dinsdag 8 oktober 2013

Northern Barents Sea Expedition

Ariadna Szczybelski is currently on an expedition to the Northern part of the Barents Sea with the Norwegian RV Lance research vessel. The expedition takes place from 3 October - 10 October 2013, in cooperation with Statoil, Akvaplan-Niva and the Norwegian Polar Institute. The aim is to collect sediment samples and benthic species for her PhD project 'ARCIND'

ARCIND with RV Lance - Sunday 6 October 2013  

Getting equipmment on board of the Lance©Ariadna Szczybelski
On Day 1 our initial plan was to sample at a few locations in the Southern Barents Sea and at the Spitsbergen bank, but due to bad weather conditions we were forced to continue sailing along the Northern Norwegian coast (from Tromsø up to Hammerfest) during the first two days waiting for the captain’s signal to head north for our first destination.

On Day 3 researcher Anja Johansen (STATOIL) and I discussed new possibly interesting sampling stations (from an ecological point of view). The captain informed us of the existence of an important fishing area between Kong Karls Land and Edgeøya island. This area’s primary productivity has been studied before (Cochrane et al. 2009) showing higher faunal abundances and higher taxonomic richness compared to the Northern and Southern Barents Sea. As a result of this meeting, we decided to move our sampling points for sediment and biota to near Kong Karls Land (200 m depth), and near Hopen Island (100 m depth)(near two mooring positions). Between these two we will include two stations on the South East of Edgeøya island (130 and 230 m depth, respectively). A CTD will be deployed at both mooring positions in order to get Conductivity, Temperature and Salinity values at 100 and 200 m depth. It was estimated that, because the four stations are located on the Arctic shelf, the influence from Arctic water will be stronger than in the Western and Southern Barents Sea.

Working on board the Lance©Ariadna Szczybelski
At each of these stations we will be collecting sediment samples for use in exposure experiments with bivalves and polychaetes species, and small sediment samples to run a pre-screening on the presence of PAHs, PCBs and other POPs. Species that we will collect as first priority in these same stations are: Astarte borealis, Macoma calcarea, Nephtys ciliata and Pectinaria hyperborea. These same species were also the target species during our last fieldwork at Kongsfjorden (Spitsbergen). However, due to their possible low abundance at offshore regions, these species may not be easily collected. In that case we will collect related species taking into account their selective feeding mode, wide distribution in the Barents Sea and a relatively large adult size, such as Astarte crenata, Mendicula ferruginosa, Maldane sarsi and Spiochaetopterus typicus. These selection criteria are some of the features that will be taken into account in order to categorize species as a bioindicator.

Day 4 - 9 a.m.: We are currently on our way to reach our first mooring position from a total of four positions. In each of these positions STATOIL is ready to deploy some sound recorders. These recorders will remain at different depths and will be used to study the ice sheet conditions throughout one year.

Day 4 – 6.30 p.m. The first grab will be dropped at the same moment that the sun light is almost gone. Another challenging fact besides fighting against this cold, wavy and windy environment. If only the Northern lights could make their appearance and remind us how lucky one can be being in this magic place, as did the view on the glaciers from the Teisten boat during our summertime on the Kongsfjorden in Svalbard.

Back home!

We are all back home! After six very productive weeks Ben and Ariadna also returned from Svalbard on August 6. Looking back, the summer field season of 2013 can be considered very successful. 

