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20171102 12:00: KNMI special 2

KNMI special 2
What happens now ice is melting in the Arctic?

2 November 2017


A webpage of KNMI, the Royal Meteorological Institute in the Netherlands about the consequences of climate change in the Arctic.

Open the page in Google Translate
arctic ecosystems
weather and climate in the arctic
econmic developments in the arctic

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20170807 09:30: field excursion for students

field excursion for students

7 August 2017

For many years, a group of students from UNIS University courses on Svalbard is visiting Ny-Ålesund and follows me for one day in a goose catch. In front of the station, they get their first instructions.
Pictures by Anne Schumacher

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20170731 18:30: tasting glacier ice

tasting glacier ice

31 July 2017

A team from Brandpunt is making a documentary about climate change. In front of the glacier, they make a clip with a 360 degrees camera. I explain to Sacha de Boer, photo journalist and former news anchor of the national TV news, about the properties of glacier ice and compare it with sea ice.
On facebook this video is spectacular as you can scroll around. The first picture gives the normal window. The second picture is the full picture. To see the clip with all technical gadgets go to facebook.
I made some selfies, while they were enjoying some glacier calving.
On the tv-website, there is a news announcement about their documentary. In this Dutch text, I am cited a lot.

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20170730 21:45: tern chicks weighing

tern chicks weighing

30 July 2017


The only arctic tern chicks surviving in the village are breeding in a fenced area around the oil drums. I have ringed in this area 25 chicks and I am weighing them once more to follow their growth. Today Jabir Thajudeen from the Indian Himadri station is joining us and hopes to collect some fresh faeces from adults. This is also a good opportunity to take a picture from him with a chick.

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20170729 16:30: first goose catch

first goose catch

29 July 2017

The first catch of geese in 2017.
Yuta is weighing the geese in their boxMaarten is sexing the geese
plastic ringmetal ring
growing primariesmeasuring head-bill size
Pictures by Erlend Jensen Sandvoll

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20170728 19:48: boating course

boating course

28 July 2017


Eefje de Goede and Annabelle de Vries are almost ready with their fieldwork. Today they want to visit two sites, each an hour walking east and west of town. I deceide to bring them to both places and they will walk bacjk from Stuphallet.

The weather is calm and this is a good opportunity for a first boating course. Both get a chance in handling the boat and we all have a good time.

Eefje rounds the iceberg.

Annabelle brings us to the next stop

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20170728 12:00: mother and daughter

mother and daughter

28 July 2017

Martine van den Heuvel and her daughter Mare feature in a newspaper article about their field work on Svalbard.

We always carried a rifle
Mare van den Heuvel temorarily research assistant
In July, Mare van den Heuvel (13) assists her mother (ecotoxicologist) on Spitsbergen.

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20170727 14:00: Gerdøya

Gerdøya

27 July 2017

Mari and I are reading rings on the island Gerdøya. Only four out of a hundred geese appears ringed on this island.
While Mari is in the bird hide, I go ringing arctic tern chicks on the other side of the island.

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20170727 10:53: satellite download

satellite download

27 July 2017

It is the last working day for Carsten Falck (left) and Stefan Weisheit (right) in their satellite download station. This is the moment for a short visit.
The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ-Potsdam) operates a satellite receiving station at Ny-Ålesund to receive data from research satellites in polar orbits (e.g., CHAMP, GRACE, Terrasar-X, Tandem-X, SAC-C). Satellites in polar orbits can be received in Germany not more often than 3 to 4 times per day (due to the rotation of the Earth). The same satellites appear over Ny-Ålesund about 15 times per day, allowing data reception from these satellites approximately 95 minutes after onboard measurement. The fast availability of the data is the precondition for applications with tight time constraints. An example is the data of satellite-measured GNSS atmosphere sounding instruments (innovative method to determine atmospheric temperature and water vapor profiles), which is used to improve weather forecasting and climate research. The high number of contacts to the satellites also supports a better health monitoring of the satellite systems so that onboard technical problems may be detected early. The receiving antennas are located outside the village, between the local airport and the Kings Bay. The station is a state of the art, multi mission follow-up (replacement) of the CHAMP-receiving antenna (installed in 2001).

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20170727 09:00: team today

team today

27 July 2017

A picture of all Dutch scientists staying in Ny-Ålesund today. Note the nice t-shirts they are wearing, designed by eyedentityclothing.com.
From left to right Eefje de Goede (Leiden), Martine van den Heuvel-Greve (Wageningen), Annabelle de Vries (Leiden), Frits Steenhuisen (Groningen), Mare van den Heuvel (Wageningen), Maarten Loonen (Groningen), Sanne Moedt (Groningen), Michiel Klaassen (Wageningen), Yuta Morii (Groningen), Anne Schumacher (Wageningen/Groningen), Mari Fjeldal (Trondheim).


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20170726 22:22: tern chicks

tern chicks

26 July 2017

The only place were terns are succesfully raising their chicks in town is in de enclosure of the oil drums. You need to be brave, to enter in the area. Mare and Mari go and collect the chicks, so I can ring and weigh them. Yuta Morii made the pictures.

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20170726 12:30: preparations for ringing

preparations for ringing

26 July 2017

Soon we will start catching geese. I have engraved plates, which have to be turned into rings by heating, fitting them in a tube and cooling them. I learn Mari how to do the work.

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20170725 19:00: news for kids

news for kids

25 July 2017

Mare is 14 years and accompagnies her mother to Spitsbergen. She is helping with the research. In the Netherlands there is a special item on Mare in the daily news for kids.


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20170725 15:00: bird observation hide

bird observation hide

25 July 2017

In the afternoon, Mari and me go ring reading on Storholmen. I bring a new bird observation hide. It works very well. While I bring the geese to the hide, Mari is able to read all rings.

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20170725 11:30: taxi boat

taxi boat

25 July 2017

This morning, I am playing taxi for Annabelle and Eefje, who need to sample at Gåsebu and Stuphallet, both east and west of town. I bring them to Gåsebu, wait for half an hour and than to Stuphallet. From Stuphallet they will walk back to town. The fjord is magnificient with ice floating in large numbers.

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20170724 13:00: blue mussels

blue mussels

24 July 2017

While reading rings, I find this buoy in town full with blue mussels. This species is only recently found on Spitsbergen. During the excavations of Smeerenburg, Louwrens Hacquebord did find blue mussels, but Simon Troelstra was able to show with stable oxygen isotopes signature that these mussels were originating from the Netherlands. They might have been part of the ballast (usually sand in those days). This is an interesting find. The buoy must originate from Russia, but the mussels were still alive when they drifted in Spitsbergen and people from the Norwegian Polar Institute recovered it. We sample the mussels for DNA and isotope signature.

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20170723 19:00: stranded

stranded

23 July 2017

Every time, we land on a place, we put the boat in between two anchors. You have to judge the tide and we thought we did the right thing looking at the switch from cobbles to sand underwater. Three hours later we return to the boat and find it stranded. The waterline has just passed the boat. However, we have to wait for 4.5 hours before the boat is floating again as it is extreme low tide.
The lines in the mud were to judge the tide. It went lower and lower. Below Sanne and Mare take a nap in an emergency blanket. Pictures by Yuta Morii.
The last moments before the boat floats again.
Yutta is passing the time looking for sea creatures and discovers this beautiful jelly fish. On the way home, I am a bit impatient after 4.5 hours of waiting. So we go full troddle. Yuta enjoyed sitting in the front and made this video.

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20170723 14:00: walrus remains

walrus remains

23 July 2017

We are at a remote area and are rewarded with finding an intact skeleton of an impressive walrus. Beautiful tusks and teeth.


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20170721 20:00: happy birthday

happy birthday

21 July 2017

Martine van den Heuvel is having her birtday and this is a good moment to take her team to the kittiwake cliff to see the fox puppies. My motto: a childs joy is a prensent for the mother. We go in our small zodiac and are lucky.


In the harbour we are testing the survival suits. One suit, the one of Frits Steenhuisen failed..... wet clothing.


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20170721 14:05: kittiwakes at glacier

kittiwakes at glacier

21 July 2017

We are able to approach the glacier front without floating ice blocking our view. In the cave, there is a meltwater river plounging in the fjord. Kittiwakes have recognized this spot as a rich spot and try to keep close to the glacier while the water stream is pushing them out.

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20170721 14:00: living conditions

living conditions

21 July 2017

I am hosting a documentary crew for the channel Arte, a public frenco-german TV channel. They are making a series called habiter le monde.

In each episode, Philippe Simay travels in the world to meet people who live in atypical places. With this idea : how does the environment, the way we build our houses, the general organisation of our cities or villages represent our way of living ? And our way of seeing ourselves in the world. Philippe is a philosopher, specialized in architecture and urbanism, so this series is a mix of discovering new places in the world, and questioning our relationship to the world.

For this new season, they prepare an episode in Ny-Ålesund. This scientific base brings a lot of very interesting questions. Unlike the other episodes, this one would be slightly different. Usually, they go to places where men have been living for centuries, places that have a rich past, a folklore, a very specific architecture. In Ny-Ålesund, of course there is a rich history, but it’s quite different. Also, there is a Norwegian type of architecture, that is already representative of the way people live. Yet, this base, being international, and mainly existing for the purpose of scientific research brings another type of questioning. They are interested in the international scientific community and how everything works up there. How do you achieve to make a very remote place in the world feel like home. How do you succeed in creating a sense of community ? How do you see your environment ? Especially, being people who study it. How do they feel when they can witness, year after year, the effects of global warming in their environment. Ny-Ålesund is one of the most remote places in the world, yet, it is directly connected to the rest of the world and we hope to show how the rest of the civilisation is impacting this allegedly remote and wild place.

We have taken them along on our fjord count for seabirds.

Pictures by Maarten Loonen and Anne Schumacher


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20170720 14:00: pollution?

pollution?

20 July 2017

Martine van den Heuvel and Frits Steenhuizen have obtained a grant from the Svalbard Environmental Fund to study pollution in transects away from Ny-Ålesund. Mare van den Heuvel and Michiel Klaassen are their helpers. It is a nice cooperation between Wageningen Marine Research and the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen. In these pictures they sample from a boat and in the mine area near Ny-Ålesund.

Pictures by Mare and Martine van den Heuvel


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20170719 20:00: bowhead whale

bowhead whale

19 July 2017

A unique observation in Kongsfjorden. A bowhead whale. The whale which was hunted to extinction in the 17th century has made a comeback. Pictures by Trond Sandmo and Stig Pedersen working with the Geodetic observatory in Ny-Ålesund.

Below two videos in which you can see even better that it is a bowhead whale. Also you can see the slow movements of this whale which made it easily catchable. In the first video you can see the town of Ny-Ålesund in the background. In the second video you can see a characteristic blow.


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20170719 01:30: zooplankton

zooplankton

19 July 2017

Christophe gave advice how to film. Anne caught the plankton and Anne and Sanne made a first set-up to film in a dark bedroom. Than Yuta Morii took the aquarium to his room and spent part of the night making clips. Maarten edited three clips into one movie. The cumb jelly shows the prisms of the combs. Than there is the seaangel. A flying snail and predator of sea butterflies. Unfortunately we have not been able to catch sea butterflies yet. When the sea angel finds a sea butterfly, it opens a circle of tentacles on the top of its head and within a second, the sea butterfly is swallowed. The black dot in the stomach of the sea angel is its previous meal. After that you can see a large copepod too.

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20170718 10:30: grass growth

grass growth

18 July 2017

Gathering data on grass growth always gets a lot of attention. Today Mari is doing the measurements and I am her secretary. We measure every 6 days leef elongation on ringed grass shoots. half of them grazed and half of them exclosed from grazing. Twelve pairs of plots, each with four ringed shoots. Growth per shoot is just under 2 mm/day.

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20170717 22:19: visitor

visitor

17 July 2017

This morning a polar bear moved out of town, but this evening it came back. Harm, Sanne, Fiona, Mari and Anne were drinking a cup of tea in the restaurant and saw it all happen. Harm Bartholomeus made this video through a telescope. A bit later Trond fired to cracker shells to chase it away from the harbour area into the fjord.

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20170717 13:30: storm

storm

17 July 2017

Today strong wind, from south east, following the open fjord. The waves have white tops in the fjord. That means that we are not boating. So this time it is not ice or beluga but just water which looks white.

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20170717 08:00: bear damage

bear damage

17 July 2017

This morning, a bear visited town. At 7:30 it was seen passing mellageret and going along the shore. Later during breakfast it was out of sight on Prins Heinrichsøya. After breakfast it swam to the shore and moved inland. Later today we discovered some damage near the old powerstation. The bear had destroyed a cushion of a snowmobile. I found some tracks closeby.

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20170716 23:00: survival swim

survival swim

16 July 2017

On arrival in the harbour, I suggest to test the survival suits by jumping out of the boat. It is very relaxing floating, but do not forget to put on your cap, Yuta.

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20170716 21:30: quiet tern paradise

quiet tern paradise

16 July 2017

After a rainy day, we all go for a short trip to check the tern paradise at Blomstrand. It is quiet out there. Only 13 nests and all terns are still incubating.

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20170713 23:00: christelle leaving

christelle leaving

13 July 2017

Christelle has been living in Ny-Ålesund for one year and is now leaving town on the historical cruiseship Nordstjernen. This boat was part of Hurtigruten and the connection to the mainland of Norway during the mining days in the 1920s. The village says good bye with a kind of music.

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20170713 13:00: calving glacier

calving glacier

13 July 2017

We are counting seabirds in the fjord, passing Kongsbreen, where we observe a calving of the glacier.

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20170713 11:16: land slide

land slide

13 July 2017

Thawing permafrost and a lot of rain. Land slides are now a common phenomenon in the arctic. On our fjordcount, we see this recent land slide close to kronebreen.

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20170711 1300: magnificient landscapes

magnificient landscapes

11 July 2017

With seven people, we go for a walk near Ossian Sars to explore the various landscapes.

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20170710 1609: cyanobacteria

cyanobacteria

10 July 2017

From India Dr. Prashant Singh is a taxonomist for cyanobacteria. After we have met, he takes samples from my exclosures to study the community of cyanobacteria in grazed and ungrazed sites.

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20170710 1554: fox puppies dominance

fox puppies dominance

10 July 2017

At Krikjefjellet there are 5 arctic fox puppies. We find them busy eating a thick-billed guillemot. There is a clear dominance hierarchy in who gets the meat. And a lot of fighting to monopolize the food.

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20170710 1000: team groningen

team groningen

10 July 2017

Team Groningen leaves town for their work today. Yuta, Fiona, Mari and Anna are dropped by boat close to the Kongsbreen glacier. They will walk back to town. Christophe, Sanne and Maarten go to the breeding island Storholmen to check nests and sample a pond for desmids.

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20170709 1142: team leiden

team leiden

9 July 2017

Two supervisors, a PhD-student and a master student are studying vegetation composition. Today I am taxi and bring them to Blomstranden where they will look for a large transect with a temperature gradient. From left to right Maarten Loonen, Peter van Bodegom, Eefje de Goede, Annabelle de Vries and Nadia Soudzilovskaia

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20170705 13:00: sampling in the rain

sampling in the rain

5 July 2017


Today is cold, windy and wet. Much rain. But I promised to go sampling with Nadia Soudzilovskaia at the bird cliff Stuphallet and so we did. In two hours walk over snow fields, jumping rivers, sinking in mud and balancing on stones, we reached the cliff and took 25 samples. Tired but satisfied we reached home just before dinner.

Eefje and Annabelle joint our trip to learn more plants.

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20170704 16:30: getting home

getting home

4 July 2017

After a long day on the island of Storholmen, checking goose nests, we are sailing home. Mari is running the boat for the first time in her life. I am playing with my six meter long selfie stick. For both of us it is a little bit of stress.

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20170704 1527: hatching geese

hatching geese

4 July 2017

Today is peak hatch. Geir Wing Gabrielsen made this picture from a goose family with hatching eggs on Prins Heinrichsøya and the town Ny-Ålesund in the background.

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20170703 17:30: polarsyssel

polarsyssel

3 July 2017

Today, we are visited by Svalbard Science Forum and Sysselmannen and invited for a diner on board of the governors voat polarsyssel. A unique opportunity to enjoy the view from the captains deck.

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20170702 14:30: veteran kiosk

veteran kiosk

2 July 2017

The veteran club are people with a background in the mining days of Ny-Ålesund. The last two weeks, Lilly Kristensen with her two daughters Ingvild and Kristin, together with Else Rødberg were running the small kiosk outside the shop. Wafels, coffee and knitting ware. I bought myself a good pair of socks.

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20170702 14:00: Chinese tourists

chinese tourists

2 July 2017

Hengliang Zhang and Haidan Huang are visiting the Netherlands Arctic Station and collect stamps for their notebooks. We make this short video in Chinese.

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20170628 12:30: Suzanne returns home

Suzanne returns home

28 June 2017

Six out of the seven last years, Suzanne Lubbe helped me with the fieldwork. Great help and I am very grateful for another season. Suzanne posted a few pictures on facebook and I have copied three of them. Thank you for your help Suzanne.

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20170625 22:25: air attack

air attack

25 June 2017

The arctic terns are attacking us, even if we stay on the roads. these videos give an impression, without them using shit to bomb me. Unfortunately, most nests are eaten by arctic fox.
Front view and selfie view

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20170625 15:30: arctic fox puppies

arctic fox puppies

25 June 2017

On our way back to the boat from the cliff at Ossian Sars, we come across a gang of photographers, which are observing arctic fox puppies

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20170625 14:30: drawing birds

drawing birds

25 June 2017

We are at the bird cliff. Erik van Ommen is drawing the birds.
Viewed on the way back, from left to right Erik van Ommen, Saga Svavarsdottir and Delphin Ruché. Below the view from the clif.

This page contains YouTube videos, which will start if you click on the YouTube icon. Full page viewing is possible.


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20170624 20:08: blue whale close

blue whale close

24 June 2017


Yutta has been asked to join the Indian researchers while they are sampling in the fjord. They have a nice encounter with a blue whale.

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20170624 19:00: mid-summer party

mid-summer party

24 June 2017

The mid-summer party is always a big party, where people dress-up, play games and dance til late.

Theme of this year is Under the sea.

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20170624 15:09: panorama town

panorama town

24 June 2017

Today is a beautiful sunny day. People sitting on the south side of the houses enjoying the sun and preparing for the mid-summer party, which starts at 18:00. The actual panorama can be viewed here.

Click on the photo to have the picture in full resolution


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20170621 15:00: unwanted visitor

unwanted visitor

21 June 2017

The Netherlands Arctic Station is studying Barnacle Geese on Spitsbergen. Storholmen is the biggest breeding colony; an island 300x400 meter with a hut. Two people had set up a camera to study behaviour of incubating geese when a polar bear came to the island. The researchers had to leave all of their equipment behind and left the island via a rescue boat on the other side. Two cameras were running. One was pushed down by the polar bear without any feeds, the other one filmed the polar bear searching for food. You can see the bear speed up and slow down, being curious but also eating eggs in nests of eider ducks and barnacle geese. Note the glaucous gulls finishing the job.


It is a shocking experience when suddenly a bear appears on your route. The researchers were well prepared and equipped with a rifle, a flare gun, two radios, a satellite phone and an emergency beacon. They left the island and were picked up by a rescue boat. All went well, no flares or shots fired. But these encounters get more numerous lately.

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20170621 13:00: counting seabirds

counting seabirds

21 June 2017

We are every week going around the fjord to count foraging seabirds with a focus on arctic terns. Today was a nice day with little ice in the fjord. We could get very close to the glacier front of Kongsbreen.

I count on the starboard side, Suzanne counts the port side. Mari takes the notes. Verena is captain on this boat.

Pictures by Yutta Morii.

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20170619 23:41: hallo jumbo

hallo jumbo

19 June 2017

I was placing cameras near an nest of a arctic tern and filmed by my colleagues from their hut. Surprise. Thanks for the video Kjell Tore Hansen.


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20170616 20:00: more whales

more whales

16 June 2017

A perfect calm day and a good opportunity for whale watching. During the days, I can see three blue whales from the harbour through a telescope. Kjell Tore Hansen was closer and took these pictures.

He also had a minky whale next to the boat.

In the evening, we had our own encounter during a walk to Brandalpunkten. A minky whale was close to the shore and suddenly it even breached. Yuta Morii caught it in a picture.
Above you can see the minky whale surfacing. Click on the picture.

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20170616 15:40: shooting

shooting

16 June 2017

Every season we start with shooting practice. When the polar bear is more than 30 meter away, we start with shooting a flare in front of the bear to scare it away. Mari and Suzanne are practising here.

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20170615 22:14: attacking tern

attacking tern

15 June 2017

The arctic terns start nesting and attacking people. A good opportunity to show their geolocators. Can you read the inscription on the ring?
Photo: Yuta Morii

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20170615 1848: resue boat

rescue boat

15 June 2017



Today Margje, Rienk and Mari went under calm conditions to Storholmen, but the weather changed fast and the wind picked up. Their boat was filled with water when they returned to the boat after checking nests on the island Storholmen. Verena and Pjotr came to help them and towed the boat back to the harbour. Some action, quite cold, but all went OK.
The data from AWIPEV show the weather change with a temperature drop and a wind velocity increase.

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20170614 15:30: first encounter

first encounter

14 June 2017

New people have to get acquinted with working in an area where polar bears can roam. So I suggested a walk for Yuta and Mari to a safe open area south of town. To practice all safety precautions. On this first trip outside the village, they stumbled upon a polar bear. From a safe distance, but quite some experience if you have just arrived. In two days, Mari has seen minky whales, an arctic fox and a polar bear.


Above you can start a video by clicking on the picture. Below some details with large magnification.


Observations from the roof of the atmospheric laboratory.


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20170614 09:30: the team

the team

14 June 2017


We are this week with 6 people in the station. From left to right: Margje de Jong, Mari Fjelldahl, Yuta Morii, Suzanne Lubbe, Rienk Fokkema and Maarten Loonen. Margje and Rienk are ready to go to the island Storholmen to do behavioural observations on the Barnacle Geese.


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20170613 11:30: black carbon

black carbon

12 June 2017


On the airport of Longyearbyen, two airplanes of the German Alfred Wegener Institute are based for an atmospheric campaign, quantifying the amount of lack carbon in different layers of the atmosphere. The planes fly simultaneous transects at different altitudes from Longyearbyen, over Ny-Ålesund towards the research vessel Polarstern in the ice close to the North Pole. In Ny-Ålesund and on the Polarstern there are lidars working to measure black carbon from the ground. A lidar is a laser and a detection mirror, which measures the reflected returning light. Based on the time, the reflected light has been travelling, it is possible to make a vertical profile of black carbon in the lower 30 km of the atmosphere.

The airplanes are called polar5 and polar6 and are specifically used in the Arctic and Antarctic.


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20170608 17:00: blue and minky whales

blue and minky whales

8 June 2017


Whales in the fjord. Margje photographed a big and a small one. The small one is a minky whale. The big one can be named on the second picture.


The size of the dorsal fin makes the difference between three species of fin whales. If it is a large fin, it is a minky whale. If it seems a tiny fin on the back, it is a blue whale: the largest creature on earth. In between it is a normal fin whale. On this picture you can see the difference clearly. Mind you both fins ae close to the same size.

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20170608 12:00: tern activity

tern activity

8 June 2017


There are several pairs of terns making courtship in town. The bird above has clearly a geolocator attached to a yellow ring. Courtship feeding means males bringing in large fishes for female arctic terns.


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20170607 18:20: egg for fox

egg for fox

7 June 2017

It is not easy to find a place where you can incubate your egg. This tern was nesting at Gluudneset. The wildlife cameras saw it happen. A fox took the egg. The pair was ringed in 2016 on Prins Heinrichøya, yellow 4X and yellow 5V with a geolocator. yellow 5V did have an older logger before, but we were unable to download the data from the retrieved logger in 2016.


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20170606 15:00: first people arrived

first people arrvived

6 June 2017


Margje and Rienk have arrived in Ny-Ålesund. The plan was to arrive 2 June, but the airplane left too late from Amsterdam and than came a long weekend because of Pentacost. But it is a late spring as everywhere in the European North. The lake Solvatnet is still largely covered in ice. Nevertheless, the first spots are free of vegetetion.

In front of London 3 and London IV there is a depot of snow. While clearing the road, the snow is stored on designated areas. The tundra vegetation on those spots disappears.


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20170604 14:00: John Kerry about Donald Trump

John Kerry about Donald Trump

4 June 20017

Last year, I met state secretary of the USA John Kerry on Spitsbergen. He was visiting us in preparation of the Paris summit on climate change. In the Arctic warming is very visible.
Now, the new government of Donald Trump is making dangerous policies by stepping out the Paris agreement. Listen to John Kerry. It is incredible that there are still people who deny that climate warming is caused by us and we donot need to battle it. If we act now, we can still do something. In four years time we can only live with devastating consequences as we will loose all coral reefs and our biggest forests will be under thread (see previous post). .




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20170602 15:11: Paris or Pittsburgh

Paris or Pittsburgh

2 June 20017

I was interviewed for two 20 second quotes on the national television (clip with me at 2.00 minutes after start) about the criminal act of the Trump administration to leave the climate agreement of Paris. This makes me angry. Thirty years ago, there were already signs of climate warming in the Arctic. The models predicted a long trajectory but warming went faster and faster. The Arctic makes the problem very visible as the temperature rise is more and frozen ice turns into water. Today there was similar devastating news about coral reefs. Those will disappear if we allow 2 degrees temperature increase. Our weather will be more extreme, our future uncertain. We have to reduce carbon emissions now.

The climate agreement signed in Paris provides a realistic trajectory. But we have to make a start with the reduction within 4 years. At the high level of emissions right now, we cannot continue 4 more years and we will end up for sure with an average global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees. It will be more difficult to stop this and with 4 degrees we start a trajectory in which both the boreal forest and the amazone rain forest will be threatened. Those are regarded essential biomes for our oxygen supply.



Above, there is a figure from Schellnhuber, Rahmsdorf & Winkelmann titled Why the right climate target was agreed in Paris (Nature climate change 2016, 6: 649-653). This figure changed my attitude completely. The predictions are very clear and scary under a scenario without action. The problem is bigger than our concerns about the Arctic. The earth will survive, probaly mankind too. But without action mother earth changes to an inhospitable place.

This is a moment in history on which we later will reflect. There will be three groups of people. Those who did the good thing, a large group of people who pretended to be ignorant and those who were bad. I hope that there can be a moment where we are able to confront the latter group with their crime against humanity.

Our future goal should be simple. At some point our resources are used and we have to survive with a circular green economy. Why cannot we do it now? Maybe using climate warming as a danger which speeds up this neccessary action. We do not need new technology or unjustified investments for this change.

But even than, we will loose the coral reefs of the world, and as a scuba diver that makes me very sad....

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20170405 14:17: 2Dgrees on the ice

2Dgrees on the pack ice

5 April 2017 14:17

Bernice Notenboom is a Dutch journalist and explorer. At this moment she is heading on the pack ice to the North Pole. Her expedition is called 2Dgrees and wants to create a momentum to stick to the 2 degrees limit for climate change as agreed in Paris in 2015.

She is calibrating ice and snow thickness. A NASA plain flew over and photographed them both in a normal and infrared image.

End of April, she has returned to Svalbard and I will go on a short cruise with her and her sponsors as a lecturer and guide from Longyearbyen to Ny-Ålesund.

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20170401 14:00: Plans for 2017

Plans for 2017

1 April 2017

During the NySMAC meeting in Prague, the fieldwork plans for 2017 were presented. The document below contains all information and a table with the relevant RIS-IDs which can be found on the website http://www.researchonsvalbard.no.


Click here to get this pdf in full pageview.


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20170228 12:00: ice on land not on water

Ice on land not on water

28 February 2017

The light is getting back and the result of the warm periods in winter with heavy rain becomes visible. The whole tundra is covered with ice. And the fjord has no ice. It is the world upside down. Geir Mathiassen is returning to Ny-Ålesund to work for the Mapping Authority and made this picture while flying in. You see the fjord and the breeding islands in Kongsfjorden. There is snow and grey spots on the islands, and just a bit of shining ice behind the islands covering the fjord. The next shot is from Prins Heinrichsøya. Now you can see that the grey areas are ice. And flying over the village, every spot on the tundra is covered in ice. Reindeer are stuck. No food at the end of winter and no possibility to escape over the ice. Hopefully there are some seeweeds washed on the shore, so they have something to chew on before they starve.

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20170125 12:00: interact h2020

interact h2020

25 January 2017


Interact is a project in which 79 arctic stations work together towards common goals and exchange of people and information. It is funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme and will run for 4 years.
The Netherlands Arctic Station is one of the group. We have started with a kick-off meeting in Keflavik, Iceland from 24 to 27 January 2017.

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20161214 16:13: 100 year Kings Bay

100 year Kings Bay

14 December 2016

Today, Kings Bay AS, the company who provided me for all my years in Ny-Ålesund with excellent support and food has now become a century old. For 27 summers, I have enjoyed to work and live together with the people working for Kings Bay AS. There are a few jobs for competent people and over the years I have met many people in each position. Nevertheless I am grateful to you all.

Below a birthday card for all Kings Bay people.

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20161109 10:00: a glimpse of dutch polar research

A glimpse of Dutch polar research

11 November 2016

  EU-PolarNet is a European consortium of Polar researchers. On its webpage, there is a short article about Dutch polar research.

A book on 50 years Dutch polar research (in Dutch)

The Dutch book can be ordered here.

View part of the content:
Arctic research on geese, waders and gulls

Terrestrial research during the 4th International Polar Year

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20161007 16:00: arctic solargraphy

Arctic solargraphy

7 October 2016


Today, Udo Prinsen is bringing a wonderful print of one of the pinhole cameras, which I used this summer. A pin hole camera can have an exposure time of several days and in this period, the movement of the sun becomes part of the picture.

Here we are photographed at the entrance of the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen with a beautiful print of the four london houses. In the middle two of these, the Netherlands Arctic Station is housed. You can see that we are above the Arctic Circle. The sun sinks in the north but does not set behind the horizon. Sunlight never stops during our field seasons.

Remember, this one and similar prints are for sale at http://www.udoprinsen.com/sees.

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20161005 09:30: new island in kongsfjorden

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New island in Kongsfjorden

5 October 2016

The optic engineer of the German-French AWIPEV base, Gristelle Guesnon, reports in her blog about a new island discovered in Kongsfjorden. It has appeared from under the Kongsvegen glacier and is named Shayan Island. It is about 40 meters long and has now a flag.
On the map it is still in the glacier, but the glacierws are so fast retreating, that the map is not giving the right situation.

Even on Google Earth, it is not visible yet.

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20160930 14:23: plastic problem

Plastic problem

30 September 2016

I still receive news from Ny-Ålesund or about the people in Ny-Ålesund. Sometimes it is so relevant, that I copy the information in this weblog. Today it is about plastic. Geir Wing Gabrielsen is working on this topic and gave a spectacular but also disturbing lecture about this in Ny-Ålesund for the whole town. Even the Ny-Ålesund Symposium was paying attention to this in their annual theme Planet Ocean. Boyan Slat, founder and director of The Ocean Cleanup in The Netherlands was also at the symposium.
Today I received this picture from Geir. It was taken by Inger-Sofia Mercadal and shows a Barnacle Goose entangled in plastic. It was also wounded on the leg and wing and the Governor decided to shoot it.
Geir Wing Gabrielsen has been involved in writing a childrens book about this problem. They hope it will be translated in more languages than Norwegian.

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20160902 07:00: first snow

First snow

2 September 2016

On facebook I notice that people are waking up in Ny-Ålesund with the first snow. It is a good example of the rapid change of seasons. August 15 was the first time the sun disappeared behind the mountain and the day I left the town. September 21 it will be dark for 12 hours already.

Picture by Åsne Dolve Meyer


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20160815 15:00: bears interested in archeologists

Bears interested in archeologists

15 August 2016

Members of the Arctic Centre have more and more polar bear encounters on Spitsbergen. In this weblog we have already several bear posts. Jouke Prop even started studying the polar bears visiting his field site. But now the archeologists have made a score. The team of Frigga Kruse, excavating at Advent City (on the other side of the fjord opposite the airport of Longyearbyen) have had two polar bears for several days on their site. Below some pictures. More can be found on their facebook page.

Picture by Elisabeth Kaddan, Svalbardposten


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20160815 10:00: farewell

Farewell

15 August 2016

Departure from Ny-Ålesund on a beautiful day generates beautiful pictures from above. Marcel and Miriam made these pictures on their departure 11 August 2016. Lowest is the old school (presently the Indian station) where I lived on the top floor in the nineties. Above the school the village shop. The red building is the British station Harlandhuset. The top row are the four London houses. In 2016, we lived in the two middle ones.
A nice view on the vegetation patterns around lake Solvatnet

The island Storholmen, where we monitor nesting barnacle geese

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20160813 14:00: stones are beautiful

Stone is beautiful

13 August 2016

I needed to retrieve wildlife cameras from Kvadehuken. After dinner I walked to the west and slept in Geopol. Next day I walked back via an alternative route along the top of the cliff.
A short stop at Papphytta.
Stuphallet from the coast.
Stone patterns.
A river to cross.
The same river crossed.
Even in the stone desert there are experimental plots. A British soil warming experiment.
A skua mount. A high point were arctic skuas rest and defaecate, resulting in vegetation.
Another skua mount with skuas.
01:00, the lowest midnight sun. The sun almost hits the horizon. Sleeping geese in front.
Next day a view from the top of Stuphallet.
Another view. The cliff Stuphallet harbours puffins and fullmars. The feaces fertilizes the mos vegetation below.
Continuing my walk.
Views are spectacular, but also the stone patterns and the canyons.
Finally, Ny-Ålesund in the view.

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20160812 15:00: retrieving tea bags

Retrieving teabags

12 August 2016

We are retrieving teabags as part of the study called the global tea bag index. We clean them and try them at 70 degrees Celsius before weighing. To keep the administration, we use egg cartons for each teabag. Total 192 teabags retrieved, still 606 in the ground for future retrieval.

Earlier in the weblog, there is a post about setting up the teabag experiment.

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20160812 09:00: prinsendam

Prinsendam

11 August 2016

One of the biggest ships still visiting Ny-Ålesund is the Prinsendam. The ship left Amsterdam on 6 August and now it is here. Also the FRAM from Hurtigruten is visiting, so the town is full with tourists.

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20160808 15:00: catch with students

Catch with students

9 August 2016

Building the catch net with Miriam, Marcel, Enzo, Janwillem and Maarten.
Bringing the last equipment to the UNIS boat.
Planning the catch with the students.
The UNIS boat arrives at the island Storholmen.
Janwillem gets is canoe in the water to herd the geese.
Students walk on the island to bring te geese on the water and follow the group along the shore.
Bringing the geese to the nets.
Caught!
Ringing geese.
Measuring and ringing non-stop from 15:19 until 19:36.
Release of 71 adult geese and 41 goslings.
Returning to the boat.
The last materials are loaded by the boat personal.
At midnight, we bring all our equipment back to the station.

Thank you students of UNIS course AB201

Pictures from Marcel Paul and Miriam Vermeij


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20160807 22:30: enzo leaves

Enzo leaves

7 August 2016

Enzo leaves and Marcel and Miriam take a first chance to mark their departure. They sign a ball found on the shore.
Earlier that day,we tried to reach the glacier as a farewell, but we stopped by a lot of ice and had to admire the bearded seal from a distance.

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20160807 14:00: boattrip

Boattrip

7 August 2016

Janwillem has organised a boat trip[ for the microbiologists Alexander and Edda. They have been working close to town. Now they have earned a pleasure trip to the calving glacier. Enzo can join too.

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20160807 12:00: polar bear 8 and 9

Polar bear 8 and 9

7 August 2016

Again the mother with the large cub is passing the town.
See how fast the bears walk.

Pictures and movie by Marcel Paul


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20160806 20:00: last unringed goslings

Last unringed goslings

6 August 2016

There are still a few unringed golsings in town. We only want to catch these families. They are in this group. We let most escape and catch a family with two goslings.

Video made by Nils Oddvar Thevik, member of the NA veteran club.


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20160806 16:30: svalbardkurset

Svalbardkurset

6 August 2016

The Svalbardkurset is an annual course for public servants which will work in future with Svalbard. They have two weeks in which they travel around Svalbard and learn about nature, conservation, geopolitics and history. Today I give a lecture for thisd group.

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20160803 17:00: dangerous great skua

Dangerous great skua

3 August 2016

On Storholmen, there are no arctic foxes, but there is another predator the great skua. Today we found eight fresh carcasses of barnacle geese among which two ringed adults. Even the islands are no save place.
Maarten removing rings.Enzo removing carcasses, so we can monitor new predation.

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20160803 16:00: father and son

Father and son

3 August 2016

Enjoying field work with my son Janwillem as field assistant.

Pictures Marcel Paul and Miriam Vermeij


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20160801 19:00: bird cliff

Bird cliff

1 August 2016

The last week, the young guillemots have been jumping of the cliff. They cannot fly but sail down to leave with their parents to the fishing grounds. We have to try to see it. So we went to the bird clif at Ossian Sars. There were a few adult birds gathering in front of the cliff, but we did not see any jumping. But is is a nice place for observation.
A nice view.

Foto Enzo Peres-Labourdette

A selfie and a picture of the rest of the group in the other direction.

Pictures Maarten Loonen

Time to continue the walk.

Foto Enzo Peres-Labourdette


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20160801 18:00: arctic landscape

Arctic landscape

1 Aug 2016

We made a boat trip to Ossian Sars. one of the best places in the fjord, to experience the Arctic landscape.
No wind, the fjord is full with small ice blocks.

Picture Enzo Peres-Labourdette

A reindeer on our path.

Picture Enzo Peres-Labourdette

The islands in the fjord.

Picture Maarten Loonen

View on the Kongsbreen to the south.

Picture Maarten Loonen

A view on the ice cap to the north-east

Picture Enzo Peres-Labourdette


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20160801 09:25: musical goodbye

Musical goodbye

1 Aug 2016

Willemijn, Kate and Jesse are leaving. In the buss there is also one of the long time inhabitants. So there is a full Norwegian Ny-Ålesund goodbye. With instruments but no music just noise. Have a good trip.

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20160731 23:00: last team

Last team

31 July 2016

Tomorrow, three people are leaving: Willemijn, Kate and Jesse. The rest is the autumn team. On the picture from left to right in the top row: Kate Layton Matthews, Marcel Paul, Willemijn Loonen, Enzo Perez Labourdette, Miriam Vermeij, Janwillem Loonen and Jesse Jorna. Below, Maarten Loonen.

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20160731 21:00: insect collection

Insect collection

31 July 2016

Jeese just came in. He collected his insects for the last time. Now Janwillem will continue for another two weeks.
Marcel made this picture of Jesse at the insecttrap two days ago.

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20160731 18:35: walk to the glacier

Walk to the glacier

31 July 2016

A last walk organised by jesse. With the dog of Verena, they walk through the morrains to the Mittlere Löwenbreen behind the village.

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20160730 19:00: bending rings


Bending rings

30 July 2016

We have caught geese and are now waiting for two hours, so the birds can get rid of all the shit in their digestive tract. If we would not wait, ri9nging and sexing becomes a very dirty job. But in this period, i realize that we have to few colour rings for this amount of geese. So Janwillem is put to a job to bend more rings. In hot water the engraved plates become soft and he can bend them in a round shape. In cold water that shape is retained.

Pictures by Marcel Paul and Miriam Vermeij

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20160730 18:15: catch 3

Catch 3

30 July 2016

Woijtek warned us for the weather. But the geese were in front of the net. So we caught them. And now we have to process them in strong wind and rain. Wind speed 8 m/s. Luckily we can work in the windshade of the white house. We have caught 51 geese. Some families and so we have 17 goslings.
It is pretty cold. Miriam writes, Willemijn weighs, Maarten rings and measures and Janwiullem takes blood.
Willemijn had to have apicture with a goose which has the initials of her boyfriend on the ring.
At midnight, after 6 hours work, we can release the geese.

Pictures by Marcel Paul and Miriam Vermeij


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20160729 15:30: pin holes

Pin holes

29 July 2016

Every three days, we go to Brandal to count the number of birds during the construction period of the new telescope. Today, we are also changing cards in the wildlife cameras and replace some pin hole cameras of Udo Prinsen. He has sent us a new batch for overwinter stay.

Pictures by Marcel Paul and Miriam Vermeij



weblog

klik op de foto voor meer details
20160606, 20:32
pinhole cameras

weblog

klik op de foto voor meer details
20150619, 11:37
solargraphy by udo prinsen

SEES.NL largest Dutch polar expedition to Spitsbergen

click on the picture for more details
20150822
weblog: shapes of time

website udo prinsen

click on the picture for more details
20150822
website udo prinsen



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20160727 16:15: second catch

Second catch

27 July 2016

The second catch of this season, we bring a flock of geese without goslings, which was feeding on the banks of Solvannet, to the catch pen in Thiisbulta. Janwillem and Lydia are in canoes and Maarten and Willemijn in a zodiac. It is a perfect catch of 47 individuals.
We are putting the geese in small boxes, so they can be weighted before ringing.

