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Home → April, 2023

Monthly Archives: April 2023 − News


From Hamn i Sen­ja to Ande­nes

Usual­ly we pre­fer the pas­sa­ge on the insi­de of the island of Sen­ja becau­se the wea­ther and sea con­di­ti­ons out­side tend to be pret­ty rough. But on a good day like this, the outer pas­sa­ge allows one to visit love­ly litt­le har­bours such as Hamn i Sen­ja, loca­ted on a cou­ple of sker­ries just off the coast of Sen­ja.

Later, again the­re was no wind to put up the sails, but the good thing was that this mean flat seas, so we went out to the edge of the con­ti­nen­tal shelf near Ande­nes, the famous sperm wha­le place. And we were lucky!

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

Gui­de­book “Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard”: ebook-ver­si­on available!

The gui­de­book “Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard” is now for the first time available in an ebook-for­mat!

Through five updated edi­ti­ons, the gui­de­book has evol­ved into what many pro­fes­sio­nal col­le­agues refer to as the “Spits­ber­gen-bible”. But so much infor­ma­ti­on on 608 pages does have some weight, which is obvious­ly not always gre­at when you are tra­vel­ling.

Spitsbergen guidebook, eBook

The gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard is now digi­tal­ly available on Apple Books.

No pro­blem, becau­se now the­re is an ebook ver­si­on available. To start with the bad news: it is curr­ent­ly only available on Apple Books. This is not what I want, but the­re are tech­ni­cal reasons for this.

Here is the link to the Eng­lish ver­si­on of the gui­de­book “Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard” in Apple Books. You can also find the Ger­man ver­si­on of the book on Apple Books.

Spitsbergen guidebook, eBook

The eBook-ver­si­on of the Spits­ber­gen-gui­de­book is as rich­ly illus­tra­ted as the print edi­ti­on.

The con­tents of the ebook and the prin­ted edi­ti­on are iden­ti­cal. The prin­ted ver­si­on is and remains available, of cour­se.

Cli­ma­te chan­ge: warm­ing of nor­t­hern Barents Sea 5-7 times abo­ve glo­bal avera­ge

Accor­ding to a recent sci­en­ti­fic stu­dy, glo­bal warm­ing in the nor­t­hern Barents Sea is 5-7 times fas­ter than the glo­bal avera­ge. Even com­pared to the avera­ge deve­lo­p­ment in the who­le Arc­tic, which is a hot­spot within glo­bal warm­ing, the cli­ma­tic deve­lo­p­ment of the nor­t­hern Barents Sea area is 2-2.5 times fas­ter.

Rain in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

Hea­vy rain and tha­wing tem­pe­ra­tures over days in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, mid March 2022, in the midd­le of what should be the col­dest part of the win­ter. Gene­ral­ly spea­king, wea­ther and cli­ma­te should not be con­fu­sed, but an incre­asing fre­quen­cy and inten­si­ty of such events signi­fies a cli­ma­tic trend.

The­se and other figu­res are com­mu­ni­ca­ted by the Fram Forum in a pos­ting based on a sci­en­ti­fic artic­le by Ketil Isak­sen (Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te) and Co-aut­hors in the sci­en­ti­fic maga­zi­ne Natu­re.

ice chart Svalbard area

Ice chart of the nor­t­hern Barents Sea / Sval­bard area from 12th April 2023
Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te).

Loss of sea is is iden­ti­fied by Isak­sen and co-aut­hors as the main dri­ving mecha­nism behind this dra­ma­tic regio­nal trend. If pre­sent, sea ice effec­tively mini­mi­zes heat trans­fer bet­ween sea and atmo­sphe­re. Lack­ing sea ice in an area pre­vious­ly cover­ed by ice most of the year or even year round, howe­ver, enable warm (rela­tively warm, that is) sea water to release heat to the atmo­sphe­re.

Espe­ci­al­ly in nor­the­as­tern Sval­bard, sea ice was pre­sent almost year round most of the time until the recent past. The loss of sea ice in this par­ti­cu­lar area explains the espe­ci­al­ly pro­no­un­ced warm­ing in that part of the Arc­tic.

It was Frost

What many had assu­med is now offi­ci­al­ly con­firm­ed: the fema­le polar bear that drow­ned last Fri­day in Sas­senfjord was the famous polar bear “Frost”.

“Frost” was Spitsbergen’s most famous polar bear. Among­st others, she play­ed the star role in “Queen wit­hout land” by the Nor­we­gi­an pho­to­grapher Asge­ir Hel­ge­stad. Or, to be more pre­cise: she did not play the star role. She was the star.

In other docu­men­ta­ries she was cal­led “Misha”. She gra­ced the covers of seve­ral ones of my own books. Over the years, I had the pri­vi­le­ge to obser­ve Frost a cou­ple of times.

Polar bear Frost is dead

The polar bear Frost with her fami­ly,
in bet­ter times in Tem­pel­fjord.