What did we accomplish:
  • Ariadna got her first field experience with working in the Arctic region: sampling on the fjord, getting acquainted with Arctic (benthic) species, running exposure studies in the lab, dissecting shell fish, improvising, collecting samples for bioindicator studies, organising transport to and from Ny-Ålesund, and experiencing the beauty of the Arctic.
  • Ben also got his first experiences working in the Arctic, with working hard and long days (and nights) to assist Ariadna (see above), improvising and being flexible (to finally retrieve the research equipment he needed for his own tests), obtaining first results of ballast water testing in the Arctic, and enjoying the Arctic community and nature to the max.
  • Martine was happy to experience her second summer at Ny-Ålesund, coordinating this year’s field season, collecting new sediment samples for targeted contaminant analysis (this time also focusing on run off of cont
    aminants from the old mine), arranging pictures of special sites of the Kongsfjorden together with Geir Gabrielsen and Maarten Loonen (a small project that will be presented at a later stage), and taking every opportunity to enjoy the Arctic community and nature.
  • Bas and Ruben were in awe during their first visit to Ny-Ålesund, continuously following Ben, Ariadna, Martine and other inhabitants of the Dutch Arctic Station with their camera and sound equipment to collect extensive film footage of doing research at Ny-Ålesund. All footage is now in process for the documentary on the importance of research for sustainable developments in the Arctic. The documentary will be used as part of a lecture of the Minor Oil & Gas in The Netherlands and will become available online.  
It’s great to be back having all these wonderful experiences in our backpack...

Photo by Ruben Kocx ©

vrijdag 26 juli 2013

Meanwhile at "the office"

Yes, as usual we have been busy again!
Instead of working outside in the fjord it seems that our daily routine is occupied with "inside work".
From dusk to dawn (or from 0:900 to 23:00) Ariadna and I are working in the Marine lab located next to the Ny-Alesund harbour.

Warm clothing, music and Zooplankton..We'll manage!
©Ariadna Szczybelski
The bioindicator project is running smoothly, this week all organisms will be weight and measured, freeze-dried and sent to Holland!

The Ballast-water project is also going as planned, tests are up and running and the results are looking good. Tests are performed inside a climate room at 2°C, which is just fine for the tested organisms (Zooplankton), but chilly for the one who has to monitor them daily! But then again, we are on the North pole, it should be chilly!

The Arctic fox, a nice suprise! 
©Brigitte Weiss 
Something else that is only found in the Arctic regions and which showed up last night is the Arctic fox! Walking around the tundra and in our backyard! Our German Colleague grabbed her camera and made amazing pictures. I had the same plan but I could not find it... But it is amazing to see such wildlife so close.

The upcoming days we will be enjoying the Marine lab, doing our research and hopefully encounter some other nice wildlife. Have a great weekend!

vrijdag 19 juli 2013

The week of succes!

It's friday! We finished our sampling on the Teisten and Ariadna is as we speak (or as I write) busy with the dissection of her newfound organisms! Meanwhile I am entering data and writing this story about the horror and adventures of this week...

Enjoying lunch in between hours of hard labour, sorry Ari...
© Ben Frederiks
With the Teisten we moved back and forth the Kongsfjord this week, sampling at every possible point that could deliver us "the goods". And it was quite a task to get enough organisms for Ariadna, long days on the boat it were, but we managed to get a sufficient amount and Ariadna is the happiest girl in town!

The Teisten during nice weather
©Ben Frederiks

On the picture you can see Ariadna enjoying her lunch on the boat while watchting the astonishing views we encounter during our boat-trips during nice weater, it has not always been nice though...
But the days of hardship are over, weather was great yesterday and today so we could get ourselves a tan while being on the boat!

Even more good news this week: The expected cargo has finally landed in Ny-Alesund, hence the Ballast Water tests are officially starting! This going to be one of the main activities for the upcoming week, we are also going to start the process of freeze drying all the samples taken from the fjord before we sent them to the Netherlands for further research.

The next thing on this schedule is a good night of sleep...Goodnight!

dinsdag 16 juli 2013

-9 just the way we like it

Horrible horrible weather! With hard winds and high waves we faced the freezing temperatures of -9! At least, it felt that cold...it was even showed on the weatherforecast... Nevertheless we are out on the Kongsfjord this week, from Monday till Friday we will work 'till we drop in our search for benthic organisms.
The organisms caught will be disected in the lab, freeze-dryed and shipped to the Netherlands where further
Iceberg with Ny-Alesund in the back, even during work nice
pictures can be made. 
©Ben Frederiks
research will be performed on these organisms at the IMARES departments in Den Helder and Yerseke.

