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Saturday, 27 June 2009 12:48
IPY Polar Field School- June 27th
Today was the first day of our excursion to Isfjord Radio on Kapp Linne, which is on the west coast of Spitsbergen. We started off the day by picking up our Regatta suits and goggles before we were transported to the docks and our polarcircle boats. After a fun, bumpy two hour boat ride we arrived at our landing site. On the way there we saw lots of puffins and the spectacular, but foggy, southern coast of Isfjorden! In the next few hours we walked 10 km through 500 million years...
Sunday, 28 June 2009 14:11
IPY Polar Field School- June 28th
Kapp Linné Day 2. After a pleasant night’s sleep at Basecamp Isfjord Radio, we woke up to a wondrous breakfast of meats, veggies, caffeine and Gnutella. We were given a nice introduction to the history of Kapp Linné by the owner of Basecamp and how it has evolved into what it is today. Soon enough, our lunches were packed, rifles gathered and we were back on the tundra road for another day’s lesson in geology, permafrost, and how to avoid getting your shoes soaked while hiking. ...
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 11:37
IPY Polar Field School- June 26th
Preparation for field trip - History of Svalbard Today was a preparation day for our field trip on the weekend. We spent the morning with buying chocolates and candies, preparing our equipment and borrowing some equipment at the UNIS logistics. At 2 pm we had a security briefing for the fieldwork. This contains information about the area, like a geological overview and morphological specifics provided by some aerial pictures. This briefing includes some general information about polar bears in the area and remindes us to the general rules of meeting polar bears. The second part of the day was characterized by the history of Svalbard. Thor B. Arlov was lecturer for this and he presented a short and gripping overview. The island of Svalbard was discovered by Wil...
Monday, 29 June 2009 13:56
IPY Polar Field School- June 25th
This day was focussed on the human dimension of the Arctic, and how climate change will impact the indigenous communities across the Arctic region. After an introductory lecture by Lars Kullerud (President of the University of the Arctic), we had lectures from Jennifer West (CICERO, University of Oslo) on ‘Arctic peoples in a changing climate’, introducing the IPY CAVIAR project, which aims to understand how Arctic communities are vulnerable to climate change and the best strategies for adaptation. After a break to watch the (only) epic Norwegian movie ‘Flaaklypa Grand Prix’, we then had lectures and a long discussion on the effects of changes in climate on reindeer herding in the Arctic region with Anders Oskal (Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry) and Anne...
Monday, 29 June 2009 13:51
IPY Polar Field School- June 24th
The day began with an introduction to the projects we are going to be working on for the rest of our time in Svalbard, ranging from oceanography to permafrost and biology. After a lecture on Arctic predators and their use as indicators of the state of tundra ecosystems by Nigel Yoccoz (University of Tromso), we had our first group meetings for our projects, taking a first look at the data and literature for our respective assignments. The final lecture of the day was a fascinating talk on auroras by Kjellmar Oksavik (UNIS), discussing their formation and the possible link between solar activity and climatic cycles in the Arctic. Since the catering staff at UNIS forgot to provide us with dinner, some of us needed a traditional Norwegian snack, the icecream sandwich, before heading up to Hus...
Monday, 22 June 2009 10:18
HIking with the IPY Polar Field School- June 22nd
Hiking Today was our first and only free day and it came as a welcome break from lectures. The group consensus was for some exercise along the mountains surrounding Longyearbyen. We assembled early, much to some peoples despair, and began our climb up the sloppy muddy ridge at the south end of the beach end of town. The track turned to loose rock and then we were soon in snow. The weather was grey and we ascended into the cold cloud eventually coming out into clear skies. The jackets went away and the shades and sunglasses came out. 'Waterproof' shoes proved otherwise. Hiking in snow was a brand new experience for at least one member of the group and a bit out of the ordinary for a number of us. We summated mt Trollsteinen (~850m), took in the fantastic view of the Svalbar...
Sunday, 21 June 2009 10:12
IPY Polar Field School- June 21st
We were a little worse for wear following the midsummer party at the beach the previous night but managed attentiveness throughout the days lectures. Mostly. We studied the arctic marine ecosystem, zooplankton, the arctic cod and the polar bear. I have studied very little biology previously and felt I gained a lot from this introduction. I particularly enjoyed the polar bear lecture given by Jon Aars as he spoke with practical experience about the study of these fantastic animals in the wild with particular emphasis on the Svalbard population. The marine biology talks were also interesting and I look forward to the lessons being reinforced in the field next week. However, by the days end the brain had reached saturation. ...
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 12:42
IPY Polar Field School- June 23rd
It was a long and full day in the fresh air of Svalbard. Our day began with a bit of a glitch as the cruise ship came in early blocking our marine research boat from leaving the docking area. Plans were altered and we all started out the day with a stunning 10 km ride west of Longyearbyen along the fjord to Bjorndalen. In Bjorndalen we were shuttled by zodiac boat along the water to bypass a river, and arrived at out terrestrial study site. Birds seen before the field work even began included: arctic skua, black-legged kittiwake, arctic turns, black guillemots, northern fulmars, Brunnich's guillemots, common eiders , a king eider, and hundreds of little auks. A pretty impressive selection of arctic birds! During the morning and into the early afternoon we hiked up the sl...
Saturday, 20 June 2009 12:37
IPY Polar Field School- June 20th
20.06.09 Midtsommerfest Because of the Friday gathering the day before, some of us had a hard time getting up this day, but in the end we all made it to the university on time. It was the first biology day, and the focus of the lectures was the challenges that come with living in an arctic environment, especially at sub zero temperatures. The lectures were awesome, so we had no problems staying awake through a long day (maybe not everyone will share our (biological) opinion on the lectures). After lunch we headed out in the hills close to Sukkertoppen to look at some representatives of the beautiful flora of Svalbard. Some of us got really wet from the melting snow (leading to some -barefooted students), but it was obviously worth it - the flowers were great. We fini...
Thursday, 18 June 2009 12:34
IPY Polar Field School- June 18th
Thursday, 18 June We woke up to a beautiful, sunny and warm day. The day started with a lecture about Permafrost with Hanne H. Christiansen. As 60% of Svalbard is covered by glaciers and the rest is periglacial environments, permafrost and the forms developed there is an important part of the science of Svalbard. The next lecture was about avalanches on which we did some fieldwork yesterday. The lecturer was Markus Eckerstorfer. Since avalanches are common on Svalbard a lot of research is provided on this field. After lunch we headed out to the field, in Adventsdalen. This was our first big excursion outside Longyearbyen and we had to carry rifles and signal pistols, which made it a little more serious. In Adventsdalen we measured the depth of the thawed layer on over 120 preset loc...
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