Search Results for Tag: Ny Alesund
10 years French-German Arctic Station
Congratulations to the team of the joint French-German Arctic research station in Ny Alesund, Svalbard. It is ten years since the German polar authority AWI (Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) and its French counterpart IPEV (Institut Polaire Paul Emile Victor) joined forces at the world’s northernmost research base.
The station was my first Arctic destination in 2007, so it has a special significance for me. During the IPY, I was involved in an international radio cooperation to report on polar science, which was how the Ice Blog was born.
AWIPEV is the biggest of the research stations in Ny Alesund, and takes up to 150 scientists from France and Germany in the course of a year.
I visited again in 2010 with a team looking at ocean acidification. Their equipment was transported up by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, a “first” in terms of cooperation between scientists funded by the EU’s EPOCA programme and the environment group. Greenpeace offered the ship to help out when none of the scientific research vessels was available for the project.
The station has also just been the first to be officially approved by the climate data network GRUAN. Not a terribly attractive acronym, but definitely easier to say/write than the whole title: Global Climate Observing System Reference Upper Air Network. Basically, the idea is to standardize and the measurement of climate parameters around the world so that the figures are really comparable. It was initiated by the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, UNEP and the International Council for Science.
Keep up the good work everyone up there at AWIPEV.
DateApril 29, 2013 | 2:55 pm
Merry Christmas from the IceBlogger
“He’s cute” – is the response I’ve been getting to this Svalbard reindeer, pictured at Ny Alesund earlier this year.
Well reindeer and I would like to wish all iceblog readers all the very best for the Christmas holidays. In case you won’t be reading again until 2011, I’ll wish you a happy new year when it comes. But I am planning to be posting again before the turn of the year.
But do take time now for a quick click to another blog I’d like to draw your attention to. I’ve just contributed a post and will do so again on occasion.
The Global Ideas Blog and the whole project is all about finding solutions to our climate problems.”Thinking for a cooler world”. What do you think?
All the best for now.
DateDecember 22, 2010 | 3:23 pm
Are emotions taking over from science in the climate debate?
I’d like to share an interesting conversation I had at the Arctic Station in Ny Alesund with Max Koenig, head of the
Sverdrup Station run by the Norwegian Polar Institute. We were speaking in German, as Max is a native German speaker, so I have translated what he said.
Max finds the idea of believing or not believing in climate change a strange and interesting development. He says it has turned into a question of faith for a lot of people. But the climate change issue is not about faith, he says, but about facts on the table. He is surprised that there seems to be a lot of “false information” floating around. “If you consider that 95% of climate researchers are generally in agreement about the nature of the problem, then I really wonder where the scepticism comes from”, says the polar specialist. “On average, our planet is warming. And we understand the physics, he says. “
When it comes to the role of the media, Norway’s Arctic station chief says he is often surprised to find different views expressed in one publication, depending on which researcher is being interviewed. He sees one of the main problems in the tendency to always have a climate scientist and a sceptic placed one against the other.
“This can give the public the impression that half of the researchers think climate change is happening and the rest don’t”, he says. “Actually, almost all researchers say climate change is taking place and yes, something has to be done now.”
The debate has also become too emotional, Max says. He thinks a real discussion is becoming increasingly difficult.
Thanks for sharing those ideas with me Max, and with the Ice Blog readers. Thanks also once again for your hospitality and the coffee, looking out onto the melting snow around the bust of Roald Amundsen.
(Ny Alesund, early June 2010)
As we get ready for a big conference here in Bonn, starting on Monday, Global Media Forum
“The Heat is On: Climate Change and the Media”, these are exactly the sort of thing we’ll be talking about. I feel a huge sense of responsibility as a journalist. Of course we want to present the “whole picture”. But we don’t want to distort the facts by getting the balance wrong.
DateJune 18, 2010 | 10:11 am
The “bear” facts – on Longyearbjen
I left Ny Alesund having seen most of the mesocosms deployed and everything running well.
The local Arctic fox – who apparently lives under the 1912 houses which have become the Dutch Arctic station – appeared to see me off.
I found Longyearbjen in a state of great excitement because a polar bear had drifted in on the sea ice a few days ago. I was hoping he’d come back, but so far he hasn’t. It was a big attraction, because although they are said to be all around, understandably they don’t come into town that often. The authorities were happy as long as he snoozed on his iceberg, but when he started to move around, they zapped him with a tranquillizer dart and moved him off to a “safer” location.That left the ice floes clear for the Eiders.
Longyearbjen is called after American John M. Longyear, who established the first mine here in 1906. The mining history of the settlement is in evidence everywhere, old coal shafts and the pylons which carried the rope line used to transport the coal to the port.