The workingday is not over after a long day on the ship, Ariadna and I (Ben) both have our projects that still need daily attention, this means working late and a lot less sleep than usual. The Tests on Ballastwater biocides were a bit delayed but while improvising one test is up and running..almost worth a celebration!

And on Thursday all materials will finally arrive! That means that there is one usefull week left to perform tests on Ballast water Biocides, a lot less time we've hoped for, but we'll make the best of it!

By the way, there is a new funfact...Last night a mother bear with cub was spotted near the pub "mellageret', that's very close to the Dutch station! It will probably be back this night, time to get our camera's ready!

vrijdag 12 juli 2013

Working, waiting, moving and polarbears!

Spitsbergen (or Svalbard, whatever you fancy) is not such an easy place to work as a scientist, that's at least what we have found out in the last week. Materials and shipments seems to be always in delay. And that one item you forgot to take with you on you're journey is the one you need the most...

This is regarding to my (Ben) experiments, the parcel that left the Netherlands 2 weeks ago was to be delivered on the 11th of July from the cargoship that provides the village with it's monthly supplies. Luckily the ship arrived, but my "stuff" is stuck in Tromsø, why is not clear but after a lot of phonecalls, Emails and money my parcel should be on it's way now...for real this time!

Being busy in the lab creates a messs
Despite the lack of materials the tests concerning the efficiency of Ballastwater biocides starts today, tough with another biocide and a lot of improvising, but that is the way things go in the Arctic. If all is going as planned the parcel will arrive on monday which will make things a lot easier.

But writing a sad  story in Ny-Alesund is impossible, too many good things happen! As I mentioned earlier, the supply-vessel arrived! This means that fresh fruit, meat, veggies and ofcourse toilet paper are once again abundant in the most Northern village! Dinner has always been excellent but some small things are only served when the ship has visited town, making dinner even better!

London 2, moved towards it's new location
Don't worry, we won't come back 10 kilo's heavier, that's because we work so hard! Ariadna's experiment is going as planned. One of her objectives is to gather as much organisms as possible and to sent them to Holland for further analysis, this is scheduled for next week and it will take quite some while to gather the goods. This week it is vital to keep on checking the water quality that is used for her tests.

This week London 2, one of the 4 "english style" houses was removed from it's location and put 10 metres further in the street. The building is being renovated and that is quite a task, lifting a house is not something you see daily but it does make good pictures! The placement is only for a short while, when the foundation has been renovated it will be located back again.

London 2, still at it's original location 
To finish for today, at around midnight two polar bears where spotted on a small island near the village, after a short swim they came ashore and walked towards the village to have a look around. But then the watchmen arrived and scared them off.. Those guys really deserve the name "Watchmen" since we slept trough the night and didn't hear a thing....

zondag 7 juli 2013

Waiting and livin' on the edge!

Since working on the boat is done we are now in the Marine lab mostly, this building is the absolutely perfect example of how complete a lab can be, it has several climate rooms, working areas and much more. But it is also located directly near the water which has the enormous benefit of seeing wildlife while at work! 
Ariadna's test in the climate room ©Ben Frederiks
For example, 5 days ago a huge group of belugas swam through the fjord and yesterday a walrus was spotted in the harbour! This of course does not affect the work performed by us, but it is a great feature that makes this place so special.

Besides watching the magnificent wildlife work has to be done! This week we started Ariadna’s tests, the organisms were put in the aquaria and water is changed every two days. With the starting of the tests monitoring becomes a standard part of the day to see if animals are staying vivid and alive.

My (Ben) materials are arriving on Thursday, from them on I can practice my skills in the lab too, until that time I am assisting Ariadna with the project. But I cannot wait till Thursday, will be a great to finally get started! That is, if the polar bears leave us alone…

This morning at around 7:30 we woke up because of gunshots near the house, assuming that it came from the shooting range we stayed at ease and kept on sleeping, after a few more shots we heard our German colleague Gigi shouting “Polar bear at the beach!”, immediately we jumped out of our beds, grabbed our camera’s and ran towards the door! And there it was: A large white polar bear walking along the shoreline being followed by two watchmen that shot flares at him to scare him away.  
The polar bear near the Dutch station only 500
meters away!  ©Brigitte Weiss
Although the bear did not seemed impressed by the explosions it moved away from the village leaving us exited and fully awake!