Last Friday’s events at Vin­dod­den in Sas­senfjord will now be inves­ti­ga­ted by appro­pria­te aut­ho­ri­ties, main­ly Sys­sel­mes­te­ren. As of now, the­re is no indi­ca­ti­on of cri­mi­nal beha­viour, as Sval­bard­pos­ten reports.

It is said that Frost was mark­ed by sci­en­tists (Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te) during the days befo­re her dead. Mar­king polar bears always invol­ves gene­ral aenes­the­sia dis­pen­sed with a rif­le shot from a heli­c­op­ter. A poten­ti­al con­nec­tion of the aenes­the­sia and Frost’s death will be part of the inves­ti­ga­ti­on.

Frost had a cub with her that atta­cked the action forces as they retrie­ved her body from the sea. The cub was shot. Also this part of the inci­dent will be inves­ti­ga­ted.

During her long life, Frost and her off­spring had fre­quent cont­act with peo­p­le and infra­struc­tu­re, some of which was harmful or even tra­gic. This ran­ges from many dama­ged huts to the death of Johan (“Job”) Koot­te in August 2020, which was cau­sed by one of Frost’s cubs. Seve­ral of her cubs lost their lives during the­se and other inci­dents.

Two polar bears dead in Sas­senfjord

Two polar bears died on Good Fri­day in the ear­ly mor­ning at Vin­dod­den in Sas­senfjord. A fema­le bear drow­ned and her cub was later shot.

During the night – which is not dark any­mo­re, the mid­night sun is not far away – the litt­le bear fami­ly was seen by peo­p­le near Vin­dod­den. Vin­dod­den is a small pen­in­su­la in Sas­senfjord with a cou­ple of huts owned and used by locals from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and during spring weekends, espe­ci­al­ly the Eas­ter weekend, it is very popu­lar to stay in a hut.

Vindodden, Sassenfjord

Vin­dod­den in Sas­senfjord: two polar bears died here in the ear­ly mor­ning on Good Fri­day.

The polar bears approa­ched the huts, whe­re peo­p­le tried to sca­re them away with war­ning shots fired from signal pis­tols. This work­ed, and the polar bears moved away, swim­ming in the fjord.

So far, so com­ple­te­ly nor­mal. Polar bears are excel­lent swim­mers and can easi­ly cover long distances in the water.

But in this par­ti­cu­lar case, the inci­dent soon had a tra­gic out­co­me. The fema­le bear was soon seen dead in the water, head down, with the cub swim­ming around her. The Sys­sel­mes­ter (poli­ce) was alar­med and came by heli­c­op­ter. The dead fema­le was retrie­ved from the water. The cub approa­ched, the per­so­nell tried to sca­re the cub away, but this time, it did not work and the cub was sub­se­quent­ly shot.

The case will now be inves­ti­ga­ted in details, inclu­ding hea­ring of wit­nesses and post­mor­tem exami­na­ti­on of the bear.

Fur­ther details are not yet released.

New ener­gy sup­p­ly for Lon­gye­ar­by­en: decis­i­on made

For years alre­a­dy, the­re has been a dis­cus­sion about a new ener­gy sup­p­ly for Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The old coal power plant should have been repla­ced years ago, pre­fer­a­b­ly with a more envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly and relia­ble ener­gy source. A wide ran­ge of pos­si­ble solu­ti­ons has been dis­cus­sed over the years.

Final­ly, a decis­i­on is now been made. The result may sur­pri­se at a first glan­ce, but second thoughts will reve­al gre­at wis­dom, con­side­ring the solu­ti­on that has, in its essence, been used by indi­ge­nous cul­tures for ages around the glo­be, some­thing that will suit the litt­le arc­tic sett­le­ment in Spits­ber­gen well.

The new power sup­p­ly will be based on bio­mass. The high­light of the new sys­tem is that it will be based on a local ener­gy source, name­ly reinde­er drop­pings, just as camel muck that has been used by noma­dic peo­p­le in hot deserts for gene­ra­ti­ons.

Longyearbyen: energy based on reindeeer droppings

Lon­gye­ar­by­en will get a power plant based on bio­mass, fired with reinde­er drop­pings.

The decis­i­on is based on con­side­ra­ti­ons and cal­cu­la­ti­ons that were made pos­si­ble by the local reinde­er popu­la­ti­on cen­sus of 2019, which yiel­ded a total num­ber of more than 22,000 ani­mals. The reinde­er don’t do any­thing else than tur­ning tun­dra vege­ta­ti­on into pre­cious fuel – and they pro­du­ce more than enough to gua­ran­tee a suf­fi­ci­ent sup­p­ly of ener­gy. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the drop­pings dry quick­ly in the arid high-arc­tic cli­ma­te.

Tech­no­lo­gy to auto­ma­ti­cal­ly coll­ect the drop­pings on the tun­dra is curr­ent­ly being deve­lo­ped, based on auto­ma­tic vacu­um clea­ners.

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