Females get a geolocator on an extra ring, to follow their timing of migration and breeding. Willemijn helps by holding the leg.
Lydia MessingfeldJanwillem Loonen
Tom van HoofMaarten Siebelink
Kate Layton MatthewsJesse Jorna

Jesse places the geese at the start of a tunnel and Janwillem measures the time, the goose needs to pass the tunnel to freedom. Kim Holmén, international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute observes the science cooperation and takes pictures.

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20160726 18:00: birthday trip

Birthday trip

26 July 2016

Today is Lydias birthday. We return to Ny-London packed with material after the tern ringing in paradise and go with the boat to the glacier front.
The bearded seal was quite close, as you can see below, but it stayed on the ice.

We did see some big chunks of ice falling.

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20160726 15:00: tern paradise

Tern paradise

26 July 2016

For the first time there is no goose in town this season. Time for plan B. We go ringing arctic tern chicks. We found a location which we call tern paradise. Without glaucous gulls, arctic foxes and polar bears and with lots of chicks.

Below two videos about collecting and returning the tern chicks. Click on the pictures to start them.

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20160726 14:00: how to become a geologist?

How to become a geologist

26 July 2016

Tom van Hoof and Maarten Siebelink have been collecting lake sediments from Kvadehuken. Tom started as a biologist, but has specialised in paleology. Jesse is polar bear guard, and gave his photoseries the title above.
Simon of AWIPEV is picking them up by boat. So this is an easy ride home compared to the trip getting here.

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20160725 20:00: pulling to geopol

Pulling to Geopol

25 July 2016

Tom van Hoof and Maarten Siebelink are staying only three days in the station and want to sample lake sediments at Kvadehuken. The wind is blowing hard from the north, so it is no option to drop them by boat. So we decide to walk. Their boat weighs 20 kilo and their drill even more. So we use an hand cart for bringing the material and Maarten and Kate help pulling the first half of the route to Paphytta. Jesse will stay with them as a polar bear guard.
The first part of the trip we can use the electric car from AWIPEV. Than we have to pull. There is a track since there are lights placed to direct airplanes to the airtport.

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20160724 16:45: pirates ahoy

Pirates ahoy

23 July 2016

An arctic fox kills two goslings. And while the fox is burrying one of the goslings, a glaucous gull finishes the job on another gosling. Cruel wild nature, but that is how it is in a wilderness.

The arctic fox returns to the carcass. He is obviously happy with his catch.

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20160723 20:00: kids under the waterfall

Kids under the waterfall

23 July 2016

Click on the picture above and you can hear the water fall.
A tropical waterfall is an invitation for a bath. A waterfall on Spitsbergen is another challenge. Far to cold, but Janwillem and Willemijn had both still their survival suits on. So a good opportunity to try. It was a duo shower, like we have installed in our home in the Netherlands.

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20160723 19:00: tug of war

Tug of war

23 July 2016

Two longtailed skuas are pulling flesh from a carcass of a common eider. They are playing tug of war.

Longtailed skuas are relatively rare on Spitsbergen. Ny-London is one of the few places and the birds are very tame.

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20160723 17:00: family pictures

Family pictures

23 July 2016

The whole Dutch team is on a fjordcount today, but we also had some opportunity to make some family pictures.

Willemijn has started her training for boating

Getting the anchor into the boat.

Three of us in front of the glacierfront.

Tired but happy, waiting until their father is ready, missing their partners.

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20160723 14:00: fjord count

Fjord count

23 July 2016

Every season, in the middle of the moulting periodn, we go by boat and visited the entire inner fjord to count moulting geese. In the previous posts, I talked about bears and family pictures. But we also did a lot of landing and walking. Because of the polar bear danger, we had a landing team of three people on every island and a boat on standby.

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20160723 11:30: bear traffic

Bear traffic

21 July 2016

We are going through the whole fjord to count moulting geese. But right at the beginning, we see three different polar bears in 2 km coastline, all walking in the direction of town.
Above Willemijn with bear, below Janwillem with bear
Bear 1 at Krikjefjellet
Bear 2 at Tyskerhytta
Bear 3 at Kongsvegen

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20160721 18:00: bear on island

Bear on island

21 July 2016

We have an afternoon fieldwork on the island Storholmen. Margje and Jesse are leaving temperature loggers in goose nests and sampling tundra soil for fleas. Maarten and Janwillem are counting all geese on the island and reading their rings. When they have read all rings, they go ringing arctic tern chicks. All afternoon we are regularly checking the neighbouring islands. Than Verena, stationleader of AWIPEV calls us on the radio. There is a big bear sleeping on Innerholmen. Also Nick Cox wanted to make sure that we knew and landed a person on Storholmen to warn us. That is still OK. We all have a radio, and both groups have a flare pistol and a rifle. Margje and Jesse are working on the other side of the island, but Maarten and Janwillem have a perfect view in the direction of the other islands and a telescope. We only can see two reindeer resting. But one hour later, we are warned again over the radio. The polar bear is on the move. A few minutes later, Janwillem see it appear on Midtholmen. It lays down again on the top of the island. But this is close enough (still 1300 meter) to evacuate. Jesse and Margje were also ready with their work, so we go together to the boat. We go a bit closer to check the bear and find it on the other side of Midtholmen on a beach. From 300 meter distance we make some pictures. The bear moves up again and lies down. It seems to sleep but you can stil see how it is watching us. We decide to leave it in peace.

Pictures Maarten Loonen en Margje de Jong


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20160719 1630: fox kills goslings

Fox kils goslings

19 July 2016

Finally, we observe goslings being killed by an arctic fox. Goslings were already disappearing, but sofar we did not see a proper kill. Today, Willemijn observes geese running to the lake. Immedeately we also see the fox. He kills one of the last goslings, but immedeately runs around the group of geese ande prevents them from reaching the water. Again another gosling killed. And again, the fox runs around the flock to chase the geese away from water. Another gosling taken. One damaged gosling tries to join the flock again, but the fox grabs it again and bites the head off. And again another rather big new gosling predated. The fox has killed five goslings before the flock with families reaches safety at the lake Solvatnet. Than the fox is gathering all the corpses. He has to store them for winter. That is the only food he has to survive with during winter as there are no rodents (mice or lemmings) on Svalbard. The pictures are taken after the hunt, when the fox is caching the preys.

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20160719 14:00: last terns with new geolocators

Last terns with new geolocators

19 July 2016

The last new geolocators for this season (4 out of 20) have been attached to arctic terns on Prins Heinrichsøya. Willemijn and Janwillem helped. Today it was Willemijns turn to release the terns.

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20160718 16:00: polar bear says

Polar bear says

18 July 2016

Frigga Kruse is an archeologist at the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen. She has been doing archeological research with LASHIPA, on Marble Island and is now planning an excavation in Advent City. She has started a facebook page about her expeditions called polar bear says. If you are on facebook, like this page and you will see the archeological field work in progress. But this week she is guide on a tourist boat and visiting Ny-Ålesund.
The Ortelius is taking some luggage from Martine van den heuvel on board to the Netherlands. Margje carries the box.

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20160718 13:30: stress behaviour testing

Stress behaviour testing

18 July 2016

This season, we are testing individual behaviour in the field. We have also designed a kind of stress test during our catches. We let the geese run through a tunnel and measure the time they need for this escape. Times are very variable. Margje places the geese in the start of the tunnel and Jesse takes the time unti the goose appears in freedom. Now we can release each individual immedeately after the catch. If there are goslings we have to keep all geese united, so the goslings can find their parents immedeately after release.
Free again.

Photos Willemijn Loonen


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20160718 13:00: goose catching

Goose catching

18 July 2016

The first moult catch of the season. We are catching only adult geese without young. That is always a good start and the team can practice all procedures again. Maarten and Willemijn are bringing in a group of 20 geese, which has been put on the water by Margje near the red river. A group of 18 geese joins from the airport cliff beaches. Janwillem is waiting with a canoe in Thiisbulta and Jesse is near the goose catching pen. Margjes return is delayed by a red traffic light near the airport. We need three atempts, 8 geese escape, but we catch 30. A good start. Ringing and measuring is relatively quick, while Margje is testing the stress behaviour of the geese.
Margje is repeating the measurement of the last goose to test her goose measuring skills

Photo Willemijn Loonen


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20160716 12:00: sampling diatoms

Sampling diatoms

16 July 2016

Maarten, Janwillem and Willemijn have been going to the kittiwake cliff Krikjefjellet to sample for diatoms. A Belgium project has given us material to collect these algae. This is the last of 6 sampling locations, eacht with 10 plots sampled.

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20160715 12:20: trip to geopol

Trip to Geopol

15 July 2016

Margje and Jesse are staying overnight in the hut Geopol on Kvadehuken. They follow the route along the top of the cliff Stuphallet. It gives a wonderful view on the landscape and breeding fulmars and puffins. The hut Geopol is in the middle of a stone dessert, cosy but simple.
On the way back, they walk below the clif to place wildelifecameras and to empty insect traps. They even saw a golden plover.

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20160714 13:40: artists

Artists

14 July 2016

Today three people are leaving the station. Danny returned with the morning plane, Siegfried will leave with the afternoon plane and Esther will leave with the night boat. All special people, with which I enjoyed working together.

Esther Kokmeijer has a great interest in Arctic Terns. She has a long history in the Antarctic and in the Arctic and she got fascinated by the Arctic Terns, linking those two sites. On 11 September she will open an exhibition in Haamstede about this bird and she will work on a book. You can get here a good impression about her tern studies. She spent this week making pictures about us and the terns.

Siegfried Woldhek is for me an old name from the times I got interested in birds as a teenager. He was director of Birdlife Netherlands and later director of the World Wildlife Fund in The Netherlands. But he is also well-known from his portraits of writers and politicians in a magazine Vrij Nederland and in the newspaper NRC. He has been looking for the ivory gull (present every day) and the red phalarope (only one encounter during a trip). By joining Delphin and Saga on their field work in Ossian Sars, he has met the most polar bears of all people in the Netherlands station.

Below some pictures, where they have photographed eachother while releasing a ringed tern and two watercolours Siegfried gave me.

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20160713 18:00: excursion for german minister

Excursion for German minister

13 July 2016

I have been leading a town excursion about birds and ecosystem research for Barbara Hendricks (German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety), Kjerstin Askholt (Governor of Svalbard), Kim Holmén (International director of the Norwegian Polar Institute), Nalân Koç (Research director of the Norwegian Polar Institute), Karin Lochte (Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute) and a German delegation.

They learned why the geese migrate to the Arctic, how I measure plant production, how vegetation composition changes by herbivory, how long geese are flightless, how fox predation varies between years, how geese adapt to climate warming and how geese need extreme years to adapt. And they got a demonstration how to catch an arctic tern and how to follow these on their migration to Antarctica.

Maybe a bit to much, but it was fun for me too. Thanks Janwillem Loonen and Willemijn Loonen for your help.

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20160713 11:30: catching terns

Catching terns

13 July 2016

We have been catching arctic terns on an island. Esther Kokmeijer made this picture of my son Janwillem, replacing the trap after a successfil catch.

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20160711 20:00: family business

Family business

11 July 2016

Today Janwillem and Willemijn arrived fo another season field work. My son and daughter have been in the station several times and are great helping hands. Two hours after arrival, they have already localized 50 goose families outside town.

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20160711 18:15: ambassador reports

Ambassador reports

11 July 2016

The Dutch Arctic ambassador reports from his visit to Spitsbergen.

Radio 5: Tijd voor Max

clip 1 seeds and swimming
clip 2 sea level rise
clip 3 music

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20160711 11:00: camera trap

Camera trap

11 July 2016

This morning, I am checking pictures from my camera traps. Sometimes I see real action in a nice picture. Like here, a group of kittiwakes taking air.

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20160710 21:45: bear 4 and 5

Bear 4 and 5

10 July 2016

Watching the final of the European footbal championship, but than it is on the radio: polar bear in the harbour. It lands on Solvatnet, swims to the closest island and moves further into the fjord.
They were certainly playful. While the mother checked the island, the young was divig with two seals closeby.

These bears were the same as bear 2 and 3 and also the same as the bears last year, feeding on a dead walrus. I sincerely hope this young does not become a problem bear.

The whole town was looking to these bears as you can see on the pictures of Åsna Dolve Meyer.


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20160708 13:00: how to survive in town

How to survive in town

8 July 2016

KingsBay has made a guide to survival in this town.


Click here to get this pdf in full pageview.


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20160708 09:00: plastic in fulmars

Plastic in fulmars

8 July 2016

Geir Wing Gabrielsen of the Norwegian Polar Institute delivers a shocking story about plastics found in the sea and the effects on fish and birds. Kongsfjordhallen is filled with the audience. The story is depressing and acknowledges the important work done by Jan Andries van Franeker at IMARES Wageningen. New for me is that 70% of the plastics are sinking to the bottom of the ocean and that data show a steep increase of plastics on the seafloor in the FRAM strait.

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20160707 11:50: NL foreign affairs

NL foreign affairs

3 July 2016

Today, the Arctic ambassador of the Netherlands was in Ny-Ålesund to visit the Netherlands Arctic Station and to learn about this international research base. We had a warm welcome by KingsBay director Ole Øyseth, a walk through town, a balloon launch and a boat trip in the fjord, where we saw a calving glacier, a bearded seal and went for a swim testing our survivalsuits. Enough action for a day.

From left to right Marlies den Boer (MinBuZa), Kees Rade (Arctic ambassador, Maarten Loonen (University of Groningen), Arne O'Donoghue (NL embassy Oslo), Danny Hitchcock (PhD student University Oslo), Margje de Jong (PhD student University of Groningen) and Jesse Jorna (masterstudent biology University of Groningen).
Trip to the Blomstrandglacier, which has retreated and is still calving. We observe one big chunk falling off,
We did not meet a polar bear but had a lovely meeting with a bearded seal
At the end of our boat trip, we decided to test our survival suits.
Marlies and Kees launched a weather balloon at AWIPEV and followed in the foot steps of Ban Ki-Moon.
Thanks to all who helped with this visit.

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20160706 12:00: kittiwake studies

Kittiwake studies

6 July 2016

Kittiwakes are popular for Arctic bird research and several groups work with them within Kongsfjord. The field team of Delphin Ruché and Saga Svavarsdottir using an action cam to check the stage of incubation and number of nests.
To the left, Solveig is checking for the proper nest and below Solveig Nilsen and Ingrid Gabrielsen are still using a mirror to check the nest.
More on kittiwake research here.

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20160705 10:00: Arctic ambassador is coming

Arctic ambassador is coming

5 July 2016

Since April 2016, the Netherlands has appointed a special ambassador for arctic affairs. He will be visiting the Netherlands Arctic station on 7 July. Before his departure, he is interviewed on national radio.

To hear the interview click on the picture further down.


RTV Noord radio: 2 July 2016

Arctic ambassador visits Spitsbergen
More information about this person here

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20160703 16:00: steinkobbe

Steinkobbe

3 July 2016

In Norwegian, this harbour seal is called Steinkobbe. And it shows a clear difference with Iskobbe, which is the ringed seal. The ringed seal lives on the ice, the harbour seal has its haul-out on a good ventage point, like this stone in Thiisbukta. A nice spot to warm in the sun at low tide.
Click on the picture above to start the video.

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20160703 16:00: climbing fox

Climbing fox

3 July 2016

A hungry fox shows how to predate. It climbs in the bird cliff to dazzing heights and predates on kittiwakes.

Picture by Bjørn Anders Nymoen

Picture by Svein Are Hanssen


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20160702 20:00: jazz music

Jazz music

2 July 2016

It is getting a tradition. When the people for the fox census are in town, we have life music on a bar night. Today there is even a performance in Kongshallen. From left to right Fin Sletten, Svein Are Hanssen, Bjørn Anders Nymoen and Bugge Wesseltoft.
Music with a view from Kongshallen
A bar night with life music in Mellageret

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20160701 23:00: on regional tv

On regional television

1 July 2016

Steven Radersma works for RTV Noord, the regional television for the the province and city of Groningen. He is following us in the Arctic. His clips can be seen on the website of RTV Noord by clicking on the pictures on this page.
To the left the first video. Click on the picture to go to the website of RTV Noord.

Video 2
With loaded gun, looking for eggs

Video 3
Toeristen op Spitsbergen

Video 4
A day lasts for months

Video 5
Melting glaciers sound like thunder

Video 6
People as food

Video 8
Bird faeces for whalers


radio: 2 July 2016

Arctic ambassador visits Spitsbergen
web: 8 July 2016

Noordelijkste postkantoor
web: 10 July 2016

Polar bear visit

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20160701 20:00: goose families

Goose families

1 July 2016

Goose families are now a common sight in town. You find them everywhere. They move around escaping for people and foxes and feed on the grass.

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20160630 14:00: catching insects

Catching insects

30 June 2016

Jesse Jorna is studying insects as part of his master thesis at the University of Groningen. We have already collected a series since 2007. This year he is also introducing yellow glue-paper and soil temperature measurements. On the picture below, you can see the set-up. In the middle a net, where insects fly against and than they drop into a soap solution and drown. To the right, a blue tape sticks out, which holds a temperaturelogger at minus 8 cm depth and at the surface. With the yellow paper, we are monitoring the cruise height of the insects. Sofar not that much difference, but it has been very little windspeed.

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20160628 09:00: fog

Fog

28 June 2016

Today it is the second day of fog. Several people including Isolde Puts and Oscar Fransner should have left on Monday but are stuck here. The sun is not far. The first two pictures are taken at the airport webcams. The last picture is taken at the Zeppelin station on the top of mount Zeppelin. What a landscape. You can click here for the actual situation.

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20160625 21:00: midsummer party

Midsummer party

25 June 2016

The theme of the midsummer party is the olympics. There is a proper olympic fire and many people are dressed for the occassion. It starts with a good food and some games.

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20160622 22:00: crew

Crew

22 June 2016

Martine and Tinka are going home. We have a social drink. Isolde suggests a faces-picture. Below the result. From mid bottom clockwise: Paul Wenzel Geissler, Suzanne Lubbe, Marge de Jong, Jesse Jorna, Maarten Loonen, Martine van den Heuvel-Greve, Isolde Puts, Daniel Hitchcock and Tinka Murk. It has been a good start.

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20160622 17:30: playing goose

Playing goose

22 June 2016

While Wenzel and Jesse are burrying tea bags, Danny is playing for goose. He wants to collect a lot of grass and competes with the geese. He hopes to find some pollution, which accumulates in the geese

Pictures by Paul Wenzel Geissler


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20160622 17:00: global tea bag index

Global teabag index

22 June 2016

Today, we are botanists, studying breakdown of detritus. A group from Amsterdam has initiated a global teabag index project to compare decomposition of standardized plant material at different locations. They use Lipton green tea and Lipton Rooibosch tea as two different types of plant material. We are burrying over 800 teabags in experimental fields with and without grazing animals since 2006.

Pictures by Paul Wenzel Geissler and Maarten Loonen


Later in the weblog, there is a post about the first harvest of decomposed teabags.

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20160621 20:30: independent

Independent

21 June 2016

Today there was little wind and it was really important to check the goose nests for hatching. A unique day to test the independence of Margje and Suzanne. They went by zodiac together to Storholmen.
They leave in high spirit despite the large amount of water in the boat. On the island it is a fight with parents who protect their offspring.
A lot of eggs are hatching.
On their return, a red light on the engine starts to blink and the engine is not running smoothly. I have to explain them via the radio, how they have to fill the oil tank under the hood. And they manage. I am proud.

Upper photo from Maarten Loonen, all others by Suzanne Lubbe.


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20160620 10:00: plumbing

Plumbing

20 June 2016


The plumbers have been connecting London III and London IV to water and sewage. For the first time in 27 years, the Netherlands station has running water with a very nice shower. Thanks guys.

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20160619 16:00: goose catching

Goose catching

18 June 2016

We planned some goose catching but it did not work. We tried 8 nests each for at least one hour. Six females did not return to the nest. Two did but still we could not catch them. After a long day, Margje and Danny go home with Børge, Wenzel and Maarten go in the small zodiac.
Above: Danny is waiting to pull the rope, when the goose returns on her nest, In the background people are counting eider nests.
Below: Børge with his assistant, counting eider nests.
Below: Børge helps Margje in his boat.

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20160619 15:00: glacier calving

Glacier calving

19 June 2016

I am making an excursion with the IMARES team to see a calving glacier front. We go to Blomstrandbreen, the same glacier as is visited by our important other guests like John Kerry, minister Koenders and Ban Ki-Moon. Only we could stay a little bit longer at the site and witnessed an impressive calving.
On the video you hear the different reactions of the three women in the boat. Isolde stopped taking a video and zipped her survival suit. Martine made this video.

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20160618 21:00: bear 2 and 3

Bear two and three

18 June 2016

The whole day we have been carefully checking the neighbouring islands. In the evening we hear that there has been two bears on Observasjonsholmen. The common eider nest counting team with Geir Wing Gabrielsen discovered the bear during their count. They were a bit unprepared (rifle in the boat), but the bears kept laying down.
The next morning at nine o'clock, the mother bear and its 1 1/2 year old young passed town and walked out of the fjord.

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20160618 14:30: whales

Whales

18 June 2016

On our way to Storholmen, we saw two minky whales. One was even very close before it rose high out of the water for a deep dive. Unfortunately, I was not able to take better pictures. We were in a small zodiac and the moment I turned around I pulled the safety court of the engine and the engine stopped. It was already a special experience to start with a boat full of water, which would empty automatically during the trip.
Later during our work on the island, a pod of belugas came close. We could hear the blows clearly.

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20160617 15:00: at work

At work

17 June 2016

Margje is viewing pictures made by her wildlife-cameras. She is studying incubation behaviour in relation to flea in the nest density. The camera made this beautiful picture, which shows Wenzel and Dany during a nest check. The goose is green VTI, female belonging to nest 111, paired with orange FIJ. This nest has been in a micrtowave to kill fleas.

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20160617 11:00: walrus

Walrus

17 June 2016

The marine biologists from Wageningen were catching algae for food of their copepods on a boat near Brandalpunkten. Jesse was also on the boat and made these pictures of a walrus.

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20160617 00:20: first bear of the year

First bear of the year

17 June 2016

The first bear of the year, arrives fromn the inner fjord and walks behind town. No flares have been fired. But it is a good reminder to stay alert.

Picture above by Pierre Blévin
Picture below by Daniel Hitchcock


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20160616 10:30: safety measures

Safety measures

16 June 2016

There is a whole police force in town to look over the safety of john Kerry. Here you will have an impression. In the end he was mainly walking through town, but followed by a line of cars and a fire truck.
I tried to get a bit closer for a picture...And than he walked towards us and start talking to us. Are you local scientists? What are you studying? I suppose I will hear more about your research later.
His staff realised that he was not talking to the selected scientists and pointed him to the museum. Leaving us a bit flabbergasted.
By boat (Teisten on top of the picture) Kerry went to the Blomstrandbreen. Several boats followed with press but also with safety personel (armed and with hydrophones, trained for solving ferry boat hijacking).
A press moment at the quay, with a glacier in the background,
Kerry walks past the cars into the village. He skips the shop and continues to the Amundsen villa.
We are overseen by a sniper on the roof of the Norwegian station.
Jan Gunnar Winther director of the Norwegian Polar Institute is interviewed. The whole day we had a helicopter standing by, but Kerry came and left by plane.

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20160616 10:10: John Kerry

John Kerry

16 June 2016

John Kerry, minister of foreign affairs of the USA, has arrived in Ny-Ålesund. And while all invited Norwegian scientists were waiting for him in the museum, he stepped down to us and made a minute talk, asking about our research. What a lucky chance. It was also a good moment to renew the contact with Børge Brende, minister of foreign affairs in Norway. I met him during the visit of minister Bert Koenders to Ny-Ålesund in 2015.

Picture above by Danny Hitchcock

Picture above from an article in Aftenposten, the national Norwegian newspaper. The article can be read here.

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20160615 10:15: invited by Norway

Invited by Norway

15 June 2016

Today, among a group of visitors invited by the Norwegian government, two defence attaches are in town. They work at the Dutch embassy in Norway. Left Col. Rolf Springer and right Lt. Col. Arjen Zwaanswijk. A uniuque change to show them a bit of the Netherlands Arctic Station, our research and the international cooperation in this science village.

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20160614 16:30: reception

Reception

13 June 2016

Kings Bay is the company who runs the village. They have a front office with nice people who can help you with everything. To the left Hilde Jørgensen to the right Åshild Rye.

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20160614 12:00: marine laboratory

Marine laboratory

14 June 2016

The IMARES team is reporting on twitter about their progress. See https://twitter.com/heuvel_greve.

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20160613 19:30: brent geese

Brent geese

13 June 2016

Two brent geese visit the town. That does not happen often, but did happen last year too. Suzanne is the first to recognise that these are different subspecies. It is a dark-bellied brent and a white-bellied brent.

Pictures by Suzanne Lubbe, made with her new camera


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20160613 16:00: IMARES team arrived

IMARES team arrived

13 June 2016

A team of IMARES (Wageningen University and Research) has arrived in the Netherlands Arctic Station to do experiments in the marine laboratory. From left to right Tinka Murk, Martine van den Heuvel-Greve and Isolde Puts.
Tinka is professor in marine animal ecology, Martine is researcher. She has been here before and also joined the SEES.NL expedition last autumn. Isolde is a former biology student now living in Longyearbyen. They have sent a lot of boxes and are organising their logistics.

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20160613 14:00: nest moving

Nest moving

13 June 2016

A new tern nest was reported in the middle of the road. Probably a fox will eat the eggs soon, but we prefer to take action and try to safe the nest. We make a nest on a shuffle so it becomes moveable. Within 30 seconds one of the parents is sitting again. In the next days, we will move the nest slowly of the road.

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20160613 13:45: typhoon testing

Typhoon testing

13 June 2016

A fire alarm excercise for the whole village. The typhoons are yelling and we all have to assemble in front of the restuarant. Åsne is calling our names. Safety is essential in a remote area. In the background the fire team is having a drill.

Below you can hear the siren, by pressing on the video to start.

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20160613 12:45: fox

Fox

13 June 2016

A fox during the lunch. The restaurant has a perfect view. And there might always something happening. That is why I always bring a camera. Today the fox is appearing from under the restaurant and gives a perfect show. There are at least 3 foxes in town and arctic tern nests are predated within days after laying.

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20160612 12:00: microwave

Microwave

12 June 2016

Above: This is Wenzel. He is antropology professor in Oslo studying the scientists in the village of Ny-Ålesund by joining the field work. Today he is field assistant and used as a mule.
Sometimes science is beautiful, sometimes you regret that you have taken on a heavy load. This day has been a long day, carrying a microwave and a generator over the tundra. What did we do? We wanted to remove all biting insects from a goose nest. Two years ago, we have used a chemical flea powder. That killed the larvae, but for the fleas the removal was not measurable. Now we wanted to do it more environmental friendly but also more effective. We have put goose nests in the microwave (after removing the eggs). A good plan, but carrying a generator, a large microwave and 20 liters of petrol over the tundra was quite some work. After the first hour is looked like we needed 15 hours to complete the task. Than we started to speed up. We skipped our luch and worked with four people. Than we were ready after 10 hours. Job done.
This goose did not like us working on his nest.
Microwave on the tundra. In the background a goose nesting.
Returning to the boat after a long day of work.

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20160609 11:14: sit while bitten

Sit while bitten

9 June 2016

This year again there are many fleas in the goose nests. We are studying incubation behaviour in relation to flea infestation. Today we have placed wildlife cameras next to the nests and temperature loggers in the nests. Our expectation is based on a study by Ross Wetherbee in 2014. Geese with heavy infested nests were more restless. The results were close to significance. Now, we are running once more the experiment. In a couple of days, we will kill the insects in half of the observed nests and document the change in incubation behaviour and egg survival. On this picture you can see some clutches full with blood stains, produced by the fleas.

In the background Danny Hichcock and Katrin Lang are working.

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20160609 11:03: floating eggs

Floating eggs

9 June 2016

Danny Hitchcock is a Ph.D. student from the University of Oslo. He will collect 60 barnacle goose eggs to study stable isotopes and pollution levels. He hopes to correlate migration pattern and timing of laying with pollution loads. Today he collected the first 12 eggs. He is estimating the incubation period by floatation technique. Later he can callibrate this.
Floatation technique: while the incubation progresses, the air chamber in the egg becomes bigger and the egg will float more upright in a water bowl.
Kathrin Lang was today his guard and field assistant and she made this picture.

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20160606 20:32: pin hole cameras

Pinhole cameras

6 June 2016

Today in the mail, a box full with pin hole cameras sent by Udo Prinsen. He joined the SEES.NL expedition last autumn and is making exhibitions in The Netherlands with his pinhole pictures. For more pictures see his webpage.

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20160606 13:27: Photography by Margje

Photography by Margje

6 June 2016

Margje is carrying a nice camera with her during field work. Time to challenge her to send in a picture. Here they are.

Above a picture after landing our boat on the island. We travel in the boat wearing survival suits. Landing is a special procedure, mooring the boat, loading a rifle and getting out of the survival suit.

To the left you see a goose being attacked by a great skua. The goose came to close near its nest.

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20160605 20:55: mapping goosenests

Mapping goose nests

5 June 2016

Our first job is mapping the location of barnacle goose nests on the two breeding islands Storholmen and Prins Heinrichsøya. We note rings of nest owners, the number of eggs and their behaviour to protect the nest against our approach. This is a protective pair, threathening Margje on her approach.

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20160605 18:00: new predator

New predator

5 June 2016

Today we found a new predator of common eider nests. It is a reindeer! On the island Storholmen, there has been reindeer in most summers. We have observed them arriving while swimming in summer, but normally they are arriving over the ice and locked after snow melt. This season there is one reindeer. And for the first time, we observed it eating eider eggs.
It was 30 meters away, when we saw him chasing a common eider female off the nest. It than ploughed with his front foot through the nest. One egg rolled far out of the nest as can be seen near the hindlegs of the reindeer. Two other eggs where right at the nest rim. Next it ate the two eggs.


The full sized picture with a detail to the left.
I knew reindeer can do this. Rocky Rockwell observed a herd of reindeer moving through a colony of snow geese. And they did exactly the same. Eating the eggs, but leaving the embryo out. On this picture right after the event, you can see two embryos of about 10 days old.
Later that day, we observed it once more from further distance. The effect is clear. There are this year very few eider nests on Storholmen. The geese are able to chase the reindeer away from their nests. We saw a male running after a reindeer, which speeded away. Later we saw a direct conflict with a goose jumping up into the reindeer face and the reindeer jumping to hindleggs in a reaction. So the number of goose nests is normal and high.

Reindeer pictures from Danny Hitchcock, nest picture from Maarten loonen


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20160605 14:17: steller's eider

Steller's eider

3 June 2016

During our first visit to the breeding island, we discover a male Steller's Eider and a male King Eider among the nesting female common eiders. Beautiful birds. Below a picture of the king eider made by Daniel Hitchcock, who has a bigger telelens than me.

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20160604 08:07: Beyond sleep

Beyond sleep

4 June 2016

Today, it is quite cold outside. While temperatures in The Netherlands reach summer heights and local heavy rain have flooded the streets, we have 1 degree Celsius and strong winds making the windchill factor below freezing. Nevertheless, I wake up with an urge to tell you this story. A well-known story, but I am shocked again. Climate change is not for the future. Climate change is happening now.

The daily update of http://www.nsidc.org on arctic sea ice for 2 June 2016. The + in the middle is the north pole. South of it in grey, Greenland. To the right in the blue, you can see Spitsbergen with a little dot. There is still ice between the main island and Edgeøya. I am sitting there, on the westcoast of Spitsbergen 78 degrees north. Feeling a bit cold. The entire Barentsz Sea has no ice. Nova Zemlya is a border which keeps ice to the east. If it continues like that, we will have another record low in ice extent. And even if we miss that, it will be a record low in ice volume.

I am not an expert in climate change. I study ecosystems and food webs by monitoring birds. But I have been lucky to go to the Arctic already for 30 years. And in the Arctic warming is more obvious than anywhere in the world. Twentyfive years ago, we were sceptical that Spitsbergen would be the best place to document climate change. It started in Siberia and Spitsbergen temperatures were buffered by the ocean around it. The year 2006 was a warm season. That did change the environment here. New fish species occurred, but also the barnacle geese started their breeding season much earlier and have continued on the early schedule ever since.

When giving presentation, I don't like to show models. Others now more than me about climate modelling. I just show data. Data which have been measured. And those data have kept me awake last night and urged me to write this story. Since January 2016 I have the following two graphs in my presentations. The first one shows a world map with the difference between the measured temperature and the average over the period 1951-1980. Look at the scale. Temperatures were from 4 to 12 degrees higher in January 2016.
This graph from the same month, January 2016, is even more clear. On the x-axis, you see the earth from south pole (-90) to the equator (0) to the north pole (90). Follow the temperature line. Antarctica was a bit colder than normal.But most of the world experienced a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius. The Netherlands is around 53 degrees latitude. Still one degree. And than it happens. The temperature differences rises steep to 7 degrees in the Arctic. We thouht we had a mild month of January with this one degree, but here in the Arctic it was 7 degrees warmer. It is all the same story. Ice disappearing, temperatures rising. The story which kept me awake was shown on the website on which I checked the weather for the coming days. For 66 months in a row (5 1/2 year), every month the temperature on Spitsbergen has been above normal (see http://www.yr.no in Norwegian.

Than I look again to the graph above. What does this mean for a migratory bird migrating from my home town latitude to here. I have to go out. I have to measure. I have to document. Never sleep again.

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20160603 11:30: safety refresher course

Safety refresher course

3 June 2016


Look how happy they are. After a practice run on the shooting range, we are ready for a safe season. From left to right: Danny Hitchcock, Margje de Jong and Maarten Loonen. Picture made by our instructor Ole Øyseth.

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20160603 07:40: fanmail

Fanmail

3 June 2016

Always at the start of the season, our mailbox contains several letters of collectors of arctic mail. We stamp the letters and return them to the collectors. they will receive also a nice poststamp from the postoffice with a ringed seal picture and a date.

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20160602 13:10: little auk

Little Auk

2 June 2016

Near Isfjord, we hear calls of little auks from the slope. They breed among the stones. After a steep climb, we can clearly see them.

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20160602 11:56: whaler

Whaler

2 June 2016

In Longyearbyen, close to the airport there is an old grave of a whaler. There is still a bone visible between the stones. The buildings on the right picture on the horizon are the airport buildings. We visited the grave on our walk to Bjorndalen after we missed the plane to Ny-Ålesund.

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20160531 12:00: Snow condition

Snow condition

31 mei 2016


The season develops much earlier than last year. Above the picture from the Zeppelinmountain on 31 May 2016. Below you can see a time lapse of the summer 2015 made by the Norwegian Polar Institute. You can compare the same date.
The inhabitants have told be that the first barnacle goose arrived on 12 May, The arctic terns arrived in large numbers on 28 May.


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20160520 12:00: Expedition to Jan Mayen

Expedition to Jan Mayen with the Royal Dutch Navy

August 2014
There is a nice documentary made about an expedition in which I participated to Jan Mayen. We were hosted by the Royal Dutch Navy. In the clip below, I have put together my personal appearance in the documentary.
The full documentary can be seen here.

We made a nice book about the expedition. More information about the book can be found here. A chapter (in Dutch) written by Maarten Loonen entitled A decapitated food web can be found here

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20160517 07:00: 17th May celebration


17th May celebration

17 May 2017

17th of May is a day in which Norwegians march through their home town to celebrate Norway. Also in the most northern village of the world, this is happening.

show program in new tab


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20160416 9:00: tourists encounter wildlife on Spitsbergen

Tourists encounter wildlife on Spitsbergen

16 April 2017

Easter morning, and via facebook and youtube I watch this 2-year old video made during a tourist trip to Spitsbergen. It nicely shows all the wildlife you can encounter during such a trip, but also the situation I work in every summer. Not difficult to imagine that I am looking forward to a new summer season on Spitsbergen.

Such expedition is offered by Oceanwide Expeditions. Very expensive but it makes a memory which will last a lifetime.

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20160401 12:00: research in svalbard


The database http://researchinsvalbard.no contains information on all research projects. Today I am updating the information of all my projects. These are the projects supported by the station.

RIS-idTitle

project owner

6359 - Barnacle Goose Ecology: interactions with a changing environment
10041 - The effect of goose grazing on vegetation composition and productivity
6361 - From historical data to a prediction of the future for geese on arctic tundra?
6642 - The influence of flea infestation on the reproductive success of barnacle geese
10042 - Insect abundance in the arctic summer
6360 - Arctic Tern Ecology: interactions with a changing environment

project participation

10386 - Pollutants in Arctic geese and their eggs
10040 - Global Dryas Project
10595 - Decomposition and the carbon cycle studied by the tea bag index
10570 - The Pinnularia borealis species complex in the Svalbard archipelago
10340 - Bird monitoring in connection with establishment of a new geodetic observatory

project supporter

10558 - Environmental effects of drilling in Svalbard
10258 - Assessing sensitivity of arctic algae and marine invertebrates to human activity
10208 - The microbial methane filter in the Arctic: resilience and response to climate change


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20160308 16:00: Fifty years Dutch polar research

Book about 50 years of polar research by people from The Netherlands

Written in Dutch, but with lots of nice pictures. The book can be ordered here.

You can view part of the content:
Het Arctisch onderzoek aan ganzen, steltlopers en zeevogels

Terrestrisch onderzoek tijdens het vierde internationale pooljaar

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20160103 17:00: Ramsey Nasr

Ramsey Nasr

Ramsey Nasr is a famous Dutch actor, writer and poet. A multi-talented person, who is inspired by the polar areas. He visited Ny-Ålesund three times and went with us on expedition to Edgeøya SEES.NL. In 2013, Dutch television made this video about his polar interest.

The following items are unfortunately in Dutch and not translated yet.

Before the expedition starts, Ramsey is explaining on national Dutch television about the expedition SEES.NL.

December 2015, the Dutch internet newssite De Correspondent publishes three stories from Ramsey about his experience during the expedition. The stories are read by himself and you can hear them by clicking on the three figures below.

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20160103 16:00: Largest Netherlands Arctic Expedition

The largest Netherlands Arctic Expedition: SEES.NL

Foto door Ben Bekooij


The SEES.NL Netherlands Scientific Expedition Edgeøa Spitsbergen took place 19-28 August 2015 and was a big success. Fiftyfive scientists boarded the vessel Ortelius and headed towards Edgeøya, a wilderness area on the east side of the Svalbard archipelago. Here they studied human induced changes in a remote ecosystem, normally without humans.

The project website is in Dutch www.sees.nl but shows the enormous public attention for this project.

On our return trip, 56 participants have given a first glimpse of their results during a symposium held in Longyearbyen upon our return. We celebrated with the symposium Norwegian-Dutch cooperation in science with presentations by Kim Holmen, Thor Larsen, Geir Wing Gabrielsen and Susanne Barr and the presence of the major of Longyearbyen, the Dutch ambassador to Norway and the minister of foreign affairs of the Netherlands Koenders.


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20151106 11:22: Spectacular bear picture

Spectacular bear picture

I am using automatic wildlife camareas to study presence and abundance of species at various sites. Every time something moves in front of the camera, a picture is taken. I have thousands of pictures and slowly I am checking them. Today a surprise.
The original picture

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20151102 14:00: Geese arrived in Scotland

Geese arrived in Scotland

2 November 2015

The barnacle geese have arrived in Scotland. Below a video made by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. The entire population gathers ion one farm Caerlaverock. The arrival of the geese in autumn is a tourist attraction. You can approach the geese because of the many dikes, observation huts and towers. I hope they do a lot of ring reading there and I will go there this spring to exchange data. This summer most geese have been ringed by Jouke Prop and his team on Nordenskioldkysten.



Thanks guys

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20151005 00:15: dark season

Dark season

5 October 2016

Today, René Bürgi (station engineer at AWIPEV) gave me 733 pictures of birds and me which he has collected in the past year. A wonderful set to use, especially for the period when I am not in town. This is such a picture, with the northern lights. The northern light is seen in the south as we are that far north that we are inside the ring around the magnetic pole. You can also see the lidar of AWI. The lidar is used to make a vertical profile of 30 kilometer and measures aerosols. It works almost like a radar, but now it is not radio waves but a laser beam, which is refelected.

Picture René Bürgi


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20150724 15:00: Geese and foxes

Geese and foxes

24 July 2015

In the top picture you can see several geese ringed with individually engraved colourrings. By reading those rings trhough a telescope I am collecting data about the locations where the geese feed and the survival of their goslings. The arctic fox is killing a lot of goslings. Now average family size is 1 gosling per family, while it was 3 goslings per family a month ago.

