Category Archives: Svalbard

ROUGH JUSTICE: Monica Mæland presided over the shutdown of most of Svalbard’s mining; she’s now the archipelago’s new ‘ruler’ after the collapse of Norway’s government last week

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Since her most notable Svalbard moment is a horde of emotionally-charged torch-wielding citizens cornering her in a dark parking lot, Monica Mæland is at the very least well-qualified to cope with tumultuous after being named “ruler” of the archipelago in the wake of the collapse of Norway’s government last week.

‘YOUR PLANE TRAVEL DESTROYS POLAR BEAR HABITAT’: Flying to/from Svalbard melts about 3 sq. m. of ice, study suggests

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Folks who criticize as hypocritical all those scientists and tourists flying to Svalbard to see the pristine environment and effects of climate change have a new scientific number of their own to cite – each round-trip flight emits enough CO2 to melt about three square meters of the sea ice that is vital for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.

WHAT THE PUCK? Putin may play in historic hockey game at Barneo in April – could he trigger yet another nasty political faceoff in Svalbard?

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“Putin makes stopover in Svalbard while traveling to play hockey at the North Pole.” It’s a helleva potential headline and news story if it comes to pass this April, although as of now there’s no guarantee he’ll play – or the match will even occur, given the chaos of recent years – or that he’ll take the conventional flight route through Svalbard if he does.

ASK THEM ANYTHING: FAQs for Svalbard science pros at forum include oldest rock, next ice age, microplastics, nuclear waste storage, zombie apocalypse

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When it comes to popular Svalbard topics like climate change and zombies, there’s unquestionably a lot of non-expert nonsense out there.

GOVERNOR: IF YOU CARE, BEWARE OF BEAR: Killing animal that has encountered tour groups in Bolterdalen in recent days is last resort, but public needs to avoid provocative actions

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Growls of frustration are already being heard as officials are trying to cope with another bear lingering near Longyearbyen in recent days, including two encounters with guided tour groups. But while The Governor of Svalbard says it is doing everything to avoid a repeat of the controversial killing of a bear on New Year’s Day, it’s crucial the public do everything possible to prevent potentially harmful situations.

FENDING OFF A POLAR BEAR WITH A ROPE: Dogsled guide says bear approached tour group too quick to use weapon, scared it off by hitting it with brake rope on sled without incident

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Marcel Starinsky says the dogsled group he was guiding was only 200 meters from the kennels at the end of a six-hour trip when a sight that will be forever remember appeared.

“Out of the darkness, over a greenery in the terrain, came a polar bear,” he told Svalbardposten late Wednesday. “It came right at my sled and my dogs.”

ALERT – ANOTHER POLAR BEAR NEAR TOWN: Governor sends helicopter to monitor bear seen Wednesday afternoon in Bolterdalen, tracks also seen on Longyearbreen on Tuesday

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Update 6:30 p.m.: The governor is chasing the bear south through Bolterdalen and plans to continue chasing it to Tverrdalen.

Update 5:50 p.m.: Green Dog Svalbard also reported an encounter with a polar bear at their kennels about 10 kilometers east of Longyearbyen, the governor’s office told Svalbardposten.

Original story: A polar bear was spotted Wednesday afternoon in Bolterdalen, a valley southeast of Longyearbyen, prompting a warning from officials after bear tracks were also observed Tuesday on Longyearbreen south of town.

60% OF SVALBARD COVERED BY GLACIERS? NOT ANY MORE: It’s 55% due to climate change since 2003. And ice and snow levels are dropping 25 and 43 percent per decade, respectively

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Time for another nugget of “common knowledge” about Svalbard to be liquidated, so to speak:  60 percent of the archipelago isn’t covered by ice, it’s about 55 percent.

While the updated figure might not seem massive to some casual observers, the reduction has occurred in less than 20 years due to climate change, according to an update of a major collaborative research publication released this week.

BETTER GUIDES AND FEWER TOURISTS? Norway’s government seeks certification requirements for guides, arguing for safety and protection even if it means fewer visitors

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Requirements for guides in Svalbard to be certified to further a goal of safer and more environmentally sustainable tourism are being drafted Norway’s government, with the acknowledgement “this may lead to fewer tourists choosing Svalbard.”

But while the general objectives of the regulations were released Tuesday, the specifics – including whether they’ll address a multitude of concerns raised by guides and some others in the industry including labor workshift, safety, wage and other alleged unfair practices – remain to be seen.

SVALBARD SCIENTISTS DISCOVER BREAST CANCER CURE? Molecule ‘selectively killed cancer cells,’ but as of now ‘working hard to see if it is possible to make medicine’

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Declaring a molecule found in Svalbard “can cure breast cancer” is a big, big headline, but – as with many scientific “breakthroughs” – comes with a big “what if.”

With that qualifier in mind, optimism a medicine will indeed be developed some day is being expressed by researchers at the Norwegian School of Fisheries (part of UiT Norway’s Arctic University) using a small molecule discovered in animals on the seabed off the coast of Bjørnøya in 2011.