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Home → December, 2022

Monthly Archives: December 2022 − News & Stories


Giæ­ver­vil­la at Snat­cher­pyn­ten, Recher­chefjord: new vir­tu­al tour

I sup­po­se that many rea­ders of this web­site will have been to Spits­ber­gen, and some may even have been at Snat­cher­pyn­ten in Recher­chefjord. This bay is part of Bell­sund, a very beau­tiful and inte­res­t­ing fjord sys­tem in Spits­ber­gen. Among­st others, the­re are remains of hundreds of years of arc­tic histo­ry hid­den in the arc­tic land­scape.

Giævervilla at Snatcherpynten: Panorama

The­re is a new page with vir­tu­al tour dedi­ca­ted to Giæ­ver­vil­la at Snat­cher­pyn­ten in Recher­chefjord.

Giæ­ver­vil­la at Snat­cher­pyn­ten is an old house that has a histo­ry which is a bit spe­cial. If you have been the­re – gre­at. But the good news is: if you have not been the­re, it doesn’t mat­ter any­mo­re, becau­se now the­re is a who­le new page dedi­ca­ted to Giæ­ver­hu­set. The­re are pan­ora­ma images, a pho­to gal­lery and of cour­se the page tells the sto­ry of the place. Enjoy!

Giæverhuset at Snatcherpynten: Panorama

Screen­shot of the new vir­tu­al tour of Giæ­ver­vil­la at Snat­cher­pyn­ten.

New sewa­ge water tre­at­ment in Lon­gye­ar­by­en fil­ters 50 kg was­te in one week

It may not exact­ly fit into the atmo­sphe­re of the Christ­mas days … but nevert­hel­ess, the­re is some good news here, some kind of gos­pel, if you want it that way 🙂

It is a com­mon ques­ti­on: who is the sewa­ge water trea­ted in Lon­gye­ar­by­en? And it does usual­ly rai­se an eye­brow when the ans­wer is: not at all. And this is how it had been for more than a cen­tu­ry, until Novem­ber 2022. All sewa­ge water went straight into the fjord wit­hout any tre­at­ment at all.

But now it is Decem­ber 2022, and things have chan­ged to the bet­ter.

Longyearbyen sewage water treatment, Adventfjord

Advent­fjord next to Lon­gye­ar­by­en:
the­re are defi­ni­te­ly places in this area whe­re I wouldn’t go swim­ming.

A mecha­ni­cal sewa­ge water tre­at­ment was put into ope­ra­ti­on on 01 Decem­ber. The result of the first week of ope­ra­ti­on was impres­si­ve: 50 kg of gar­ba­ge were remo­ved from the sewa­ge water befo­re it went into Advent­fjord, accor­ding to a noti­fi­ca­ti­on by Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re. A sel­ec­tion of hygie­ne artic­les as one might suspect. All the stuff that doesn’t belong into the toi­let, as ever­y­bo­dy (?) knows, but that nevert­hel­ess obvious­ly far too often ends up the­re. Which is a phe­no­me­non in its­elf, but that is not the sub­ject here.

At least, now the­re is impro­ve­ment and a lot of that shit (sor­ry) will not end up in the sea any­mo­re from now on.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en local coun­cil to thin out in 2023

Ear­lier this year, the Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment final­ly took the con­tro­ver­si­al decis­i­on to dis­pos­sess Longyearbyen’s inha­bi­tants who don’t have Nor­we­gi­an pass­ports off the local voting rights, except a very few who have spent at least three years as regis­tered inha­bi­tants of a main­land com­mu­ni­ty. click here for more details of the histo­ry of the who­le thing.

By now, some of the con­se­quen­ces of this dra­stic decis­i­on are beco­ming more clear, alt­hough the first local elec­tions under the new legis­la­ti­on will not be befo­re the fall of 2023. Then, about 700 for­mer voters will not be able to take part in the elec­tions, accor­ding to NRK. This con­cerns both voters and can­di­da­tes, such as Oli­via Eric­son from Swe­den, who will not be able to line up again in 2023.

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re: about to thin out in 2023.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en has some­thing near 2500 inha­bi­tants. This is the total num­ber, inclu­ding many who are not yet of full age any­way or who have not yet lived in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for three years, which has always been a requi­re­ment to vote. The actu­al num­ber of voters is accor­din­gly lower. 700 voters who lose their voting rights accor­din­gly repre­sent some­thing near one third. Future local coun­cils will thus lose a lot of demo­cra­tic legi­ti­ma­ti­on. It is also feared that many will feel as second class citi­zens and hence redu­ce their com­mit­ment to local mat­ters.

Ano­ther con­se­quence is that smal­ler par­ties may not be able to line up any­mo­re for elec­tions in the future. Par­ties must have at least seven can­di­da­tes to take part in elec­tions, and smal­ler par­ties have always strug­g­led to meet this requi­re­ment in a small place such as Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The local Green par­ty MDG (Mil­jø­par­tiet De Grøn­ne) has now announ­ced to not line up any­mo­re for the 2023 elec­tions. In 2019, three of their can­di­da­tes were for­eig­ners, inclu­ding Oli­via Eric­son from Swe­den. Eric­son and other peo­p­le are sho­cked and frus­tra­ted to be depri­ved of their demo­cra­tic rights. The­re may be more par­ties who will drop out for the same reason, for exam­p­le Frems­kritts­par­tiet (FrP).