The geese are restless and eating fast. To the left you can see them graze over the tundra in a video.
The fox must have been watching too. Suddenly the geese run towards the water and a fox sprints with double the speed from far. Two goslings are killed and the fox starts hiding them.

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20150724 10:30: Bear hunt

Bear hunt

24 July 2015

This is NOT a bear hunt. But when our kids where small, we went regularly in an evening to a campground where there was evening theatre. The major group song was titled: We go an a bear hunt, continuing with And we take along... After which every time a new item was added to the long inventory. And the kids needed to remember the inventory while singing.
Any time I go into the field with all safety equipment, the song comes in my head. Gun, signal pistol, radio, binoculars, satelite phone, emergency blanket. They have taken it all with them and have started a walk to the tip of Brøgerhalvøya. There they will stay overnight, baking pan cakes at Geopol.
But it is not just pleasure. The goal is to count geese and read rings. There are a couple of lakes. They will also make an inventory of a site where there was oil drilling 40 years ago. As part of SEES.NL, some scientists want to drill in lakes to disciover if they can pinpoint the period as pollution or disturbance in the sediment. So three out of four left the Netherlands Arctic Station on a trip. And the song Bear hunt was again in my head.

On the picture below, you can see them move through the landscape. The top of the mountain Schetelig on the left is 719 meter above sea level.

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20150721 21:15: Leisure trip

Leisure trip

21 July 2015 21:15

Janwillem is going for a boat trip with three ladies. At Brandal they will pick up two more. It is a good trip to practice boating skills in nice and calm weather.
From left to right: Ida Deichmann, Janwillem Loonen, Oloug Breivik and Laura Caiazzo. Lydia Messingfeld made this picture and the picture below.

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20150721 13:00: Nitrogen dynamics with Japanese team

Nitrogen dynamics with Japanese team

21 July 2015

Last year, I visited Blomstrand kittiwake clif with Kentaro, to discuss options for research. This year he has returned with two colleagues to quantify nitrification and denitrification along a gradient of fertilization by sea gulls. I join them today to the other side of the fjord as their boatsman and polar bear guard.
They sample headspace in a small chamber after an hour incubation and collect soil and plant material.
From left to right: Keisuke Ono, Kentaro Hayashi and Yukiko Tanabe, all from Japan.
It is a steep cliff, towering 150 meter above sea level.

Reindeer love the tall grasses. In the background some of the 400 pair of kittiwake nesting here and fertilizing the soil with faeces.
Kittiwakes, coloured for science.Sometimes a young falls out of the nest.
Kentaro and me, photo Yukiko Tanabe.

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20150721 08:00: Garbage sorting

Garbage sorting

21 July 2015

Message from KingsBay. Please keep sorting the garbage into well-defined categories. Otherwise it is not accepted by the processing plants on the mainland.

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20150719 22:00: Dead walrus

Dead walrus

19 July 2015 22:00

Two days, we have not been going west of town as there were reported two mother polar bears with thir cubs, feeding on a dead walrus. Today we are checkling the situation by boat, to know if we can count birds near Brandal tomorrow. At first it is difficult to find, but we discover the dead walrus on the beach as if it is sleeping. No polar bears and no sign of a food frenzy.

On the way back, Margje makes this picture of a puffin feeding on the border of the fresh redish coloured river water and the clear ocean water front.

Pictures Margje de Jong


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20150719 18:00: Swimming

Swimming

19 July 2015 18:00

Every year some brave people are going for a swim. The decision is usually made during the bar night. Water temperature is 7 degrees Celsius.
De touristboat is audience.Sports during a trip.

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20150719 16:30: On the roof

On the roof

19 July 2015 16:13

De sternen op het dak worden gecontroleerd door Janwillem. Geen predatie maar nieruwe gevaren op deze plek. Met harde wind is er al eens een jonge stern van het dak gewaaid.
De enige twee jonge sternen bij de hondenhokken worden geringd. Zelfde nest, maar verschillende kleur kuikens.
De speciale poepjas van Janwillem stinkt flink naar rotte vis door alle sternenpoep.

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20150717 15:30: Our farm

Our farm

17 July 2015 15:30

With the foxes around the village, the geese spend more time among the houses. This afternoon, a flock grazes right outside our window. We can do observations from our kitchen. It feels like living on a farm.

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20150717 15:00: Underwater camera

Underwater camera

17 July 2015

Philipp Fischer has been repairing the underwater rig to photograph passing animals in a depth range of 10 meters. The rig contains a three dimensional cameraset and moves up and down automatically as part of the ferrybox. Software calculates the distance and size of all observed animals.

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20150715 21:00: Rescued

Rescued

15 July 2015

Today, Margje and Maarten went to Storholmen for the final nest check, to read rings and to place temperature loggers in the nest cups to measure the environment in which the flea larvae develop or survive. It was beautiful weather, high tide. We left the boat on the calm side of the island, knowing that the water may fall still a meter, but also knowing that it would be possible to get the Zodiac into the water.
When we return 6 hours later, the weather has changed. A strong wind is blowing on the coast. the anchor to keep the boat in the water has been shifted and the waves are rolling inside the boat, filling it with water.....
We are able to empty the boat, but the swell is to much to get the boat to deeper water and start the engine. The wind is so strong, that we cannot hold the boat afloat....
We get everything out of the boat, get the boat high up on the beach and bring our gear to the lee-side of the island. There we radio Woijtek to pick us up. The trip back went fine though it was windy. Back home the wind changes again from direction and the gail is now blowing the other way.
The next day I see the weather on the infobord of AWIPEV. A picture is shown below.
The lower panel is the wind speed in blue and the wind direction in red. The black bar is the period, we were on Storholmen. You can see the sudden change in wind direction when the wind picks up. And nothing was mentioned beforehand on the weather prediction.

We were never in danger. Maybe it was lucky, that we could not start the boat as the home trip would certainly have been a wild trip. We made one mistake though. During the whole day, we had our AWIPEV radio off, while Janwillem was keeping radio watch. When we did not return in time and the weather changed, he got worried. He did the right thing and informed the AWIPEV station about the situation. Luckily he heard just in time that we had asked Woijtek to come with a Norwegian radio (we had taken both handhelds). But I should have informed him much earlier.

Now we have been given a sat phone as extra communication. Many thanks for all the help.

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20150714 14:00: Arctic tern chick ringing

Arctic tern chick ringing

14 July 2015

Today, we went to Gerøya. This island has usually many arctic terns nesting. After our trip, we estimated about 150 breeding pairs, spread over the entire island.
Though arctic tern adults have extremely short leggs, their chicks have almost adult size legs on their moment of birth. This means that a chick can be ringed with a metal ring quite early. So we brought our ringing equipment as we do become interested on return rates and survival.
The chicks stumbels over the tundra to avoid predation, until you are close. Than they press down and hold themselves as if dead.
A moment of birth. Janwillem discovers this hatching chick. It is in full action to leave the egg. This few seconds of video captures the moment.
Beautiful chick on the tundra.

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20150711 12:21: Catching on the roof

Catching on the roof

11 July 2015, 12:21

Today we are catching a tern with geolocator on the roof of Renseverket. Renseverket is the tallest building in town with a concrete roof, covered with decaying wood panelling. It is a dark industrial monument, with a somewhat creapy atmosphere. But it is also one of the two safe places in town for arctic terns to nest. We have tried to catch this logger bird yeaterday, but it escaped from the trap when the netting got stuck behind a nail. Today with another model trap we manage relatively fast. On the way in I made a picture of Janwillem, which catches the atmosphere of the building too.

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20150710 16:00: Catching terns again

Catching terns again

10 July 2015 15:00


On top of the roof of the tallest building in town, a little tern colony survives predation by the arctic fox. There is one geolocator among the 12 pairs and we try to catch it. Hell breaks loose when Janwillem enters the roof. The terns are picking on his head, dive-bomb with faeces and make loud schrieks.


The other surviving colony in town is near the oil drums. Here Janwillem is able to catch two pairs, which have not laid any eggs, but show territorial behaviour. We place an egg in the location where the birds are sitting, with a trap. It works. We retrieve in this way 3 geolocators and both pais are flying now with geolocators.
This bird sat for some time on his hand before taking off.

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20150710 11:00: More snowbuntings

More snowbuntings

10 July 2015 11:45

After seeing an unringed family of snowbuntings on the tundra, I decide not to take any risk. We are ringing the family in the boat house. Janwillem has small enough hands to grab the young.

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20150710 10:00: Grass measuring day

Grass-measuring-day

10 July 2015 10:00

Every week, I return to 104 ringed grass shoots in 13 paired plots (grazed and ungrazed) to measure leaf growth. On my knees.

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20150710 09:00: Digging around London

Digging around London houses

10 July 2015 9:00

The soil arounbd the houses London III and IV needed to be removed. Water was to easily trapped, which caused the floor and poles to rot. Now, there is no place left for the arctic fox den underneath these houses.

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20150709 15:00: Warm weather

Warm weather

9 July 2015 15:00

Today is a warm day 13 degrees Celsius. Margje is going to Storholmen to collect down of nests and I join here as a polar bear guard. After all the stories and pictures of bears in the fjord, we better be safe.

The last nests are hatching and at some old nests, the fleas jump in her bag.
After Storholmen, the sea is so calm, that we decide for a little trip to the closest glacier front.
Finally we go to Prins Heinrich for the last nest check. All geese have hatched, but the tern colony with more than 45 nests has disappeared. Eaten by glaucous gulls.

On the island, I placed a small exclosure in 1996, which shows how different the vegetation would look without herbivores. The exclosure is full with Cerastium arcticum and Saxifraga cernua. The geese love these plants.

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20150708 22:00: Polar bear on Gerdøya

Polar bear on Gerdøya

8 July 2015 22:06

While yesterday a polar bear mother and cub was seen on Observasjonsholmen, today Bjørn Anders Nymoen and Fin Sletten find a new polar bear on Gerdøya. It is a large male.
Pictures and copyright by Bjørn Andes Nymoen, taken from his facebook page.

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20150708 12:42: Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon

8 July 2015

The secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon is visiting Ny-Aalesund today to hear about the newest polar research. He has been here before and wanted to come back in preparation of the climate conference in Paris in December. The program is organised by the Norwegian ministery of Foreign Affairs. The minister is accompying him and the program is quite Norwegian.
Ny-Aalesund feels again as center of the world.
Preparations for a launch of a weather balloon. Behind the building, over the telescope, you can see the geese performing on the wrong side of the building.

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20150707 16:00: Looking for geolocators

Looking for geolocators

7 July 2015 16:00

The oil drums are fenced off. This is one of the two areas in town where arctic tern nests are save for predation. About 16 pairs are incubating here. We need to check if there are any geolocator-carrying-birds in this group. It is iompossible to come close without being attacked and shitted upon. Janwillem uses a small tent and the birds are surprisingly quiet. Mission accomplished.

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20150707 12:00: Polar bear on Observasjonsholmen

Polar bear on Observajsonsholmen

7 July 2015

This morning a full boat with three field parties left town to the breeding islands in the fjord. Svein Arne Hanssen and his team go eider duck catching on Storholmen. Margje checks hatching barnacle goose nests and Solveig goes with another student to Sigridholmen to look for wader nests. Just after everyone has started their work, a polar bear is spotted on Juttaholmen. Within 15 minutes it re-appears at Observasjonsholmen.

Time for action.

Eeverybody packs their equipment and gets in the boat. But first they go a bit closer to the bear to make these pictures. It appears to be a mother bear with a cub. The mother is wearing a collar with a satellite transmitter. These can only be attached to females as the males have a more ever widening neck.

To the left the first picture, below more taken with bigger lenses.
When the bear moves over the top of the island, i can easily see it with my telescope from town.

8 juli worden een beer met jong gezien die het fjord uit bewegen, al zwemmend over de lagune bij Brandal.

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20150706 22:6: Grazing in a polluted area

Grazing in a polluted area

6 July 2015 22:06

Last year, together with Isabella Scheiber and Nico van den Brink, I have been studying the effect of grazing in the mine area on captive goslings. We did find significant differences in the mercury level in the liver. I want to know which geese are grazing in the mine area and I place three wildlife cameras near rich grass spots. The left column are pictures in the direction the camera is pointing. The right column are pictures towards the camera. The cameras are small. Can you find it?

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20150706 21:06: Insect samples

Insect samples

6 July 2015 21:06

Janwillem is sampling insects again. He has been doing this several years. Small trays with soapy water and a netting to halt the insects. Every three days, we collect the drowned insects.

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20150706 16:00: Breeding islands

Breeding islands

6 July 2015 16:00

While flying to Longyearbyen, Suzanne has a perfect view on the breeding islands in the fjord. From left to right: Storholmen, Juttaholmen, Sigridholmen, Observasjonsholmen, below Midtholmen, to the right Innerholmen and Leirholmen. Hieronder een topgrafische kaart van http://toposvalbard.npolar.no met alle plaatsnamen.

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20150706 16:00: Team change

Team change

6 July 2015

This morning Janwillem arrived, this afternoon Suzanne left.

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20150704 14:30: Ringing snowbuntings

Ringing snowbuntings

4 July 2015 14:30

Above I take the selfie shown to the left
Today we are ringing 17 snowbunting chicks with metal and colour rings to study toundra survival. Soon they will leave the nestbox and follow their parents begging loudly. In this period many will be taken by the Arctic fox.
Climbing
Margje has worked several seasons with great tits in the Netherlands. She likes small birds.
For me they are too small, difficult to see.
Wildlifecameras near the nest register daily rhytms of activity. The birds sleep between 0:00 and 02:00 AM, despite the full daylight.

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20150703 19:53: Bird count

Evening count

3 July 2015 19:53

It is a sunny evening and Margje and Suzanne walk to Brandalpynkten to count birds. We were asked to monitor the birds during the construction activity (see also here). They look rather scary with their sunglasses.

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20150703 13:56: Prins Heinrich

Prins Heinrich

3 July 2015

Today Maarten operates a taxi service to the breeding islands and Suzanne and Margje check the nests of barnacle geese on hatch dates and nest parasites. The last island to visit is Prins Heinrich, just outside town. We arrive in survival suits, whci they leave on the beach and continue.

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20150630 23:00: Cachalot

Cachalot

30 June 2015

Herman Sips made it to Ny-Ålesund. He is a good friend from my scuba diving days with GBD Calamari in Groningen. The dream which started at a party has become reality. Herman sailed from The Netherlands to Spitsbergen and continues via Jan Mayen and Iceland home. In Ny-Ålesund Else Boekema and Chris Kuipers came on board and together they continued north. What a trip. You can follow his journey on http://www.sy-cachalot.nl.

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20150629 14:55: Feather plucking

Feather plucking

29 June 2015

Suzanne Lubbe is collecting a few down feathers of goslings to determine at which site the mother collected the food to make the egg: during spring staging in Norway, or earlier in Scotland or later on the Arctic tundra. By studying isotope profiles, we hope to link the origin of the nutrients to the migration strategy.

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20150628 14:00: Fox attacks geese

Fox attacks geese

28 June 2015 14:00

The whole day there is a fox active in town. The geese are constant on the run. West of town a fox has caught a group of families on a small pond. The fox does not want to go in the water, while the geese threaten and defend their goslings. No casualties this time.

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20150627 16:00: A bumpy ride

A bumpy ride

27 June 2015

The video to the left is made during a two hour boat ride to Prins Karls Forlandet. Do not get sea sick while watching this video. In real life it was no problem but on video it looks tough.
We left the fjord to pick up Delphin and Saga who have been counting seabirds on the cliffs.
Saga and Delphin are waiting for us at the beach. They have collected also quite some carbage from an old burned installation.
Fuglehuken in the fog, but still impressive. All our trip, we could not see the mountains in the fog.

Near Stuphallet, we see a floating boat with.....Nick Cox. He has landed a group of people and is awaiting their return.

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20150627 13:00: blue whale

Geir Wing Gabrielsen placed these pictures on facebook about a blue whale he encountered in Kongsfjorden today. It does not happen very often and is a good continuation of the news from 6 June when the Plancius discovered a pod of 85 (!) Greenland whales north of Spitsbergen. The most positive and not believed by many estimate of the population on this side of the world was just 100 after being exterminated by 17th century whaling.

The last blue whale seen in the fjord was in 2007. Most blue whales stay about 50 km off the west coast of Spitsbergen. Unfortunately, the people of the Netherlands Arctic Station missed the whale today.
The man who made the pictures

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20150627 09:15: Cargo arrives

Cargo arrives

27 June 2015 09:15

Our expedition material has arrived with the ship Ortelius. Thank you crew of the Ortelius and Oceanwide Expeditions for bringing the material close to Ny-Ålesund. Together with Wojtek Moskal, I have retrieved the cargo from the ship.

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20150626 14:00: Ringing grasses

Ringing grasses

26 June 2015

Paul Wenzel Geissler studies the local scientists by joining them in their fieldwork. When you want to do that with me, you have to measure grasses. Together with him, I have been setting up 13 plots with 4 grass shoots marked with a ring. Every week we will come back and measure leaf elongation and new leaves formed. It looks ridiculous, but it is a good measure for food availability for geese.

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20150625 19:00: Snowbunting

Snowbunting

I will try to follow the development of these snowbuntings by making daily pictures. Look at their eyes.
Mom checking what I am doing

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20150625 13:00: Interviewed by Chinese scientists

Interviewed by Chinese scientists

25 June 2015

Three Chinese scientists want to interview station leaders and scientists in Ny-Ålesund to understand the community and our science plans (RIS id 10236). They come and visit me in the Netherlands Arctic Station.
After the interview, we make a picture in front of the station.
From left to right: Maarten Loonen, Guo Peiqing, Haining Yu and Chen Xu.

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20150624 20:00: Brent geese

Brent geese

24 June 2015

In June we sometimes see flying brent geese, but rarely they are seen on the ground. Today, two white-bellied brent geese have landed near the lake Solvatnet and rest next to a pair of common eider, while barnacle geese fly over head.

Photo: Margje de Jong


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20150624 14:00: Oiled bird

Oiled bird

24 June 2015

While travelling between islands, counting geese and eider nests in the fjord, Margje encounters a kittiwake which is an oil victem

Photo: Margje de Jong


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20150623 14:21: Gotcha

Gotcha

23 June 2015

Today I was checking 299 barnacle goose nests on the island Storholmen. Walking overthe island, finding the nests and measuring the nest defence of the breeding pair. Margje has placed wildlife cameras on some of the nests to study the effect of fleas on incubation behaviour.
I was caught by one of these cameras.

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20150621 00:05: Polarsyssel

Polarsyssel

21 June 2015

The Governor of Svalbard, called Sysselmannen, has a new modern ship. The shape is quite unconventional, but the emergency preparedness is greatly enhanced. The ship is rented and owned by an Islandic company. In winter it is used for offshore industry. More information on the ship can be found here.

The ship has come to Ny-Ålesund to bring the field inspectors and their equipment for the summer. The visit is timed together with the midsummer party. At 2 o'clock on 21 June, the ship continues its trip.

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20150620 19:15: Midsummer party

Midsummer party

20 June 2015

The theme of the party is CIRCUS. A lot of inspiration and fun.
The girls from the Netherlands Arctic Station.

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20150620 17:00: New telescope village

New telescope village

20 June 2015

above: looking north
left: from the airplane
In the turn towards the airstrip, I could see the new village at Brandalpunkten from the air. New buildings and a road in the wilderness. A scar in the landscape, but important for the future of Ny-Ålesund as a green science village. The mapping authority is the third station with yearround several people in town. And we have fast internet because it is essential for the radio telescope. The whole village is cabled, not using wifi and blue tooth to allow optimal reception from quasars at the rim of our galaxy. And geodesie creates a fixed frame for positioning on earth and of earth in space. This telescope can measure any deviation in the earth axis and is therefore very important for understanding earth climate.
From the north. The whole building site is a gated community, to minimize disturbance and destruction of tundra.
Above as seen from the airport. The new village is very conspicuopus. I wonder what will be left after the construction period.
Left: a gate around the constrution site
Right: but also some damage outside the fence.

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20150619 11:37: Solargraphy by Udo Prinsen

Solargraphy by Udo Prinsen

19 June 2015


On top of Renseverket N78.92821 E11.91735
Udo Prinsen is an artist joining the SEES.NL expedition. He has sent pinhole cameras to Ny-Ålesund to follow the sun path over the summer. The technique is called solargraphy I have found four locations for the cameras. The all-sky set is placed on top of Renseverket, the tallest building in Ny-Ålesund, built to clean the coal. On the roof is a small platform. The picture above is taken from the roof towards town. The picture on the left is taken from the dogyard. From this distance you can see the instrument on top of the building.
Other locations are in the front and back of the Netherlands Arctic Station and on the old pier extending into the fjord. Now we hope for clear skies and good suntracks. An example from internet is given to the right.
In de polar sun, the sunline will still be visible at midnight at its lowest point.
in front of the Netherlands Arctic Station N78.92542 E11.93352
the back of the Netherlands Arctic Station N78.92608 E11.93432
the old pier at Hollanderhaugen N 78.93004 E11.91866

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20150617 13:00: nesting barnacle geese

Barnacle goose nest check on Storholmen

17 June 2015 13:00

Margje checks and photographs the nests, maarten made these pictures. Note the typical cloud ceiling.
On the background the island Juttaholmen, the glacier and the typical cloud cover.
Zoomed in, I can read the codes on the colour rings en I describe the intensity of the defence by the geese.
This nest had most fleas. the eggs are full of sucked blood. And the female returns, sits down and is bitten even more.
Beautiful blue glacier ice
Human-animal interaction

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20150615 15:34: first geolocator of the season retrieved

First geolocator of the season retrieved

16 June 2015 15:34

Today we retrieved the first geolocator which has travelled from the arctic to the antarctic on a tern leg.
Margje de Jong made this pictures with her brand new camera.
we catch the tern with a simple cage, a stick and a rope
the rope is 30 meter long
de tern is checking ther nest, while hovering
caught
Suzanne retrieves the tern
the old geolocator is attached to a blue ring
the metal ring is read with the tern on its back
than we measure the size and mass of the bird
total tarsus
headbill
bill length
bill height
wing (but with the end of the ruler better on the front of the wing)
tailfork right
tailfork left
the new geolocator is attached on an engraved colour ring
difficult to get around the leg
readable with a telsescope as black LF
a bit of fast glue
in the bag on the scale fr body mass
one last portrait
and there she goes....

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20150614 16:00: On our way to Spitsbergen

On our way to Spitsbergen

14 June 2015 16:00

While travelling to Spitsbergen we have to wait for 6 hours at Oslo airport. From right to left: Maarten Loonen, Margje de Jong, Suzanne Lubbe and travel companion Anton Luijtink.

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20150613 12:00: Bears on island close to village

Polar bear on Prins Heinrich

13 June 2015

One day before our arrival, a polar bear female with cub shows up on Prins Heinrichsøya. I wonder how many nests were eaten.
Cooling in the snow.
Passing the camp ground next to the Italean monument for Nobile.
Observed in safety on the roof terras of the restaurant.

First picture taken by Kjetil Sagerup, others by Hasse Carlsson


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20150605 12:00: Dutch ambassador in Norway visits station

Dutch ambassador to Norway visits station
5 June 2015



Before we arrive, the Netherlands Arctic Station is visited by Mrs. Bea ten Tusscher, ambassador of the Netherlands in Oslo. She has studied at the University of Groningen and even followed lectures at the Arctic Centre. Now she is of great help in organising a post expedition event in Longyearbyen after the SEES.NL expedition.
Left she is standing in front of the newly renovated house. Below other pictures of the interior and exterior.

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20150604 12:00: Groningers with AWIPEV

Groningen researchers at AWIPEV

4 June 2015

Already there are two marine researchers working in Ny-Aalesund and staying in AWIPEV facilities. Gemma Kulk and Willem van der Pol are studying fytoplankton diversity with molecular techniques for Anita Buma of Ocean Ecosystems. I have taken some pictures from their blog on facebook.

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20150525 16:55: renovated home

renovated home

Many years, the Netherlands Arctic Station was housed in London II, the oldest but most original of the four London houses. Traditionally, in the coal mining days, these houses were the homes for families with small children.

The house has been renovated by skillfull carpenters trained in the renovation of protected cultural heritage. One of them, Martin Herrmann, has sent me these pictures today. He wrote: "Had a small inspection today in Ny-Ålesund. London2 has become so beautiful, enjoy it!"

I cannot wait. I will arrive on 15 June 2015 for a new field season. I am looking forward to meeting old friends.
Earlier posts in the weblog
20130628
renovation
20130710
moving home

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20150523 10:00: Schipment of luggage


Loading the Ortelius
23 May 2015

From Hansweert, the ship Ortelius of Oceanwide-Expeditions is heading for Spitsbergen. Loaded with equipment for the Netherlands Arctic Station and the SEES.NL expedition..
A lot of activity in the harbour.
My car loaded with stuff
A large crane lifts the pallets.
All luggage is stored in the helicopter deck. On the left my pallet for Ny-Ålesund, wrapped in plastic.
A video from the local news(click on the picture)

Thanks to Natasja of Oceanwide Expeditions, Frits Steenhuizen and Annete Scheepstra for coordination and Martine and Bart van den Heuvel and Margje de Jong and her father for assistance.


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20150504 15:00: Re-location of whalers

In 1958, Prof. Ir. Piet Velzeboer arranged some funds to re-locate the whaler graves at Hollnderhaugen. The building of Renseverket made this necessary. His son has sent me some old pictures. More old pictures from Velzeboer here.
The ceremony with the new stone. The inscription reads: Herinnering aan de hier begraven vijftig Nederlandse walvisvaarders verre van het vaderland gestorven in de 17de eeuw (In memory of the 50 Dutch whalers burried here, who died far away from their homes in the 17th century).
Sofar I have not found any confirmation that these whalers were Dutch. The type of graves was characterized as Dutch graves and maybe even the name Hollnderhaugen is based on a misconception. There are no ship logs about Dutch whalers in Kongsfjord. There have been British whalers though.
In the Netherlands an ocean burial was not preferred. The bodies needed to be burried in the soil to wait for the resurrection. People who died during the trip were kept on the boat until arrival at Spitsbergen. Many people died on scurvy. In the Dutch winter there was already a buildup of vitamin C deficiancy. A trip to the north would continue that and especially during a second trip scurvy became a cause of mortality.
The site where the bones were re-burried. Lilly Kristensen worked in Ny-Aalesund that year. She told me that local people were a bit afraid and the transport of bones through town happened normally in the middle of the night. One person was employed to do the project and well paid. When I discovered a new grave, see told me about her experience.

clcik here to open the Svalbardposten article in a new window


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20150504 14:00: Dutch mining professor as advisor

In 1957 and 1958, a Dutch mining professor from Delft University in the Netherlands visited Ny-Aalesund several times and advised Kings Bay Kull Comp. A/S on their operations. His name was Prof. Ir. Piet Velzeboer. His son has sent me some old pictures.
Prof. Ir. Piet Velzeboer with the director of KBKC Einar Grimsmo
Mine entrance
The board of KBKC with their wives together in Ny-Aalesund
Kongsbreen and Kongsvegen seen from the Loveyane in 1958.
Coal ship departing the quai. The quai had a whole construction, so the train stay high on the track and load the boat.

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20150428 10:00: geolocation explained

geolocation explained

28 April 2015 10:00

I am using a technique to follow migratory birds, which is called geolocation. On youtube I found this video explaining beautifully how geolocation works. For some time, I could not find it, so the best location to store the link is by putting it on the weblog.

click on the photo to start the video



The medieval story of the barnacle goose, who disappeared in summer and returned in winter, was about a tree in Scotland, where part of the fruits fell into the sea and devoloped into barnacles. In winter, the barnacles changed into geese. This picture shows how medieval scientists had disvovered featherlike structuresand even a small goose in the shells.
When Willem Barentsz discovered Spitsbergen, the landed crew returnbed to the ship with a brent goose and eggs. The goose had been incubating but was killed by a stone and taken aboard. Gerrit van der Veer recognized the goose and knew the story. He wrote in his logbook that they now had falsified the story. Nevertheless it took many years for the story to change. Catholics where not allowed to eat proper meat on Friday. If geese were coming from the sea, they were not proper meat.

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20141116 13:00: polar bear research

polar bear research

summer 2014, nordenskildkysten

At a remote wilderness on the east side of Spitsbergen, Jouke prop and Eva Wolters have made two new videos about their polar bear and goose research. You can subscribe to their channel http://www.youtube.com/joukeprop, which keeps you updated on new videos.

A young polar bear finds a goose egg, but does not know how to break it (yet).

How to work safely in an evironment with polar bears?


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20140801 14:15: first moult catch

first moult catch

1 Aug 2014 14:15

The first catch of moulting barnacle geese takes place in Thiisbukta. Janwillem and Ramsey in canoos and Maarten and Margje in a zodiac. Hannah, Gigi, Kirsten and Inga are helping along the coast.
ringing, weighing measuring......and blood sampling.
Pictures from Ramsey Nasr

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20140801 07:00: bear around our house

bear around our house

1 Aug 2014 7:00

This morning a polar bear (small female) was seen walking from the yellow house outwards towards the zeppelin tower and than swimming away to Storholmen. Later we find tracks on the road near our house. Hannah is pointing to one of the tracks. We can reconstruct that the bear has been circling us. I was awake sitting behind the computer. I must have missed it within 40 meters.
Later we find even more impressive footprints and a garnage bag which has been opened by the polar bear.
And finally an picture with the polar bear spotted at 7:00 in the morning. She must have been everywhere in the village.

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20140731 21:30: the effect of grazing

the effect of grazing

31 July 2014 21:30

Mette Svenning, Kirsten Krause and Ingeborg Jonnsdottir are starting a new study on the effect of grazing on the bacterial diversity and molecular activity in plants. They are planning to use the exclosures which I have set-up and maintained over many years. While it is snowing, as a prelude to autumn, we make a tour to decide for the best study plots.

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20140731 10:00: path formation

path formation

31 July 2014 10:00

Together with Dagmar Hagen, we are studying vegetation change as a result of human activity around Ny-Ålesund. Five years ago, Dagmar has measured path formation on a path from town towards the Zeppelin tower. Today we have found back the exact location of her measurements and looked at the present situation. There is surprising little difference.
The locations of the measurements are marked with a nail. With a metal detector we canfind them back. Linde van Bets is our assistant.

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20140730 18:30: Kjaersvika

Kjaersvika

30 July 2014 18:30

We have send Ramsey on a mission to the end of our world. He will visit Kjaersvika, an old hut at the southwest side of Brøgerhalvøya. Long live solitude. And now we have to wwait pstiently what will grow in the mind of this poet.

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20140726 15:00: hunting fox

hunting fox

26 July 2014 15:00

While counting birds, we meet an arctic fox which has just killed an adult goose. Ramsey Nasr made these pictures.
Green SPF can be removed from the list of living birds.

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20140725 14:00: son at the helm

son at the helm

25 July 2014 14:00



klik op de foto hierboven om de video te starten


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20140724 15:30: departure Willemijn

departure Willemijn

24 July 2014 15:30

Willemijn Loonen and Anna Braun are going home. They fly together to Longyearbyen. All other station members wave them a good trip.

click on the picture above to start the video


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20140724 11:00: a bird song

a bird song

24 July 2014 11:00

Berit Meland and Anna Braun do a performance in the open air for Nick Cox, who missed the performance yesterday.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140723 21:45: mini-concert

mini-concert

23 July 2014 21:45

Berit Meland is opera singer and works this summer in Ny-Ålesund as nurse and in the kitchen. She invited our Anna Braun to play the accordeon with her. They give a mini-symposium in the local pub.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140723 20:30: flowers that catch insects

flowers that catch insects

23 July 2014 20:30

Ramsey and Maarten are collecting the artificial flowers that catch insects.

click on the picture to start the video

Earlier posts about the global dryas project
1. circumpolar experiment
2. dryas experiment
3. flowers that catch insects

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20140722 16:00: poop collecting

poop collection

22 July 2014 16:00

From left to right: Isabella Scheiber, Margje de Jong and Eva Braun. In the front, 16 goslings, two experimental groups of 8 goslings. One raised in the mine area, one in a clean area behind the airport.
The last experimental day with the goslings. They are left in isolation for 20 minutes. After that stress, all faeces is collected for stress hormone determination (corticosteron). The faeces collection is easiest when the goslings rest and produce droppings while resting.

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20140722 11:30: high school research project

high school research project

22 July 2014 11:30

Willemijn has to start her own research project as part of her science class in high school. She has invented her own research project. She will study where the geese go, if there are many tourists in town. We already made counts twice during the day. Willemijn is specifically counting geese and people when large tourist boats have found their way to Ny-Ålesund.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140721 20:00: chinese children

chinese children

21 July 2014 20:00

A group of Chinese children is traveling in the Arctic and has asked to meet me. We make a lot of pictures. They give us special pins and we give them plastic tulips.

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20140720 22:00: dryas experiment

dryas experiment

20 July 2014 22:00

We are catching pollinating insects on Dryas by putting artificial flowers with a glue top on the tundra.The insects will stick on the glue and later analysed. For the start of the experiment see this page.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140716 16:00: penthouse nesting

penthouse nesting

16 July 2014 16:00

Arctic foxes have eaten many eggs of the arctic terns, but some have escaped predation. Two pairs are breeding on the roof of the largest building in Ny-Ålesund: Renseverket. Janwillem has been catching the adults and Maarten runs up the stairs when Janwillem reports a successful catch via the radio. Working on the high roof is one thing, but being under attack of the arctic terns is certainly a frightening experience.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 23:45: ground penetrating radar

ground penetrating radar

15 July 2014 23:45

Frigga took Benjamin Koster and his ground penetrating radar to the marble quarry at Ny-London. With this ground penetrating radar, they can study faults and weak points in below surface marble.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 23:00: surface archeology

surface archeology

15 July 2014 23:00

Frigga Kruse is studying the old marble mining town Ny-London. She brought a metal detector and does find some iron objects.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 14:00: summit marble island

summit marble island

15 July 2014 14:00

Frigga and Benjamin have made a walk to the summit of Marble Island. They cross rivers and snow fields and the view on the top is spectacular.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 09:30: water taxi

water taxi

15 July 2014 09:30

The archeologists or maybe better, the geologists as they are both multidisciplinary scientists, Frigga and Benjamin are leaving for Marble Island or as the Norwegians say: Blomstrand. Thomas brings them with his boat.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 09:15: bathing

bathing

15 July 2014 09:15

No better moment as when your bath is ready. Margje invites her goslings to take a plunge. See them play and dive.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140715 09:00: to the feeding grounds

to the feeding grounds

15 July 2014 09:30

In our experiment, we have to goose teams. One goes and feed in the polluted mine area, the other feeds in a clean control area. Nico is studying contamination, Isabella behaviour and hormones and Margje and me the immune systems. Today is a beautiful day and the teams head out to their areas. Isabella and Anna go to the mine area and Margje and Willemijn to the clean area behind the airport. I taped the departure of town for both teams.

click on the picture to start the video


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20140714 20:00: circumpolar experiment

circumpolar experiment

14 July 2014 23:30

Interact is a European program of collaborating terrestrial stations in the Arctic. Together, we are doing an experiment studying the pollinator community on Dryas heath: the global dryas project. In this video I explain the experiment. We have just set up five plots and have put netting over some buds to exclude insect pollinators.

click on the image to start the video


plotdetailenvironmentinfo

blue
78.92541N
11.90326E

red
78.92548N
11.90363E

green
78.92562N
11.90330E

white
78.92580N
11.90256E

yellow
78.92557
11.90212E


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20140714 10:30: departure

.

departure

14 July 2014

It is always strange when people leave in the middle of the season. Today 3 people disappear from London IV. From left to right Ross Wetherbee, Nico van den Brink and Malenthe Teunis. Ross will move to UNIS in Longyearbyen to extract fleas from the last samples. Nico will return to Wageningen University. His blog can be found here. Malenthe will join the tourist boat Quest for becoming a tourist guide on board and than meet her parents and boyfriend for a short holiday in Longyearbyen.

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20140713 21:00: world championship football

world championship football

13 July 2014

> We have enjoyed the world championship football overhere. Many countries have their representatives upphere. If your country won, you got congratulated. If they lossed you were given sympathy. We did our best to support the Dutch team and watched all matches in bright orange. Above, the picture was taken during the final. To the left it was after the loss of the Netherlands in the semi final.

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20140713 15:00: blomstrand bird cliff

Blomstrand bird cliff

13 July 2014
Kentaro Hayashi is a colleague from Japan. We have published a paper together on reindeer droppings. Next year we plan to study denitrification at sites affected by bird faeces. I want to show him a rich bird cliff at Blomstrand Island, the kittiwake colony where students of Claus Bech are working. The bird cliff is a steep climb over lush tundra vegetation. On the photo on the left, it is the green area on top enclosed by three steep cliff walls.
This is how the steep cliff looks when you are at the top.Kittiwakes everywhere and a few fulmars.
Tired from the climb........but the view is spectacular.
An Arctic fox puppy passes.......and starts to feed on a reindeer carcass.
The steep descent
And just outside the influence of the bird cliff, there is hardly any vegetation.I did take a picture of the both of us when returned home. All other pictures by Kentaro.

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20140711 23:45: polar bear

The crew of the Noorderlicht discovered the polar bear on Leirholmen (9J July 2014). This afternoon we could see it walk on Sorholmen (10/7 15:00). This evening it walked on the road from the mine area towards the village and was chased away by the watchmen at 23:45.
Svein Arne Hanssen took these pictures from a boat close to Storholmen.

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20140711 12:00: predated by polar bear

The day after we have seen the polar bear on Storholmen, we are checking the last nests and assessing the damage. About 30 eider nests and one goose nest had been taken by the bear. Below you see the goose nest number 93, with a dead wet gosling still near it.
Above, two pictures of predated eider nests (greenish egg shells, no droppings around the nest).
Eggs seem not the easiest food for a polar bear to digest. We discover four patches with a kind of diarhea. The polar bear is used to a very fatty diet. Eggs are full of protein. No wonder he did not take more. He must have had some stomach ache.
We have sampled the faeces for anlysis of the diet and maybe even recognition of the bear via DNA.

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20140710 23:30: polar bear behind town

polar bear behind town

10 July 2014 23:30

During the day, the polar bear was 7 kilometer away and had been eating eider eggs on Storholmen. In the night it came close to town. The Indian station filmed the bear before it was chased away with one flare. Sajeevan Thavarool made his movie available for this website.

click on the image to start the video


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20140701 16:00: start of gosling experiment

start of gosling experiment

1 July 2014 16:00

Yesterday, I have collected 16 goslings from 8 nests for our new gosling experiment. We will have two groups. One will feed in the polluted old mine area and the other on clean tundra. Isabella Scheiber and Nico van den Brink have designed the experiment. Nico will look at the uptake of contaminants and Isabelle will study the effect of stress on hormone levels, specifically corticosteron. But in this video, the goose raisers feature. Margje de Jong and Anna Braun have both a group to care for. The goslings are already a bit imprinted after one day.

klik op de plaat hierboven om de video te starten


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20140629 14:00: humpback

humpback

29 juni 2014 14:00

The last years, humpback whales become a regular visitor in the fjord. Today, we see every three minutes its tail risong above the water surface. What a beautiful animals.

click on the picture above to start the video.


Photo taken by Elise Biersma, who has returned here for a week after being my student earlier.

And also my colleague Sveinn Arne Hanssen posted pictures on facebook.


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20140628 12:30: nest defence


Some male geese defend their nest vigourously. Green XDH from nest 151 is such goose. He is very aggressive. I am asked to collect the temperature logger from the nest. The goose hits me with its wings and lands on my back.

Photo taken by Paul Wenzel Geissler


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20140625 08:15: ringed plover

ringed plover

25 June 2014 21:30

A ringed plover is nesting right in front of my doorstep on a snow cleared piece of land. The bird whistles at me every morning when I open the door. Just to let me know that I should keep distance. Unfortunately after 5 days of incubation the Arctic Fox found the nest.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140621 21:30: mid-summer party

mid-summer party

21 June 2014 21:30

The mid-summer party in Ny-Ålesund is famous. Under the warm and constant arctic sun, we dress up. Theme this year is Pirates. Good food, music and fun. Malenthe and Ross win a prize as π-rats.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140620 14:00: field work

field work

20 June 2014 14:00

Doing field work is not always simple. Extreme weather, cold, wind en dirty nests.
Ross is retrieving geolocators from goose nests which are infested by fleas. This nest is particularly infested. The eggs are full of fea faeces which is actually goose blood. When the logger is out of the nest, the data are retrieved with a computer.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140620 12:30: happy

happy

20 June 2014 12:30

We take a break on an open spot away from all nests. Time for some fun. Students can fly.

