Monday 19th JuneHi everybody,
This is a blog from an expedition to the High Arctic island called Svalbard; the land of eternal ice. It is located at 78°N in the middle of the Barents Sea, and as far as we knew, no one had ever set their feet on this place before. After a rough journey across the sea, we finally spotted some beautiful mountains covered with ice and snow. Surprisingly, there were some natives here who actually appreciated our arrival. We were accommodated in some primitive barracks outside their settlement that we later got to know as Longyearbyen. This is a really weird place! The sun is actually shining 24 hours a day, so we couldn't sleep very much during the time we used to know as the night.
In the morning, we met all our new friends at the University Center of Svalbard (UNIS). If we were supposed to stay in this place, we needed to learn some survival rules, since our neighbours told us about this huge scary bear walking outside our barracks just a week before we arrived. This led us to the rifle range where we learned how to handle the rifle, how to act if we ever meet a polar bear, and where to hit it if we have an emergency situation.
Thorstein is handling the rifle quite well.
After the shooting, we went down to the harbour to take a bath in the freezing cold ocean. Luckily, we had these huge survival suits on to keep us warm and dry, and we practiced swimming and landing with these enormous suits, something that isn't as easy as you may think. The day ended with pizza at UNIS.
Three happy girls after a bath in the Barents Sea; Susanne, Sarah and Ingrid.
Tuesday 20th June
Today we had lectures about the glacial history of Svalbard by Ólafur Ingólfsson and also a lecture where we compared the Arctic and Antarctic environments. The environment here is shaped by glaciers and processes due to the cold temperatures, like frostforvitring. We also got an introduction to an IPY (International Polar Year) project called ICEBOUND by Endre Før Gjermundsen. He told us what it is like to do field work in the high arctic landscape. The day ended with dinner at Huset which is the social house of Longyearbyen.
Authors: Nils Arne Walberg and Anja Lyng Bækken (Norway)
Photo Credits: Nils Arne Walberg