Coal is still mined here today. It’s controversial, Greenpeace staged a protest here last year, which has made them quite unpopular with the locals, worried about their jobs. That’s presumably one reason why up in Ny Alesund, somebody threw a seal’s head onto the deck of the Esperanza. The local newsletter ‘icepeople’, self-styled as “the world’s northernmost alternative newspaper” reported on the return of the environmentalists saying “This time Greenpeace is promising – it seems – to be good”, i.e. because they are supporting scientific research rather than protesting. The newsletter people are clearly still wary, though.
There is a test project running here for carbon capture and storage. I went to the site of the borehole with the director, Gunnar Sand.
They are testing whether the underground storage site would be safe to store 90% of emissions from the local coal-fired power plant. He says they could be up and running by 2015. But he also stresses the need for much more intensive testing, as safety is paramount. He says Longyearbjen is ideal for a pilot plant, as they have a small community with a closed system. He thinks the world will be dependent on coal for the next fifty years at least, given especially the developments in China. More later on DW radio and the website.
There’s supposed to be a population of 2000 here. I don’t know where they all are, it makes a rather empty impression most of the time. Most people I’ve met have been incomers, who tend to come for a short time, fall in love with it and stay as long as they can. Margrete Nilsdater Skaktavl Keyser is one.
Margrete came here for a short course and went on to do a full degree here. The student residences at the far end of the town show the two main attractions that seem to bring students to the uni here : snow mobiles in winter and nature all around, all year round, with plenty of potential for field work on all aspects of Arctic sciences:
Margrete came here as a student for a short course and stayed on for a longer degree, writing on polar bears. You need a job to stay here, so she takes whatever she finds and goes home to the Norwegian mainland in between.In the season, she guides people on snowmobile trips. At the moment she’s working with the Svalbard authorities compiling a data base on encounters between humans and polar bears, trying to work out guidelines for avoiding “incidents”. I’ve been keeping that in mind walking around here. You can’t leave the town area safely without a rifle, flares etc. People have been killed around here, although it’s a good few years ago.
Glaciology Professor Doug Benn, a fellow Scot who taught in my old university St. Andrews, invited me to join him and two junior colleagues for a look at the local glaciers yesterday. He’s also an active researcher into a glacial area of the Himalayas. More on that next time.
As you can see, no hikes outside town without the rifle. Doug is the one in charge of the party’s safety here:
DateJune 3, 2010 | 8:56 am
Out in the Kongsfjord
Before I go any further:
Professor Jean-Pierre Gattuso, the coordinator of the whole EPOCA project, (see last blog post) has drawn my attention to the websites for the EPOCA project and suggested Ice Blog readers might like a look, so here they are. Thanks Jean-Pierre:
European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) blog
EPOCA Svalbard 2010 Blog
Sunday afternoon: the plan is to deploy the mesocosms in the fjord Monday morning if the weather remains stable. So Sebastian Krug from IFM Geomar, who is responsible for the logistics of the deployment, took some of his colleagues out in a boat with a remote-controlled underwater camera
this afternoon to check the anchors which have been put down to hold the floating test-tube constructions and make sure the lines coming up are not tangled and everything is where it should be. I was able to join them.
We need survival suits for this as the water is around freezing point. Everybody gets a briefing on the dangers of hypothermia up here, which sets in very quickly if you fall into the water without a suit, and nobody takes any chances.
Sebastian’s colleagues Andrea Ludwig, Sine Klaasen and Kai Schulz from IFM Geomar, the Kiel University marine science institute that’s managing all this, are also doing test runs with their equipment to take water samples and transport them back to the world’s most northerly marine lab in the base at Ny Alesund. They will be doing this with samples from the mesocosms regularly, once they’re in place and have been “dosed” with the required doses of CO2, a different amount in each mesocosm to simulate, in situ, what would happen if the ocean acidifies to a particular amount, according to the different IPCC scenarios, depending on how much CO2 we continue to emit in the coming decades. Kai is responsible for adding the CO2.
It started off as a grey day with snowflakes, but the sun came out surprisingly in between. The weather changes quickly and frequently here in the Arctic. You have to make the best of every sunray.
(View back to Ny Alesund)
Meike Nikolai is the communications officer from IFM Geomar. She’s documenting all of this for the institute’s records and website. She took this photo.
We got close up to this iceberg in the fjord. Hoping it and its colleagues will keep a safe distance from the mesocosms site.
Our little friend did his work underwater.
He makes some interesting blubbering and spitting sounds as he goes down (which you’ll hear when you tune into the radio stories on this project some time in the not too distant future! Keep an eye on the DW website and Living Planet
DW Environment web page
Nathan (Living Planet host), I hope you have plenty of space for this one, it’s a very exciting project.
The anchors are looking good, so weather and ice permitting, it’s full speed ahead for deployment on Monday morning. The scientists are getting excited, some nervous. They’ve been working for several years preparing this and it is the first of its kind. The crew on the Greenpeace boat are also excited about it all. They are playing a key role in getting this world premiere on the stage.
DateJune 1, 2010 | 9:28 am