This it is just another reminder that our staying in Spitsbergen is not completely without risks, though it’s more likely to choke on the excessive breakfast, but the visit of a polar bear is not impossible…

woensdag 3 juli 2013

Gathering the animals... What a job!

It have been busy days since Bas, Ruben and Martine left Spitsbergen, despite the tears and hugs the show had to go on…well fieldwork in this case. For the last few days it meant collecting organisms for Ariadna’s exposure experiment.
The animals were taken from the Kongsfjord, with the good old workboat “Teisten”. The entire area was sampled to find the perfect spot where the animals needed could be found.
An amount of 100 organisms per species had to be collected, rating to a total of 400 crawling creatures! The animals where sampled from the bottom of the Kongsfjord with help op the Van Veen Grab at depths of 20 to 60 metres! The grab is able to collect a small amount of sediment each time so it had to be lifted up and down a lot of times during the day.
Ariadna sorting out a sample on the Teisten. cold hands, cuts and
rain,but she keeps on going... © Ben Frederiks

Monday was a day with horrible weather, strong gusts and a lot of showers, a lovely day to stay inside but no…we brave few went out on the boat. The sampling went well, but there was no abundance of animals to be found, meaning that we would have to work a bit harder the upcoming days. To make the hardship complete: We almost forgot dinner! Ariadna insisted to work a bit longer to finish the preparations for the next day, still keeping the weekend dinner-schedule in mind we walked back towards the service-building with great hunger to find out that the working days-schedule is a bit earlier compared to the weekend…something never to forget! (don’t worry, we still got dinner that evening).

On Tuesday Ariadna and I were joined by Thijs and Sander, the filmcrew from the Dutch scientific television program Labyrinth. These guys where here to film the work we are conducting in Ny-Alesund, it was great to have them on-board, pitty that the weather started with a fog so dense that the captain of the boat had to slow down due to the low visibility. Later on the clouds disappeared and a beautiful scenery appeared.

Later that evening a Polarbear was spotted on Storholmen island at the other side of the fjord, in no-time the whole village was looking at the enormous animal with binoculars and telescopes. It was foraging on the islands bird nests and took a nap after dinner. Unfortunately my camera did not have the range to make a proper photo of it, but it was a big one!

True, it's not a polarbear but this iceberg with Kittiwakes is
also worth a look. © Ben Frederiks
Wednesday was a great day, started sampling early in the morning, it was a calm and sunny day, we could feel the warm sun! And with this last day of sampling the results of our hard work are as followed: enough shellfish have been gathered, The Macoma and Astarte are ready to put in test! On the contrary worms are a bit harder to find Nephtys and Pectinaria are not abundant and it is questionable if these are put in test.
All with all these were pretty good days, hopefully the materials arrive tomorrow so I (Ben) can start up my tests concerning Ballast-water management systems too. It will be another exiting week!

dinsdag 2 juli 2013

Exploring the Arctic’s change at Blomstrand glacier

30 June 2013

Captain Wojtek 
© Bas Bolman
For Martine, Ruben and Bas this is the last day at Ny-Ålesund, whereas Ariadna and Ben are staying for another five weeks for their research on bioindicators and ballast water. Luckily we finally got the chance to go offshore with a large Zodiac. We had less luck with the weather: continuous rain and heavy clouds. But that certainly didn’t influence our enthusiasm for the day.

Mr Wojtek from the Norwegian Polar Institute was our experienced captain and Maarten Loonen from the Dutch Arctic Station of the Netherlands joined us as our guide. First he took us to the marble cave on Blomstrandhalvøya, an island north of Ny-Ålesund. This area has been exploited in the past for marble mining. Subsequently Maarten showed us the Blomstrand glacier. Just as most glaciers on Svalbard, the Blomstrand glacier is retreating. In 1991, after the glacier’s retreat for several hundreds of metres, it became clear that Blomstrandhalvøya is actually an island instead of a peninsula.