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20140620 11:00: whale

minky whale

20 June 2014 11:00

Every day outhere is special. Today, while taking a boat to Storholmen, we come across a minky whale. At the second blow, I start the camera. Then it comes for a third blow and dives deep under. You can judge that from the raised back. And we lost it. But the first surfacing was right in front of our boat. Lovely.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140619 2245: Tern named Tim

Caught: arctic tern named Tim

19 June 2014 23:30

Terns have started their incubation close to roads while most opf the tundra is still covered with snow. Also an arctic fox is observed closeby every other day. I cannot wait any longer and have to retrieve the data logger. On two nests I am able to catch the males. This is Tim. Tim is named by a sponsor. I have a preliminary analysis of the data on the logger. Er zijn al sternen begonnen met broeden. Op twee nesten hebben beide ouders een geolocator. Maar er is ook een vos gesignaleerd en ik durf niet meer te wachten. Ik moet deze vogels vangen voordat het nest is opgegeten door de poolvos. Uiteindelijk lukt het me om op ieder nest één stern te vangen. Dit is Tim. En van Tim heb ik ook de vluchtroute ruw uitgewerkt. Ook Tim heeft een nieuwe geolocator gekregen dankzij een sponsor.

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20140619 21:45: Tern named Henk de Groot

Caught again: arctic tern Henk de Groot

19 June 2014 21:30

The first tern caught this year has already a name of a sponsor. The bird is called Henk de Groot. This bird has received a geolocator thanks to the crowd funding campaign organized by the Ubbo Emmius Fund. The crowd funding was such a success, that we can attach new geolocators on the same bird to study annual variation in individuals. The geolocator attached to the yellow ring was used last year. The geolocator on the white ring is the new one. We have downloaded the data and retrieved good positions of this bird while flying from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

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20140618 19:00: Ross programming temperature loggers

Ross programs temerature loggers

18 June 2014 19:00

We have collected four temperature loggers from nests of barnacle geese and have to re-program them to put them out in new nests. By studying the temperature profile in the nest we can determine when the goose was incubating. To work with the computer, we found shelter in the hut on Storholmen.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140616 10:00: student research: arctic tern

student research on the breeding biology of arctic terns

16 June 2014 10:00

Malenthe Teunis is a student biology at the University of Groningen. She is doing her masters on breeding biology of arctic terns. Today she has found the first two nests, still located too close to the road as only there, there are the only snow free spots. The nest on the video has two parents who received a geolocator last year. When we retrieve the geolocator, we will be able to calculate daily positions over a full year. These birds have been to Antarctica during our winter and are world record holders on annual migration distance (upto 90.000 km).

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140615 23:00: king eider

king eider

15 June 2014 23:00

On Storholmen, eider ducks are in their laying phase, so male eiders are still present. I come across a king eider, checking out females. Spectacular bird.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140615 19:30: student research: fleas

student research on fleas in nests of barnacle geese

15 June 2014 19:30

Ross Wetherbee is an American master student at the University in Oslo, who is studying fleas infestations in barnacle goose nests. He is planning to relate the infestation intensity to the fitness of the birds.
Today we are on Storholmen, a breeding island and sanctuary, to map the nests and to record the flea intensity. Fleas take blood from the geese and defaecate the ingested blood on the eggs. Poor incubating female geese.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140613 15:30: second snow scooter trip

My second snow scooter trip

13 June 2014 15:30

The first snow scooter ride of my life. We were going to the shooting range for a safety rehearsal. Twice we got lost and twice the scooter fell over on a hill slope. But we managed. During our second trip driving home, we felt confident enough to make this video.

click on the picture above to start the youtube video


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20140220 23:10: tern migration

tern migration update


Last year, we re-caught 8 arctic terns, which we had equipped with geolocators in 2012. Tim van Oosten has written a master student report on the results. This figure shows the main result from the report. Panel A is the south-bound migration, panel B is the north-bound migration. Between 3 and 25 Novembrm the terns arrived at their wintering grounds near Antarctica, Departure north happened between 3 and 24 April. On their way north the birds follow the trade winds: easterly winds on the southern hemisphere and westerly winds on the northern hemisphere.
Thomas Zaw is a new student continuing to analyse the data, while Maarten is going to a Kongsfjorden workshop between 10 and 17 March to learn more about food availability during the summer season.

Recent articles about arctic tern studies with geolocators can be found here:
Egevang et al. (2010) Tracking of arctic terns Sterna paradisaea reveals longest animal migration. PNAS 107: 2078-2081 [download]
Fijn et al. (2013) Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea from The Netherlands migrate record distances across three oceans to Wilkes Land,East Antarctica. ARDEA 101: 3-12 [download]
McKnight et al. (2013) Stepping stone pattern in Pacific Arctic tern migration reveals the importance of upwelling areas. Marine Ecology Progress Series 491: 253-264 [download]

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20140220 23:05: mother goose

The American photographer Randall Hyman has also made a posting on the golsing experiment of Margje de Jong
on his website arcticoracles.randallhyman.com.

The story can be found here. If you click on the photo, you can see some of his wonderful pictures.
His next posting has a video , which you can reach with a click on the photo or directly via this link.


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20140220 23:00: return of the terns

Randall Hyman is an American photographer/journalist who has made some nice postings about our arctic tern project
on his website arcticoracles.randallhyman.com.

The story can be found here. If you click on the photo, you can see some of his wonderful pictures.
His next posting has a video , which you can reach with a click on the photo or directly via this link.


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20140218 14:00: expedition Jan Mayen

Expedition to Jan Mayen

The Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen and the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute prepare an expedition to Jan Mayen in August 2014. Jan Mayen is a Norwegian remote island near the cold uninhabitated side of Greenland. Four hundred years ago the island was discovered by a Dutch whaler. On the island there is yearround a small team of Norwegians manning a weather station. There are also some archeological remains of a Dutch whaler station from the 17th century and some graves of people who tried to winter.
We are invited by the Royal Dutch Navy on this expedition and will join with a team of archeologists and biologists.
On 18 februari 2014 we had a meeting at the naval base, where this picture is taken.. From left to right: Louwrens Hacquebord (RuG-AC), Michael Stech (National herbarium), Annette Scheepstra (WBPI), Henk Ottens (KNAG), Eric Verheul (initiator, marine), Maarten Loonen (RuG-AC), Robert Lobbes (navy), Eelko Postma (KNAG) en Gerritjan van den Dam (head of operation, navy). Niet op de foto: Peter Jordan (RuG-AC), Adri van Vliet (NIMH), Kees Camphuysen (NIOZ) and Paul Middelberg (navy).
We will embark on the Zr.Ms. Zeeland, a new ocean patrol vessel of the Holland class. We make a tour on a similar ship Friesland, because Zeeland is on patrol in the Caribean. From the bridge, I made a picture of Groningen with on its side a FRISC.

For the University of Groningen, this expedition is special as Jan Mayen is 400 years ago discovered by a Dutch whaler. This year our university celebrates its 400 year anniversary. The expedition is also a good excersise for the large scientific expedition to Edgeøya in August 2015 (see http://www.sees.nl). Since 1983, Jan Mayen has been visited by Louwrens Hacquebord and Kees Camphuijsen several times. With this expedition, we can extend a long time series of change,make a scientific publication and plan research for the coming years.
A painting from 1639 from Cornelis de Man showing a Dutch whale factory on Jan Mayen. In the background the Beerenberg, a large vulcano 2200 meters high. This painting is hanging in our national gallery (Rijksmuseum), right above a display with woolen hats of 17th century whalers burried on Spitsbergen.

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20130913 09:00: documentary trailer

Documentary trailer

filmed 7 July 2013, produced 15 September 2013
A documentary about research of the University of Groningen, Arctic Centre, on Spitsbergen. Geopolitics and geese: Labyrint (VPRO/NTR)


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20130813 21:50: surprise

I am spending all evening on checking pictures of automatic wildlife cameras. I can read quite some goose rings. But the camera at Brandal laguna had a surprise. Three pictures of an arctic tern with logger. Above you see the most beautiful one where the tern with the geolocator and the yellow ring takes off.

Below some other nice pictures of this camera.

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20130810 22:00: funny hat party

funny hat party

10 August 2013 22:00
  Saturday evening, bar evening. The scientist staying in Corbell, 5 km east of town, are serving tonight. They celebrate 50 years Corbell and have asked for a funny hat party. We have made some funny hats, with the logo of the Netherlands Arctic Program and some goose feathers.
From left to right: Isabella Weiss, Margje de Jong, Maarten Loonen, Marieke Krikke, Isabella Scheiber and Liesbeth Noor.

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20130810 13:30: tadpole shrimp

  Back to my youth. Collecting strange animals from fresh water. Ben Frederiks found the first one. Steve Coulson made me remember their name, and this morning I went on a hunt. I caught within 15 minutes 17 Lepidurus arcticus, the tadpole shrimp. Looks like a miniature horseshoe crab. As food I added Daphnia, another of my favourite creatures. I give lectures about this creature about their ability to develop spines when fish are present, sexual and asexual reproduction, the ability to produce haemoglobin in oxygen low waters, their abilty to travel on bird legs, their winter eggs and thier role in cleaning turbid waters from fytoplankton.
Earlier about this species in the weblog

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20130809 11:30: student support


student support

9 August 2013 11:30
Students of the University in Svalbard UNIS join me in a goose catch as part of their field excursion. They have arrived with their own boat. Thursday is a rainy day so they are sampling transects near Solvatnet and at the front of a retreating glacier. Friday the weather improves. After a lecture on the boat, we are going out to catch geese. We are with enough people to walk the geese towards the net.

Below a picture of the group near the lake Solvatnet making a transect of vegetation and goose droppings.

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20130808 12:30: fresh fruits

fresh fruits

8 August 2013 12:30
We have many extraordinary meals up here. But especially in the first days after arrival of the monthly supply vessel Nordbjrn, the dishes are full with fresh fruits and salad. This luch I had cherries and grapes. Yesterday we had desert with strawberries, ice and wipped cream.

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20130808 09:45: US congressmen

US congressmen

8 August 2013 9:45
The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington has invited people working in the US congress for a visit to Ny-Ålesund. Two Democratic congressmen are in this group: Jim McDermoth and Gerry Connolly. In front of the Netherlands Arctic Station I explain to them about the ecology of barnacle geese and arctic tern migration. Hope that this will bring my data closer to the table were decisions are made.
I have done this before. Important visitors like Royalty (very special day), EU politicians, French ambassador, Thai ambassador, World Wildlife Fund or civil servants from The Netherlands from Ministery of Foreign Affairs 2010 and 2013, or the Ministery of Education and Science 2011

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20130807 11:00: seminar on migration


The Netherlands Arctic Station is closing and offers the people working in Ny-Ålesund a first peak at new results on bird migration. About world champions and adaptation to global warming.

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20130802 7:01: bear close

bear close

2 August 2013 7:00
This morning just before 700 a bear showed up on the banks of Solvatnet observing 131 moulting geese. One flare was fired to chase it off back into the sea. There it tried to sneak upon a resting seal on the bank attached to prins heinrichsøya. The seal left just in time.
The bear continues to the shore east of town with three seal heads popping up around him. The weather is a bit hazy.

This is the 6th time already since we have been here this summer. Three times a mother with cub, so 9 times a bear encounter.
Picture by Knut Erik Hanssen

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20130802 11:00: colour ringing

colour ringing

2 August 2013

The Norwegian Animal Experimentation Committee (NARA) has rejected my application to mark geese with colour rings and take a small blood sample.

Svalbardposten 5 July 2013

Svalbardposten 2 August 2013


The law has not changed but the interpretation of the law, by the animal experimentation committee has. So they have asked me to send in an application for colour ringing and blood sampling. Than they rejected this application. Their reasoning: NARA finds that the hypothesis and obtained results are not sufficiently described. The project has been going on for many years, many birds have been marked, and from the application the remaining questions to be answered are not clear. It is not sufficient to refer to long data series. Also, the justification for the number of birds planned to be used, is not sufficiently provided. Finally, the procedures are not sufficiently described, including handling time of the birds and how the procedures have been refined over the years.

In a revised application NARA would like to have information and documentation on whether the use of new technology, ie. loggers, radiotransmitters etc. can be applied and how the use of such technology may reduce the number birds needed to answer the questions asked. The next NARA meeting will be August 20 2013, and the deadline for sending a (revised) application is July 30 2013. Pleas note that according to the regulation on animal experimentation, it is not possible for NARA to approve on any field experiment for more than two years at a time.

Also, NARA requests to have a report on what has been the result so far after so many years of marking birds and which information is still lacking from a scientific and/or management related perspective This report should be send to NARA within July 30 2013.


Next meeting of NARA is after the field season. So I will miss an annual datapoint in a continuous time series since 1991. We have about ten different studies based on this sampling, but how to describe bird ringing in general which would be appropriate to the comments of NARA.

At first I just accepted, but than I found out that I am the only one of the local ornithologists who has asked permission and who has been instructed to ask permission. All my Norwegian colleagues have interpreted the situation differently. Even Geir Wing Gabrielsen who has been several years member of NARA. There is a lot of colour marking and also blood sampling by Norwegians. I seem to be the first who is entangled in this adminstrative web. Stavanger Museum is convinced that a ringing license (which I have) is enough for colour marking and taking a small blood sample.

So I have asked Sysselmannen if this is not a violation of the Salbard Treaty. They simply stated in their answer that it is something between NARA and me. They have correspondence that I should know that permission was needed from 2010 and that they will not approve unless NARA has approved.

So I have now permission from the Governor to ring 350 barnacle geese with metal rings only.

Everybody is on holiday and nothing can be done. The local newspaper follows all correspondence with Sysselmannen (which is always public). So far, they have written two articles about this issue, simply stating the situation. This autumn, I will seek further clarification.

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20130731 21:08: race for the pole

race for the pole

31 August 2013 21:08

The Britsish NerC base has organised a competition for their first time arctic researchers. It is a Race for the pole. Wojtek is the only Polish person from Polish and he must be chased. Two teams run with a cart and a womon on top. The savages win from the oranges.
To the left the Polish man who played the bait.

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20130731 19:00: poop collection

poop collection

30-31 July 2013
Isabella and Gigi want to determine the daily changes in corticosterone hormone in the droppings. In temperate areas there is a peak just before dawn. What happens under constant light?
So we all have to collect goose faeces in several shifts. Everybody helps. Five goslings are followed for 24 hours and every poop (in total more than 500 samples) is collected and stored. A long but rewarding day and a special card as thanks made by Gigi. It is good to work like a team.

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20130728 19:30: 100 year old warehouse

100 year old warehouse at Ny-London

28 July 2013 19:00

Source: Some particulars (1914) Northern Exploration Company (N.E.C.), Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø.

Frigga Kruse is a PhD Student Industrial Archeology and finishes her thesis this autumn at the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen (the home institution for the Netherlands Arctic Station). She has sent two pictures to commemorate the 100th anniversay of the foundation of the former warehouse. The first houses of the former settlement of the Northern Exploration Co. on Marble Island (locally known as Ny-London on Blomstrandhalvøya) were built in 1911, but the former warehouse was one of the last structures to be put up in 1913. You can still see its foundation beneath the large machinery on site.

Source: pol02998, Polar Museum, Tromsø.

Friga Kruse has gathered all information on British industrial activity on Spitsbergen. If you are interested in her thesis contact: frigga_kruse@yahoo.co.uk

Earlier items in the weblog about Frigga:
old marble quarry re-discovered
mining history on spitsbergen



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20130727 19:30: shop assistant

shop assistant

27 July 2013 19:30
Willemijn wanted to help in the shop. She has been given her owmn shop with coffee and cookies. This is the last large touristboat with over 3000 passengers coming ashore for 4 hours.

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20130727 13:00: jumping tundra streams

jumping tundra streams

27 July 2013 13:00
My son Janwillem is helping me during field work. He is enjoying it.
Counting birds on Spitsbergen, we make long tundra walks. When you are walking on rubber boots, it is no problem to pass a stream. When you are walking on hiking shoes you have to jump. The difference is clear on this gopro video.

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20130725 12:00: goslings on tundra

Willemijn explains about the project
Janwillem is polar bear guard
Margje is goose mother
And we can use the AWIPEV ice cream car for logistics

goslings on tundra

Video storyboard to the left.25 July 2013 12:00

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20130722 15:30: photography


Randall Hyman is a professional photographer from St. Louis (USA). For the second summer he is collecting stories on arctioc research, people and change. In 2008, he stayed her with his wife and daughter and my goslings had an instant goose mother (see weblog). Now he has made two stories on our projects. The first on the Arctic Tern migration study, the second on our new goose mother Margje. His pictures are wonderful and his lines are written in a colourful visual phrasing.

Have a look at his website: http://arcticoracles.randallhyman.com.

Direct links to: the story on arctic terns or pictures on our arctic tern research or the story on our goose mother or pictures of the goose mother.

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20130720 23:00: naming terns

Naming arctic terns

20 july 2013
With crowdfunding, peoiple have supported my research on arctic tern migration. 39 people have chosen to name a tern. We have been lucky, because we have been able to ring exactly 39 terns this summer. Here you see them all with their new names.
Beauty
Karmijn
Jacobird
NoorDrenthe
Mystic
Lubbe
Stirns
BenJeanette
Berna
Henk de Groot
Federico Segundo
Krukel 1
Anke
Flo
Riisser-Larsen
Ruth
Imiqutailaq
Annelies
Angelo
Joanne
Marjolein
Arctic Jewel
Hidde
Benji
Maarten
Gerie
Guusje
Herman
Maamke
Viti
Tim
Meliora
Jan Pier
Jonathan
Suzanne
SolarAcces
Gerrit de Veer
Inky
Ellen

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20130720 21:21: goose father

goose father

20 July 2013 21:21
Margje has some hours off. Maarten has to walk with the geese. Within one hour all are very wet. But still we all enjoy the moment.
Pictures by Brigitte Weiss.

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20130720 08:00: wildlifecamera

wildlifecamera

We are using automatic cameras to gather more information on predators. Under our station there has been a fox den for many years. These pictures are made to see if a fox is still accessing the den. That did not happen, but we have a wide variety of visitors.

Sometimes we can even read rings of geese. And suddenly you can see that London 2 is gone (see also http://www.arcticstation.nl/weblog.php?nr=895)
The bird on the left picture is green XXX and is carrying a second ring with a geolocator attached: white A20

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20130719 22:54: gosling hotel

gosling hotel

19 July 2013 22:54
We keep the goslings in two seperate groups with different feeding conditions. One group has a luxureous life, always be given best first choice. The other group has only second choice grass. During the night we park the geese and give them some pellets and a heat lamp.

The wild geese are grazing the vicinity so heavily that there is not much grass left for the goslings in our experiment. So we are moving them around a lot.
Picture by Brigitte Weiss

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20130719 12:00: blue ice

blue ice

19 July 2013
This morning, I went with Gigi to collect Tim from Ny-London. He had stayed in the hut Gorilla for the night, experiencing arctic loneliness. He survived well.

On the way home, we pass an ice berg which has just fallen over. Nice blue of compressed ice now floating on top.

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20130719 11:45: kingsbay@work

kingsbay@work

19 July 2013
This posting is dedicated to the many people working for KingsBay. KingsBay is the owner of the town. They make it possible for all of us to do science. While walking outside on this beautiful day, it is obvious how much work is done during the summer.

Above, they are building a new bridge over the Bayelva river, to connect the planned new telescope to town.
Below, they are renovating my former station hut.
London 2 is renovatedBlocked sewage pipes are repaired
The hotel gets a new outer wall as the old one was absorbing to much water
And in the harbour a ship is unloaded for a new deck of the airport runway.

These are the man working outside. But also inside, we have the office, the reception, the kitchen. Even in the laundry room new washing machines were installed today. It is an impressive work force.

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20130717 15:38: reindeer mum

Reindeer mum

17 July 2013 15:38
Close to the campground there are two mother reindeer with their calves. Usually we only have males close to town and the females stay near the bird cliff on rich vegetation. Note the relative small antlers. Female reindeer have invested most of their calcium stores in the young. After birth they develop poor antlers which is one of the major costs of parenthood as it makes winter survival more difficult.

Do you see the eartag?
Picture taken by Brigitte Weiss. Brigitte and Isabella make a tour to the mining area every day to read rings. So far they have encountered geese, reindeer and a polar bear.

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20130716 09:30: I will be back

I will be back

16 July 2013 09:30
I will be back. That is what the mother bear must have been thinking. She was chased out of the village July but returns with her cub. Again they are chased with flares. Now to Prins Heinrichsøya. There it still is in the evening.
The bears get rid of the water by shaking and by rubbing their back on the tundra.

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20130715 03:00: youngest polar bear

Youngest polar bear visits town

15 July 2013 03:00

Last night, it was a record. The youngest wild polar bear ever observed inside town. Mother and child moved in the direction of the Netherlands Arctic Station as they were diverted by the car of the Kings Bay watchman. No flares were fired. The bears moved to the sea side, had a break with some nursing and suckling and moved on. All that time I was working behind the computer. The bear must have been visble to me if I would have watched to the right out of the window. I did notice the silence and the emtiness of birds when I went for the toilet outside at 05:00 but did not see any unusual activity either by people or birds.
Three pictures taken by the airportmanager Hasse Carlson.

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20130714 13:00: swimming pool

Gigi and Isabella created a swqimming pool for the goslings. The tundra is becoming drier and there is not much water close to our house. The pool is a great success. The goslings dive and preen.
Click on the picture to start the video.

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20130713 21:00: tern release

tern release

13 July 2013 21:00

After attachment of a geolocator, I let the arctic tern fly off. First back to the nest and later a long migration to Antarctica. I will try to catch this tern back next year and the geolocator will reveal the migration route and timing.

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20130713 20:30: tern catching

tern catching

13 July 2013 20:30



Tim is catching arctic terns. Here you see a sequence of pictures of a catch.

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20130713 17:00: naming terns

Suzanne has named together with her family three terns. The last three years, she has been great help and today she can name her own arctic terns and release them. They have now a geolocator and next year, we hope to retrieve the data.
Click on the picture to the left to start the video.

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20130712 20:00: goose mother

Goose mother

12 July 2013 20:00

See how well they do together. Pictures taken by Gigi Weiss.

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20130712 11:15: crowdfunding ended

Crowdfunding project for the arctic tern migration successful.

Thanks to a large group of sponsors and the Ubbo Emmius Fund of the University of Groningen, I have been able to continue a geolocator project on Spitsbergen. Birds will be named after their sponsors and sponsors will receive tracking data of this wonderful bird linking arctic with antarctic. In this video, I am announcing the end of the fund raising and thank all sponsors. I enjoyed all the heart warming reactions and will deliver tracking data and stories to the people who have sponsored this research.

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20130712 01:15: bear with cub

Polar bear with cub visits town and is chased away

Last night, a polar bear wanted to walk into town. It was wearing a satellite transmitter. The tracking office of the Norwegian Polar Institute had already noted that this bear was entering Kongsfjorden. But nobody expected it to show up in town.
A flare is fired to chase the bear. It now goes in the water and swims to prins Heinrichsøya.
Later that night, the bear pass Ny-Ålesund and walk towards the glacier.

Solveig Nilsen gave me this nice pictures. Unfortunately I missed the bears because I was sleeping.

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20130711 23:00: ladies night

Ladies night

11 July 2013 23:00


The girls have planned a night stay in Brandalhytta. They bake sausages and pancakes. I see also beer, wine and tea on the pictures made by Gigi.


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20130710 20:00: goose mother

Goose mother

10 July 2013 20:00

Margje is taking care of the goslings. She leads them to a small pond and observes their feeding behaviour. Pictures taken by Gigi Weiss.

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20130710 19:00: dissection

Dissection

10 July 2013 19:00

I have found a fresh dead goose on the beach of Thiisbukta. No cause of death visible. I am preparing a biopsy and sample some organs of this individual to have them analyzed for parasites and pollutants.


Pictures taken by Gigi Weiss.

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20130710 13:30: moving home

The hut London 2 is being renovated. I lived there for 10 years. The foundation is rotten and has to be replaced. They lift the whole hut for repairs.

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20130707 20:15: swim certificate

Ingri has made swim certificates for those who join her sunday evening. Several people from the Netherlanmds Arctic Station go for a swim.

This video is made by Maarten Loonen
This is the version by Sander Nieuwenhuijsen.

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20130707 07:35: bear visits town

I woke up at 07:35 hearing a bang closeby. A polar bear has approached the station at less than 100 meter, but has been discovered and is now chased by the kings Bay watchman and his helper.
The first two pictures are made by Brigitte.
This picture is made by Margje
I made the next three pictures through my bed room window. The polar bear walks along the coast, but does not want to swim off despite the flares.
The watchman and his helper position themselves between the bear and the village.
The poar bear passes the grave yard and leaves via Tvillingvatnet the village.

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20130706 15:00: feeling alive

Feeling alive

filmed 6 July 2013, produced 15 September 2013
Former national poet and writer Ramsey Nasr is working as a field assistant with the researchers in the Netherlands Arctic Station. He describes his motivation and love for the Arctic.


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20130705 17:40: glacier waves

We drift with our boat in front of the glacier. Ramsey catches the falling ice.
The long slow waves are passing our boat.

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20130703 17:00: landing

  During the filming at Ny-London, a Norwegian excursion lands near Ny-London. It feels like being raided.

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20130703 16:10: arctic fox visit

  During the filming at Ny-London, we are visited by an arctic fox.

The location where we are sitting was two hours earlier a site where ornithologists were catching a long-tailed skua. They had to lure the bird close by throwing small pieces of meat and were successful. Now the Arctic Fox is eating all left-overs. So this bird is not fed by us.

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20130703 16:00: Louwrens in Labyrint

  Today, the national television makes a documentary with Louwrens Hacquebord about geopolitics and exploitation of the Arctic. They are filming in Ny-London, a deserted mining town on the other side of the fjord.

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20130703 15:30: camp mansfield

  On the other side of the fjord is Camp Mansfield. I give a small guided tour into the hut.

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20130703 09:20: Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

3 July 2013


Director European Cooperation at the Ministery of Foreign Affairs visits Spistbergen on invitation of the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Ministery of Foreign Affairs. It is a trip to learn about the European Arctic and the debates on climate change, conservation and exploitation. Louwrens and Maarten meet Robert de Groot in the street. We organize a small excursion and show him the Netherlands Arctic Station.


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20130701 15:00: ben & ariadna


Ben and Ariadna worked for IMARES of Wageningen University. Ariadna develops bio indicators for pollution and Ben studies the effect of biocide on arctic ballast water. The first week they have been collecting worms from marine sediments. Cold work.

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20130701 10:00: moments of wonder

moments of wonder

There are moments in which I can show something to people, which see this the first time in their life. Special moments!

Ramsey holds his first pipping egg. The gosling has made a hole and makes noise.
Margje is meeting her first barnacle goose gosling.
Tim holds an arctic tern after removing a geolocator.

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20130630 21:30: swimming in icy water

In the previous video about Martine, you can see it happen in the bottom left corner. The weekly swim on Sunday evening. Ingri has gathered a few brave people to dip into the fjord together with her.

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20130630 21:20: Martine about her project

  Martine van den Heuvel-Greve has been collecting sediment from an area close to the harbour (which should be contaminated) and an area far away (which should be clean). The video to the left starts after clicking on the picture. She will explain her project from the balcony of the marine laboratory.

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20130630 20:00: group picture

group picture

30 June 2013 20:00

All members of the Netherlands Arctic Station on a group picture. From left to right on the top row: Tim, Martine, Suzanne, Gigi, Isabella and Ariadne. On the middle row: Ruben, Bas, Ben, Margje, Ramsey and Maarten. Bottom row: our goslings. Tomorrow Bas, Ruben and Martine will return to the Netherlands.

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20130630 13:00: wageningen the movie

Ruben and Bas are making a movie about the research of Wageningen University in the Arctic. Today we went to the Blomstrand glacier and discussed in front of the glacier arctic research and climate change. This is the group in the boat with Martine and Ramnsey. Wojtek took the picture.

Bas Bolman keeps a blog about his week on Spitsbergen at: http://arctic-imares.blogspot.nl.

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20130629 20:00: goose walking

First time walking with geese on the tundra.

Click on the picture to the left to start the video.
Margje and Maarten while making the video.

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20130629 16:00: imprinting

Margje has become goose mother. You can watch the video by clicking on the left picture. The video will learn you about the details.

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20130628 21:00: humpback

We encountered a humpback whale on the way home. Incredible impressive to see this creature at close distance from a zodiac. He (or she) was feeding. Surfacing, the body bounced on the surface with a long blow. Than there were 4 breathing moments and the whale made a steep dive to the bottom of the fjord again, rising high with its humback and showing the impressive fluke. Now wind, no waves and this magical sound of breathing, breath taking. We stopped the engine and drifted along. Returning home we encountered a puffin. What a day.
Ramsey Nasr took the video on the left. The sounds tell the story two. Massive breathing by the whale, a ratling camera at the right moment and a deep sigh by Ramsey Nasr while he lives the moment.
This text is surrounded by my own pictures, taken with a small camera.

These two pictures are made by Gigi.

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20130628 18:00: fishing geese

fishing for geese
28 June 2013

Some geese are carrying geolocators which reveal their migration route and timing. But I need to retrieve the geolocators to collect the data.
During the nest checks, I discover a male goose with geolocator, which is very protective about the newly hatched goslings. I will try to catch this male, with my fishing rod.
I managed to get the rope around the neck. Next a quick pull and the geese is caught.
I quickly remove the string from the neck.
I turn the goose on its back
And remove the logger which is attached to the white ring with red inscription
Not everybody is happy to see me. Geese were used in ancient Rome to guard the city.

Pictures by Gigi.


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20130628 15:00: renovation

More than 10 years, every summer I have lived in London II. Now the house is renovated. Two carpenters will be busy all summer. Because the huts are historical monuments, they have to change as little as possible and re-use as much as possible. Unfortunately the logs at the base are rotten and need replacement. So the carpenters will lift the whole hut and place it somewhere else to change the logs. Here they lift the front portal out of the hut. It leaves a big scar for now, but I am sure it will be perfect in the end.

Pictures from Suzanne Lubbe.


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20130627 16:00: ringing grass

We ring grass shoots and measure the size of the elaves every six days as a measure of food availability for the geese. Today my assistant is Ramsey Nasr, writer and former national poet of the Netherlands. The layout of the plots is paired. One will be exclosed, so the geese cannot get to it. That will show production. The other is open and from the grazed leaves we can calculate consumption.

An earlier video on grass ringing can be found here
Ramsey is putting a red ring around a grass shoot.

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20130627 11:00: counting eggs


We are collecting data on clutch size and read rings from geese on Prins Heinrichsøya. Margje is walking ten meters behind me with a telescope to read rings, while I collect GPS coordinates, clutchsize and rate the nest defense of the geese. Luckily Margje also had her camera with her.
This clif is every year occupied by the same pair and they want to fight me. Nevertheless, 4 eggs. Not bad for this year.


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20130622 18:00: midsummer party

Midsummer party: Rock n roll at havnelagret. Al people dress up and there is dinner and a party. This afternoon, the Netherlands team has been making clothes. Petticoats and pony tails and trousers with wide anckels.
Our Tim wins a price running over a floating bridge to collect three bear cans.

After the game, the local band BEVER SPRIT is playing for us. Lots of fun.

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20130621 13:30: invitation to antarctica

We are receiving invitations from Antarctica (Neumayer at 70°40.5'S) for their midwinter party. We have to respond quickly with an invitation for our midsummer partty. Rudolf Denkmann takes the lead.
The making of....
Manish was boating and appears magically in the picture.

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20130620 20:00: first tundra walk

The first time walking on the tundra looking for birds and prepared for a polar bear encounter is always special. We leave town passing the airport and go and check three cabins and the area around Brandalpunkten. On top of Knudsenheia there are some shallow lakes which I call the fox lakes. Not because of an Arctic Fox but because of Tony Fox, a famous Danish goose researcher and good friend, who pointed these lakes with geese to me in 1990.
Pictures taken by Margje de Jong during her first tundra trip.

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20130620 17:30: WWF on doorstep


One of the touristboats has a camera team together with Gert Polet and Femke Koopmans of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on board. They make a short stopover in Ny-Ålesund and take some shots. They ask us about our approach towards polar bear encounters. After having heard our story, they want to tape it.
On the doorstep of the Netherlands Arctic Station I discuss with Femke Koopmans how to reduce danger for the polar bear and humans. WWF will use the clip on their websites for the campaign arctichome, which they have initiated with Coca Cola. Hopefully their campaign will also generate some funds for polar bear researchers from the Netherlands.


And the final result is the video below, with this station at 2:20 minute.

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20130619 19:15: attack

With a fox in the village, we have started marking tern nests to follow their success. This is work for the brave as you are under constant attack of picking, screaming and shitting terns.

Tim feels brave enough.

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20130619 15:00: cages

During winter, I have stored some cages in the coal cleaning building. This building is the biggest in town, but rather dark and spooky.

Today Margje and Maarten are collecting these cages from the second floor, lowering them on a long line.

More information about this building and all other buildings in the village can be found here.

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20130619 13:30: starter team


The team of the Netherlands Arctic Station presents themselves in front of the station with their new jackets from the Netherlands Organisatioon for Scientific Research (NWO) and their new bicycles and some wooden shoes.
The pictures are taken by Karoline Baelum for the website of Svalbard Science Forum
From left to right Brigitte Weiss, Margje de Jong, Suzanne Lubbe, Tim van Oosten, Isabella Scheiber and Maarten Loonen.


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20130618 14:00: safety training

New arrivals in Ny-Ålesund have to follow a safety training before they can go into the field independently. The safety training is focussing most on polar bear encounters. It includes a lecture about polar bear behaviour, a lecture about gun safety and a practical rifle training. The latter part is most spectacular and this video shows part of that, starring Margje and Tim.
The rifle is the final action after having tried all kind of other deterrents and tricks to get away from the polar bear. More on safety in the Netherlands Arctic Station here.

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20130618 07:10: arctic fox

Our first morning Isabella and Brigitte observe two arctic foxes close to our station. One of them has a arctic tern egg in his/her beak.

Picture taken by Brigitte Weiss


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20130617 17:00: geolocators observed

Within 2 hours after opening the Netherlands arctic Station, we have located already two Arctic Terns with geolocators, containing migration paths over the last year from Arctic to Antarctic. They were not nesting yet, so we have to wait a bit. But the first signs are very good.

Pictures taken by Brigitte Weiss


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20130617 11:00: clothes from whalers

During the Smeerenburg expeditions (1980-1983), grave yards of 17th century whalers have been excavated. These graves were well preserved in the permafrost. Bones, clothing and hair were part of the finds. 17th century whalers were wearing normal Dutch winter clothes on Spitsbergen. At the start of the expedition, it was decided that half of the collection would return to Norway. Most was returned several years ago when the Governor of Svalbard sent his vessel to Amsterdam. Some material was on display in the Zuiderzee Museum. Those finds are returned today. Margje and Maarten shipped the material with the tourist boat Ortelius. As soon as the material arrives at the depot, photograhs are taken and the finds are cataloged.

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20130606 20:00: world champions

I am joining Derick Hiemstra and Klaas van Dijk in the Eeemshaven to observe and ring Arctic Terns. In this industrial area, activity is low and Arctic Terns have started breeding. On this location the world champions migration distance were equipped with a geolocator two years ago and recaught one year ago. Today Derick and Klaas are doing their normal checks. They read colour rings but also metal rings from terns. Than we continue catching and ringing some breeding pairs. All this is part of my preparation for this summer field season on Spitsbergen.

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20130605 13:00: transport of equipment

Our equipment is transported to Spitsbergen on the Ortelius of Oceanwide Expeditions. This boat is making cruises with tourists and a regular visitor to Ny-Ålesund. It will depart 8 June from Hansweert in The Netherlands and arrive in Ny-Ålesund on 20 June. I brought 24 boxes and 4 bikes to the boat and got great help from Natacha Wisse. Thank you crew.

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20130604 14:00: visiting tern research in Germany

  I have been visiting Peter Becker and Sandra Bouwhuis in Wilhelmshafen, Germany to learn about their research on common terns. Peter has a long-term project and a visit to their field site is an inspiration for our own research questions on the arctic tern. They monitor individuals with transponders and have a automated registration of presence and body mass. New for me is there method of blood sampling. They use tropical tics and hide them in fake tern eggs. They can sample blood without the bird noticing. Ideal for studying hormone levels.

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20130603 11:02: snowfree nesting islands

Snowfree nesting islands

3 June 2013 11:02

Today, Geir Wing Gabrielsen sent me some pictures taken on his flight in to Ny-Ålesund. With his iphone, he caught the islands in Kongsfjord. There is not much snow, so geese and eider ducks can start nesting.
Jouke Prop has also arrived in Nordenskiøldkysten and on June 17 we are opening the Netherlands Arctic Station. Geir wrote, he had not seen any barnacle geese yet. Einar Johanssen reported geese last Thursday. It is exciting what the season will bring.
From left to right: Juttaholmen, Observasjonsholmen, Midtholmen, Sigridholmen, Innerholmen en Leirholmen.
From left to right: Storholmen, Juttaholmen, Observasjonsholmen, Sigridholmen, Midtholmen en Innerholmen.
Storholmen is the main breeding island in the fjord with over 200 barnacle goose nests. Juttaholmen has around 50 barnie nests.
This is the island Prins Heinrichsøya, close to Ny-Ålesund. Normally with 22 barnie nests.

Below a map with all islands in Kongsfjord (from http://toposvalbard.npolar.no/).

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20130602 13:00: shooting practice

  I have been shooting clay pigeons as a rifle training. There is a shooting range close to our home and I went with my family to schooting range Vulpes vulpes in Nieuwe Pekela. We had a private instructor and were allowed to shoot 25 times in five different positions.
Janwillem and Marion joined in the practice and Willemijn was learning about gun safety too.
Good practice for nasty bear encounters.

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20130329 12:00: adopt a tern

Adopt a tern

The Ubbo Emmius Fund of the University of Groningen has started a crowd-funding activity. In 2012 I have started to deploy geolocators on the legrings of Arctic Terns. These small birds breed in the Arctic and winter in the Antarctic. The geolocators will reveal the migration route and timing. But most interesting is that we will monitor several years of migration by the same bird and hope to study shifts and changes in the flight plan of the bird. This should help us to study adaptations to global change.

Go to the special website: http://www.rugsteuntstern.nl

Below, you can read an arcticle in the magazine for former university students.


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20130128 20:00: Netherlands on Edgeøya

Netherlands on Edgeøya

At the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, we are searching the archives for old material on polar research. We have found two documentaries from expeditions to east-Svalbard. From 1968 until 1988, the Netherlands Arctic Station was located on Edgeøya. Here you can find impressions of their field work, including some polar bear encounters.


Polar bear research 1968-69 (more...) Reindeer research 1977 (more...)

In 1968-1969, four Dutch students wintered on the island Edgeøya hoping to collect important data to safe the polar bear. During their stay, this documentary is made by Paul van de Bosch and Hans Zoet. In 1969, it has been shown on Dutch television.

Sip van Wieren filmed during the REES77 expedition. He made a documentary without sound, but we have added a background sound from a lecture, he gave at the Arctic Centre (28 Jan 2013). We acknowledge Sip and his helpers for making this movie available.


This project is part of the preparations for a new expedition called SEES.NL in 2014.

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20130103 12:00: polar bears eating goose eggs

Polar bears chasing goose eggs

Jouke Prop is associated member of the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen and has been studying the interaction between polar bears and geese. Here you can see some spectacular movies from his study in 2012.
This video shows successive visits by polar bears to a barnacle goose colony, west coast of Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Bears walk from nest to nest to eat the eggs, leaving behind the upset nest owners. Other bird species that are predated on this video are eider and glaucous gull. The video summarizes 20 hours of polar bears feeding in the colony throughout the 2012 breeding season. The video speed is 5x normal. The field work was by Jouke Prop, Eva Wolters, Tom van Spanje, Oebele Dijk and Thomas Oudman.

Polar bears detect pink-footed goose nests

Geese nest on places were they feel safe for predators. Many years, the Arctic Fox was the main predator for goose nests. Barnacle geese could not defend their nest against foxes and had to breed on islands. Pink-footed goose were able to defend their nests on rocky outcrops on the tundra. In recent years, Polar Bears have arrived as new predators during nesting. They are very well able to visit the breeding islands and even locate nests on the tundra. We are still not sure, if the increasing number of polar bears in our study area is an effect of an increasing bear population due to a hunting ban since 1968, or if this is the effect of disappearing hunting grounds on ice due to global warming.
In our study area Pink-footed geese make their nest on rocky outcrops. Safe places that they can well defend against Arctic foxes. When a polar bear comes the geese can just hide and hope for the best. In vain, as this video shows. Video by Jouke Prop, Tom van Spanje, Eva Wolters.

These videos are taken from youtube.com channel joukeprop.


