woensdag 10 september 2014

Back in Ny-Ålesund , the Bioindicator team!

Alright, we do apologize for this late message. But as usual we have been occupied with experiments, labwork and an occaisional beer since we landed last thursday. Therefore, we take this moment to inform you all that we are doing just fine. Here's our story...

Who are we again? We are Ariadna Szczybelski and Ben Frederiks, last year we have visited Spitsbergen during summer to start the fieldwork period on the Arctic archipelago. Now we are back again to do the very same job for Ariadna's Phd-project, Ben is an assisting field researcher and later on Noël Diepens will join too.

Shortly explained, Ariadna's Phd research is dedicated to monitor the effect of pollution by offshore oil exploitation in Arctic regions. This effect can be monitored by exposing organisms (that are common in the area) to the pollutants, these organisms are therefore the so-called bioindicators. During this research we expose 2 species of bivalves and one polychaete (worm) species to clean and contaminated sediment. By doing so, the effect of toxicity can be monitored.

Dutch Arctic station in a snowy landscape © Ben Frederiks 

The entire experiment is situated in two climate rooms in the marine lab of Kings Bay AS (Ny-Ålesund), conveniently located at the entrance of the harbour. This is where the laboratory part of the fieldwork is conducted. 
The actual fieldwork is taking place onboard the Teisten, a 30 foot workingboat that can bring us anywhere in the fjord.We collect the organisms by lowering a grab to the bottom of the fjord between 15 and 40 metres. Whatever the grab brings up is sieved, sorted and taken back to the lab. 

Ariadna working on the Teisten during snowfall. © Ben Frederiks 
So, something more about the area. Last year we arrived in june, now we are here during late summer/fall. The same area is completely different, colours have faded and a cold wind reminds you of an approaching winter. Last Tuesday heavy clouds brought in snow, which covered the area with a white blanket. Axel, the captain of the Teisten explained to us that skiing was already possible at the beginning of october last year. So it seems winter is not far away anymore. It does allow you to make beautiful pictures of the area, but it can be quite chilly, for example when working on the boat, out in the open fjord.
But then again, we're in the Arctic, and prepared for it, no complains from our side!
Since we are late in the season the Dutch station is closed, simply because it's too cold. Ariadna and I currently sleep in the hotel, which is fine as well. The amount of people has shrunk to approximately 80 persons, giving the village a more cosy ambience. 

So, this is a short update of our staying in Ny-Ålesund. We are more than pleased to be back in town, it is a great experience and in the next weeks we will keep you up to date of our activities.

Cheers from a snowy Ny-Ålesund,
Ariadna & Ben

Yes we're back! Ariadna was actually wearing clogs © Ben Frederiks

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