At 200 metres from the glacier, captain Wojtek turned off the engine of the boat. With the glacier so close to us, surrounded by smaller and larger icebergs, we could do nothing but watch the beauty of the area and listen to the soft sounds of the rain touching the mirror of the water surface and the gentle crackling of the ice. It seemed that the Arctic was telling us its own story of its slowly changing magnificent scenery.

From left to right: Ruben, Martine, Maarten and Bas
© Bas Bolman
And then our guide Maarten started to tell his story of a changing Arctic. Increasing temperatures of approximately 2ºC over the last decades might not give the impression of an enormous change. But in the Arctic, it’s the difference between snow and rain. In other words, it shouldn’t rain at Svalbard. Maarten’s research on Arctic bird populations is certainly relevant here. The Barnacle geese, Eider ducks and Arctic terns population are reduced this year; does it relate to the change in the Arctic? Or is it a natural fluctuation over the years and will populations recover over the next years? To understand the Arctic’s change it is important to do thorough research of its species and habitats. It is time for stakeholders to sit together and make plans on the interactions between humans and the Arctic in the future. 

Martine from IMARES explained about the Arctic Programme of TripleP@Sea, an investment programme of Wageningen UR to build up an Arctic knowledge base to facilitate the sustainable development of the Arctic by developing tools, guidelines and standards. These knowledge products are crucial input for a much larger stakeholder debate on the future of the Arctic. Where can we exploit activities? Which areas should be closed due to high ecosystem values? Under what conditions can activities be allowed in the Arctic Region? How can we effectively map and reduce environmental pressures of e.g. oil & gas activities?

Touched by the magical blue ice of the glacier and its ever increasing calving Maarten concluded that maybe it is time for humans to reconsider their role in the Arctic.

The next stop was at a huge green cliff, east of the Blomstrand glacier. On this cliff literally thousands of Kittiwakes and Guillemots are nesting in order to have their offspring soon and provide for a new generation. The noise of the screaming birds was again overwhelming. On the way back we passed impressive ice bergs, large blue crystals floating in the water in an endless variety of shapes. Petrols flying on both sides of the boat guided us back towards Ny-Ålesund.

Amazed of our experiences we shared our stories late in the evening with an ice cold beer. In the meantime a polar bear silently crossed the village… 

Iceberg in Kongsfjorden
© Bas Bolman

Dinner with a whale

29 June 2013

Ben working in the temperature room© Bas Bolman
Weekends at Ny-Ålesund start at a slower pace than a regular day of the week. Instead of breakfast at 7:30 AM, brunch is served at 10.00 AM. This does not mean that less work was done on Saturday. Ben and Ariadna worked in the temperature room to set up the aquarium system, fill the aquariums with sediment and sea water, and get the aeration started. With a set temperature of 5ºC in the room they were dressed as going on an outdoor hike, including hats to stay warm. The temperature room is one of the facilities in the Kings Bay Marine Laboratory, the northernmost laboratory in the world.

Ariadna and Martine
taking sediment samples

© Bas Bolman
During low tide at noon Ariadna and Martine walked over to the shore behind the station to collect sediment samples near an old waste dump from the station. This area is just outside the station border meaning that a flare gun was needed to scare of a potentially curious polar bear. Bas and Ruben functioned as guards while simultaneously enjoying the scenery and sun reflecting in the bay.

Later that afternoon a few simple tests were conducted in the lab to demonstrate the influence of ice on the behaviour of oil and efficacy of dispersants combatting oil in sea water. With sunflower oil and detergent as example of a dispersant clear differences were seen, illustrating the need for an oil spill response plan specifically for icy conditions.