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20120824 18:45: children news

24 August 2012 18:45

children tv news

The sea ice at the North Pole is approaching the record low of 2007. The Dutch children news on TV is interviewing Willemijn about her experience. Her contribution was broadcasted 24 August station Nederland 3 at 18:45. You can see the news on http://www.npo.nl/nos-jeugdjournaal/24-08-2012/POW_00422031?start_at=385


24 August 2012 14:00

The making of.....children news

A small impression of Willemijn, filmed and being interviewed. She explains perfectly, but still she has to say similar sentences with the camera in various positions. One minute broadcasted is one-and-a-half hour interview with 20 minutes taped.

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20120816 21:15: homeward bound

16 August 2012 21:15

homeward bound

The whole day, all flights have been delayed. In the evening, the situation improves but the pilots only want to fly after working hours, after intervention by the management of Kings Bay. Suddenly we can fly at 20:30, leaving Hielke and Casper behind. But they arrive 2 hours later too.
After a short night on the campground, we enter at 05:00 the airplane to Oslo.
Longyearbyen camping is a good place to stay when you have a short night in between flights. tents, sleeping bags and matrasses are for hire and it is a cosy atmosphere. And the campground is right next to the airport. Thank you Michelle and Sara.

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20120816 17:10: gelly pudding

16 August 2012 17:10  jelly pudding

Our plane is delayed due to bad weather and we have dinner in Ny-Ålesund. I have told Willemijn about the jelly pudding and today it is our desert. Beautiful yellow yelly with cream; a real treat. We love it.

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20120815 23:30: bar evening

15 August 2012 23:30  bar evening

Above from left to right: Anette Grner, Casper van der Kooi, Willemijn Loonen and Maarten Loonen. Below Willemijn en Maarten Loonen.

The day before our departure is the second evening this season when I visit the local bar at Mellageret. Willemijn longed for a hotdog. We both enjoy it.

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20120815 17:00: ferrybox

ferrybox

The new ferrybox of the Alfred Wegener Institute, monitors abiotic and biotic parameters at 12 meter depth inside the fjord.
To the left a page from the local newspaper NySCIENCE 2012 number 3, made by station personal of AWIPEV. In this article, the background for these measurements are explained.


On line data are published on the internet: http://www.hzg.de/institute/coastal_research/
cosyna/033397/index_0033397.html

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20120815 14:00: effects of grazing

15 August 2012 14:00

effects of grazing

In this video, I demonstrate the effect of exclosures, which exclude the herbivores from a small vegetataion plot. By comparing paired plots, one exclosed, one grazed, I can study the effect of the herbivores on the vegetation. These exclosures are 10 years old. Inside a big variety of species with flowering grasses, Cardamine and Equisetum. On teh grazed plot, only mass can be found.

Within the grazed plots of 2 x 2 m2 I have made new exclosures of 1 x 1 m2, to continue this study in 2013.
Below a comparison betwwen exclosed and grazed plots, by pictures taken from above.

exclosed

grazed


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20120813 19:00: water bed

13 August 2012 19:00

waterbed

Survival suits are an essential safety dress when we go into the fjord. You should not swim with them but float and wait for rescue. This evening we are excersising the use of survival suits by floating.

Afterwards, Willemijn considers this the best part of her stay. She would have liked to do this much more.

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20120813 1700: collapsing glacier

13 August 2012 17:00

collapsing glacier

The glaciers in the fjord make a noisy spectacle when ice breaks off into the fjord. Today,w e are passing the Blomstrand glacier at a special moment. Within a few minutes, we see five huge chunks of ice fall into the fjord. We are on a safe distance several hundreds of meters away, but the video is still spectacular.
Below, we pose in front of the glacier.

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20120813 16:00: willemijn meets bearded seal

13 August 2012 16:00

Willemijn meets bearded seal

  In June, we usually obserrve lots of bearded seals resting on ice flows while they are moulting their fur. Today, we still find one who is reluctant to go into the water. We pass slowly closeby and leave the beautiful animal at peace.

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20120813 14:00: storholmen hut

13 August 2012 14:00

storholmen hut

The hut on the island Storholmen is being refurbished. It is taking several years as the island is closed for visitors until 15 August, to protect breeding birds. I have license to visit to count geese and read rings. Willemijn is assisting me and together we go and check the status of the hut.
Below a video from the weblog of 2011 en to the left below a picture from 2009.

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20120811 12:00: angel and butterfly

11 August 2012 12:00

angel and butterfly

  Angels change to devils and buterflies go to heaven in the aquarium of Jaap van der Meer. Jaap studies pterapods and explain in this video in Dutch his project plan.

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20120809 09:30: marion leaves

9 August 2012 09:30

marion leaves

Marion is joining the ship Plancius as a guide for two trips. The first trip they will round Kvitøya and the entire Spitsbergen archipelago. The second trip is a polar bear special north of Spitsbergen.
24 hours later, she is back, but has to hurry to get her boat training ----->

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20120808 19:50: descent through canyon

8 August 2012 19:50

descent through the canyon

  The last part of our walk is a descent through the canyon. Water is flowing below the stones.

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20120808 18:50: ice cap

8 August 2012 18:50

ice cap

  After having lunch at the bird cliff, we cross several hills to get to the ice cap. For Willemijn all this climbing is a bit to much. Still she explains in this video what we have doneand where we are.
Willemijn rests, while we are discussing if that stone can be a polar bear.
Below we are having lunch at the bird cliff.

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20120808 14:50: survival suit

8 August 2012 14:50

survival suit

We are on excursion to Ossian Sars with the whole team and two boats. Eveybody wears survival suits in boats. Willemijn has the smallest suit available in town and still it is to big to be comfortable. She cals it a bag.
In the video on the left side, Willemijn is dressed by Marion to return to the boat.

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20120807 22:25: catch with students

7 August 2012 22:25

goose catch with students

Students of the course AB201 terrestrial ecology from UNIS, the university centre on Svalbard, are assisting today with catching geese.

We start with a lecture on gooseology.
During the catch all students are holding a gosling and guide it through the proces of ringing, measuring, blood sampling and weighing.
Part of the geese are placed in a bag with insecticides to remove the ectoparasites from the plumage.
Willemijn has developed a method to dry the weighing boxes and starts a dance with some of the students.

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20120807 20:00: sledge dog riding

7 August 2012 20:00

sledge dog riding

Willemijn is invited to join Sébastien Barrault during his sledge dog training. The dog team is SAVA VIT.

Willemijn is a bit afraid of all the enthusiasm she encounters from the dogs. But after the run the dogs are calm and she can pet them.

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20120807 14:14: marine laboratory

7 August 2012 14:14

tour through the marine laboratory

Dieter Hanelt is professor at the University of Hamburg and measures photosynthesis of macro algae.

Kerstin Hbner is assistant in the macro algae team. She studies plants and animals growing on the sea weeds.

Cornelia Buchholz is also studying macro algae. Her husband Fritz Buchholz is investigating krill in the fjord.

Jaap van der Meer of the Netherlands Institute of Sea Research NIOZ is staying in the Netherlands Arctic Station to develop a new project. We are visiting the scientists in the marine laboratory and they are lindly presenting their research projects. Marion is also joining as she has worked with fytoplankton for many years too at the University of Groningen.

Christoph Walcher is leader of the scuba dive team. He is normally based on Helgoland. There are divinbg facilities on the ground floor of the building.

Sina Petrowski and Kathrin Schachtl are testing food web structure in aquaria with crabs and various other sea creatures.


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20120805 08:00: feather and coal

Willemijn is selling goose feathers and coal from Ny-Ålesund to the tourists. It is a good lesson to learn to speak english.

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20120804 13:00: sale

4 August 2012

sale

There are many tourists coming to this village and Willemijn will try to sell coal pieces and goose feathers. Before the sale, she has to collect and prepare her merchandise. In this video she explains her plan in Dutch.

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20120803 23:00: bag ruffle

3 August 2012

bag ruffle during goose catching

We want to collect insects from the plumage of the geese to study the potential of insects carried between Scotland and Spitsbergen. Geese are placed in a bag with insecticide and we ruffle to get the insects in the bag.

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20120803 22:00: young polar researcher

3 August 2012

Willemijn is polar researcher

Willemijn cannot wait until we start goose catching. She wants to help and become a polar researcher. These pictures show her graduation. She did a marvelous job, carrying goslings around and weighing them.

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20120803 14:00: marion's rifle training

3 August 2012

marion gets rifle training


Certified
You can only leave the village accompagnied by someone who can carry a gun. Marion gets her safety training. She is taught about polar bear behaviour, safety and rifles. Than there is shooting practice on the rifle range.

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20120803 11:00: svalbardkurset

3 augustus 2012

Svalbardkurset

Svalbardkurset is a special course for governmental people from Norway who will work with issues related to Svalbard. tey learn about history, nature and cultural heritage. Today I tell them about the research in the Netherlands Arctic Station.

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20120802 18:00: signing mail

2 August 2012

signing mail

Several letters and post cards are waiting to be signed by the new members of the expedition team. These will be collector ites.

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20120802 16:00: family arrived

2 August 2012, 16:00

My wife Marion and daughter Willemijn have arrived. Willemijn will be the youngest polar researcher and help catching geese. She will stay two weeks. Marion will only stay a week and than continue as a guide on a tourist boat.

I think I was so happy to see them, that Ingri made a picture of us, right when we arrived at the reception.

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20120802 14:00: help coming

2 August 2012

My daughter and wife arrive on Spitsbergen

Marion and Willemijn are coming to Spitsbergen to assist during goose catching. They arrived in Longyearbyen and continued to Ny-Ålesund within 2 hours. They had just enough time for some pictures outside the airport.

At 16:00 there are several people walking on wooden shoes in the village.

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20120801 00:31: puffs

We have just finished a goose catch and we see Belugas entering the fjord. It is midnight sun. We look straight towards the north. But this shows the blows nicely.

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20120801 00:30: seals

Two seals have placed themselves on top of a stone, where they will stay during low tide.

In recent years, harbour seals have become common residents. Earlier I only noticed ringed seal (which only rests on ice). But this year we have 14 harbour seals laying near Prins Heinrich, east of town, and also this stone on the west side of town is often used.

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20120801 00:29: release

We have ringed 60 geese and let them free again into the fjord, where the families can re-unite.

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20120731 18:00: herding geese

We are catching geese during moult for the second time this year. I have herded the geese from the lake into the fjord and three kayaks and a boat are bringing them to the site where the catch nests are placed.

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20120728 19:00: beluga closeby

  We have been cruising all coasts inside the fjord and now we meet a pod of belugas. These white whales forage in the shallows and come very close to our boat. How lucky we are.

Another close observation in 2010:
  20100807 14:00
white whales

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20120728 14:00: floating ice

  We are traveling the entire fjord to count the number of geese. There is a lot of ice floating in the fjord. Ice is breaking off the glaciers. When ice has been compressed in the glacier, it gets blue colours. An impression about an extraordinary trip.

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20120728 13:10: juvenile arctic fox

  At Krikjefjellet there is a fox den with three puppies at the start of the season. The scientists working there have only seen one fox recently. We also see one at a time, but there was a big size difference.

In previous years, arctic foxes have been living under our station. Although the predation on the goslings was enormous, it was a joy to see the puppies play each day. You will find several joyful videos on this website if you search for arctic fox.

It was very nice to see these puppies.

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20120728 13:00: fertilizer

  We are traveling the entire fjord to count the number of geese and stop for a moment near Krikjefjellet. This cliff is relatively accessible and several researchers work from here. I show to Hielke and Casper the vegetation under the cliff and the thick layer of guano, which has formed over the years. The plants are doing well with all the extra nutrients.

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20120726 14:30: metabolic rate

  Hugh Ellis of the University of San Diego USA is measuring metabolic rate in kittiwakes. When the chicks are 15 days old, he measures over a period of two days field metabolic rate using doubly labelled water. Than the bird is placed for 4 hours in a respiratory chamber to measure basal metabolic rate. The metabolic rates will be related to hormone and pollution levels.

In the background, the pump of the measurement unit is working constantly. Sorry for the noise.

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20120726 11:04: departure Suzanne

Suzanne is returning home. Departure at the reception.
From left to right:Jaap van Rijckevorsel, Johanna van Hove and Suzanne Lubbe. Jaap and Johanna arrived by boat and return by plane. Flights are only possible after approval of a station leader. Suzanne is hugging good bye to Woitjek

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20120725 22:12: first moult catch

On the last day of Suzannes stay, we are making the first non-breeder catch to practice the procedures. We catch 30 geese. Halfway it did not look good when Hielke turned over in his kayak. Luckily he is a good swimmer and was wearing a dry suit. Suzanne and me had to go chest deep into the water while wearing survival suits. ganzen te vangen.
Preparing cages for holding geese Part of the caught geese. Only two ringed individuals among thirty geese at the start of ringing Casper with his material to take blood samples. To the left Suzanne, being cold while writing numbers.

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20120724 19:45: tame bear

  Jon Aage Ødegaard is back in Ny-Ålesund as a veteran and shows a series of beautiful pictures and tells about this town many years ago. He has spend part of his childhood here in town, living with his parents in the hut London II.

In 1967, his father still worked as an engineer in Ny-Ålesund and shot a polar bear mother at Kings Karl Forlandet. He brought a polar bear cub home. In those days upto 40 polar bears were killed here annually.

The polar bear was raised in the village and trained with a bull ring in its nose. When it came close to independence it was released in the fjord.

This film is taken in the winter of 1968/69, when Jon was visiting his father and they both went to see their polar bear at Juttaholmen.

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20120723 15:58: arctic skuas

Casper van der Kooi has arrived as a student for his master project. We went reading rings immedeately. On the tundra he meets a pair of arctic skuas. They do all to distract him from their chick. If you look carefully, you can see that also both of these skuas are carrying geolocators.

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20120722 15:01: red legs

The arctic terns which we have given geolocators are doing well. This one had a watch over its chick and this gave a good photo opportunity.
More about this project in earlier blogs:
20120707 11:30
geolocation
20120708 22:00
catching terns
20120713 13:00
checking terns
A detail picture taken through the telescope shows the magnificent red legs of the tern. On the left leg it is wearing a standard bird migration metal ring of Stavanger Museum. Numbers showing are 738. On the right leg, the bird has a yellow plastic ring with two holes and a tie rap attaching the geolocator.

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20120721 23:43: purple sandpiper

Young birds are all over the village. A purple sandpiper is walking with four chicks close to the station. The chicks forage independently and at regular intervals the mother warms them. It takes some time before all four chicks have found a position under mothers wings.
Time for a short sleep.

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20120721 19:04: French delegation

There is a small international delegation visiting Ny-Ålesund with the former prime minister of France, Michel Rocard. They have a five day program with visits to stations and scientists. We start with a smal reception in the Amundsen villa. From left to right: Nick Cox (NERC station, UK), Riccardo Zanini (Italian station), Christian Wiencke (chief scientist AWI, Germany/France), Elaine Schemilt (delegation member, artist, professor at Dundee, South Georgia Heritage Trust), Fang Zang (Chinese station), Frederik Paulsen (delegation sponsor, South Georgia Heritage Trust), Pascal Lecamp (delegation member, Frech Embassy Oslo, private company support UBIFRANCE), Sébastien Barrault (AWIPEV station, Germany/France), Michel Rocard (delegation, ambassador for France for the Arctic and Antarctic, former prime minister of France 1988-1991), Rudolf Denkmann (AWIPEV, Germany/France) Laurent Mayet (delegation member, founding member of Le Cercle Polair and special advisor to Michel Rocard) station leader (Indian station), Bjørn Basberg (delegation member, South Georgia Heritage Trust, professor in history, Bergen)

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20120720 18:12: fog

18:12 There is a deep fog entering the fjord. While I was observing tourists returning to the Sea Spirit, she disappears in the fog within 4 minutes, while the zodiacs are crossing the fjord.
18:14 While the mountains in the background have disappeared, the ship is also taken in the fog. The last two zodiacs are returning to the boat.
18:16 Before the last zodiac reaches the boat, the boat is hardly visible. A few seconds later everything is invisible.

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20120720 14:00: road maintenance

  The road is prayed with water to reduce dust. It is a spectacular sight when our Thunderbird 4/2 is approaching, while spraying the water. A tank of 6500 liter is emptied in 90 seconds.

Next Monday, Casper van der Kooi will come to assist with goose catching. He has been a parttime fire men during his study biology. Here he can observe some collegagues.

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20120720 09:30: attacked

Glaucous gull white AAL is seen already three times in the tern colony near the dogyard. He seems hunting for arctic tern chicks and walks for 20-30 minutes while being attacked by numerous terns. Life is not easy for this predator. Each time he is bleeding from his head. The terns draw blood. Still, the glaucous gull takes his time.

pictures taken through a telescope


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20120719 20:30: birthday

19 July 2012

Today, Dag Lennart Anderson has become 40 years old. He celebrates his birthday with a party in the bus garage. Congratulations!


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20120718 17:00: little auks

Suzanne is helping Saga with her field work on little auks. There is a nice colony at the north side of the fjord. The top right picture is showing their catching device, a tapestry full with nylon strings which entangles the bird.

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20120717 15:30: tourist guides

Ronald Visser and Annette Scheepstra are touristy guides on Polar Quest, a couple and visiting Ny-Ålesund. They are colleagues at the University of Groningen. Annette is working at the Arctic Centre and Ronald at Ocean Ecosystems.

Many members of the Arctic Centre are regularly guiding on tourist boats. It is a nice way of reaching remote destinantions in the Arctic. Our most important partner is Ocean Wide Expeditions, but we are also joining other organisations.

My trips as a tourist guide:

Antarctica
3-29 January 2009

Climate expedition
22-28 June 2010


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20120716 14:15: ambassador

Today, the ambassador of the Royal Thai Embassy in Oslo, His Excellency Theerakun Niyom, is visiting Ny-Ålesund. There is a large Thai community on Spitsbergen, especially in Longyearbyen. Some coal miners have married a Thai wife and over the years, some of their family moved to Spitsbergen too.
According to local rumours, he is preparing a visit of a Thai princess next March 2013. This community is proud to welcome this Royal interest.

From left to right: the Thai ambassador, Bodil Myklevoll of Kings Bay and me.

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20120715 21:30: tern chicks

The terns are having chicks and parents fly in and out to provide them with food. Luckily it is good weather. Stormy days can cause mass starvation, but this year seems a perfect summer. Many parents have two mouths to feed and the young need to be alert. First come first served.

Pictures taken by Phillip Blaen, NERC station


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20120714 21:00: rifle training

  Last week, there were several bear sightings in the fjord. We all have followed special courses in polar bear behaviour and safe rifle use. And we are always carrying a rifle but also other bear deterrants like a signal pistol, fire works and a loud horn. Today we have decided for an extra training. We discuss various scenarios and check eachother on safe rifle use (kaliber 308). The first time, we shoot two bullets as fast as possible. The second time I try to add some stress. We end with testing the alarm pistol and the fire works. Now we feel a bit extra prepared.

We hope never to use the rifle for real.

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20120714 17:00: snow fence

  There is a British team doing construction work on the tundra. Paula Roberts of the University of Bangor UK, is building six snow fences to study the implications of increase freeze thaw processes on soil carbons.

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20120713 22:00: climbing zeppelin

  From left to right: Hielke, Suzanne, Mette and Anton.
While I went to the LARS in the harbour, they climed the Zeppelin mountain. That is not an easy climb, they return with more respect for this mountain, but the view is exceptional and I see them taking a brake on a high clif. The top picture is taken through my telesciope with 60 times magnification.
  This is the normal picture taken from the village. Can you see their location? The middle picture is the enlargement of their location, taken from the lowest picture.

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20120713 20:30: Lars

Today, there is a special type of yacht in the harbour. She is a Dutch towboat, with an ice-class. Her name is LARS the little polar bear, and her home is in Vlissingen. The owner calls her a boys boat. I can see that. On board a family, who planned for several years to make this trip into the ice of the North Pole. They hope to see more of this wonderful world. An exceptional plan. My dream is an expedition to Edge&oslah;ya in 2014 (see http://www.sees.nl). Here I see such a dream materialize. Ten year old Tom is celebrating is birthday day after tomorrow on Spitsbergen.

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20120713 13:00: checking terns

  Here you see some pictures of two terns with geolocators.
Every day, I am checking the terns which are carrying geolocators. Are they still here? Are they behaving normal? Most of them are regularly seen.

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20120712 22:30: cod

Returning from Storholmen, we meet Wojtek Moskal and Leif Arild Håhjem in the harbour, back from a fishing trip. Steinar had discovered the presence of a lot of cod west of Blomstranden ona depth of 20-40 meter. Within an hour they have caught 40 fishes.
Cod is a special fish. It is economically very important. In relative warm seasons they can move north. This year seems to be such a year. The water temperature in the top layer is 6.8 degrees Celsius. The stomachs were full of shrimps. When there is a low food availability for cods they can become predators of their own kin.
The presence of this cod is not simply good news. The fast ice is far away. This must be seen as a sign of global warming. At this moment, we are still heading to a new record low in ice coverage http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/, beating the previous record of 2007.

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20120711 21:30: traces of bears

Some days ago, we had several polar bear sightings in the fjord. Now we find traces of these visitors. To the left a foot print on the beach near Gåsebu (head of Hielke for size) and to the left polar bear faeces found on Storholmen. There is clearly a disturbed digestion after eating bird eggs.

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20120711 13:05: kings bay crew

The summer crew of Kings Bay has made a group picture.

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20120710 14:00: glaucous gull chicks

Tore Nordstad needs some help today with ringing of glaucous gull chicks. Suzanne is accopanyiong him and has made these pictures. Tore is ringing, measuring and takes a blood sample.
They encountered a swimming reindeer between Blomstrand and Gerdøya

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20120709 13:52: bear passing

Most bears pass behind Blomstranden and are observed by the people working at the bird cliff. Dagfinn Breivik Skomsø is one of the lucky students, who observes a polar bear from a safe distance during his first days. He made these pictures.
More about this bird cliff:
moss cliff bird cliff
Earlier, I showed polar bear faeces. Here is proof.

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20120708 22:00: catching terns

 

8 July 2012

We have deployed 17 of the 20 geolocators. The rings fitted perfectly. Plastic ring and logger weight is 0.93 gram, the metal ring weight is 0.60 gram, the arctic tern's weight is between 93 and 128 gram. Some of the birds took flight immedeately, some took a minute on the ground, but at this moment all of them are taking part in reproduction again, either feeding their young or incubating the eggs. We will monitor their behaviour in the next few days.

Catching went easy. A wire cage was enough for incubating terns. It always took less than 5 minutes before the birds returned to the nest and were caught. After pulling the rope, the cage closed and some birds did not show any reaction before we started to move towards the cage. For terns with (moving) chicks, we used a mist net. Arctic terns defend their nest vigorously by picking in your head or dive bombing with shit. We are usually wearing all kinds of head protection when approaching a nest. These protections need to be soft, so the tern is not damaged when it attacks.

More on making rings, geolocator technology, project BIRDMAP or the Greenland project.

Thanks to Børge Moe, Suzanne Lubbe, James Fox and Svein Arne Hansson for their assistance. Now the biggest challenge is to find the same birds back next year and to retrieve the loggers. Only than, we will know the migration route of the Arctic Tern between Spitsbergen and the South Pole.

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20120707 11:30: geolocation

7 July 2012

I have prepared the geolocators to study a record long migration from the High Arctic on Spitsbergen to the Antarctic. Our Arctic Terns are making this long journey. A similar study has been performed in Greenland and more details can be found at http://www.arctictern.info

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20120706 11:00: local newspaper

The newest issue of the local newspaper NyScience has been published. This version is a production from the Netherlands Arctic Station. The newspaper is distributed at the reception of Kings Bay. We hope that other stations will make their issues too. Download Nyscience201 (2012) or NyScience101 (2011).


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20120705 13:45: sleeping snowwhite


Is it a stone or is it a rock. Polar bears are not easy to detect. Even when they are sleeping in the open country, they do resemble a rock. Today we discovered a polar bear on Midtholmen. None of the birds were alarming. We had just finished a nest check on Storholmen and joint the Sysselmannen boat who were drifting.


Below a short video so you can judge the distance better.

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20120704 18:30: Hollendarhaugen

In 1958, Lilly Kristensen worked in Ny-Ålesund. In this year, an old graveyard with 74 300-year-old whalers was re-located to allow for expansion of the coal storage. In those days, a Dutch professor, Ir. Velzeboer, was working as advisor for Kings Bay Kull Compagnie. He assisted in the re-location and arranged funding from the Netherlands. Lilly has an old picture of one of the graves, which she took herself. The deceased was wearing a kind of jacket. She also tells about one grave with two persons, one with a broken skull. These were seen as a murderer and his victim burried together. Graves were oriented eats-west.

Nick Cox, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Suzanne Lubbe and me show great interest in this information. I show the others a site where it seems that an old coffin is coming to the surface. Indeed, the wood has an east-west orientation.

In Svalbardposten, an article appeared about this discovery in Norwegian language. See here.
looking at old documentationa 17th century whaler

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20120630 16:30: drawing break

Hielke starts making a drawing when we wait for Riitta and Manoj to finish their work..

Hielke has his own blog in Dutch at: http://hielkealsemgeest.waarbenjij.nu.

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20120630 16:00: symbiosis in plant roots

  Riitta Nissinen is isolating endophytic bacteria: those who live in symbiosis in the plant roots. Manoj helps here.

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20120629 18:45: bearded seal

  Today, we went to the glacier after checking hatching nests on Storholmen. It is beautifully calm weather and we are not the only one enjoying the sun. We observe several bearded seals. They let us approach so stunning close. And they were still on their ice flow when we left.
Which makes me wonder, how easy catchable they are when a polar bear would come around. Luckily there was none.

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20120629 11:52: my head

A nice picture taken by David Cappellotti. You can imagine the sound of the shreeking terns. They are not only attacking but they also bombard you with their shit.
I walk without fear, but I can tell you I do have a towel in my head as extra buffer.

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20120628 18:15: veterans

Four veterans from the coal mining days are staying in town. They have opened there small exhibit next to the shop. They sell cakes and nitting wear.
From left to right: Jon Skjevdal (engineer), William Albrigtsen (miner), his wife Anny Marie Albrigtsen (lived in Longyearbyen) and the veteran who has been spending many recent summers in Ny-Ålesund: Lilly Kristensen

Item in the weblog from their visit in 2009 here.

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20120628 14:56: station catalogue

EU-program INTERACT has produced a magnificent catalogue about Arctic stations. The Netherlands Arctic Station became observer to this program, just in time to be mentioned too. I am very proud on the beautiful pages. I hope the full catalogue will appear soon on internet too.


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20120628 14:10: extreme cycling

Andreas Thinius is a fanatic cyclist and is traveling the world with his bike. He is collecting experiences for a book by cycling in extreme places. In 2011 he has been cycling on Greenland, this summer he has already been cycling on Jan Mayen and three towns on Spitsbergen: Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and Pyramiden. Ny-Ålesund is the last town (and set of roads) on his wish list. But it is difficult to get permission to come with the airplane to Ny-Ålesund. Most stations don't want to take responsibility for the safety of this person.
I have decided to make this possible. He is arriving with the airplan 11:30. After cycling all available roads and having met arctic terns who have shitted on his jacket, he returns with the afternoon plane at 15:30 as a happy man.

His website: www.cycleguide.de

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20120626 14:55: hitch hikers

  Nathalia Lebedeva explains why she is ruffling geese in a bag with insecticide. She wants to prove that geese transport soil insects to Spitsbergen, attached to their plumage.

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20120626 00:00: 24 hours daylight

  Hallvar Gisnaas has produced several time lapse videos during his stay in Ny-Ålesund. He has been working as research advisor, contact between scientists and the company that runs this village. These are his last days and we all feel a bit strange.

Look at all his videos on youtube .

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20120625 14:15: polar stamp collectors

On arrival in the station, I found a lot of mail with requests to return letters with stamps. I enjoy doing that. So today I went to the reception desk where Ingri helped me completing this task.
See also arctic collector items 4 aug. 2012.

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20120623 12:12: fishing for geese

Project AVIFAUNA studies the presence of insects on Spitsbergen which have arrived here by hitch hiking on migratory birds. I am involved to sample barnacle geese. I catch incubating females from their nest with a long fishing rod and a small lasso at the end. In this movie you see two successful and one unsuccessful attempt.

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20120619 20:00: arctic tern nests

  Two gnomes are seen in the village. The birds dance around their heads. What are they doing? These are my research assistants checking nests of arctic terns. We are comparing the nesting pattern in years with and without arctic foxes. This year the arctic foxes are absent.

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20120617 16:00: sampling amphipods

  Katja Broeg from AWI at Bremerhafen accompagnies us on our walk to Stuphallet. She needs to sample amphipods at a pristine location. In the video she explains her story.

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20120616 19:00: soilsampling

  Nico van den Brink of Wageningen University is taking soil samples from poluted and pristine soils. He is an expert in the translation of polution levels to ecosystem effects. Martine has been taking a lot of pictures while he was sampling. We have instructed him to smile. On this video, you can see that this worked. He explains about his plan.

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20120616 1800: stuphallet

Today we walk to the bird clif Stuphallet, west of town. It is a beautiful but difficult walk with swollen rivers and soft snow. We observe a minky whale, puffinsand a seal. From left to right: Maarten Loonen, Nico van den Brink, Katje Broeg en Martine van den Heuvel-Greve.
  To the left a video with some highlights of our 8-hour-walk. A bird cliff, a minky whale, a harbour seal, a reindeer, meltwater and ice pegs. What a beautiful environment!

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20120615 15:30: vegetation experiment

 

vegetation experiment

15 June 2012

This year, we have a small change in our vegetation experiment compared with last year. We are manipulating small plots by warming them with a little greenhouse (early warm spring) or covering them for one week with snow (cold delayed spring). Later in the season, we want to study the difference in plant biomass and plant quality. And we want to offer manipulated turfs to the geese to see if they can recognize any difference.

The project is also special, because it is a close cooperation with Prof. Qi Zhao from China. I met her in 2009 and last year we started trying to get a collaborative project. We did not succeed last year, but this year, she got a grant. Now we are working hard to combine our knowledge.

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20120615 12:00: minature tourists

miniature tourists

 

15 July 2012

Every day, tourist boats bring people to Ny-Ålesund. In three summer months a total of 30.000 people are visiting this town. From the mountain south of town, they made pictures which are combined into a short video, where you can observe the people moving through the streets.

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20120614 21:00: first team

first team

14 July 2012

Today I arrived at the station and this evening we made a first walk in the environment. Since Monday, Nico van den Brink and Martine van den Heuvel were already here. They are eco-toxicologists from IMARES Wageningen University and have research experience in Antarctica. They have done their first sampling with a boat, but needed to stay inside the village as they are not yet trained in our safety procedures. But now we could make a nice walk to the mining area. A part of Ny-Alesund where the history of coal mining has resulted in a special atmosphere where the disaster of the closure still can be re-lived. On this picture from left to right: Martine, Nico and Maarten. Martine keeps a blog in Dutch on: http://www.imares.wur.nl.

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20120613 19:00: outreach

outreach

 

15 June 2012

I am trying to organize a national expedition to Edgeøya, Svalbard. It is a bold idea, which requires a lot of planning and finances. With this plan, we have entered an outreach game for scientist. The group which makes the best communication plan and presentation will get the first prize with media attention and € 100.000
Today, we heard that we are among the last three finalists. The final will be in October.
In the meanwhile you can see here two videos which have been made to support the plan. They have English subtitles. The project website can be found on http://www.sees.nl. It is in Dutch but there is a direct button to translate the pages.

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20120612 23:30: Alice in Arctic Wonderland

I received a nice email, that someone read about me in a travel book. Suddenly, I remembered Sara Weeler, with whom I spent a day in the field in 2007.
Below you find an excerpt from Sara Wheeler's book: The Magnetic North. Travels in the Arctic.

(page 203).....Installed in my room, I watched a family of Arctic foxes outside the window. A vixen and six kits rolled in a single furry ball. The tall Dutch scientists going in and out of the hut above the foxes stooped to vanish through the tiny door like characters in Alice in Arctic Wonderland, abandoning yellow clogs to the fox kits. Beyond the Dutch hut, the fjord narrowed towards a glacier blockade: Kongsbreen and Kongsvegen, with the distinctive Tre Kroner peaks, named after Norway, Denmark and Sweden, rising behind.  .....

(page 207).....Our neighbour Maarten Loonen was a familiar figure in Ny-Ålesund. One of the tall inhabitants of the Dutch house, and the chief Dutch scientist on station, he was based at the University of Groningen and had been studying the fluctuating populations of barnacle geese in Kongsfjord since 1990. In 1943 fewer than 300 roosted on the archipelago; at the time of my visit, the population had swelled to 25,000. Extreme weather stresses Arctic ecosystems (and they are relatively young: ten or twenty thousand years, following the retreat of the ice sheets, compared with millions in the tropics). An unseasonal snowstorm or big freeze can destroy a whole generation, in turn jeopardizing species higher up the food chain. Maarten's geese showed what a changing climate can do if PCB's don't do it first.
    Like many Dutchmen, Maarten spoke better English than me, and with his spiky hair, round belly and smooth skin, I could imagine him turning into a barnacle goose when my back was turned. He invited me to go out observing with him for an afternoon, and so with rifles loaded, we started off past the Japanese station, past the airstrip, past the rocket launch pad and over a bridge fording a river bloodied with sandstone deposits. There we reached a pond, and Maarten put up his tripod and telescope. At a distance of 200 metres, he read out information from rings he had put on geese feet three years previously. I did not believe it, so I looked through the lens myself. 'If the sun is behind me', Maarten boasted, 'I can read them at 300 metres.' We walked on to Brandal Point. The rain had began to pound down again. All around, goslings had hatched. Only the female incubates: to facilitate heat transmission, she has a pair of breast patches without feathers. For the first three days, goslings live off absorbed yolk. Then they learn to feed. A strong young goose pecks 120 times a minute when it finds food. But the Arctic fox population had kept time with the geese. 'The average barnacle couple', said Maarten, 'produce fifty eggs, out of which 2.2 chicks reach adulthood.' I had watched the dog-fox opposite my window ferrying goslings to his vixen and kits.
    We walked on. 'This grass is too long for them,' Maarten remarked after we had reached stands of wet green at the lakeside. 'In this state, it's like spaghetti for geese, and they cannot eat it.' The sun vanished behind a cloud. When it went, the colours went too. 'I see the grass here with my goose mind,' Maarten concluded before stopping to scrutinize a white blob against a patch of scree on the lower slope of the nearest mountain. But it was a boulder, not a bear. After all his years in the field, Maarten had plenty of experience with a rifle, but, like me, he was uncomfortable with the idea of a gun in his hand. 'It's a cultural thing,' he said. 'In Holland you are perceived virtually as a criminal if you hunt. But here in Norway you're almost a homosexual if you don't.'.....

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20120609 12:00: wedding

9 June 2012

A special moment for Ny-Aalesund. A wedding party. Congratulations.

video by Halvar Gisnas, photo by Linda Bakken


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20120606 05:00: venus transiti 2012

Spitsbergen is one of the best places to observe the Venus transition as the sun is above the horizon for 24 hours a day. Scientist and others have travelled to Longyearbyen to see the transition. It was a bit cloudy, but here you can see their recordings.

6 June 201205:00

esa blog of their expedition


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20120306 13:30: mining history on spitsbergen

Mining history on Spitsbergen

6 March 2012


At the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, Ph.D. students have studied mining history on Spitsbergen in the IPY-project LASHIPA. They will present their research at a conference in Montreal in April and the conference organisation stimulated them to produce short video's to introduce their presentations. All video's for this conference can be seen here.
To the left the video of Friga Kruse about Britisch mining history on Spitsbergen.
More stories in the weblog linked to Frigga;s study:
click on the picture for more details 20090703 20110724 click on the picture for more details
bore holes marble quarry
re-discovered

This is the video of Hidde de Haas about Dutch coal mining history on Spitsbergen.

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20120124 23:30: northern lights

Northern lights

24 January 2012

All over Norway spectacular Northern lights are visible. On this page some higlights shot by friends.
To the left a time lapse video made by Hallvar Gisnås in Ny-Ålesund. The green line in the movie is the German LIDAR. The yellow house at 1:36 is the Netherlands Arctic Station. Most of the Northern lights are visible in southward direction. Ny-Ålesund is so far north. The particles from the sun enter the atmosphere in a circle around the magnetic north pole. As Ny-Ålesund is normally right under the circle, this night the highest intensities are seen in mainland Norway.
In mainland Norway, the lights were even more spectacular. This picture is made by Bjrn Anders Nymoen in mainland Norway and shows the great dipper through a small hole in the aurora borealis. More about his pictures on http://www.nymoenphotography.com
The video to the left is special, because it is not a time lapse video but a realtime video. This one shows beautifully the movement in the sky. I have seen it once in Troms like that. It makes you gaze and shout in admiration.

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20110824 15:00: dagmar leaves by boat

Dagmar leaves by boat

24 August 2011

Today the Norbjørn arrived. This supply-ship comes every month (except for the winter months) to supply Ny-Aalesund with fresh food and goods. For Dagmar, this arrival also means a goodbye; she will sail with the Norbjørn back to Tromsø and from there travel back to The Netherlands. Around three oclock in the afternoon the time has really come: bags are packed and on board, and the ship can leave. Hope to see you again!


<---
Ida Beate, Andrea, Dag and Jelte wave goodbye


Off we go! (photo below: Christophe Briere de la Hosseraye)

Text and two photo's by Dagmar Egelkraut


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20110822 12:00: last crew

Last crew

22 August 2011

Today, the last visitors of the Netherlands Arctic station arrive. Jelte and Jouke Rozema and Bert Buys will stay for 4 days to take samples and clean up the open top chambers that were placed in spring. Next to that, Jouke will take freshwater and ice samples from different locations.

Text and photo by Dagmar Egelkraut


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20110816 1200: autumn

Autumn

16 August 2011

It is really autumn now in Ny-Alesund. The polar willow turns orange under the low evening sun.
a few days ago we had the first snowfall and also the geese start to fly way. The village itself starts to become more quiet as well; with every flight, more researchers leave and less arrive. The people that will winter here make up for a long period of quiet, white rest. Soon comes the winter!
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Geese start to fly (photo: Andrea Gross)
The first snow resulting in a beautiful view Sverdrup stasjonen with Zeppelinfjellet

Text and three photo's by Dagmar Egelkraut


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20110808 15:00: girl power

Girlpower

8 August 2011 15:00

The last two weeks, three women were in charge of the station. Suzanne, Dagmar en Elspeth have become real birdwatchers.
Today Elspeth and Suzanne fly to Longyearbyen. Dagmar stays behind to finish her experiment.
Photo by Suzanne taken from the departing plane.

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20110804 18:00: parasite of the day

Parasite of the day

4 August 2011 18:00

Earlier this week, I was mentioned in a book chapter. Today Olga Dolnik sends me a message. On August 4 2011, we are parasite of the day. On a thematic website about parasites, they focus on our article in Parasitology. Very nice.

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20110801 00:31: fox visits den

Fox visits den

1 August 2011 00:31

This year, we hardly see the fox. It is Randi, born in the village in 2006 and raising young under our station in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Today, she is visiting her old den.
Randi is most often seen far to the east of the village. A few visits she was only eating tern chicks and did not kill any goslings. To the left you can see her ear tags, left green right yellow.

Pictures: Linda Bakken


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20110725 12:16: sea ice in isfjord

Sea ice in Isfjord

25 July 2011 12:16

Maarten is returning home, Dagmar, Elspeth and Suzanne stay behind in Ny-Ålesund. Just before the plane lands in Longyearbyen, there appears a massive amount of ice in Isfjord, blocking access of boats to Longyearbyen. It is sea ice, originating from Storfjorden and drifting since break-up around the southern tip of Spitsbergen to the north. The ice is more than a meter thick. Top: picture from the plane. Bottom: view from the depparture hall on the airport.