Seve­ral cur­rent mem­bers of the local coun­cil, inclu­ding cur­rent mayor (lokals­ty­re­le­der) Arild Olsen, have announ­ced that they will quit in 2023 becau­se of the new legal situa­ti­on, accor­ding to NRK.

Dri­ving licen­ses: Sys­sel­mes­ter finds solu­ti­on

The recent dri­ving licen­se issue cau­sed con­sidera­ble unsett­led­ness espe­ci­al­ly in Longyearbyen’s Thai com­mu­ni­ty. By coin­ci­dence, it was found out that dri­ving licen­ses from count­ries such as Thai­land do not meet cer­tain for­mal cri­te­ria and hence are not valid in Nor­way inclu­ding Sval­bard. This has cau­sed dif­fi­cul­ties for a num­ber of peo­p­le, espe­ci­al­ly from Thai­land, who live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­re are many who need to dri­ve a car also within their jobs.

Car, Spitsbergen

Road traf­fic in Spits­ber­gen.

Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties have now estab­lished at least a tem­po­ra­ry solu­ti­on, accor­ding to a noti­ce by the Sys­sel­mes­ters: dri­ving licen­ses from count­ries that have rati­fied the Vien­na Con­ven­ti­on on Road Traf­fic will be accept­ed until 31st Decem­ber 2023. Until then, a per­ma­nent solu­ti­on needs to be found. The­re is some small print con­nec­ted to this solu­ti­on, but it is assu­med that it will app­ly to most, if not all, of tho­se who curr­ent­ly have a pro­blem with their dri­ving licen­se.

Time of moul­ting of polar foxes con­trol­led by tem­pe­ra­tu­re

Polar foxes (also known as “arc­tic fox”) moult twice a year, with a chan­ge from the thi­c­ker win­ter fur to the thin­ner sum­mer fur in spring and back again in autumn. Both kinds of polar foxes do that: the white fox with the pro­mi­nent chan­ge from white win­ter fur to brown sum­mer fur and back, and the blue fox which is – no, not blue, but brown throug­hout the year.

Next to ther­mal iso­la­ti­on, camou­fla­ge can be an important func­tion of the fur, at least for the white fox, and this requi­res a syn­chro­nis­ed timing of the moul­ting and the snow melting/fresh snow peri­ods.

Polar fox, fur version: Blue fox

Polar fox, fur ver­si­on 1: Blue fox.

So far, sci­en­tists assu­med that the timing of the moul­ting peri­od is lar­ge­ly con­trol­led by the length of day­light. This could be pro­ble­ma­tic if the timing of the snow melt/fresh snow peri­od gets decou­pled from cer­tain cus­to­ma­ry day­light length values. This might result in ani­mals still having white win­ter fur on brown tun­dra when the snow melt is through, ear­lier than in pre­vious times, and this again would invol­ve a loss of camou­fla­ge: the ani­mal has a hig­her risk of fal­ling vic­tim to a pre­da­tor or pos­si­bly to redu­ced hun­ting suc­cess if it its­elf is a pre­da­tor, such as the polar fox.

Polar fox, fur version: white fox, summer fur

Polar fox, fur ver­si­on 2: white fox in sum­mer coat.

But recent sci­en­ti­fic data indi­ca­te that the timing of the fur chan­ge may be cou­pled to tem­pe­ra­tu­re and snow cover deve­lo­p­ment rather than to the length of day­light, as bio­lo­gist Lucie Lapor­te-Devyl­der and co-aut­hors from NINA (Nor­we­gi­an insti­tu­te for natu­re rese­arch) wri­te in a sci­en­ti­fic publi­ca­ti­on Lapor­te-Devyl­der used pho­tos taken over years by auto­ma­tic came­ras and cor­re­la­ted them with meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal and snow cover data. The result indi­ca­tes that tem­pe­ra­tu­re and snow cover are a signi­fi­cant fac­tor for the timing of the fur chan­ge of polar foxes. This might mean that polar foxes are bet­ter able to adjust to cli­ma­te-chan­ge-indu­ced chan­ges the snow cover then pre­vious­ly belie­ved.

Polar fox, fur version: white fox, winter fur

Polar fox, fur ver­si­on 3: white fox in win­ter coat.

The data are from the Snøhet­ta area on the Nor­we­gi­an main­land. The results may, howe­ver, not be ful­ly appli­ca­ble to the polar fox popu­la­ti­on in Sval­bard. On the main­land, polar foxes with bad camou­fla­ge run a hig­her risk of pre­da­ti­on by sea eagles, but the­re are no eagles or other lar­ge birds of prey in Sval­bard.

The­re, howe­ver, polar foxes have an enti­re­ly dif­fe­rent pro­blem with their fur: lice are curr­ent­ly beco­ming more and more com­mon in Sval­bard. So far, nobo­dy can tell whe­re they are coming from and what the con­se­quen­ces will be for the affec­ted foxes.

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News-Listing live generated at 2023/February/01 at 01:50:30 Uhr (GMT+1)
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