Saturday night dinner is special in Ny-Ålesund. Everybody dresses up and working cloths are hardly spotted in the dining area. Candles are placed on the table and we brought bottles of wine to share. While enjoying the wonderful food and wine suddenly loud cheers were heard and everybody moved to the windows. A Humpback whale was spotted in Kongsfjorden right beside a small zodiac from the station with some bird researchers in it having the time of their lives. Humpback whales are not often seen in Kongsfjorden making it a special present during our Saturday night dinner. The Humpback whale circled the boat for more than half an hour and seemed to be very curious. People, including our camera crew, left their desert to have a closer look at the humpback whale from the harbour. As if this was not enough, half an hour later an Arctic fox was spotted running over the tundra next to the restaurant. A perfect way to end our Saturday!

Sunset at the harbour of Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

zondag 30 juni 2013

Sampling at Kongsfjorden

27-28 June 2013
The field sampling campaign has started. Fortunately with nice weather: mostly sunny skies and not too strong winds. The first day we sampled organisms living in the sediments (shell fish and worms) from the harbour of Ny-Ålesund and surroundings. Both sediment and organisms will be used to assess contaminant concentrations. Buckets full of contaminated sediments were also collected to be used in Ariadna’s exposure study in the lab. The second day this procedure was repeated, only then at a clean reference site on the other side of the bay. The hard work was rewarded by the visit of a walrus, belugas and puffins to our boat and stunning views of ice blue coloured icebergs and magnificent glaciers. All samples are now safe and well in the freezer or cold room, awaiting further process.
Van  Veen Grab used for sampling of species
© Ruben Kocx
Ben and Ariadna working
in front of a glacier

© Bas Bolman

vrijdag 28 juni 2013

Walking on the ocean floor near Ny-Ålesund

28 June 2013

In the morning we had lots of sunshine while working offshore. But in the evening the weather in Ny-Ålesund quickly changed. Heavy clouds rushed in and seemingly endless rain poured down. Nevertheless, Maarten Loonen from the Netherlands Arctic Station took us out for a field trip. First the instructions: check the rifles, flare gun and radio. Then off to the west. Just outside the village the rifles are half-loaded, just to be sure. We walked towards the airport, a 800 meter long gravel road. Along the strip, several scientific observation stations are functioning, such as the large satellite dish of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, measuring the earth’s rotation speed. After the air strip we reached the red river, which is red because of the silt that is transported from the glaciers. After crossing the a small bridge we reached the tundra. Because of the melting upper layer of the tundra, many us of sank into the mud. In the meantime Maarten explained that we were actually walking on a former ocean floor. About 10,000 years ago, just after the glaciers retreated, an ocean was formed. This is proven by the white shells that can be found at many places. After the tundra we reached Kongsfjorden. Due to the rain and clouds we the view was not stunning; however good enough to spot a walrus and some belugas. 

View over Kongsfjorden, 6 km north-west of  Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

donderdag 27 juni 2013

Shooting course at old coal mine

26 June 2013

Our trainer showing how
to half-load the rifle

© Bas Bolman
Yesterday the most important item on our agenda was a training to learn how to shoot a polar bear with a rifle. There are approximately 3,000 polar bears at Svalbard, some of them are hungry and looking for food. Since the Arctic team doesn’t plan to be on the polar bear’s menu, it was a wise decision to follow the course. In the morning the theory was explained, such as the behaviour of polar bears, number of incidents and distribution. Furthermore the different types of rifles and ammunition were explained.

The shooting cabin in the mountains
© Bas Bolman
In the afternoon the practical part of the course started. With two cars we drove to the south-east of Ny-Ålesund, to the area where a coal mine operated from 1916-1962. The mine closed after an accident, killing 21 workers. After a short but steep climb we arrived at the hut. Under the supervision of the director of Kings Bay AS, the Arctic team learned how to shoot in different positions and with different types of rifles.