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20110724 20:00: marble quarry re-discovered

Old marble quarry re-discovered

24 July 2011 20:00

On Spitsbergen, history is frozen and discoveries can be made. Today, we re-discovered an old marble quarry at Blomstranden. The story starts at the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, where Ph.D. student Frigga Kruse is studying British prospecting and mining on Spitsbergen as part of the LASHIPA project. In the archives of the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø, she discovered a report by Herbert W. Leech of the Northern Exploration Company LTD from 1920 entitled: Report on various marble properties in Spitsbergen. In this report there is a map, showing Blomstranden in Kongsfjorden. On this maps there are bore holes, buildings and quarries. Frigga compared all marks with her findings during an earlier field survey and discovered one little Q (for quarry) on an unexpected spot. She asked the crew of the Netherlands Arctic Station for a survey. It took us two visits to find the place. The first visit on 9 July, we missed it by a few hundred meters. After comparing our GPS data with modern maps, we decided on a second try.
The map shown above has several Q's numbered, but on the far left a little Q is without numbering, (see below left).
Frigga is still doing research on details. Her thesis is expected May 2012 with many new details on Mansfield. The quarry must have been made between 1906 and 1919. There is no infrastructure like roads because the quarry is close to sea and the marble could easily be loaded on a boat at a steep cliff. The boats could be moored between two rocky outcrops. On the top of the cliff there are still two steel pins protruding from the marble as a kind of anchor for a crane or something like that.
Close to the quarry there are still traces of human activity. Some wood, parts of iron and in the back the remnants of a heap of coal, which must have been brought from Ny-Ålesund. The coordinates of the quarry are 78.97356 N 11.98779 E. In the middle of the picture on the background you can see a small hut which is part of a communication infrastructure.
Above:The north-east facade of the pit has marks of the drill. Person (1.89 m) added for size (move your pointer over the picture to see more).
Right:A video to show the spatial layout of the site
For more information or reactions contact Frigga Kruse: f.kruse@rug.nl

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20110724 16:00: ossian sars

Ossian Sars

24 July 2011 16:00

Tomorrow, Maarten and Nicole return home to the Netherlands. A last opportunity to show the whole team one of the nicest places in the fjord: Ossian Sars. The crowded birdcliff has also a wonderfull inland with a steep gradient from rich, moist vegetation to poor arctic desert, ending in a spectacular view over the ice cap. Below two videos are shown about our visit. To the left, we have descended from the top to the sea side to a height where we are close and next to the nesting birds. To the right, we are on our way back through a canyon.
Earlier items in our weblog about this site (click on a picture to view the page):
 20100804
mossen
20100804
paddenstoelen
20100729
vogelklif
 20090722
ossian sars
20080731
vogelklif
20060713
vogelklif en afkalvende gletsjers

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20110722 19:00: counting geese in the fjord

Counting geese in the fjord

22 July 2011 19:00

Today, we are counting all geese in the fjord from a small boat, following the coastline and circling all islands. In front of the Blomstrandglacier, Nicole made portraits of all of us. Unfortunately Dagmar had to stay in the village to measure the grasses in her experiment.
We landed to eat our lunch on a spot where we had a good view to detect any polar bears
  During the lunch, we make the video to the left, which can be started by clicking on the picture (after accepting the required plugin).
There was quite some ice in the middle of the fjord. Here a fulmar takes off.
This black guillemot has something to deliver at its nest.

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20110722 11:00: fire drill

Fire drill

22 July 2011 11:00

  This morning, the fire men in Ny-Ålesund have a reality training. The scooter garage was a recent storage for material of AWIPEV. Last month, all material was moved to the new storage building in the harbour and today there is a fire drill. There is a lot of smoke and all actions are evaluated. The fire men rescue two stuffed survival suits. I assume these are stand-ins for victems.

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20110720 16:00: catching geese

Catching geese

20 July 2011 16:00

We have put up the nests between the London houses in such way, that we can catch geese from the front and the back side. We are aiming for small family groups which come into the village. When we catch a few families at one time, processing is fast and the young goslings can be released quickly. From left to right: 1. the adults are left in the catch pen, while 2. the goslings are put together. Nicole makes sure they are well. 3. Maarten is ringing a gosling.
To te left and below: release.

Photos: Nicole Miedema


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20110720 10:00: i am a chapter

I am a chapter

20 July 2011 10:00

In my mailbox (P.O.Box 1, Ny-Ålesund, I am proud on the number, feels like Santa, North Pole) I received today a book. A big surprise. After having talked to a journalist in 2008 and 2009, she has written a chapter with me as an example of present day international research in Ny-Ålesund. The wooden shoes (tresko in Norwegian) must have made some impression. I feel proud and honoured. It is a pity that the book is only avaliable in Norwegian.
Fortellinger om folk på tundraen
by Åse Kristine Tveit
Tapir Akademisk Forlag, Trondheim 2011
ISBN 978-82-519-2731-4
ISBN 978-82-519-2792-5 (epub)
ISBN 978-82-519-2791-8 (pdf)

Adresse Ny-Ålesund

Fortellinger om folk på tundraen
by Åse Kristine Tveit
Tapir Akademisk Forlag, Trondheim 2011

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20110719 14:00: team

Team

19 July 2011 14:00

Time for a team picture. In front of our station, from left to right, Dagmar, Elspeth, Suzanne and Maarten and in the front Nicole.

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20110719 12:08: lecturing about geese

Lecturing about geese

19 July 2011 12:08

A tourist group travelling on the Quest is guided by good old friends, Ditte Hendriksen, with whom I was guiding in the Antarctic and Thor Larssen, the famous Norwegian polar bear researcher. I am entering data so I do have some time to explian my research to the tourists. I enjoy my interested audience.

Photos: Nicole Miedema


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20110719 04:00: bear in the village

Polar bear in the village

19 July 2011 04:00

At breakfast there is a note about a polar bear sighting. During the day we can see the pictures taken by the Chinese team. They were the only one who observed the bear. the rest of the village was sleeping.

It seems that there are two different bears in the fjord. In the evening many people go on trips and hope to meet a bear. We stay in the village. But where will be the next encounter?

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20110718 14:00: swimming reindeer

Swimming reindeer

18 July 2011 14:00

From the top of Storholmen we see three animals swimming in the fjord. These appear to be reindeer. I have seen a reindeer swim in earlier years, but these sightings are rare.

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20110718 13:30: polar bear tracks

Polar bear tracks

18 July 2011 13:30

Suzanne and Maarten visit the island Storholmen to read rings of moulting geese. On the beach we discover tracks of a polar bear.
Last week people talked about polar bear tracks on Storholmen. But these seem relatively recent but not very recent. We walk carefully to the highest point of the island. No birds alarming, no bear on the island. We count 75 geese.

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20110718 08:20: radio interview

Radio interview

18 July 2011 08:52

This morning I had an interview for the Dutch radio 1 about the trend in sea ice. To the left, you can listen to it, bit unfortunately it is in Dutch. I explain the current record low for the present date in the year, the warm day we had on 16 July with max temperature of 10.8 and the averagte temperature increase over the past halfyear being more than 2 degrees Celsius (data from http://www.yr.no). An increase of 2 degrees Celcius is given for Europe as the limit we should allow for antropogenic causes of climate warming. The mechanisms for the downward spiral: 1. white snow surface is reflecting sun rays but turns into black water surface absorbing sun rays, 2. open water allows more water vapour uptake and warm air holds more water vapour, and water vapour is an important green house gass. 3. thickness of the ise is less, the volume of multi year ice being more than 3 m thich is decreasing, which makes surface decline more rapid. What do I experience myself except the warm weather? Hatching date of barnacle geese is since 2007 a week earlier. On a summer of nine weeks, this is a big change.

Click on the picture above to start the recording of the radio interview


Examine the evidence yourself. To the left the ice chart, to the right the graph of ice extent. The year 2007 has been the record low year sofar, though all years since 2007 have been close to the 2007 values of ice extent. Both these graphs are from: NSIDC arctic sea ice news and analysis
The graph to the left and below are taken from yr.no. The past month, average temperature was more than two degrees warmer than normal. Below you can see that we have had already several of such periods this year.
To the left the map of sea ice thickness as measured by CRYOSAT.

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20110717 16:13: count at stuphallet

Count at Stuphallet

17 July 2011 16:13

Today, we walk 6 kilometer to the west to the bird cliff Stuphallet where puffins and fulmars nest. We are counting geese on our way and reading rings. At Stuphallet there is a small cabin where we take our lunch.

Photos: Nicole Miedema


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20110716 00:58: girls party

Girls party

16 July 2011 00:58

There is a special party for all women in Ny-Ålesund. They all go to the Brandalhytta for an evening with music, wine and singing. They have a barbecue and compose a Ny-Ålesund blues.
They make a group picture.
Dagmar, Suzanne and Nicole join the party too.
This picture a polar bear is peeping around the corner.... Luckily it is only a sledge dog. By the way, the roof is a good place to go when a bear shows up.

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20110715 16:00: dagmar measures grass

Dagmar measures grass

15 July 2011 16:00

The experiment below the oil tanks is 4 weeks running. Today Dagmar and Suzanne sit in the middle of the field. They measure grass leaves and count shoots. Time to pay them a visit (see video to the left, text in Dutch).

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20110715 15:00: amundsen villa

Amundsen villa

15 July 2011 15:00

The Amundsen villa is fully restored in its old glory and is now the official meeting place for important visitors to Kings Bay and the village. During restoration some details were renwed, but also some were left in their original state to see the effect of time on the historical features. One of the murals still has holes of the nails, others are a mosaic of new and old wood. The special furniture makes the impression complete. Very special.

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20110714 09:30: next generation veterans

next generation veterans

14 July 2011 09:30

The Veteran club of Ny-Ålesund consists of miners and former emloyees of Kings Bay and their children. Every summer, they run a small shop and sell coffee and waffles. They are very nice friendly people. This year Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Nick Cox and Maarten Loonen got a beautiful self-made woolen hat from Lilly Kristensen. We made this picture to thank her. the veteran shop
To the right a picture from the weblog 2009, with the ladies from the veteran club. The original weblog page can be seen here.

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20110711 21:48: nicole reports on facebook

Student Nicole reports on facebook

11 Juli 2011 21:48

Nicole Miedema reports about her trip on her facebook account. She has written a nice impression, which I copy in my weblog.

Off to Spitsbergen!

door Nicole Miedema, maandag 11 juli 2011 21:48

Sooo, many of you are still wondering about what I am doing up here in the cold: 2 months ago I talked to my uncle, who is a biologist and spent his last 22 summers up in Ny-Alesund on Spitsbergen, about how I needed to find a project to write my bachelor thesis on. It soon turned out there was a need for research on tourism in Ny-Alesund. 1 month later my projectplan was written and approved and now I'm up here! Ny-Alesund is a small village on 79 degrees north, which makes it the northernmost village of the world. The village used to be a mining village, but after it was abandoned scientist found out it would be a great place for research on several subjects such as Arctic flora and fauna, the climatechange and so on.. In the winter this place is covered in snow and darkness for 4 months, when the sun comes back you can spot the polarlights and in the summertime this sun doesn't go down for 4 months. In the summertime there are about 30 people still living here but now that it's light the scientists come out here and there are about 120 people staying in town right now. 11 different countries have an arctic station here. Kingsbay is a Norwegian company that runs the town. There is a schedule for breakfast, lunch and dinnertime; everyone comes together to eat at the Messe. You can even go there for a midnightsnack :) Every year about 30.000 tourists visits this small town. There are even boats that land 3000 tourists at 1 time! The place is packed then and the tourists are like grasshoppers all over the place. Stepping on the tundra, disturbing animals, getting in the way of scientific research instruments. Still everyone would rather have the tourists here then out in the wild because there they will destroy even more, also the tourisit bring money to the place which then can be used for science again. My task is to find a way to minimize the tourist impact.

Rock Werchter weekend was amazing, many great artists and interesting poeple! About 4 hours after I came home I had to leave to Amsterdam to start my trip to the Arctic. My uncle dropped me off way early in the morning and at 11 I was already at my hostel in the heart of Copenhagen city. Met some guys on the flight so met up with them in town and had an awesome sunny summerday. On my b-day I got to wake up at 4.30, yay! Copenhagen-Oslo-Tromso-Longyearbyen; 3 flights later I was on Spitsbergen. Decided that I should do a festival weekend before my flights because I slept through all of them :) Acutally pretty cool to land several times because I got to see some really cool scenery on the way like the huge forests around Oslo and the Fjord at Tromso. Longyearbyen is not really interesting unless you take an excursion from there probably. Had a walk around but spent the evening at the hostel. Had a great time with my roommate, a tour guide from prague - met his rifle before I met him so was hoping i'd get along with him ;) His rifle is actually from WWII and still has nazi-symbols imprinted in it. Anywayss next day I got to get up early again, time for my local flight from Longyearbyen to Ny-Alesund. Had to be at the airport at 10 am, my uncle explained to me how I had to enter a few doors with absolutely no signs on them before I came into the area where I had make notice that I had arrived. What I found was a huge garage with an small airplane in it and a cocky pilot saying my flight was cancelled and then running off. Okay. After I found someone who was kind enough to borrow me her phone I called Kingsbay and they told me they hadn't cancelled anything yet, I should just wait. Back at the weird-boarding-place I just tried some doors and eventually found some people. None of them seemed to be flying anywhere though. The flight ended up getting cancelled due to bad weather conditions. I soon fell asleep on the couch in the waiting area and was still the only one there. Turned out I would have been the only person on that flight anyway. 4 hours later people showed up, they had the afternoon flight which I had also been booked on by now. Two of them were Dutch and heading to Ny-Alesund to visit the Dutch Arctic Station. Our bags were weighed and loaded on to the airplane. We just got to wait right there in the garage were it all happened. No security check, passport or whatever, I guess it wouldn't really be interesting for terrorists up here anyway. Outside the building we got on the plane which fit 12 persons. Too low to stand up straight and just enough room to squeeze yourself in between the chairs on either side of the plane. Sat in front and had a great look into the cockpit all flight long. I thought the flight was gonna be quite a bumpy ride because of the cloudes but it was so steady and chill! I might actually like flying after that trip! :) The weather was really cloudy but every now and then I got to spot some glacier ice beneath us, it's already beautiful! 45 min. later we landed in Ny-Alesund and I soon met my uncle. Got to drop off my bag at the house and meet my roommates; 3 dutch girls that all do research on Barnacle geese. Our house is called London 3; on the island across the fjord there used to be a mining site and after it was abandoned they took these houses from there and placed them here in the town. There are 4 of these 'London' houses standing next to each other and it's the base of Netherlands Arctic Station here in Ny-Alesund. When you come into the front door it's like you go from the freezer to the fridge and when you pass the next door it's warm enough. There are 2 rooms and a kitchen downstrairs (however we don't have running water) and a small ladder leads upstairs to where the bedrooms are. Both just high enough in the middle to stand up straigt. We use the showers in another station and brush my teeth at the museum, haha. It's like camping. The house is so cute!

Spitsbergen trips

13 juli 2011 14:08

After I dropped my backpack at the house it was time for dinner. When I entered the Messe I was really surprised, it's so modern and new, could be anywhere in the world really. Only difference is that we look out on some glaciers, birds, reindeer, big chucks of ice floating by on the river during meals :) Anyway all meals are like a small buffet and the food is goood! Later that night me and the other 2 guests (Ministry of Education) got a tour around the village. Got some insight on various scientific projects done here. Most of the researches now are based on climate change but there's a huge range of variety on subjects: atmospherical, troposphere, ozone, glaciology, permafrost, sea ice, birds, plants, sharks, reindeer, sea weed, plankton, fish, seals, satellite, outerspace, contamination, history, archeology and.....tourism, haha. There are still quite a few buildings that go back to the mining time. For example, the old barn where they used to stock thedry products like flower etc. is now our bar. It's open on wednesdays and saturdays for people living in the village only. Tourists tend to get quite jealous of that at times but then again there are usually no touristboats when the bar is open. The windows are covered so it's a bit dark inside the bar and it's the strangest feeling to come out the bar in the middle of the night, see the bright light and be reminded that the sun doesn't set. Same goes for when I wake up, instead on turning on the light, I just open the curtains and get blinded by the light, haha. Oh yeah, back to the buildings, there used to be a hospital here but it's used as storage now, they found many instruments there after the miners had left, most of them were amputation instruments. The villa that Amundsen stayed in is being renovated and the owner of Kings Bay lives there now. Some long term villagers that live here in wintertime as well have sledge dogs. They are fed once a day with burned seal, which the owners catch and kill themselves. Now that there is no snow the dogs are trained by lining them up in front of a truck and having them pull the truck on to a hill. It's an amazing way of transport. Once a week on tuesday one of the scientists have a lecture on whatever they are doing here or just anything interesting, yesterday a man did a lecture on dog sledging. It was an amazing story about how he traveled the antarctic by dog slegde, facing temperatures of -48 degrees. At these temperatures they could only stop for 5 minutes every hour and the dogs would lie down on their back with their paws in the air because their paws got so cold. The seals that they caught for feeding the dogs were frozen and they had to chop them up with a chain saw. It took the dogs 2 days to chew the big chucks of seal down because it was so frozen. He's a great storyteller and really funny, definitely one of the best lectures I've ever seen. Okay back to the tour through the village, we also entered the building that used to house the coal-stone seperation factory but is now an abandoned ghost house with holes in the floor and covered in darkness because the windows are covered. Later during the walk we got acquainted with the arctic terns (birds) which are quite serious about protecting their nest at this time of the year. If you come too close they start to attack or airbomb you while they make a noise similar to that of a mitrailleur. Some people hold their hand in the air to keep them off, they end up having quite some wounds on their hands. Love those birds already, quite funny to see the tourists struggle with it. You can acutally spot some animals if you just follow the attacking terns; the other nights we spotted a polar fox that way. The fox used to nest under our house for the last 3 years but hadn't returned this year until we spotted it having some fastfood (there are many chicks right now) in town. The next day the first tourists boat arrived early in the morning and I had a go with my survey and observation skills. Straight away found some points that could use some work, so that's good. In the afternoon, Maarten took us (the 2 guests) for a walk through the tundra to the mining site where it kinda looks like a bomb exploded really but it's historical so noone touches it. Can still see the old traintrack going through town. I can't just go on a walk outside town by myself because you are not allowed to go anywhere without a loaded gun to defend yourself from polar bears. Everyone that stays in the village for a longer periode of time gets a shooting course though. I've already gotten used to the fact that many people walk around with a gun (which by the way isn't loaded when they're in the village). On saturday the weather was great! Blue skies and sun, it makes this place even more beautiful. We went on a trip to the island across from the village. First of all we needed to pack food and tea in case the weather would change and noone would be able to pick us up again. Then we got a small lecture on safety, how to use the portofoon, the rifle, the pop gun thingy etc. On the boat we were gonna have to wear drysuits, had alot of fun with those, it kind of looks like a person and you have to carry it by putting it over your shoulders so it would look like we all carried a corpse or something. On the harbour we had to get them on, which was quite a task cause the boots are attached to the suits and when you've managed to get it on and close it you just feel like a huge clumsy robot :) Wojtek took us out there on the sort of speedboat, it was a beautfiful ride and halfway down the river we had to pass through a stream of bigh chunks of ice, which was just awesome! On the island you enter a mining site, you can see the fundament of our houses with only a stove with teapots on it, a bit rusty and covered in bulletholes but other than that completely intact. Machines still standing there as if the miners left in the middle of a working day, it's a pretty strange sight. We started walking towards the west, where we evenentually stumbeled upon really beautifull beachy spots that you could find in the mediterrean, only there you wouldn't have to wear a jacket and carry a gun. Had a sip from the fresh melting water coming from the mountains. Just before the boat arrived we put on our drysuit again to have a swim in them, or a float is probably a better way to put it. In these suits you can float and therefore survive for 24 hours (okay that is if there is no hungry polar bear fishing for floating people). Back on the boat we went around the island and visited some caves, which was really cool. The ride continued in the direction of the Blomstrandbreen (glacier) with on the way beautiful big mountains of bright blue ice in all kinds of shapes drifting by and a curious seal following us. As we went on I started to realize how big this very glacier was, it look quite low and flat from a distance but turned out to be about 40 m. high and really pointy pieces of ice. The cool thing is that is was actually growing so the ice was leaning towards the water instead of backwards as it would do if it was decreasing. Really impressive and one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen! Sunday we all had an off day and went on a hike to the southeast in the direction of Kongsbreen (kingsglacier) that you can see everyday as if it was really close to the village but in reality it's 12 km. from Ny-Alesund. The girls with whom I share the house also came along, so we had a great time. Weather was quite bad, on the way we had to pass several rivers of melting ice which was quite a challenge at times but brought out the child in all of us as we were jumping over the icecold water en were trying to find the best spots to cross it :) Was fun! At some point 2 people didn't manage to cross but luckily Maarten had boots on and eventually maneged to get them across by carrying them, that was really funny! Maarten with a grown man on his back making his was across.. We were so busy crossing the rivers that we didn't notice it had started raining pretty hard and that's how we got to test out equipment and some of us including myself found out their outfit wasn't very arctic-storm-proof. 4 km on the way there was a hut standing in the middle of nowhere. Apparently they have this all over Norway, it's a hut that everyone can use if they pass by and want to take a break or have to hide from the weather etc. It was really cosy and really like a home. Had ourselfs a nice and warm break in there and we fried the gloves on the fireplace we went out into the drizzle again. The walk continued and we had to pass a small ravine and all and a few hours later got the place that we were apparently heading for. There was a cliff in which hundreds of birds were nesting (kittiwakes). Under the cliff it's supergreen because of all the birdshit. We walked up the cliff over all kinds of bird rubbish, I don't even know what it was. Passing eggshells and dead pieces of bird until we were right next to the lowest nests and got to watch the birdlife from up close. All the time birds were flying over, making all sorts of weird noises. I'm not even a birdlover in particular but this was so special! Back down the beach was covered in icechunks which looked really beautiful. We climbed up the hill and started making our way back to town over kilometers of moraines that the glaciers had brought there, creating a hilly, outerspace kindof landscape. Every now and then we had to pass a river, at times via a big piece of snow. In that case on of us had to go and try wether the snow wouldn't break if we walked over because often the river had made it's way under the pile of snow creating sort of a snowbrigde. Unwittingly I thought we should hurry because we wouldn't want to be out here when it got dark but then I remembered it doesn't get dark at all so we didn't have to take that into account at all. On the way back the rain had made the river rise just a bit which made us have to walk past the river quite a bit before we found a way where we could cross and continue our journey. 9 hours later we arrived back in the village after yet an awesome day on Spitsbergen!

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20110709 20:30: nick cox about dogsledging

Nick Cox about dogsledging

9 July 2011 20:30

Every week, there is a seminar about science or polar experiences. This week Nick Cox, stationleader of the British base, will give a lecture on dogsledging. He has wintered several winters in the Antarctic when the Brits were still using sledge dogs. Many years he went straight from the Antarctic to the Arctic and he has trained dog teams in the Arctic too. Not man people have travelled with dogteams at minus 48 degrees Celsius far from the coast.
Nick can tell a great narrative. The room is packed and we enjoy his story.

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20110709 18:00: testing survival suits

Testing survival suits

9 July 2011 18:00

Every boattrip, we have to wear survival suits. The water in the fjord is only 2 degrees Celsius, so you will feel paralyzed soon when dropped in the water. To get customized to the suit, I organise a swim. It is also a good check for leakage.

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20110709 14:57: on her head

On her head

9 July 2011 14:57

Photo: Dick van der Kroef

Arctic skuas are acrobats in the air, which defend their nest fiercely. Luckily Nicole's hat is thick enough.

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20110708 15:00: accident

Accident

8 July 2011 15:00

As station manager, I am responsible for the safety of people who visit the north pole for the first time. Many have no experience with guns and survival. Safety is important for me and I try to keep a good supervision on safety of my pupils.
Today my pride has gone down as I, a Dutch man, had a bicycle accident right in fron of my doorstep. I was carrying a package on my bike, taking a fast turn and lost balance. I was not biking too fast, but the road is full of sharp stones engraving my skin.
What a luck to have Nick Cox He immedeately dropped his business and took care of my wounds, washing them with a TCP solution. And he came to check on me an hour later, making sure that I was well. What a professional!
My glasses miss a leg and there is a wound just 4 mm away from my eye ball but all is well and gets better.

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20110708 13:06: netherlands arctic programme

Netherlands Arctic Programme

8 July 2011 13:06

left: Jos Rokx, right: Dick van de Kroef

The Netherlands Polar Programma is funded by four ministeries and the Netherlands science foundation ALW-NWO manages it. Jos Rokx (Ministery of Education, Culture and Science) en Dick van der Kroef (ALW-NWO) visit Ny-Ålesund to study the possibilities for international science cooperation. They are hosted by the Netherlands Arctic Station and an intensive schedule. The picture on the left shows them while they release the daily weather balloon.

The programme contained the following activities:

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Longyearbyen: Visit to Svalbard Science Forum. Host: Christiaane Hbner

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Longyearbyen: Visit to UNIS and introduction to SIOS. Host: Ragnhild Rnneberg

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Introduction to the Netherlands Arctic Station

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Walk to field site with Open Top Chambers Jelte Rozema Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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Visit to NERC/BAS Harland huset (UK). A summer station of the Britisch Antarctic Survey and the National Environmental Council. Host: station leader Nick Cox

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Visit to AWIPEV facilities (joint base Germany and France), starting with a launch of a balloon with ozone sonde and a tour through the atmospheric research laboratory. Host: engineer Andrea Gross and station leader Rudolf Denkmann.

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Visit Kings Bay (Norway), the company owns and runs Ny-Alesund with the purpose to accommodate science, Host: director Ole Øiseth

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Visit to the Norwegian Polar Institute (Norway) the biggest station, many cooperative projects also providing technical and logistic support to many. Host: station leader Max Knig.

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Visit Kongsfjorden Marine Laboratory a general facility for research projects, accommodation and facilities for rent. Host: Elisabeth Råstad

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Boattrip to Ny-London and Blomstranden, archeological fieldwork, boattour around Blomstranden with Maarten Loonen, boat driven by Wojtek Moskal (NPI)

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Walk over tundra to Krikjefjellet via Corbell Station and Gåsebu with Maarten Loonen

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Visit to the newly restored Amundsen Villa with murals

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Visit to diving facilities Marine Laboratory. Host: Max Schwanitz (AWIPEV)

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Conversation with the science advisor of Kings Bay Hallvar Gisnås

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Longyearbyen: Visit to Svalbard Museum


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20110707 11:05: washing windows

Washing windows

7 juli 2011 11:05

Photo: Suzanne Lubbe

The windows were covered with dust, so I decided it was time for cleaning. The integrity of the windows is weak. The building is a cultural heritage and officially protected. I am not allowed to improve anything and as a matter of fact also Kings Bay is restricted in their opportunities. So I am very careful and mainly apply some light soap and pour some water over the windows. Even in this way, some of the water appears on the inside of the window.

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20110707 09:55: tourists

Tourists

6 July 2011 09:55

Visits of tourists make it quite complicated to walk the streets. We start a project on how the tourists have used all information in town. Nicole Miedema will take questionnaires.

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20110706 17:00: impressions from storholmen

Impressions from Storholmen

6 Juli 2011 17:00

In the middle of Kings Bay, there are several breeding areas which are special nature reserves for geese and ducks. I am extremely lucky that I am allowed to visit these islands to check nests of barnacle geese. Today all nests have hatched and I have some time to make two short impressions on video.
The hut on the island Storholmen was falling apart. It is a cultural heritage and this year they have started to renovate the hut. It is used for teaching young carpenters to renovate cultural heritage. They had to stop because of the breeding season and this is a good moment for an update. After four hours wandering over the island, I am waiting for the boat to bring me home. On the beach I made this video.

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20110706 15:00: bird attack

Bird attack

6 July 2011 15:00

The great skua and the glaucous gull are big birds of nearly 2 kilogram. When approaching their nest,they know how to generate fear. Below you have two short video's. I did not dare to stay close any longer.
The great skua can kill full adult eider ducks and geese by drowning. The skua has no claws, just webbed feet, but when hunting as a pair, together they are very well able of keeping an adult moulting bird below surface.
In this video, I am to close to their nest, while checking goose nests. With impressive flights they come very close and make me scared. You can hear the wind in their wings when they change direction just before impact.
The glaucous gull is a tall bird similar but bigger than a herring gull. They make more noice during their attack. I am less scared though once I have been hit by these birds.

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20110706 09:45: balloon launch

Ballon launch

6 July 2011 09:45

Italian scientists have a large balloon on a cable which lifts their instruments 1 to 2 kilometers in the air. In this video they explain their project. Click on the picture above.

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20110702 18:00: sweet lips

Sweet lips

2 July 2011 18:00

While waiting for a goose to return to the nest, a reindeer comes close. The grazing can be observed from close. Look at this video and see the lips move.

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20110702 12:30: minky whale

Minky whale

2 July 2011 12:30

On our way to the island Storholmen, this creature crosses literally our path. A minky whale dives up in front of our boat. It is a day without wind and we keep floating for almost an hour with the whale closeby. To the left you can see a video and hear the whale breathing.

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20110702 10:00: walk to breakfast

Walk to breakfast

2 July 2011 10:00

I am also blogging on a Dutch website dedicated to the international polar year. Today, I thought to make a video about my morning walk to breakfast and post it on this site www.pooljaar.nl. Unfortunately this time the video is completely Dutch spoken.

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20110701 07:00: ring sighting

Ring sighting

1 July 2011 07:00

I received today an email from Sebastien Descamps. On 29 June 2011, his field assistant had observed a ringed barnacle goose in the guillemot colony near Diabas in Isfjord. A nice observation. Can you read the ring?

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20110630 11:00: hitch-hiking insects

Hitch-hiking insects

30 June 2011 11:00

Natalia Lebedeva and Hanne Pilskog are studying the possibility that geese are a vector for small non-parasitic insects. Every goose caught is brushed and examined carefully, The weather is not always helpful and we have forgotten our tent pegs. After a full day in the field, it is good to be back in town and have a warm shower.
To the left Hanne and Natalia explain their project.

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20110629 15:00: local newspaper

Local newspaper

29 June 2011 15:00

Today, we have launched a new newspaper about the science in this artic community. Hopefully many will follow. Download as pdf.

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20110628 18:00: migration logged

Migration logged

26 June 2011 18:00

Photo Øystein Varpe

Today, I am mapping nests of Barnacle Geese on Storholmen and I am looking for birds with GLS-loggers. Øystein Varpe had spotted a pair with these on Juttaholmen 22 June 2011 and sent me this picture. A GLS-logger registers every 10 minutes light intensity for several years. If I retrieve the logger, I can download the information and determine on every date daylength and start of the day. The daylength tells me the northern latitude (as long as the bird is not above the arctic circle) and the start of day shows the longitude (time of sunrise). The location is accurate on 200 km, but with these birds which migrate 3000 km, this is accurate enough. The good thing is that they are light weight and cheap compared to other techniques.

The loggers are attached to white leg rings with red inscription which are placed over the metal ring. So the logger is an extra ring, which I can easily remove and replace. The other plastic ring with inscription is a kind of name tag. Colour and inscription together are uniuqe for every individual an can be read with a telescope from 200 m distance.

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20110625 21:00: midsummerdayparty

Midsummerdayparty

25 June 2011 21:00

Today, we celebrate the longest day of the year, traditionally on the Saturday closest to 21 June. In Ny-Ålesund it is tradition to make a bonfire and to dress according a theme. It is a colourful party, with barbecue and free drinks.



Lovely dressed up people.....
The beer is cooled in a boat full with snow (which is still easy to collect closeby).
Note the brand! Never seen before but made in Holland.


My Dutch girls win the first price with building a sand castle.

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20110624 16:00: studentproject

studentproject

24 June 2011 16:00

Dagmar Egelkraut doet een master onderzoek aan de gevolgen van opwarming voor de timing van het broedseizoen van de brandganzen. Ze heeft 72 stukken gaas geplaatst op de toendra, waarvan de helft is omwikkeld met folie. De folie maakt het tot een broeikasje. Ze gaat het gras volgen in deze plotjes. In de helft van de plotjes wordt geknipt, in de andere helft wordt ongeknipt gras gevolg. We kijken naar de voedselkwaliteit en verwachten dat in een warmere omgeving de kwaliteit van het gras lager wordt waardoor de ganzen er minder trek in hebben, ondanks de wat hogere biomassa. Uiteindelijk gaan we ook gaasjes weghalen zodat de ganzen kunnen laten zien voor welke plotjes ze de voorkeur hebben.

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20110624 10:30: warming and plant growth

Global warming and plant growth

24 June 2011 10:30

control Suzanne Lubbe assembling an OTC warmed

Today we placed 9 OTC's for Jelte Rozema. In the beginning of June, he was in the station but could not finish his work due to late snowmelt.

Cassiope tetragona (Arctic bell-heather) has more flowers in the warmed treatment. Compare the pictures from control plots (left column) and warmed plots (right column). The warmed plots have an OTC, a open top chamber, which raises the temperature on average 2 degrees Celsius. The first 8 rows are plots where the OTC was placed on 5 June. The last 9 rows are plots which were still snow covered in the beginning of June. These OTC's were placed on the day of the pictures. There should not be any difference between the two colums for these plots. In general the last 9 rows were appearing under the snow later, so flowering is not as much as in the first 7 control rows.
The green disk in some pictures is covering a temperature logger to monitor the experimental warming.
control warmed
7
OTC placed
5 Cass 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
8
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
9
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
10
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
11
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
12
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
17
OTC placed
5 June 2011
early snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
control warmed number
1
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
2
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
3
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
4
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
5
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
6
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
13
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
14
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011
16
OTC placed
24 June 2011
late snowmelt
photo taken
24 June 2011

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20110623 14:00: no foxes denning

No foxes denning

23 June 2011 14:00

The sign suggests otherwise, but for the first year since 2000, there are no foxes denning under the station. It smells a bit like fox, but the smell is orginating from caches thawing and not being eaten.
We always loved to see the puppies play, but the effect on the birds in town was enormous and the barnacle goose population has been in a steady decline. The vegetation has recovered from overgrazing. We are expecting a year full with goslings.

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20110623 12:00: arrival

Arrival

23 June 2011 12:00

We arrived in Ny-Ålesund. From left to right Dagmar Egelkraut, Maarten Loonen and Suzanne Lubbe. It is a warm welcome meeting many good friends on a perfect warm day. Scarry warm weather if you think about climate change.

In the picture on the right I am running to the girls but too late for the time lapse on my camera.

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20110623 11:00: LYR-NÅ

LYR-NÅ

23 June 2011 11:00

Longyearbyen with cruiseboat

river sediment colours the fjord

breaking drift ice

icecap between the mountains

glacier movement paints tracks

clif of the kings glacier

de breeding islands with tothe right the largest island Storholmen


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20110622 21:00: Plateaufjellet

Plateaufjellet

22 June 2011 21:00

Tonight, we climb with Christiaane Hbner and her two dogs to the top of the mountain near Longyearbyen.



It is a steep climb with a fantastic view. On the top there is a small chair to admire the view. I have been surpised about the 15 people who where also walking on this track.

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20110622 11:00: Brussels-LYR

Brussels-LYR

22 June 2011 11:00

Ocean Wide Expeditions has organized a direct charter between Brussels and Longyearbyen. Without stop, it is a comfortabel flight. Maybe with a modest price something for you? There were plenty of seats available.

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20110601 14:00: station open

Station open

1 June 2011

Jelte and Stef in 2011

For many years, the season starts with the visit of Jelte Rozema who is erecting his open-top-chambers. They have not much variation in their annual pictures on the doorstep of the London hut. Maybe this is a stimulation for the opening picture in 2012 being more artistic.

Earlier pages about their project:
11 June 2005
31 May 2007
04 June 2009
24 June 2009
06 June 2010
Jelte and Stef in 2010 (click here)
Jelte and Stef in 2009 (click here)
Jelte and Stef in 2008
Jelte and Bert in 2007 (click here)
Jelte with two students in 2006
Jelte met Peter Blokker in 2005 (click here)

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20110519 21:00: counting geese in LYR

counting geese in longyearbyen

19 May 2011 21:00

You can clearly see the pink feet from close distance as the Pink-footed geese have gathered on small spots with no ice or snow cover.
Some of the best vegetated open spots can eb found in the village Longyearbyen. Geese have little alternative and are easily approached.
I am staying for 2 days in Longyearbyen for a meeting about SIOS. I skipped dinner to spend an evening with two students counting the arriving geese in Adventdalen. We count 83 Barnacle geese and 1335 Pink-footed geese close to the road. We also observe some individual marks: (Barnacle goose have coloured legrings: green XVN; orange DSZ; green ZVI - Pink-footed geese have coloured neckbands: white H43; blue T40; white I41; white O13). In my lectures I explain students why geese migrate north to breed. Seeing the hostile environment, I almost start to doubt my own line of reasoning.

<--Odd Helge Tunheim (right) en Camille Posocco (left) take me on their goose count. They will count geese every other day for the next weeks.

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20110407 10:30: goose team

goose team

7 April 2011 10:30

The 2011 team seems ready. These people will study ecology of barnacle geese. We will focus on plant-animal interaction, diet selection and food quality.
Suzanne Lubbe Dagmar Egelkraut Elspeth Kolvoort Maarten Loonen Qi Zhao

A short presentation of all individual plans:
Suzanne LubbeSuzanne has studied earlier diet choice of goslings with microscopic analysis.
Dagmar EgelkrautDagmar will study the trophic mismatch. How has the optimal timing of geese and their food plants shifted with climate change?
Elspeth KolvoortElspeth can analyse species composition of mosses with molecular techniques.
Maarten LoonenMaarten will supervise all science and collect dataloggers from geese which have been attached to the ring and have logged the position during migration.
Qi ZhaoWe have started a new cooperation with the Chinese station and Qi will study quality of foodplants.

unfortunately, Qi did not receive a Chinese grant to come to the Arctic. We have to postpone this collaboration.

Wat will we do?
Observations on grazing geese, collecting goose droppings and plant material for diet analysis, grow food plants at various temperatures, allow geese in previous exclosed areas, change dataloggers on geese.

More information on the people staying in the Netherlands Arctic Station can be found here.


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20110401 13:30: Edgeøya

Edgeøya

1 April 2011 13:30

Netherlands Expedition to east-Svalbard, Edgeøya

A scientific expedition to the Arctic. From July 30 till August 13 2012 we sail with a cruise boat to the eastern side of Svalbard and circumnavigate several times the island Edgeøya. The boat is filled with scientists and students from the Netherlands, which will run their scientific programs. In total there is room for 100 people.

We will investigate the human footprint in one of the last remote wilderness areas. It is a place with rapid changes due to recent warm periods with earlier disappearing sea ice.

More than 25 years ago, the island has been focus for ecological studies by Dutch scientists. We will disclose all the old data and collect new data. The new expedition is bigger and multi-disciplinary. Details can be found on http://www.sees.nl

Screenshot of the website http://www.sees.nl

Map of Edgeøya, published in a book by the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen.


Left: latest news about the sees expedition via twitter

A collection of reindeer skulls collected on Edgeøya in the seventies.


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20110321 12:00: panorama

Panorama

21 maart 2011 12:00

Since March 21, daylength is longer on Spitsbergen than in Europe. Every day daylength increases with 20 minutes until the whole day has sunlight after April 25. Here the panorama is saved at several specific moments. The actual view can be seen here.

2011-04-07 09:00

2011-05-11 12:03

2011-06-01 11:05

2011-06-19 11:05

2011-06-25 10:30

2011-07-18 20:30


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20100815 04:28: guided tour

Guided tour

15 August 2010 04:28


The Netherlands Arctic Sation on Spitsbergen has upgraded by moving from london 2 to london 4. It is time for a guided tour.


My last field days are spend to move from Londoin 2 to London 4. Te first autumn snow has given me some time because vegetation studies are impossible. And the environment has a proper arctic atmosphere to make a nice video. So now sleep for me on my last night.
Flying the Dutch flag.
To the left London 3, right London 4.

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20100812 21:33: grazing geese

Grazing geese

12 August 2010 21:33


The presence of the arctic fox has kept the geese away from the den. Now when the season ends, it is the only remaining place with abundant grass. The geese face the danger and dare to come close.
The geese are restless. They peck enomous fast but also interact and chase competitors away. The families mingle and it is difficult to obtain proper family size. So I made a video. Suddenly all geese run towards the lake but it is a false alarm. No fox.....yet.

This video gives a good impression about our obervations. Note the ringed geese in the flock.


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20100811 16:03: fossile shells

Fossile shells

11 August 2010 16:03


Simon Troelstra and his wife Syta come searching for fossile shells. In this video he explains why he finds these molluscs above sea level.
Ten thousand years ago, the glacier disappeared at this location. The bare bed rock was quickly covered with silt and a rich layer of molluscs established. Later, this was covered with more cobbles and silt, but the beach also moved higher now the weight of the glacier had disappeared. Nowadays there are terraces upto ten metres above sea level, where fossile shells can be found.

At home Simon studies the annual growth lines in the shells and takes minute samples to look at isotopic composition. Together with the foraminifera in the soil, this will tell him about the holocene environment.

The first sites are close to town. The fjord front is a raised beach and we find many shell fragments. While burrying the sewage pipes, many shells were moved to the surface.

The second site is near the marine laboratory. Twenty years ago this coastline was moved inwards to gain stones for the harbour quay. Now it is a nice profile with shells in the proper layer.
In front of the station Attacked on the tundra
Near Gasebu the shells are found in another situation. Here the shells are brought to the surface by permafrost action.

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20100807 17:46: polar bear bag

Polar bear bag

7 August 2010 17:46



Hans and Michael near the bag which was judged as a polar bear on first encounter.
Outside the village, we are always on our guard to watch for polar bears. Today we start with seven persons for a trip west of town. After one hour we divide in two groups and Michael and Hans stay behind. But within 15 minutes, they call us on the radio. There is something white on the horizon. Even through my telescope, I cannot judge the nature of this new white thing on the tundra and we decide for safety first. Hans and Michael join us on our trip and leave their original plan and "the white thing" alone.

