What is IPY
Today we close the International Programme Office for IPY. I thank Chris for his vote of confidence. I thank Ian, Michel and Jeronimo and friends at BAS for enduring support. I thank Cynan and Odd for guidance. I thank Amber and Jenny and Hugues
Two months have now passed since the conclusion of the second IPY, Svalbard summer field school. The 25 students from 14 different countries enjoyed three fantastic weeks in Svalbard, learning about climatic and environmental change in the Arctic. Meet the participants and relive their adventures in the course movie.
After all the action the last few days everyone was planning on catching up on some sleep. But once again, the beautiful Svalbard summer night made the hours of sleep short and few. Still we managed to hide the worst yawning and enthusiastically absorb the morning lecture on marine biology in the Arctic given by Ole Jørgen Lønne.
After a sad goodbye with the amazing hotel at Kapp Linné, our trip went to the little Russian mining town called Barentsburg. The sun was shining and the sea was calm, so the boat trip was soothing and easy. Passing through the unique Festningen geological section by Grønfjorden we saw a hint of black smoke rising up from the chimney high above the rest of town. “Small smoke” as our guide explained later. There was a large ship docking at the pier, which apparently was the first ship to export coal since the fire broke out two years ago. Our guide, Vitaly, met us at the pier where he was more enthusiastic about Elise’s dog than introducing us to Barentsburg. Nevertheless, he was a great guide and we were moving through the town like a warm knife through butter.
Our foggy trip to Kapp Linné
A two hour boat trip to Kapp Linné meant it was an early foggy start for the group. After a very sunny weak in Longyearbyen we were disappointed to have ‘’fog, fog and more fog’’. For all we knew we were off to the North Pole. A slight swell meant it was a rather bumpy yet exciting ride with the zodiacs airborne off the larger waves. Fortunately the fog lifted slightly allowing the skipper to bring us in safely to Kapp Linné.
Permafrost to Mars, Bipolar Oceanography
Leading physical geographer Dr Hanne Christiansen presented an introduction to permafrost science and a review of current research. We proceeded to two sites where Christiansen and her collaborators measure solifluction – the movement of the active layer that arises from the seasonal melt/thaw cycle. We proceeded to have lunch on the sunny hillside underneath the old mining gondola towers whose foundations demonstrated the solifluction process. We then met a Portuguese team at the second site who talked to us about their work comparing the permafrost polygons in
The day started off with two lectures on the Botany of Svalbard with an introduction to an IPY international tundra project, ITEX, run by Ingibjorg Jonsdottir. This project focuses on climate change and how it might affect the individual responses of plants. This was followed by an excursion to some of her study sights in Endalen. The experiments consisted of open top hexagonal chambers which imitate climate change by increasing the temperature by 1-3 degrees within the chambers. We also looked at the typical plants in the tundra environment.
The last two days have flown by; yet, at the same time I think it will be impossible to describe succinctly the amazing adventures the class has experienced in 48 hours. Not only have we sat through fascinating lectures and been guided through the Longyearbyen surroundings, but the cultural education one garners when 14 nationalities are brought together is staggering. Lunch hours are full of worldly tid-bits, and full-out squabbles over the origin of home-town slang. And of course, one cannot help but be absorbed by historical anecdotes (and perhaps one or two tall tales) of Svalbard and
But onto the science!