In the afternoon preparations were taken to go offshore with the Teisten work boat. The equipment from the lab is ready to be used on board in order to take sediment samples to measure pollution in the Kings Fjord.   

dinsdag 25 juni 2013

Pilot of propeller plane cancels landing procedure close to Ny-Ålesund

25 June 2013

Abandoned Arctic Coal Mine at Longyearbyen
© Bas Bolman

Yesterday morning our flight from Longyearbyen to Ny-Ålesund ended differently than expected. After 30 minutes of flying the pilot started the descent; however due to the mist the pilot decided to cancel landing procedures. Because of the noise of the propeller plane, a Dornier 228, we didn’t understand the pilot’s instructions. After another 30 minutes we finally landed. When stepping out of the small plane, the small airport looked very familiar… Or maybe even a bit too familiar. It appeared that the pilot had actually returned to Longyearbyen because of the bad weather. Subsequently the flights from 15.00 hrs and 19.30 hrs were cancelled too. And thus the Arctic team was left with no other option to find a place to sleep in Longyearbyen. Luckily we were not alone: three researchers from France were also stuck, as well as the Dutch author, actor and poet (Dichter des Vaderlands) Ramsey Nasr. The Hotel "Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg" still had several rooms and also cold beers left.

Ariadna and Ben in
the Dornier 228 propeller plane
© Bas Bolman
Today we made another attempt to get to Ny-Ålesund. This time with more luck: nice weather, not too cloudy, and hardly any wind. On the way the views were truly stunning. One snow-capped mountain after the other, large glaciers connecting to even larger glaciers, one fjord being bigger than the other. After a smooth landing a small bus took us to the service centre where we were welcomed by Maarten Loonen, the station manager from the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen. After registration and lunch Maarten explained us about the do’s and don’ts in the village. Especially safety is an issue since polar bears might unexpectedly visit the settlement. The instructions: when you step outside the house, do a bear check for 10 seconds first. Stay on the gravel roads and be aware: you’re always bait. Last but not least: do not leave Ny-Ålesund without a gun.

Glacier close to Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

maandag 24 juni 2013

Travelling to Svalbard

Ruben Kocx, Martine van den Heuvel-Greve and Bas Bolman
23 June 2013

After saying goodbye to our families and friends we checked in at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 
Just as in 2012, this expedition is part of the Arctic Programme within TripleP@Sea, an investment programme of Wageningen UR aiming to develop tools to enable a sustainable use of the Arctic region. 

Svalbard from the air
This year we are a group of five: Martine van den Heuvel-Greve and Bas Bolman  from the Arctic Programme of IMARES Wageningen UR, Ariadna Szczybelski a PhD student on Arctic Indicators from Wageningen University, Ben Frederiks, a BSc student from Van Hall Larenstein, and Ruben Kocx, who is a camera man from HPM Video Productions. Ruben will be filming our research for a film that will be presented during a guest lecture at the minor Oil & Gas in Den Helder later this year. The film is financed by the Maritime Campus Netherlands and the European Fund for Regional Development. 

The flight to Svalbard requested one stop over in Oslo, Norway, where we spend a few hours waiting and discussing the film plan. On our flight to Svalbard Bas arranged that Ruben could shoot some footage of the cockpit, pilots and the first glimpse of the impressive snow-capped peaks of Svalbard.
Midnight sun
We arrived a little later than planned but safe and sound at the windy air strip of Longyearbyen at mid night. As we are a little later in the season than our expedition last year, most of the snow in Longyearbyen is already gone and the bare brown sides of the mountains are visible. The light was beautiful at night when we arrived at our guest house. Instead of a well-deserved bed, Bas and Ruben decided to immediately start filming the surroundings and spotted the first Svalbard reindeer and an Arctic fox.

A short night later we are now back at the airport for our final leg to the Dutch Arctic station at Ny-Ålesund. We are currently waiting for the low clouds to lift before the small Dornier can take off.

Ruben Kocx at work at midnight

Arctic expedition to Svalvard

From 22 June to 6 August 2013, researchers from IMARES Wageningen UR are on expedition in the Arctic. Follow this blog and keep yourself informed.
From left to right:
Ruben Kocx, Ariadna Szczybelski, Ben Frederiks,
Martine van den Heuvel-Greve and Bas Bolman

© Martine van den Heuvel-Greve