When we return in the end of the afternoon, the white thing is still there. We decide for a check. It appears to be a bag full of silt, which had resulted from coring. The core was made to check the soil profile for bedrock and suitability to build a radio telescope.

At least we are happy that we have acted safely.


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20100807 14:00: white whales

White whales

7 August 2010 14:00

Pausing on the clif at Ossian Sars, a pod of beluga whales is passing me. From this ventage point I can even see them move under water. They turn, spin and make bubbles.

This movie is a bit longer to give you a feeling of animal behaviour.

Click on the picture to the left to start the video. Maybe you need to install a plugin player for YouTube video's.


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20100807 12:22: lepidurus

lepidurus

4 August 2010 19:00

In Storvatnet, Elise discovered wonderful small creatures. This is Lepidurus arcticus, an important food for arctic char.

pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100806 09:18: goose catch

goose catch

6 August 2010 09:18

Our major goose catch in Ny-Ålesund with the students from the UNIS course AB201 arctic ecology. We caught 70 adults and 50 goslings.
measuring midwing removing a datalogger processing of goose blood
posing with geese Sylvi Lundgren and Elise Biersma

pictures Elise Biersma facebook album, video Maarten Loonen

A video so you can hear the goose sounds.

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20100804 19:00: swimming with whales

swimming with whales

4 August 2010 19:00

Elise was preparing for a diving trip when beluga's were swimming towards the boat. Thomas and Elise went swimming with them. The whales were very close, with sounds and bubbles but stayed invisible under water.

pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100804 13:30: mushrooms

Mushrooms

4 August 2010 13:30


Machiel is a mycologist collecting mushrooms for the Netherlands National Herbarium. His colleguae Jozsef Geml studies genetic variation of fungi based on DNA. Together they are collecting as many species as possible for a reference collection.

click on the picture above to start the video

For every species, they collect several individuals from different sites. The mushrooms are photographed, numbered and stored. The mushrooms are placed under various angles for each picture so you can see both top and bottom side of the fruit body. This facilitates proper identification based on photographs.

Website of Machiel: www.entoloma.eu
Personal profile of Machiel and Jozsef on this website.

Which species is this?
On our way to Ossian Sars.
Some harvest

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20100804 11:39: mosses

Mosses

4 August 2010 11:39


In the Arctic, mosses are often dominant in the vegetation. Michael Stech is bryologist and visits the station for the third year together with his colleague Hans Kruijer. Today, Michael is making an inventory on Ossian Sars. Hans could not join because British safety rules allow only four people in their boat.

klik op bovenstaand plaatje zodat de video start

Species characteristics are not always clear but bar-coding is a new technique which allows species recognition based on DNA. The first step is however to connect a species to each DNA-sample. Together with their students Elspeth Kolvoort and Comstantijn Mennes they collect mosses.

Earlier weblog items on Micheal and Hans:
   mosses 14 July 2008 16:28
   moss clif 3 July 2009 16:00
   national herbarium 2 August 18:21

Personal profile of Michael Stech, Hans Kruijer, Elspeth Kolvoort and Constantijn Mennes on this website.

What a landscape.....
On top of the bird clif
The collection, a table full of convoluten, as they call their envelopes.

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20100803 14:52: rare grass

rare grass

3 August 2010 14:52

Inger Alsos, a plantecologist with whom I studied geese many years ago, is looking for a rare endemic grass, which is only collected once on Spitsbergen: Puccinellia svalbardensis. Together we go searching on Sigirdholmen. It is a quest, but she knows what to search for and finds nine senescing tussocks on a muddy outcrop. Gees would not graze there, so the suggestion for a goose grazing ban is not neccessary. A little bit of the plants is collected for further taxonomic and molecular analysis.

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20100802 23:50: fishing

fishing

2 August 2010 23:50

A fishing trip to Laksebu with Bendik. It is a good fishing day. They catch giant arctic char.

pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100802 18:21: national herbarium

national herbarium

2 August 2010 18:21

To teams of the National Herbarium of the University of Leiden are here for 11 days to collect mosses and mushrooms for taxonomic DNA analysis.
Bryologists Michael Stech, Hans Kruijer, Elspeth Kolvoort and Constatijn Mennes (from left to right). Mycologists Jozsef Geml and Machiel Noordeloos.

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20100801 18:10: to the top

to the top

1 August 2010 18:10

Elise makes a walk with Phill and Thomas to the top of the Zeppelin mountain, south of the village. Spectacular scenery, with a view on Ny-Ålesund and the surrounding glaciers.
On the top, they meet a ptarmigan, rarely seen in town.

pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100731 12:05: ministry of foreign affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

31 July 2010 12:05

High North Study Tour is visiting town. This is an annual Norwegian cruise to interest international policy makers for the Arctic. From the Netherlands, Simon Smits is one of the guests. He works in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as deputy director general for European cooperation and director Environment, Water, Climate and Energy.

The Ministery of Foreign Affairs is cordinating the Netherlands Polar Strategy and the Arctic Centre plays an active role in representation of the Netherlands.

We make photo's in front of the station. Note his wooden shoes.


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20100730 21:00: white winter foxes

White winter foxes

30 July 2010 21:00

Roger Jakobsen, director of Kings Bay, has made some pictures of two foxes near the den on 21 April 2010. Together we indentify the markings of the foxes. Both foxes named Thomas and Randi were at the den together.

I have placed the photo's on the website, so you can see the difference in fur. Not only the color but also the thickness is very different.

Pictures Roger Jakobsen


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20100730 04:43: puppy catch

Puppy catch

30 July 2010 04:43

Success! All puppies are marked again. This is the first time that the puppies have the same colour in both ears. They are extremely heavy. In 2006 and 2009 I caught the foxes at approx. the same date and they weighed on average 1376 g, more than 300 g less than this year (avg=1696 g). This does not seem an effect of age because the puppies did appear for the first time on 22 June 2010. Previous years the first appearance dates were 26 June 2006, 25 June 2007, 25 June 2008 and 23 June 2009.

Puppies caught
number left ear right ear size sex hind leg body mass name catch moment
26 yellow 88 yellow 89 juvenile male 12.4 cm 1648 g Bendik 28/07/2010 00:45
27 blue 209 blue 208 juvenile male 11.0 cm 1786 g Jakub 28/07/2010 01:54
28 red 110 red 111 juvenile female 11.0 cm 1654 g Elise 30/07/2010 04:43


Adult marked foxes observed in 2010
number left ear right ear sex name origin present den location
7 green yellow 11 female Randi mother, born in 2006, parent in 2008, 2009 and 2010 Ny-Ålesund London 3
24 black red 112 male Thomas son of Randi, born in 2009 Ny-Ålesund London 3
20 blue green male Simon father, born in 2008 Krikjefjellet

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20100729 21:23: grubbing geese

Grubbing geese

29 July 2010 21:23

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album

During our goose count, we find at Stuphallet a grubbing site. Pinkfooted Geese have been removing a moss layer in early spring to feed on roots and rhizomes.

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20100729 16:00: kvadehuken

Kvadehuken

29 July 2010 16:00

Kvadehuken is a Dutch name meaning "bad corner". It is the beautiful tip of the peninsula. A large plane with a desolate landscape. Patterned ground and a few lakes. Thomas and Elise have seen quite some geese in this area and today I go counting them together with Elise. To read the rings of the geese, I dress myself as a stone. We count 189 adult geese including 10 families with in total 20 goslings.
Vegetated plots on the stone plain An old runway of an airport. Polygons or stone circles. The effect of running and freezing water in the permafrost.
Green spots on the stones called skua mounts. Usually started with a carcass of a reindeer which provides shelter and nutrients enough to start a vegetation. Skua's use the small mounts as view point and add with their faeces to the nutrients. Below a skua mount with arctic skua.

Pictures above Elise Biersma facebook album, below Maarten Loonen


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20100729 14:40: bird cliff

Bird cliff

29 July 2010 14:40

Uria lomvia is the Latin name of this species. In English it has two different names: Thick-billed Murre in America or Brnnich's Guillemot in Europe. It lays an egg on a ledge without making any nest. The young leave the ledge when they are feathered but cannot fly. They sail down from the clif and go with the parents to the fishing grounds where cold and warm water layers mix. This jumping is an adaptation to cut the costs of food transportation for the parents. It is also very dangerous and that is why the chicks synchronize the jump. The jumping is a whole spectacle. Foxes eat all young which don't make to the sea.

The portrait Elise made of the guillemot is impressive. So smooth and with a beautiful line behind the eye.

The kittiwakes are doing well. Several nests have two young per nest. The kittiwakes have a nest on the ledge. Some of these nests are becoming higher every year.

In close-up, there is a red ring around the eye.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100728 23:01: amundsen-nobile tower

Amundsen-Nobile tower

28 July 2010 23:01

On the hil between the lakes Storvannet and Tvillingvannet, the Italians have build a new research infrastructure: a climate change tower. 32 meters high with many platforms for atmospheric and ground measurements. This structure will provide data for the atmospheric gradient between the surface and the air above it and fill a gap in present climate models.
Project website

On the left you can see in the background the atmospheric measurement station on the top of the Zeppelin mountain 474 meter above sea level. This is a nice example of combined measurements and research infrastructures in this village.

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20100728 18:10: fjord count

fjord count

28 July 2010 18:10

The number of geese in the fjord is declining since the arctic fox is denning near the most grazed lake Solvatnet. Today Elise and I go on a trip and count all geese in the whole fjord. We visit all islands and shores. This year the total number of barnacle geese is 375 adults, 103 families with in total 229 goslings and this is again lower than in the previous year.
photo Maarten loonen
  This is a good example of a comparison between my photography skills and those of Elise. At the same moment, I took the small picture, Elise the big one above.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100728 00:30: trap happy

trap happy

28 July 2010 00:30

Some nice pictures of the puppies who are close to the trap.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100727 10:10: retrap fox Thomas

Retrap male fox Thomas

27 July 2010 10:10

Similar to last year, the first fox caught is an adult son of the previous year. This is Thomas, He has in the left left ear black and right ear red markings. His weight is 2516 gram and his hind leg 11.5 cm.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100726 17:15: murder

Murder

26 July 2010 17:15

During dinner Elise observes wing flapping on the lake Solvatnet. It appears to be a Great Skua drowning a goose. At the picture above, the goose is dead and the skua is eating. At 20:00 we find the carcass on the shore. It is an unringed moulting adult.

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20100724 22:00: goose catch Longyearbyen

Goose catch Longyearbyen

24 July 2010 22:00

As soon as the geese are caught, we start building an extra pen to hold the goslings. You can see the goslings among the geese. Christiaane is proceesing the blood.

How to turn an opportunity in a goose catch. I was travelling north, Thomas, Jouke, Eva and Siets were travelling south. We all would meet in Longyearbyen were I have been ealier catching barnacle geese. Those were moulting non-breeders who made a moult migration to the lake Isdammen. Now we go for the local families. Christiaane Hbner is contact person in Longyearbyen. At 19:30 hour, we gather at the polar bear sign on the road to Isdammen. The goose families are grazing on the east side of the road. They run the wrong direction when we try to bring them on the water of Isdammen. Two people in survival suits assist bringing the geese on land. We start ringing, measure biometrics, sexing, blood sampling and weighing. Everyone has a task. Special help from Jesper and René, old friends and also goose specialists. Two hours after mid night, we have ringed 92 geese.

We gather near the polar bear sign. Everyone has a task. 04:00 Jouke returns the canoes to

Thanks to all participants. You were a fantastic team.
Eva WoltersNetherlandsExpedition Nordenskildkystenherding and holding geese for blood sampling
Jouke PropNetherlandsExpedition Nordenskildkystenherding and blood sampling
SietsNetherlandsExpedition Nordenskildkystengoose weighing
Thomas OudmanNetherlandsNy-Ålesund travelling southcanoe and swapping for virusses
Maarten LoonenNetherlandsNy-Ålesund travelling northmeasuring and coordination
Christiaane HbnerNorway, born in GermanySSF and LOFF Longyearbyencar assitance, blood processing and ringing
Jesper MadsenDanmarkresearcher Pinkfooted Gooseherding and sexing
René van der WalUK, born in Netherlandspolar ecologistherding, ringing and blood processing
Helen JewelUKfield assistant NPIgoose weighing
Magda ChudzinskaPolandfield assistant NPIdata writing
Lukasz UlbrychPolandfield assistant NPIringing assistance and data writing
Tiina KilpelinenFinlandUNIScarrying geese around
Hanna-Kaisa LakkaFinlandUNIS master student studying Lepidurusblood sampling
Hanne PilskogNorwayUNIS, master on insects in bird nestsholding geese for blood sampling
Teija PesiFinlandSecuritas / Svalbardbutikkencarrying geese around
Henrik NygardFinlandUNIS Ph.D. student studying amphipodscatching geese in pen
Eike MllerGermany, now NorwayUNIS Ph.D. botany helped with arranging the canoesherding in canoe
Sanja ForsstromNorwayNPI research assistantherding in canoe

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20100721 11:00: little creatures

Little creatures

21 July 2010 11:00

Today, Elise is processing her insect samples. Under magnification these little creatures become beautiful. Purple spring tails, red moss mites and many others.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100718 17:30: hello fox

Hello fox

18 July 2010 17:30

Mother of this season is Randi, the same as in 2008 and 2009. Born in 2006, she gave birth to 7, 3 and 3 young in the den were she was born herself. We never observe a male near the den. The father is probably to much afraid for the village or the many tourists who take pictures in front of our house.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100716 20:15: fueling

Fuelling

16 July 2010 20:15

There are at least two dog teams in the village. They train during summer behind cars and bikes. Elise went for a trip with Sébastien. Halfway they are fuelling the car and the dogs.

Pictures Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100715 10:26: gosling experiment in NL

gosling experiment in NL

15 July 2010 10:26

Cecilia is doing well with her goslings. She raises them on the Westplaat Goerree Overflakkee. Nina, her best friend is visiting from Sweden and is helping here. Every week they measure growth of the goslings and collect a blood sample. In the rest of the week they perform various behavioural tests and enjoy the goslings on their swim.

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20100713 23:45: trip: Camp Zoe

Trip: Camp Zoe

13 July 2010 22:00

The last trip with Brge Moe. Again a year with a wonderful cooperation which we all enjoyed. We make the goodbye special with a trip to Camp Zoe in Crossfjorden. A our way we meet a minky whale and some fog. The hut is romantic, built in 1911 with a note on the wall from 1957 and a grouse foot next to it.

foto's Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100713 18:26: canada goose catching in NL

Canada Goose catching in NL

13 juli 2010 18:26

In the Netherlands, we collect blood from breeding geese for our research into the role of diseases and parasites in bird populations. This project BIRDHEALTH focusses on arctic breeding birds, but we use temperate breeding geese for comparison.
Today, Berend Voslamber is catching Greylag geese in the province of Groningen. We start at 6 in the morning at a site very close to my home. The picture is from the second site at the Schildmeer. Janwillem, my son is helping us during the day and shown on the right of the picture.

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20100713 10:35: arctic tern

Arctic tern

13 July 2010 10:35

Arctic tern are doing good until now, despite the presence of a fox den with three puppies. An umbrella helps during nest check as a force field against shitting terns.

foto's Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100712 23:05: Soil pertubation

Soil pertubation

12 July 2010 23:05

Just outside the village, the ground water runn off has created a kind of pingo. The soil breaks open, pushed up by a big amount of growing ice.

foto's Elise Biersma facebook album


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20100711 20:00: World champion football?

World championship footbal

11 July 2010 19:00

In the Netherlands Arctic Station, there is a full drawer with orange clothing. In case there is something to celebrate, Today, the Netherlands is playing a final for the world championship in South Africa. All people living in the station are prepared.

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20100710 11:35: Polar bear on Storholmen

Polar bear on Storholmen

10 July 2010 11:35

We are always prepared in case we meet a polar bear. Today Elise and Brge meet a polar bear on Storholmen just before their landing. Luckily they are save in their boat. I don't know anything more. I took these pictures from the facebook page of Elise Biersma. There seem to be two polar bears in the fjord.

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20100705 09:03: barnacle goose catching in NL

Barnacle Goose catching in NL

5 July 2010 09:03

In our research project we compare Barnacle Goose populations breeding in temperate areas (Netherlands) and in the Arctic (Spitsbergen). These populations are the northern and the recent southern limit of the breeding range. At the Krammerse Slikken, Cecilia Sandstrm and me join Henk van der Jeugd, Berend Voslamber, people from Staatsbosbeheer and volunteer bird ring readers. We take blood samples of the geese caught.
The code rings are different in the Netherlands than on Spitsbergen. On Spitsbergen we have one plastic ring with 2 or three characters. In the Netherlands the bird gets two plastic rings with only one character inscription.
Another team effort with many friendly people helping.

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20100627 12:48: EPOCA team

EPOCA team

27 June 2010 12:48

EPOCA is the project with most researchers in town. Today they make a group picture.

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20100622 18:00: tourist guide

Tourist guide

22-28 June 2010

For the first time in 20 years, I join a tourist boat for a complete cruise. It is a special trip for newspaper readers and focussing on changing climate. For me it is the first time to travel north of Kongsfjorden. Our boat is the Plancius of Ocean Wide Expeditions. On board 85 tourists and special lecturers: Louwrens Hacquebord, geographer and archeologist. He is my team leader at the Arctic Centre in Groningen and is a specialist on whaling and the arctic.
Jelte Rozema, botanist with projects in the Arctic and Antarctic. Heleen de Coninck, member of the negotiation team for COP-meetings on climate change. Salomon Kroonenberg, geologist and climate change critic. Judges the current changes as irrelvant in earth history. Maarten Loonen (that is me) ecologist and station leader of the Netherlands Arctic Station. Rinie van Meurs and Jan Belgers are the most experienced Dutch expedition leaders in Spitsbergen. Daan Vreugdenhil has done a lot of guiding since he worked for me as a student.
When the passengers arrive on board, there is a safety drill and the next day we walk on the tundra close to a surging and a retreating glacier.
Smeerenburg is a special place for people from the Netherlands. It has been a 17th century whaling settlement. Louwrens tells stories about the few remains of blubber ovens, houses and graves. On our landing beach we meet the first whalrus.


The expedition leader knows a good spot to observe polar bears. A whale carcass was stranded last year. In the neighbourhood, we discover 9 polar bears of which there were 3 cups. The picture of the bears and the backbone of the whale is impressive.
In the north east of Spitsbergen, we visit Sorgfjorden, were Dutch whalers tried to escape from French pirate warships. There is a lot of snow and we walk on snow shoes. I make a picture of myself. The present national poem Ramsey Nasr is among the guests and makes notes as we go. While on land, a crew member is evacuated from the ship by helicopter. He has a nasty infection on his hand which needs hospitalisation.


The last day, we visit Kongsfjorden. From 17th century whaling, we move to 20th century industry and recent science. When we land in Ny-Ålesund at noon, many people are still sleeping after the mid summer party the evening earlier. I host the flag at the Netherlands Arctic Station and tell my guests about our work.
And this ends an interesting trip with many lectures and impressive landings.

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20100622 13:31: Ny-Aalesund symposium

Ny-Ålesund symposium

22 juli 2010 13:31

The Ny-Ålesund symposium is becoming a tradition. The Norwegian minister of science has invited guests to discuss climate change. Among the group are H.R.H. crownprince Hakon of Norway and Gro Harlem Brundtland.

More about the symposium on www.ny-aalesundsymposium.no.

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20100615 18:00: breeding island

Breeding island

15 June 2010

Today, I go and census the biggest breeding island for barnacle goose nests. reading rings and searching for geese which have been equipped with dataloggers for daylight on their rings. I count 173 goose nests among about 1000 eider ducks.

I want to show some impressions like the variation in nests. Nests surrounded by moss, droppings or a wall with grasses as result of many years of defaecating. Note also the differences in clutch size and amount of down.

Panorama's with long views under a cover of clouds is normal, but on a picture it becomes spectacular. I did not notice this until I viewed the picture (see left).
One of the three reindeer which stayed on the island when the fjord ice melted is curious and comes close.

The snow is covered with their winter droppings. They are black and wwarm faster from the sun than the sun-reflecting snow. This makes them melt through the snow.

Finally a grass area on the tundra with some close-ups of grass and the forest of Spitsbergen: small willow plants.
When we pack to return to the village after eight hours of censussing, we meet some curious seals. And again the cloud cover is spectacular.

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20100614 15:30: departure and arrival

Departure and arrival

14 June 2010 15:30

Goodbye by my wife Marion and daughter Willemijn My son Janwillem brings me to the train station At the airport in Oslo
In the plane to Ny-Ålesund Crossing the glaciers Brandalpynkten in Kongsfjorden

Approaching

The small plane flies over the village towards the airstrip. You can see the approach by pressing the links below:
  photo 2
  photo 3
  photo 4
  photo 5
  photo 6
  photo 1
After arrival I check out what is new. I see a fox with left black and right red earmarks. This fox is Thomas, ringed as a male pup in 2009 (see weblog 29 juli 2009). Marcus Schumacher has also seen Randi, the mother of Thomas. A group of twelve barnacle geese with two rings: yellow AJU and yellow ACL. I activate the inhabitants page and update the buildings page.

De Amundsen villa wordt gerestaureerd Het Sverdrupstation is nieuw geverfd
De werkplaats Snekkasjen is uitgebreid met een nieuwe vleugel

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20100611 12:38: greylag goose catching in NL

Greylag Goose catching in NL

11 June 2010 12:38

In the Netherlands, we collect blood from breeding geese for our research into the role of diseases and parasites in bird populations. This project BIRDHEALTH focusses on arctic breeding birds, but we use temperate breeding geese for comparison.
Here I am joining Berend Voslamber, who travels for weeks along various Greylag breeding sites to ring geese with neck collars. I started in 1988 this project. Now there is a large ringing effort to support local management decisions. This greylag goose has received a neck collar and is weighed. Sightings by observers are reported to the site www.geese.org.

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20100607 11:54: creating ocean acidification

preparing mesocosms together
reindeer grazing for our house
Corina Brussaard and Anna Noordeloos are here from the NIOZ, Texel to perform research on microorganisms (what are the concentrations and how well do they grow and how fast do they die due to grazing and viral infection) within the EU-project EPOCA. With about 35 other scientists do they perform research on the effects of ocean acidification for the functioning of the marine ecosystem. This will be done using huge so called mesocosms of 17 m heigth and more than 50 cubic meter content. The research runs her in Kings Bay runs from end of May until half of July. From 17 June Harry Witte and Merel Collenteur will take over. A weblog is maintained for Vara Vroege Vogels (in Dutch).

Greenpeace helped on the project and made the following movie:

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20100606 20:10: warming the tundra

Jelte Rozema and Stef Weijers
Jelte Rozema (left) and Stef Weijers (right) in front of London 2. From 3 til 7 June, they stayed in the Netherlands Arctic Station to install the equipment for their long-term experiment. They place small greenhouses (open top chambres) on the tundra and monitor the reaction of the woody plants. Their research has been described earlier in this weblog:
Eerdere weblogs waarin hun onderzoek aan bot kwam zijn:
20050611 start of the season 2005
20090604 opening
20090624 open top kamers with video

The tundra was still partly covered with snow as you can see from the webcam of the Sverdrup station at Zeppelin mountain (picture to the left). Five experimental warming plots could not be accessed. I will build these next week, when I am staying one week in the station.

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20100605 10:13: Anne is here

Anna de Kluijver Anna in survival suit
Anna de Kluijver is from the Netherlands Institute for Ecology and is also working in the EPOCA project. She keeps a Dutch weblog at Vara's Vroege Vogels. arctic fox

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20100525 14:30: gosling experiment in the Netherlands

Gosling experiment in The Netherlands

In 2010, we repeat the 2008 gosling experiment from Spitsbergen, but now in the Netherlands. From sampling goslings during ringing, we know that goslings grow slower in the Netherlands compared to Spitsbergen and also they do have more antibodies in the Neterlands.\ We hypothesize that the goslings encounter more pathogens in The Netherlands while grazing in an area which is grazed by the geese all year round. We can monitor captive goslings intensively and hope to prove ourt hypothesis.
The goslings are collected in the wild population in the Netherlands. This population expands explosively as the fastest increasing breeding bird in the Netherlands. Today the population is of equal size than the Barnacle Goose population on Spitsbergen. We visit de westplaat with Staatsbosbeheer and the Scheelhoek with Natuurmonumenten. In both areas we have to wade in deep water.
For two weeks the goslings stay at the Biological Centre in Haren. They become imprinted and graze daily on the field where the captive group of geese also feeds. Click on the pictures below to start youtube video's.
Right from hatch, the goslings learn to follow Cecilia. Shej is their mother.

Click on the picture above to start a youtube video.

During the weekend the goslings stay during the day in my garden.

Click on the picture above to start a youtube video.


Below pages from 2008 when we had a gosling experiment on Spitsbergen.

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080807, 16:00
imprinted goslings

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080803, 20:15
immune activity

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080801, 20:09
covered

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080722, 02:35
playing animals

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080721, 18:18
goslings

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080713, 15:30
gosling care

weblog

click on the picture for more details
20080705, 21:05
mother goose
 


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20090807 12:00: UNIS catch with polar bear

UNIS catch with polar bear

7 August 2009 12:00

It has become a good tradition that UNIS course AB201 is joining us for a goose catch. With 16 extra helping hands and a large boat to our disposal, we can try an ambitious catch at Storholmen (other web log entries from the UNIS course visiting:
2006 storholmen catch,
2007 lecturing,
2007 herding geese and
2007 storholmen catch).
landing all equipment and people setting up the net kayaks on the water

The hunt is on. We walk with a larg group along the beach and I direct small groups of students to different places to put the geese to the water. The kayaks and zodiac herd the geese along the coast towards the net. Fokje passes a seal resting on a stone on 4 meter distance. It is a great succes. During the hunt, we let a few families escape, because we have a lot of geese already.

In the end phase, the two kayaks are left and right of the goose flock appraching the beach and the zodiac is speeding up in between the kayaks. The geese run on the beach towards the net.
People ruunning along the waterline close off the escape route and push the geese in the cage at the end of the net.
separating the goslings from the adults Anouk Elise the blood processing unit
I am measuring and ringing and the students learn how to sample blood. We have processed all adults and one third of the goslings when.....

Polar bear!

We had two polar bear guards on top of the beach, but the captain of the boat warns us via the radio. He was watching us from his boat and saw the polar bear behind us on the next island Midtholmen. The bear walks over the island and goes in the water. It swims to Obervasjonsholmen. There is no discussion. UNIS protocols and my own guidelines are very clear. The students are immedeately send to the boat. We release all geese and goslings (even the unringed ones). While someone is keeping a constant watch on the bear, we break-up the net and pack our equipment. The bear is not approaching and we have cleaned the beach in 30 minutes. While Fokje and Anouk kayak to the boat, escorted by a motorboat with Thomas and Elise, Janwillem gives them some extra speed by telling that they have to hurry because the bear is approaching.
Me measuring in the background, Thomas is supervising three students  
Anouk made all the pictures and this video.

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20090806 16:00: Mars analog

Mars analog

6 August 2009 16:00

The Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition ( AMASE) is staying in Ny-Ålesund to test equipment for a future mission to Mars.
The mission will focus on the search for extra terrestrial life. The group is testing payloads which analyse minerals and gasses. Today they were testing a rover, which is similar to one which is at the moment moving on Mars. The driver of this vehicle on Mars was now commanding it on a field at the end of the runway.
It was interesting to see this. Slow but exact movements by the rover and the arm.
The scientists have chosen a stone which is the present target and the rover needs to make a close up picture and than take the stone into the sciencelab on board.

alternative website AMASE

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20090805 18:00: Friends from Japan

Friends from Japan

5 August 2009 18:00

Today, I visited the Japanese station where biologists were studying the vegetation in front of the Austre Brggerbreen. It was a nice visit. They were very interested in the effect of grazing on the vegetation and I gave a small excursion along my exclosures in town. Ayaka and Ken also made a nice contribution in a video for my STREETVIEW.
From left to right: Ayaka Kishimoto, Takeshi Motokha, Maarten Loonen and Kentaro Hayashi

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20090805 10:00: proud

Proud

5 August 2009 10:00

I am a very proud man. Privelaged with the whole Dutch team and especially with my son who is 15 years old and a good helping hand and my wife and daughter, who can cope with me being away and are very supportive. Today, I had an extra reason to be proud. After three years of lobbying and some powerful help from Kings Bay and the Norwegian Polar Institute, Ny-Ålesund has appeared on Google Earth. Inspired by the NASA-team, which used Google Earth for their flight evaluation, I had build my owm kml-file with my own STREETVIEW data. My personal victory was the appearance of my streetview exactly on the streets.

You can download my STREETVIEW in Google Earth on this page.

Don't fortget to look to the [hotspots] and the video's. They will learn you some details behind the scene.

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20090804 11:00: arctic collector items

arctic collector items

4 August 2009 11:00


Regularly, people send us special letters with the request to return them stamped with special stamps of the station. They send a letter to Postboks 0, N-9173 Ny-Ålesund, Norway and enclose a return letter with postage. To accomodate these requests we have made a special stamp with our logo.

Every year between 1 July and 15 August, we will return properly prepared envelopes with our stamps. Apply proper posting for airmail in Norwegian stamps.
For an example from my weblog: click here.


This letter was send 16 augustus 1958 by the Dutch journalist and writer Jan P. Strijbos from Ny-Ålesund to the editor of his national newspaper in Amsterdam. The letter is part of the collection of Eddy De Busschere from Assebroek, Belgium.
Below there is also a card from 1930 or 1931, send from Spitsbergen. On this card is written (in Dutch): "On this card you can see the Dutch settlement". This has been Green Harbour, which was sold in 1932 to the Russians. Itis now known as Barentsburg.
A letter send to a collector.

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20090803 13:00: third goose catch: families

third goose catch: families

3 August 2009 13:00

Janwillem met kuiken The third goose catch is focussing on families of geese. Again, we catch on a foggy day, but we have good control over the flock with two canoes in the water and 6 people walking on land. Today we are helped by Jakub Zarsky.

Anouk en Thomas bring the geese with canoes to the net. Above you see Anouk with 62 adults anmd 56 goslings in one flock.
Janwillem is retrieving the geese from the small cages, where they are waiting for ringing. Here he waits to deliver a gosling.
release The release of the families. The goslings and the adults have been seperated because otherwise the goslings get pushed away to easy by the adults. Now the families can re-unite again. The geese are making a lot of sound to find eachother back.

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20090803 11:45: painting with fog

painting with fog

3 August 2009 11:45

  The view on the glaciers is spectaclar, but foggy days are special too.
Fog hides the mountains or erases part of them. The landscape is constantly changing.

The last two days I have taken these pictures. Despite the fog, the airplane could land three out of four flights, Most people could be transferred and at the reception desk I hear a deep breath of relief. Last week 34 people had to stay in town for more than two days longer than planned because of the fog.

Still the fog is beautiful.

The pictures for STREETVIEW were taken on a beautiful sunny day. Usually we make lots of pictures on those days and forget to take pictures on cloudy days. Returning home I often wondered if it had been only sunny weather.

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20090801 23:30: bar duty

bar duty

1 August 2009 23:45

Today, I am listed for bar duty. Together with Raymond Lynghaug and Janwillem. The Saturday night bar is one of the social events in town. Good discussions, music, dancing and drinking. All people staying longer periods have a bar duty during their stay.
Janwillem learns from his father how to mix a bloody mary. One measure vodka, a tin of tomato juice and a few droplets tabasco. The glass is topped with some glacier ice.
Dag and Raymond have retrieved the glacier ice from Blomstrand glacier. One big chunk which we have to break in smaller pieces using a hammer. Most people get one ice cube in their glass with a diameter of 5 centimeter.
The bar is open from 21 til 3 o'clock in the morning. Cleaning started at 3:30 and we are ready at 5:00. Luckily we are still in a night time rhythm. We had about 80 guests. With prices of NOK 15 for beer and NOK 20 for mixed drinks, we have a cash flow of 7000 NOK.
We all had lots of fun.

pictures: Anouk Goedknegt


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20090731 16:33: second non-breeder catch

second non-breeder catch

31 July 2009 16:33

The first catch were non-breeders at Solvatnet. Today we catch a group of non-breeders at Thiisbukta. We catch 33 adults of which 12 individuals are unringed. Ringing takes place in a boat house. It is a perfect use of a foggy day and we are helped by Phil Blaen and Stef Bokhorst. They are stranded for two days due to the fog.

Janwillem takes a few blood samples and carries geese around. Anouk is processing the blood, making smears and filling tubes.

Pictures: Fokje Schaafsma

Fokje Schaafsma Elise Biersma Stef Bokhorst Phil Blaen

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20090729 20:00: marking puppies

marking puppies

29 July 2009 20:00

first, we recatch an adult, Simon born here in 2008 trapped
The first catch is an adult fox: Simon (blue/green). Simon was born in this den in 2008 and has stayed with his mother. We don't know if he is the father of the pups. Simon is released after weighing and replacing his tag with a new one.

Directly after this, we catch the smallest of the two puppies. This is the dominant one, which always manages to have first choice of delivered food. It is a male. We tag the left ear with a black tag and the righ ear with a yellow tag with inscription 20.
It is more difficult to catch the bigger pup. She does enter the trap, but she is not pulling on the bait, but only licks it (as I would do too with Dutch peanutbutter). I attach a rope to the lever so i can close the trapdoor by pulling the rope. This has more succes.
Both foxes marked. let us see how they do over winter.

Caught foxes 2009
numberleft earright earsizesexhindlegbodymassname caught
20bluegreenadultmale 3130 gSimon29/7/2009 19:56
24blackred 112juvenilemale8.9 cm1000 gThomas29/7/2009 20:08
25blackyellow 20juvenilefemale10.3 cm1382 gLise30/7/2009 12:30

Observed adult marked foxes in 2009
numberleft earright earsizesexnameorigin
7greenyellow 11adultfemaleRandimother of pups, born and marked 2006
20blue 212greenadultmaleSimon;puppy in 2008, son of Randi

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20090724 15:30: NASA mission control

NASA mission control

24 July 2009 15:30

picture from www.ublogs.uma.es/charran   I wrote earlier about the NASA team with their remote plane. Today I visited their mission control at the hangar of Svalrak, the Norwegian rocket range. Kasia Wegrzyn gave me an impressive overview of their mission control. Guess what: it is all for view on google earth. Right now, I can see on my own computer in the Netherlands Arctic Station where the remote controlled airplane is going. With just 5 minutes delay. This is so impressive. Actual data from sensors on the airplane and satellite imagery of yesterdays ice cover are on view. I can just advice you to download and install google earth. Then download this file (casie.kml) and double click on it. You can see past and present missions. Clicking on the plane gives the latest information on position, altitude and direction. You can play around with satellite background pictures. We have a long way to go before we can show such thing with our migrating geese.

Here are some websites with relevant information:
NASA Press Release
NASA CASIE website
NASA CASIE Blog


to the left: mission control

mission control
google earth
The final landing of the CASIE mission in foggy weather.
More on: http://wiki.nasa.gov/cm/blog/CASIE

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20090724 13:00: ozone measurements

ozone measurements

24 July 2009 13:00

Every week, the German base is launching a balloon which measures ozone concentration while it soars to 35 kilometer altitude. There air pressure is only 7 hectopascal (compared to 1017 at ground level) and the balloon is almost ten times the size at ground level before it explodes and the payload drops back on earth as scientific waste, Data are transmitted back to the ground every seconde and averaged per 5 seconds. With an average climb of 5 meters per second, this averaged value accounts for 25 meter height.
The ozone concentration is receiving a lot of attention since the discovery of the so-called ozone hole in the antarctic. In the arctic, there is some depletion of ozone in early spring when the light returns, but by far not as dramatic as in the antarctic. At the atmospheric laboratory which is part of the Network for the Detection of Stratospheric Change (NDSC), there are several instruments measuring ozone, using different methods. The video to the left shows Marcus Schumacher while he launches the balloon.

Click on the picture to start this video. It might be that your browser asks permission to activate or install the reuired plugin


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20090723 18:30: sewage problems

Sewage problems

23 July 2009 18:30

The drainage of the sewage pipes is a long tragedy. There are always some problems with freezing or moving soil. Despite the efforts in previous years, this year the tundra in front of our house is destroyed for the third time in ten years, to gain access to the pipes. I has been a big mistake, not to plan this pipe inside the road, but to go for a straight connection over the tundra. On paper Ny-Ålesund is a green environment. In reality we look more like a gravel pit again. And again, we hope that this will be a permanent solution.
mission control

Here you can see the boxes, which contained the sewage and waterpipes in the old days. They are still in use along the road to the airport.


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20090722 21:00: ossian sars

Ossian Sars

22 July 2009 21:00

The day after the first goose catch and the day before Oebele returns home, we go with the whole team on a holiday trip. I am showing the team the bird cliff and the landscape around Ossian Sars. The bird cliff is full of nice and we are just a few meters away from the cliff nesting kittiwakes and guillemots. The video to the left will provide the sounds but not the smell at this place.

After this experience we continue from the sea side to the glacier side of the mountain ridge. Again a spectacular view, but now over the ice cap.
foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt
foto Anouk Goedknegt After a spectacular walk, climbing from the top of the bird cliff to a view over the ice cap, we return through a canyon back to our boats.

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20090721 18:00: non-breeder catch

Non-breeder catch

21 July 2009 18:00

foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

flightless geese are herded in a pen from netting

we caught as planned 21 non-breeders

putting geese in boxes

foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma In the beginning of July, non-breeding geese started moult. We catch this group of flightless birds by pushing them from a distance towards the net. The geese are kept in this pen to empty their intestines. After two hours, the geese are put into boxes to be processed.
foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

geese on my lap

cloacal sexing, searching for a penis

measuring the growing longest feather

foto Anouk Goedknegt foto Anouk Goedknegt The long black feathers from the wing have fallen off the bird. During moult the geese grow new flight feathers simultaneously. Here you can see the short wings, which are still unable to carry the bird in flight.
foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

measuring midwing

head length

turning the goose

foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

writing down all figures

repeating numbers aloud

oebele is learning

foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

trancheal swab

cloacal swab

swabs for testing avian influenza

foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Anouk Goedknegt

looking for the blood vessel

sampling blood

interest from China

foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma foto Elise Biersma

making a blood smear for differential white blood cell count

administration

blood stored for analysis

Oebele made a short video of the team processing the geese.

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20090720 13:00: fleas in the house

Fleas in the house

20 July 2009 13:00

  We are sampling insects and sorting the samples on family level. Elise shows some of this work in the video on the left.
 
  We build a arthropod extraction faciliy from a can and an incubator light to extract insects from eider down. The results is fascinating and jumping.

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20090719 11:30: streetview

Streetview

19 July 2009 11:30

  A virtual walk through Ny-Ålesund. You can click on arrows or the pictures and you will move through town. There are video's on several spots, which give you more information on the town. Blue arrows will move to the next page, green arrows show the major road.

[enter streetview]

There is much more information about Ny-Ålesund. See also the dynamic page: inhabitants of Ny-Ålesund, which shows people present in town at this moment. There is a game in relation to this page, which helps you to learn names.

The town will appear soon in Google Earth in higher resolution, thanks to Kings bay and the Norwegian Polar Institute.


The movies are placed on YOUTUBE and require to run ActiveX. This might require your permission and your browser could give a warning.


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20090716 14:00: geese on Mars

Geese on Mars

16 July 2009 14:00

After a bumpy boat trip with French cowboy Damien, we were dropped at Kvadehuk. Getting out of the boat safely was probably the hardest part as the waves were pretty high. While we tried to get out elegantly with all our stuff (which kind of failed), Phil tried to keep the boat from hitting the rocky beach by hanging on the side. When we were finally on shore safely, we had a chat with the mars people before we continued our journey to the lakes on the tip of the fjord to look for geese.
We found a couple of small groups and finally a larger group of about 45 geese. After reading rings we continued our way towards the hut over rocky plains, which looks flat at first sight but is really very hilly. At the hut we had a break and we saw the mars people again who were doing measurements. One of them came up to us to check if we were ok and if we needed a satellite radio. After lunch we started to go on our way back.

stone circles

our map with all kind of remarks from Maarten

We crossed a very divers landscape. A thick green moss carpet at the bird cliff Stuphallet and more stony planes. Finally we reached Ny-Ålesund, which did not look friendly in the fog but for us was a welcome end of a long walk.

