen­ces might be dra­ma­tic, as foxes need an inta­ct fur to cope with the cold of the arc­tic win­ter.

But the first thing that needs to be coped with is a huge gap of sci­en­ti­fic know­ledge. The annu­al fox-hunt is cur­r­ent­ly ongo­ing in Spits­ber­gen. Foxes are still hun­ted by a very few pro­fes­sio­nal trap­pers and by leisu­re hun­ters. The­re are 25 are­as for fox hun­ting in Spits­ber­gen, the­re­of 23 in Nor­dens­kiöld Land (Longyearbyen’s wide sur­roun­dings) and 2 in the area of Ny-Åle­sund.

The page for the wee­kend: Svens­ke­hu­set

The new page for the wee­kend (and bey­ond) is dedi­ca­ted to Svens­ke­hu­set at Kapp Thord­sen: built in 1872, is it today the oldest house on Spits­ber­gen that is still stan­ding. Ori­gi­nal­ly, the place was the focus of the Swe­dish dream to turn Spits­ber­gen into a Swe­dish colo­ny. But as soon as the next win­ter, 17 Nor­we­gi­an sailors died the­re under cir­cum­s­tan­ces that remai­ned a mys­te­ry for more than 100 years. Sin­ce then, the house is also known as Spø­kel­ses­hu­set (the haun­ted house).

Two more win­te­rings fol­lo­wed later, inclu­ding the Swe­dish expe­di­ti­on of the first Inter­na­tio­nal Polar Year in 1882-83. One of the expe­di­ti­on mem­bers was a young, then unknown inge­nie­er named Salo­mon August Andrée.

Svenskehuset

Svens­ke­hu­set at Kapp Thord­sen: Spitsbergen’s oldest house and site of several famous win­te­rings.
This ist just a screen­shot – click here for a vir­tu­al tour through Svens­ke­hu­set.

The­re is now a who­le weppa­ge dedi­ca­ted to Svens­ke­hu­set, with all of the sto­ries in some detail and – even bet­ter – a vir­tu­al tour that takes you through every room of the famous hous. The­re is a com­ple­te­ly new ver­si­on of the vir­tu­al tour that runs like a film – Click here and enjoy 🙂

Mine 7 back in pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on again

Yesterday’s news on this site men­tio­ned that repair works in mine 7, which was part­ly floo­ded by meltwa­ter during the extre­me­ly warm days in July, were still ongo­ing. This was, howe­ver, alrea­dy out­da­ted at the time of publi­ca­ti­on: the first coal left mine 7 alrea­dy on Satur­day late evening, as the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni told Sval­bard­pos­ten.

Mine 7

Mine 7 (to the right of the image cent­re) on the moun­tain Breino­sa near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Fur­ther back and to the left the small ice cap Fox­fon­na.
Lar­ge parts of mine 7 are situa­ted under Fox­fon­na.

A lot of repair work nee­ded to be done after the floo­ding in July. Amongst others, lar­ge parts of the electri­cal equip­ment had to be rene­wed. Now, coal can be ship­ped again to the local coal power plant in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and to inter­na­tio­nal cus­to­mers. Pro­duc­tion work is now going on almost 24/7 in two long shifts to pro­du­ce as much coal as pos­si­ble. Nevertheless, Store Nor­ske will pro­bab­ly have to accept an eco­no­mi­c­a­ly poor result this year, with the pro­duc­tion stop and expen­si­ve repair works in mine 7 being only one fac­tor. Other fac­tors inclu­de the gene­ral dif­fi­cul­ties of the world eco­no­my due to coro­na and the clo­sing of Sveagru­va.

Smal­ler repair works will still be going on for some time while pro­duc­tion is alrea­dy going on. Store Nor­ske aims also at making sure that a floo­ding on this sca­le will not hap­pen again. Lar­ge parts of mine 7 are situa­ted under the ice cap Fox­fon­na, so meltwa­ter ingres­si­ons during the sum­mer sea­son are not unhe­ard of, but nor­mal­ly it has been pos­si­ble to con­trol them by pum­ping the water out. Lar­ger pumps will now be part of the tech­ni­cal solu­ti­on to this pro­blem.

Nort­hern news

The polar night has sett­led down on Spits­ber­gen and the various lock­downs and tra­vel restric­tions rela­ted to Coro­na any­way. The world’s atten­ti­on is focus­sed on events else­whe­re rather than the Arc­tic, whe­re life is going on with minor exci­te­ments from the depart­ments “busi­ness as usu­al + ever­y­day mad­ness”.

The Spits­ber­gen-news over­view as of late October/early Novem­ber:

The pre­vious week began with spec­ta­cu­lar fire­works of nort­hern lights over Spits­ber­gen as well as other pla­ces in the auro­ra oval as much as they had a free sky in the appro­pria­te moments. Many ama­zing pho­tos came from Lon­gye­ar­by­en in tho­se days.

Northern light Longyearbyen

Nort­hern light over Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Mine 7, which was part­ly floo­ded with meltwa­ter during the record-warm days in July, is still not in pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on again. We have been hea­ring for a while that rou­ti­ne work will start soon again, but this has not yet hap­pen­ed as of the time of wri­ting (Mon­day, 02 Novem­ber). Cur­r­ent­ly, the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske expects pro­duc­tion to start up again this week. Coal from mine 7 is used in the local power plant and it is ship­ped to cus­to­mers main­ly in Ger­ma­ny, who have pla­ced orders again after a stop during the Coro­na lock­down in spring.

Gal­le­ri Sval­bard, so far loca­ted in Nyby­en, has announ­ced to move to cen­tral Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Nyby­en, an upper part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en which is suf­fe­ring from a risk of snow avalan­ches and rock­falls, will then lose a main tou­rist attrac­tion.

With Sval­Bad, the­re is a new sau­na in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is hea­ted with wood and offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a very effi­ci­ent cool-down in the fjord 🙂

The Asso­cia­ti­on of Arc­tic Expe­di­ti­on Crui­se Ope­ra­tors (AECO) has announ­ced indus­try-wide stan­dards for gui­des, thus taking up a deve­lo­p­ment that has been ongo­ing for years.

Guides Spitsbergen

For many years, we have been taking care of good teams our­sel­ves.
Due to the growth of tou­rism also in the polar are­as, howe­ver, it is without any doubt a good thing to estab­lish indus­try-wide stan­dards.
This is a pho­to from times long gone by – a gre­at team, without any ques­ti­on! From left to right: Cap­tain Alex­an­der Pruss, a young Rolf Stan­ge (that’s me), Peter Bal­win and Mat­thi­as Kopp, during a Spits­ber­gen-voya­ge on board Pro­fes­sor Mul­ta­novs­kiy in 2009.
Tho­se were the days 🙂
My apo­lo­gies for get­ting lost in nost­al­gia for a brief moment.
Pho­to © Bär­bel Erwert, who was our ship doc­tor.

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