Pictures and text: Anouk Goedknegt & Fokje Schaafsma


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20090716 10:00: studying planet Mars

Studying planet Mars

16 July 2009 11:00

When Fokje and Anouk were dropped-off at the far end of the Brogger peninsula, they met four Germans, known as the Mars people in Ny-Alesund. They study periglacial geomorphology. Which is a complicated word for all things built in the landscape by glaciers and ice, for example stonecirkels, stoneglaciers, poligons and peat hills. They hope to find similaritys with planet Mars although they have never been there.
Next year maybe, they said. Because Svalbard is too expensive. When Fokje and Anouk asked if they have seen geese around, they asked if it were tasty birds. The Mars people are: Ernst Hauber, DLR (Ernst.Hauber@dlr.de), Dennis Reiss, UNI Munster, Mike Zanetti, Uni Munster, Mathias Ulrich, AWI Potsdam.

Pictures and text: Fokje Schaafsma and Anouk Goedknegt


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20090714 20:30: ice thickness

ice thickness

14 July 2009 20:30

Sixteen Americans are staying in Ny-Ålesund to use a remote controlled small airplane to study ice thickness. The plane flies several hundreds of kilometers north. Ice thickness is calculated from the thickness of the ice above sea level. On board there is a payload with laser altimetry, radar and camera's.
The ice coverage can be viewed using satellite imigary. Sea ice thickness is more difficult to measure. There are mainly two ice types at the North Pole: first- and second year ice. Measuring the amount of each is essential for model calculations about it's disapearance.
The Americans come to Spitsbergen to fly their plane, because regulations make science flights north of Alaska to complicated. To much military spotting activities on either side of the border with Russia, to fly a science mission.

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20090714 13:00: minke whale

minke whale

14 July 2009 13:00

On their way to check hatching eider ducks, Elise and Brge encounter a minke whale close to the boat. You can recognize this species by the black colour and the simultaneous surfacing of the blow hole and the fin on the back.

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20090711 20:30: insect traps

insect traps

11 July 2009 20:30

Oebele went with Elise to empty and recharge the insect traps.

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20090711 18:00: snowbunting nestlings

snowbunting nestlings

11 July 2009 18:00

We have seen a snowbunting nest in the cliff under the airport. Oebele and Janwillem confirmed that the nest contains almost fledging snowbuntings. Six hours later, I go with them for a check, but the tide is high. Oebele gets a suit and carries me and Janwillem over the deepest parts of the coast.

Janwillem holds the ladder and I climb to the top. Five young snowbuntings try to hide, but my arm is just long enough.

The snowbuntings are really tiny compared with geese.
Together with Olga Dolnik, I have developed an interest in small parasites (coccidioses) in snow buntings. Olga has found and named a new species. Now, we want to study the diurnal release of coccidia. In the temperate region, songbirds do this mainly in the afternoon. How will this vary in constant light?

pictures (except the first two): Oebele Dijk


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20090711 12:30: dogs

dogs

11 July 2009 12:30

Nick Cox is eating his lunch in the sun in front of our station and I join him. Linda and Mette come and make a small chat. They have promised all dogs a nice walk this afternoon. The dogs are a mixture of greenlandic sledgedogs and huskies. They are not on a simple leash. The ladies were a belt and sometimes have to hang backward as much as they can to stop the dogs from running. Luckily it is a warm day and the dogs are quickly overheated.

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20090711 10:30: team picture

team picture

11 July 2009 10:30

Yesterday, we were all enjoying the evening sun. This morning the NERC station created a portrait of all inhabitants. And already at the beginning of the season, I took a picture of the crew of the Indian station. Here I show these pictures.
The Netherlands Arctic Station team (see also people.)
NERC station with Italian guests (for names see inhabitants.)

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20090710 17:00: catching skuas

skua catching

10 juli 2009 17:00

This week Thomas has been catching 5 pairs of Arctic Skua's with Børge. A GLS-logger was deployed on all ten birds, which will give Børge the opportunity to learn about where they are during the winter. The birds fly south to the South Atlantic Ocean or even the Southern Ocean, wandering at sea untill next spring. Their exact whereabouts are still largely unknown, but not for long! Børge and Thomas catch the birds using a loop of fish wire which they place around the nest of the Skuas, and a small remote controlled winch. When a Skua is on the nest, they push the button and the loop closes around the feet of the Skua. But this method is not always neccesary, the Skua that attacked Jan-Willem earliere could even be catched by hand. This Skua was an old male, with such great claws that a normal ring didn't even fit around its leg!
dark morph arctic skua weighing a skua

pictures and text: Thomas Oudman


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20090710 08:30: where is oebele?

where is oebele?

10 Juli 2009 08:30

Only a few days ago, we had warm days. I was bothered by the heat. Dressed too thick but also the air moved from the heat and ring reading was difficult. Now the weather has changed. Still litle wind, but a temperature drop and fog. Yesterday, the moss people from Leiden did manage to leave with only one hour of delay. But the next plane arrival, with our next guest, Oebele Dijk, was impossible. The plane circled above the fog and returned to Longyearbyen. This morning, it does not look any better. The airport is cloaked in fog. We and Oebele have to wait.
18:15 o'clock
Oebele has arrived
with a delay of 26 hours.

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20090709 20:00: new books

new books

9 Juli 2009 20:00

  A launch of two new books made by the artist Inger Johanne Nygren during her stay in Ny-Ålesund. The book of barnacle geese was finished this spring and is now on migration to Spitsbergen. During her present stay she made the second book and explains on the video to the left how it was done.
We are invited in the artist hut for a glas of wine. The books will be on display in Oslo in September.
The newest book is printed with recycled material on various types of paper. These are all installations and buildings in Ny-Ålesund.

Inger also designed the logo of the Netherlands Arctic Station.
print studio
the newest book amundsen mast london houses

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20090709 17:30: under attack

aangevallen

9 juli 2009 17:30

During a goose count, we are attacked by an arctic skua. The pair hangs above our head and makes a lot of noise. But than the attack starts. I am protected by a rifle sticking above my head, Fokje has a thick hat, but Janwillem is the victim. His hat is taken and he is hit on his head. Run!

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20090709 08:15: fleas

fleas

9 July 2009 08:15

At breakfast, Elise confronts me with an angry face. "I am bitten. Our whole hut is mad at you!
Tja.... I have build a down athropods extractor. A warm lamp should chase the insects out of the down, via a funnel into a glass of alcohol. But you have to be carefull with escape artists. And Elise will be more careful from now onwards.

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20090708 09:45: aphids

Aphids

8 July 2009 09:45

Already 4 years, a French team is studying aphids in the fjord. They visit all areas and make long hours behind binoculars. Time for a visit to learn about their research.
There are two species of aphids on Spitsbergen, one feeding on Dryas octopetala, the other on Salix polaris. The French team studies the species on Dryas, which has two colour morphs: brown and green. Kongsfjorden is the northern limit of their distribution.
The aphids have parasites and even these parasites are parasitized, making a four trophic level: plant-aphid-parasite-parasite of parasite. They also discovered the first individuals of this species who was winged.
On Spitsbergen, the aphid has three generations. The first gemeration emerges from eggs directly after snow melt. The second generation is produced asexual. The third generation is a mixture of asexual and sexual reproduction.
green aphid winged aphid parasitized aphid
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside aphids, which are eaten from the inside by the larvae. They showed us such a mummy, which was dead but you could see the movements of the larvae inside.
I also learned something about Dryas, the food plant. In autumn the leaves turn brown and dead, but the same leaf will become green again in the next summer. A beautiful adaptration to the harsh climate.

The team in 2009: Maurice Hullé, Jean Christophe Simon and Yannick Outreman.


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20090707 15:45: warm aquaria

warm aquaria

7 July 2009 15:45

Simon Morley is here for the second year to study temperature tolerance in marine invertebrates. He is showing Janwillem and me some of his aquaria, where he measures the respons of different species to a different speed of warming. It seems that not temperature but the maximum oxygen saturation is the major limitation for these creatures.
It is always intriguing how beautiful these animals are.

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20090705 00:30: walrus

walrus

5 July 2009 00:30

On a sunny night, Brge is inviting my students for a trip to the walrusses. It is a long trip but a wonderful experience. Two weeks ago there were 60 individuals. the number is much smaller but they snore and make dirty sounds.

pictures Elise Biersma


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20090704 16:00: measuring grass

Measuring grasses

4 July 2009 16:00

  Apart from bird ringing, Iam also measuring grasses. While sitting on my knees in the middle of town, many people ask what I am doing. In this video, I explain it all.

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20090703 16:00: moss cliff

Moss clif

3 July 2009 16:00

I am showing interesting moss vegetation to Hans Kruijer and Michael Stech of the National herbarium in Leiden. On the slope of the kittiwake colony, there is a lot to enjoy for them. Hans is afraid of heights and has returned, but Michael cannot get enough of it.

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20090703 14:00: bore holes

Bore holes

3 July 2009 14:00

  On the other side of Kongsfjord, there is the remains of a small village called Ny-London. In 1920, this town was build to produce marble from a local querry. The marble proved to be of poor quality and the company owning the town went bankrupt. What remains is the atmosphere from long ago, with many historical artefacts like steam engines.
The LASHIPA project of the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen has been mapping this town in 2008. Frigga Kruse has asked me to re-locate the bore holes and provide her with information on their depth and width.
This is a map of Ny-London made by the LASHIPA project.

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20090702 13:02: catching eiders

catching eiders

2 July 2009 13:02

The eider ducks are two weeks late this year, Brge has prolonged his stay and has assistant is from the Netherlands team. Today Anouk is joining him and Bendik makes the pictures.
The project is the Norwegian branch of BIRDHEALTH, focussing on the effect of pollutants from the body fat which become metabolized during incubation. You can see that Brge is a good teacher.

pictures: Bendik Halgunset


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20090701 19:00: tern island

Tern island

1 July 2009 19:00

In the village, the arctic fox is eating all tern eggs. On the island they have more success and have become a colony. A flock of terns is diving and shitting on me.

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20090701 18:00: all ringed

All ringed

1 July 2009 18:00

My ideal for research is to have all animals in this fjord individually marked. The feeling is there, when the great skua attacking us, shows his rings: blue ZP.

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20090701 17:00: fishing for goose

Fishing for goose

1 July 2009 17:00

We deployed a few geese with a position logger. We have to retrieve the logger to get to the data. We catch geese at the nest almost as fish. A small strap around the neck, a quick ring replacement and off to the nest again.

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20090701 16:00: coffee

Coffee

1 July 2009 16:00

Cofee break in the hut on Storholmen.

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20090701 15:00: model

Model

1 July 2009 15:00

Elise Biersma joined me on a nest check on Storholmen and she made me and my geese into glamourous models.
It is peak hatch on the islands. Wet goslings have just broken out of the egg, while dry goslings are ready to leave the nest.
Sometimes part of the goslings want to leave the nest on our approach. Here I re-unite the family.
Geese make pairs for life. Here you see how they share their emotions. All geese are ringed and we study the cooperation within the pair.

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20090630 22:45: crew

Crew

30 June 2009 22:45

the crew
We have taken our group picture in the snow in front of our station. From left to right: Hans Kruijer, Michael Stech, Anouk Goedknegt, Maarten Loonen, Elise Biersma, Fokje Schaafsma and Thomas Oudman.

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20090629 20:00: shit!

Arctic terns

29 June 2009 20:00

shit "Shit!" sounds over the tundra. It is not shit what has hit Thomas, but an arctic tern, who is defending its nest.
We keep track of nest survival (which is pretty low with a fox den in town) and Thomas was taking the GPS-position of this nest and placing a small stick with a flag next to the nest. The terns made a lot of noise and managed to get to his head. Elise Biersma had just arrived and photographed the action.
shriek ready? hit

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20090629 13:44: new information centre

Information centre

29 June 2009 13:45

  Ny-Ålesund has finally a new information centre, where recent research in the village is presented to visiting tourists. With 30.000 tourists visiting during three summer months, it is a good investment. In the building, a modern exhibition is on display without any compromise to the authenticity of the building. I am very proud for what is accomplished here.
the official opening

Oddvar Midtkandal
director Kings Bay

Kim Holmén
research director NPI

Bendik Eithun Halgunset
project leader


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20090627 21:00: midsummer party

Mid summer party

27 June 2009 21:00

The mid-summer party is a week postponed, because last weekend there were to many big ships calling to port. It is a Swedish midsummer party and everyone is asked to dress-up. The theme should be starting with a letter P.

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20090626 19:00: rediscovered art

Rediscovered art

26 June 2009 19:00

Bodil voor de villa During the removal of wall panels in the Amundsen villa, old drawings are re-discovered. The old peisen bar is full of historic drawings in good condition. Bodil, has lived here and is now projectleader. She gives me a sneak preview which is published here. Goja of Amundsen balloon of Andree
a Dutch airplane writing polar history airship Italia and no Norge compass rose on the ceiling
guillemots and polar bear hunt seal slaughter in the ice

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20090625 14:00: eidernests at leirholmen

Checking eider nests on Leirholmen

25 June 2009 14:00

  Leirholmen is one of the innermost islands in Kongsfjord. It appeared relatively young from the glacier. There is not much vegetation, but a nice lake with a nesting red throated diver and some red phaloropes. I join Geir Wing gabrielsen and Kjell Tore Hansen on their survey of eider nests. We are counting nests and clutch sizes on the island. The video shows us leaving the island.

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20090624 15:00: open top chamber

Open top chambers

24 June 2009 15:00

  The Vrije University of Amsterdam is measuring consequences of global change on the growth of tundra plants. Jelte Rozema and Stef Weijers stayed in the Netherlands Arctic Station from 4 to 8 June, but there was to much snow. to place their open top chambers on the tundra. Today Thomas and me are doing this. And we made a short video about it. Click on the video to the left.

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20090624 11:00: lactating fox

Lactating arctic fox

24 June 2009 11:00

  In the midnight sun, the vixen is feeding her pups. She tries to stay alert, but falls asleep for some seconds. You can see this on the video to the left.

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20090623 14:00: Randi shows her pups

Randi shows her pups

23 June 2009 14:00

  There is a fox den underneath the Netherlands Arctic Station. Today the female arctic fox shows her pups for the first time to the world. She has 5 puppies. Two are smaller than the others. They are still clumsy but discovering the world. Watch the video to the left by clicking on the picture.

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20090622 12:00: counting eggs

Counting eggs

22 June 2009 12:00

  Today, we have been checking barnacle goose nests on the island Juttaholmen in Kongsfjord. The geese are nesting on the rim of the island high above the sea. We read the rings, mark the nest with a GPS and count the eggs. Click on the video to the left.

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20090619 10:00: the veteran club

The veteran club

19 June 2009 10:00

The Veteran club is a society with 300 members, who all worked in Ny-Ålesund during the coal mining years. Last year they started with their small shop, selling coffee, pancakes and souvenirs to the tourists. These are friendly people with interesting stories. They make Ny-Ålesund more colourful. From left to right: Asbjrg Skogmo. Lilly Kristensen, Lillian Skogmo and Else Rdberg. the veteran shop
tourists shopping

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20090614 13:30: first trip

First trip to the largest breeding island

14 June 2009 13:30

On Sunday, I go for the first time to the main breeding island together with Brge Moe and Anette Fenstadt.
Birge and Annette check nesting eiders, Lise and I count the number of barnacle goose nests. On the island there are also 10 reindeer. A small one is curious and approaches us.
On the approach of Ny-Ålesund, I was able to take a picture of the main breeding island. This was 11 June 2009, 11:30.

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20090611 11:45: arrival

Arrival

11 June 2009 11:45

It feels like coming home. My hut is clean and well-organized. I start with replacing the tullip outside my door. Every winter it looses the red flower. Even plastic tullips might wither.

Within a few hours, I have restarted my office. On the left a vieuw on the fox den and via internet Dutch radio and video contact with home.
storage top left

London II

is my favourite place. Since 1995, I live here every summer. This hut is the most original of the four london houses. I am not allowed to renovate anything. It is a historic building, with origially paint as far as it still holds. On the top floor there is a storage room and a small sleeping room. On the ground floor from left to right my sleeping room, a kitchen and my office.
sleeping room top right
my sleeping room the kitchen my office/living room
sleeping room top left

London III

is a present from all people in The Netherlands who wash their clothing with Ariel of Procter & Gamble. This company has sponsored extra housing for Ditch researchers. This year there will be more people in the station than ever before. The hut is more modern. The arctic foxes live beneath this hut, but I never smell the foxes while being inside. Straight after arrival I have taken these pictures. To sleeping rooms on the top floor. A living, kitchen and laboratory on the ground floor.
sleeping room top right
sitting room kitchen laboratory

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20090604 21:23: opening

The parts of the open top chambers are delivered and secured on site. Building the greenhouses will have to wait until later. There is still half a meter snow on the tundra.
the village
Stef Weijers and Jelte Rozema arrive in the village but cannot place their open top chambres on the tundra yet. To much snow. On the top picture, the middle two houses from the yellow huts in the front are the Netherlands Arctic Station. in front of the stationenlarged

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20090529 12:00: weblog

approach of airfield
The season is late in Ny-Ålesund. Mathias Berjang send me the picture above about a village in the snow with a well-cleaned airstrip. Birge Moe emailed me that the first nest on Mietheholmen had two eggs on the 29th of May, but that he had not found any eider duck nests yet. Bendik Halgunset has seen two foxes sofar: Randi and Julia. So I do expect an inhabited fox den under my house.
On 11 June, just after the Ny-Ålesund symposium I will arrive. See what this summer will bring.

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20080813 19:09: thermal imagery

Thermal imagery

13 August 2008 19:09

Janwillen takes a thremal image of a reindeer note the warm antler
Reindeer or karibou are the only antler-bearers where the female also is wearing an antler. One of the hypothesis for this fact is that the reindeer need an extra cooling device during summer, when they are fattening and the fur is growing thick. Reindeer are so well adapted to the cold environment that loosing heat has become a problem. As long as the antler is covered with skin, the reindeer can regulate the amount of blood around the antler and regulate heat loss.
I want to do some research on this. Kings Bay owns an expensive thermal imager which I can borrow from Erlend Mre. Janwillem and I go testing.
We try to make a picture from a resting reindeer and a running reindeer. That was quite a challenge. But on the pictures you can see beautifully that the antler is a warm spot and that more of the antler becomes warm during running. This is what I hoped. And I am trying to develop a new research project.
the same reindeer while running
Janwillen playing basketball as normal picture Janwillem playing basketball as thermal picture
We practiced with the camera by taking pictures of Janwillem during a basketball play. You can see his warm face and the arm in the sleeve.

Thios idea originated from stimulating discussion with Arno Vlooswijk and Joris Tinnemans. More information on thermal imagery can be found at www.worldofwarmth.com


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20080807 16:00: imprinted goslings

Imprinted goslings

7 August 2008 16:00

  The goslings are 5 weeks old and are starting to look like real geese. They are developing feathers and the top of the head, the neck and the breast becomes black.
I find Elise near the greenhouse sheltering against the wind. The geese see for the first time themselves mirrored in the glass. They are clearly surprised. Elise and I discuss the progress of the experiment. Than I film the group while moving to a rich grassy area. The goslings follow Elise beautifully.

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20080805 23:54: my bear

My bear

5 August 2008 23:54

my first polar bear on Spitsbergen, enlarged Last night I saw my first polar bear on Spitsbergen! During a boat trip, together with Andrea Grne, returning from a visit to the glacier front. It was a wonderful encounter.

In 1985 and 1986m I have met polar bears on a close distance in Churchill, Canada. The first time the bear was walking from under my observation tower, where I had been sleeping 3 meter above the bear. Rhe second time, the polar bear crossed my way and stopped at 20 meter when I fired a cracker shell.

From these encounters, I learned two things:
1. Always be aware of altrnative polar bear scaring techniques like flares, bangers, flashes and fire works. A weapon is your last option and should not be the first when encountering a polar bear.
2. In a threathening situation, you will face a strong paralyzing start of a panic. I remember my knees trembling and I was afraid to sinkt to the ground. You have to control this panic.

With these experiences I decided to never aim for an encounter. Staying inside is safer for yourself and for the polar bear. So I never went for a bear and did not seeone on Spitsbergen for 20 years. Polar bears are not seen every year in Kongsfjorden. Summer 2004, we had a polar bear staying in the fjord and this year seems similar.
This encounter was unplanned, The bear was at a fair distance (see bottom picture) and we did not make any move towards the bear. The polar bear was undisturbed. Beautiful.
the original picture, with use of three times zoom
At the Netherlands Arctic Station we have a few rules concerning polar bear safety:
1. Avoid any polar bear. Never go on polar bear sight seeing trips.
2. Always carry safety equipment. A gun is essential but should never be the only thing. Equally important are flares, fire works and a radio. And always make sound while moving without a clear view.
3. Use of a gun is very dangerous for you and other people around you. A bullet will fly for 7 kilometer and has still the ability to kill. If you aim, always check the background for 7 kilometers. Don't shoot if there are people in the background. More bullets are fired by accident than aimed at a polar bear. Training is also dangerous. Never practice without an instructor and only at a shooting range.
4. Practice in thoughts. How to act when ... Think of different scenario's and how you would react. When meeting a dangerous polar bear, there is not much time to think and usually wrong decisions are made.
5. Analyse yourself. Make sure you are equally afraid for your gun and for the polar bear. Any other feeling is not justified. However be prepared to shoot a polar bear when in danger. If you are the one carying the gun, you must make sure that you are the best choice for using the gun if necessary. Don't think that you are prepared for a meeting with a polar bear after a single safety course.
6. Never panic! Whatever happens, listen to advice and make a decision. If you carry the weapon, you have the responsibility to use it. Never interfere with someone who is carrying the weapon during an encounter.
7. Try to be passive and safe. Usually it is better not to take any action but waiting.
8. When you are back in safety after you have been in danger, make sure you unload the gun and take all neccessary safety precautions. Pass information to others and evaluate your decisions.
9. Avoid people who behave iresponsible. They will make any bear encounter more dangerous.

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20080805 21:00: young terns

Young terns

5 August 2008 21:00

Andrea Grne is assisting me with ringing and blood sampling Arctic tern chick, if it survives the fox it will fly to the South Pole this winter short legs
On Gerdoya, we discovered for the second year in row a large number of arctic terns nesting. While the nesting of this species has become rare since the fox is around, the nesting on the islands has increased. On Gerdoya, there must have been at least 200 nests. I go with Andrea Grne to this island to ring tern chicks.
On arrival we discover that a polar fox has discovered the food on the island. He must have swum over and has already been eating a third of all chicks. He looks like a devil. The adult terns must have been attacking his head and have plucked his fur. In between the ears he has to spikes of fur like little horns.
Despite this fox we manage to catch 12 chicks, just before fledging. We ring, measure, swab and bleed these chicks.

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20080804 09:32: Harro was here

Harro was here

4 August 2008 09:32

Harro with Carl Petter Nielsen and Trond Svenoe on the roof of the building
a long series of CO2 measurmenents
Harro Meijer is professor isotope physics at the University of Groningen. He is studying atmospheric greenhouse gasses by using stable isotopes as natural markers. He has been visiting the Netherlands Arctic Station to study opportunities for future research. While visiting the Zeppelin atmospheric station, he photographed some of the equipment (shown below). Of course he had to join a goose catch as an inauguration.
inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station
inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station
Lots of equipment, many measurements.
inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station inside in the Zeppelin atmospheric station
Marcus Schumacher is now station manager of the German station, but has worked in Harro's laboratorium in Groningen. After catching the geese, we wait for the geese to empty their guts. From left to right: Simon Herniman (station manager British base), Emmie de Wit, Maarten Loonen, Harro Meijer and Janwillem Loonen. You have to hold a goose for a picture.



Now he has to come back with a project.

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20080803 20:15: immune activity

Immune activity

3 August 2008 20:15

The goslings are growing fast and this week we test the activity of the immune system of all 16 individuals. Yesterday we have injected sheep red blood cells, today we inject lectin, a plant protein. The first test measures the formation of antibodies (a kind of vaccination), the second test the direct migration of white blood cells (as with a mosquito sting). These tests measure the responsiveness of the immune system.
Claus Bech is helping me with this test.
Claus is preparing the lectin Janwillem is herding the geese in the background
marking the spot of measurement measuring the thickness of the wing web measuring the thickness of the wing web
First we mark the spot of injection. Than we measure the thickness of the wing web and inject 0.05 ml of lectin in the skin.
Tomorrow this will have caused a local swelling, which we can measure as an increase in thickness.
measuring the thickness of the wing web injecting the lectin injecting the lectin

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20080802 14:35: cattle

Cattle

2 August 2008 14:35

showing the difference between a reindeer and a cow Janwillem found a skull

Janwillem has found half a skull on a road where there has been digging for the sewage pipes. He is wondering about the size. Indeed this is not a reindeer skull. This is a cow. It is a leftover of the mining days when the miners kept cattle in Ny-Ålesund. This skull ended being burried in the road from the stable to the dogyard.

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20080801 20:09: covered

Covered in geese

1 August 2008 20:09

hush, they are sleeping Elise is responsible for the goslings. She walks with them to good vegetation spots and guards their safety. Every week, we have the goslings graze on three different vegetation types. We collect droppings to study parasite load, diet choice and digestion. The goslings have to graze for three hours on a given vegetation type becfore we can start collecting the shit.

The work is very prominent visible in town and Elise got an article in a Norwegian newspaper: Aftenposten. You can read the text here.
herding geese Taking care of the goslings means being outside long days. Elise is doing this from 10 to 22 hour, Maarten walks with the goslings at 4 o'clock and allows them to take a bath.

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20080801 14:31: blood sampling

Blood sampling

1 August 2008 14:31

Kathryn is taking a blood sample 1 ml of blood from the wing vene
Every week, we measure the growth of the goslings and take a small blood sample for various immunological tests. Maarten holds the geese and Kathryn is taking the blood sample.

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20080801 11:42: solar eclipse

solar eclipse

1 August 2008 11:42

9 minutes before the full eclipse
9 minutes for the maximum with a piece of the station in front
the special glasses were of no use but funny
We were close to a total eclipse. At 11:42 o'clock, 94% of the sun was covered. The sun was out of sight at this moment. The light was quite dim, but much more as with a total eclipse. Since 16 april the light has not been dimmed here because it is a polar area with continuous summer sun. For me, it was the first dimmed moment since my arrival 9 June.
News from Longyearbyen can be found here.

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20080731 14:26: bird cliff

bird cliff

31 July 2008 14:26

bird clif brnnich's guillemot with young Besides geese (barnacle and pink-footed geese) and ducks (eiders) we are very interested in kittiwakes and Brnnichs guillemots as a potential host for influenza viruses. In the past we have been able to detect new variants of influenza viruses in both gull and auk species. These birds are nesting on the bird cliffs of Spitsbergen. Our bird cliff (Ossian Sarsfjellet) is located approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Ny Ålesund.
vincent in his climbing harnass on his way to the 100m steep clif The birds can be reached by hanging over the top of the cliff. To ensure safety while catching, the catcher is attached to an anchor point via a climbing harness and rope. If the catcher would lose his balance an involuntarily plunge into the depth is prevented by this construction.
guillemot 1 guillemot 2
The birds are caught using an 8-meter long fishing rod with a loop attached. The loop is placed over the head of the bird. By pulling the loop is tightened and the bird can be removed from the cliff. The birds are rapidly removed from their tight position in order to be sampled.
adult kittiwake Simon, professional mountaineer from the British Antarctic Survey, trained to assist scientists Vincent's golden harvest
Emmie assists with the sampling procedure Vincent releases the bird The sampling procedure is simple: since influenza viruses replicate in the intestinal and/or respiratory tract the bird is sampled from both front (throat) and back (cloaca) end. In addition, a blood sample is drawn and biometric data are recorded, and then the bird is allowed on its way again

page made by Emmie de Wit and Vincent Munster


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20080728 15:05: greenhouse

Greenhouse effect

28 July 2008 15:05

the piece of glass placed back in it's original position moss under the glass While observing the foxes, Janwillem wanted to clean the tundra and take a piece of glass to the garbage. He lifts it up and finds a beautiful patch of moss.

He comes home and explains me what a wonderfull example this is of a green house effect.

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20080726 15:35: mining site

Mining site

26 July 2008 15:35

The Governor of Svalbard made a report about the remains of the coal mining era behind the village. In this report, there are several pictures and I have tried to take the same pictures again to see the changes over time. Below you can compare the pictures from 1998 and 2008. What has changed in ten years?
2008 1998

pictures 1998 from: Sysselmannen på Svalbard (1999):
Helhetlig plan for miljøtiltak i gruveområdet Ny-Ålesund (Kings Bay) Sysselmannens rapportserie Nr.2.

situatie 2008 situatie 1998
fig. 18











fig. 20
the report from 1999
situatie 2008 situatie 1998
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 21 
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 22 
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 24 
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 25 

The roofbovenzijde was laying on the ground in 1998 and is now placed back.
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 26 
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 27 

I spend some time trying to find the exact position. Three tubes are clearly visisble in the front in 2008, but the middle one was hardly visible in 1998.
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 28 
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 33 

This location was difficult to find. The tins are small. Mainly food size. There are also some remains of a camp fire.
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 37 

In 1998 the drums were on a pile. In 2008 some drums have fallen down.
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 fig. 38 

Here the changes are most obvious. Only one wagon remains and the rest of the site is cleared. This site is on the border of the mining area. What happened?
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 87 top
situatie 2007 situatie 1998 page 87 bottom

We could not find this spot in 2008, but Ricardo Roura had made a picture of the site in 2007.
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 88 top
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 88 bottom
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 89 top
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 89 bottom
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 90 top
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 90 bottom
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 91 top
situatie 2008 situatie 1998 page 91 bottom

The drum has changed position but the wood is remarkably similar.
All pictures were taken together with two waypoints. One at the spot of the photo, the next 4 meters in the direction of the picture. I will make a map and a list of waypoints and place these later on this page.

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20080726 10:00: polar bear

polar bear

26 July 2008 10:00

picture from Jouke Prop 2007
On the western coast of Spitsbergen near Kapp Martin, a team of goose catchers led by Jouke Prop is catching barnacle geese. They ring the birds and take blood samples for analysis, like I do in Ny-Ålesund. Together with catching efforts in Russia and the Netherlands this is all part of IPY-project BIRDHEALTH.
I just received news from Jouke via satelite telephone. In recent years polar bears have become more frequent in the area where they are working. New food supplies have been sent to them because a polar bear had raided their food depot. Despite this misfortune, they are doing very well and have caught over 300 geese by now.
The photo above is taken last year, when a polar bear mother and cub pludered the goose nests on a breeding island.
Last saturday, there have been polar bear sightings also in Kongsfjord. We are fully alert. No resighting yet. We are lucky, though ... I would like to see one from a safe distance.
picture Claus Bech picture Claus Bech picture Claus Bech
Elin Noreen and Claus Bech have seen two polar bears near their field site on Blomstrand island 31 July 2008. One had a radio collar and was feeding on a fresh kill on an ice flow.
picture Vincent Munster The next afternoon Vincent and Emmie saw one polar bear still at the same spot. These sightings are just on the other side of the fjord, 3 kilometer north of here.

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20080726 02:06: medicine

Medicine

26 July 2008 02:06

catching a gosling administring medicine swallow
Half of the flock of imprinted goslings will be treated against intestinal parasites. we hope to find a difference in growth and immune response. The goslings are given 1 ml of panacur, via a tube direct in the stomach.

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20080725 21:48: shark fishing

shark fishing

25 July 2008 21:48

In June, Norwegians where able to catch a lot of greenland sharks (see here). Wojtek Moskal is inspired and fishing for sharks since that day. Today Janwillem can join him when he is checking the bait. He is fishing on a depth of 150 meter. Unfortunately no sharks yet.

Puffins on the fjord and a visit to a cave complete the trip.

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20080723 19:55: Schnitzeljagd

Schnitzeljagd

23 July 2008 19:55

Anouck Vrouwe is also taking pictures Janwillem at the entrance of mine Esther At the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, I have collegues studying historical sites. Inspired by the project LASHIPA and the research of Ricardo Roura on deterioration of historic sites, I develop a smal project.

Southeast of the village of Ny-Ålesund, the old mining area is a historic site. At first glance it looks like a real mess, but all this garbage tells the story of the mining period. In 2004 a report was made by the Governor of Svalbard about this site. Many pictures were taken and this year I have tried to find the locations of these pictures, to compare for any change. Next entry will show the situatie of 21 localities in 2008 and 2004.

The first day, I am searching together with Anouck Vrouwe, a free-lance science journalist who is gathering stories. She has spend some time in Germany and knows a German word for this kind of activity: Schnitzeljagd. We manage to find more than half of the locations, but I need an extra trip to find all. Together with Janwillem, I return three days later and we complete the quest.

On 14 August, we depart by plane from Ny-Ålesund and I am able to shoot two areal pictures from the most recent mining locations.
The area near Sofie III
The area near Esther II

On the picture to the left, you can see the triangular area on the onderzijde right corner of the map with the mine Sofie III from 1947. The picture above is the area of Esther II 1941/1946. You can see the two bridges of the train track and the one bridge over the road. The latter bridge has the toilet of the camp ground above the Smith river. map of mines


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20080722 02:35: playing animals

Playing animals

 

22 July 2008 02:35

Playing foxes Bathing goslings

An important part of our work, we are close to young animals. We observe their behaviour and play for science, but it is also very joyful. With the video's, we hope to share this with you. Enjoy. The text is in Dutch, but a transcript is written below.

Janwillem:
Here you see the foxes which are my research topic. We observe their play outside the den, group structure, social behaviour and dominance. You can see individual differences in behaviour. Here you see them play-fight. One is dominant over the other. Their food consists mainly of goslings. The goslings are the main topic of study in the Netherlands Arctic Station.

Maarten:
Where are you? There you are! Walking with the goslings is joyful. Here you see them during a midnight walk. The goslings are imprinted on us. They think I am the father, or is it the mother. They feel comfortable when I am around. They eat and drink. But I have to sleep sometimes too. Elise looks after the goslings during the day and I take care of them during night hours. After the bathing, we walk back to the cage which is placed on fresh vegetation. They follow me on my wooden shoes.

Videos edited by Janwillem Loonen


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20080721 18:18: goslings

Goslings

21 July 2008 18:18

Maarten, Vincent Munster and a gosling taking a bath back to the cage
Every day we take the goslings 3 to 4 times out for a walk. Maarten and Elise share the work. Here Maarten is walking with the goslings. The goslings are imprinted and follow us, when we walk. We have to watch for the polar fox. These goslings should not become his prey.

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20080717 18:00: tagging arctic foxes

tagging arctic foxes

17 July 2008 18:00

caught handling you can leave
free again Today we mark the puppies. In the morning, nothing is caught but in the afternoon we have more success. Number 18 and 19 are caught together. Jasper is trap-happy. She feeds four times in a trap. She resembles her mother who does the same in the large trap three times. In the end she is caught with her final puppy.
The juveniles are clearly lighter than last year. This year, they leave the den for long walks. We see them close to the restaurant.
Now Janwillem can start with his observations. He will study group structure and dominance hierarchy within the litter.
poster janwillem
Janwillem has collected data about the foxes in the two previous years. In May he has presented a poster at the IPY-sympoisum in the building of the Royal Academy of Science in Amsterdam. The poster is shown here to the right.

numberleft earright earsizesexhindlegbodymassname caught
17blue 214blackpuppymale7.8 cm812 gVincent17/7/2008 14:40
18red 114greenpuppymale8.2 cm807 gNico17/7/2008 16:13
19red 107blackpuppymale7.8 cm669 gJasper17/7/2008 16:28
20greenblue 212puppymale8.5 cm965 gSimon17/7/2008 16:52
21whitered 108puppymale8.4 cm726 gHans17/7/2008 19:46
22blackblue 211puppymale8.7 cm991 gTom17/7/2008 20:09
23whiteyellow 90puppymale8.3 cm945 gMichael17/7/2008 20:41
7greenyellow 11motherfemaleRandipuppy 2006

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20080716 10:30: arctic tern

arctic tern

16 July 2008 10:30

We are measuring predation pressure of arctic foxes by monitoring the fate of arctic tern nests. Every day Janwillem makes a walk through the village and checks if all nests are still existing. The fierce attackes by the terns make this a special experience. In this video, he shares the experience with you.

His text:
As fieldsassistent I have many tasks. One is checking tern nests. These birds are defending their nests. I have to count the eggs. let us see how I manage. We need a hat, an extra hat, binoculars, sunglasses and a long stick. This is the first nest. Two eggs, 13 nests to go. Nest 10 is my favourite nest. It is empty. Nest 6....

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20080714 16:28: bryology

Bryology

14 July 2008 16:28

mopss relevees near the fragile exclosures
Hans Kruijer and Michael Stech, new arrivals in Ny-Ålesund Racomitrium on the dry tundra Michael Stech and Hans Kruijer have received an ARCFAC grant to study moss vegetations. They work at the National Herbarium in Leiden, which has a large collection of arctic mosses.
These taxonomic experts have many ideas to expand their research into plant-animal interaction. Thiisbukta appears very interesting, with some rare species. They compare grazed mos vegetation with areas were geese have been exclosed for eight years. Also the dry tundra is very interesting. They will go home with a large box full with hundereds of samples. A lot of work awaits.

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20080713 15:30: gosling care

Gosling care

13 July 2008 15:30

Elise als ganzenmoeder foto: Maarten van der Voorde
This is a transcript of my text on the video: We raise 16 goslings in captivity. they are imprinted on us. Elise de Jong is their goose mother. When she calls, the goslings come to her. The experiment measures the development of the immune system and the effect of intestuinal parasites. We use the goslings also to study diet choice and digestion. We can observe them eating and collect their droppings for later analysis. You can hear them peep... We enjoy these litle buggars. Today it rains, The goslings get wet fast and we bring them in under a warm light. They make typical sounds when they feel cold.

video edited by Janwillem Loonen
click on the left picture


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20080713 12:30: students from Michigan

Students from Michigan

13 July 2008 12:30

lecture about POP's and wildlife effects John Hesse of Michigan State University organised an excursion for students. A year ago planning started. At the planned date, the weather was to bad for landing their boat, but today they manage to visit this town. Geir Wing Gabrielsen has prepared an inspiring lecture about his research into effects of POP's on arctic wildlife in the Marine Laboratory. After the lecture, i take them out for a walk with the goslings. Meanwhile I explain about gooseology and birdhealth.
releasing goslings releasing goslings releasing goslings releasing goslings releasing goslings
lecture in the field lecture in the field We take the goslings out for a walk. Each student is carrying a gosling out of our station to an area away from the arctic foxes. In the rain, I lecture about geese and the experiment with captive goslings. With the goslings in captivity, we will measure the development of their immune system , digestive system and diet choice. All these components change during development and are highly relevant for growth and habitat use.

pictures taken by John L. Hesse and Patrick Lederle.

Janwillem is send to get some equipment

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20080712 11:30: mesocosms

Mesocosms

12 juli 2008 11:30

de bakken zaten vast aan vlonders in de haven Frede Thingstad Frede Thingstad
The University of Bergen is coming to Ny-Ålesund for the second time to simulate scenario's of the fjord ecosystem in mesocosms. They vary nutrient conditions and monitor bacteria, virusses, algae and plankton. last year was very successful. They were able to show that additional carbon stimulates the bacterial loop with negative effects on the algae, which are the basis of the marine foodweb. Nature has accepted an article about this work. This year, they vary nitrogen, but the experiment develops less well. There seems to be a toxic algae and the mesocosms are damaged in a storm.
It is stimulating to see a group of scientists working together on one experiment. Frede Thingstad has taken the initiative and an old friend of Marion and me: Jens Nejstgaard is part of the team.

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20080712 10:05: unexpected visit

Unexpected visit

12 July 2008 10:05

from left to right: Maarten Loonen, Maaike Heegstra, Cor Heegstra and Janwillem Loonen our gosling farm
On Saturday morning, tourists are flooding the village again. While going to the laundry, I recognize Cor Heegstra.
our goslings
Maaike and Cor Heegstra booked a cruise from Hamburg via the Shetlands and Iceland to Spitsbergen and back. They appear here without notice. They need some support while walking but still manage to reach the North Pole. We have one hour to show them our station and the goslings. A picture in front of the station and gone they are. From the North Pole back to The Netherlands. the cruise boat leaves the geese walked among the tourists
also a picture with the other Dutch cruise passengers We make also a picture with the other cruise passengers. I feel like Dr. Livingstone I presume?

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20080711 18:16: insect traps

insect traps

11 July 2008 18:16

 
emptying the traps As a new activity, we have started to catch insects. The insects are an important food source for snow buntings and waders. Generally people state that the amount of insects on Spitsbergen is increasing, but exact data are lacking. The increase is supposed to be a reaction on climate warming. I have decided to start monitoring this change.
In the IPY-project ARTIC WOLVES, my Canadian collegues have developed a modified insect trap, which is deployed in 6 sites all along the Canadian arctic. I have received 5 traps and we are emptying the traps once every other day.
Low flying insects are flying into a small net and have the option to go up or down. At both sides they are trapped in soapy water.

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20080710 20:55: glacier front

glacier front

10 July 2008 20:55

At the glacier front fresh water surfaces from the deep
Janwillem in front of the glacier With a lecture on board, we earn a dinner and a visit to the glacier front with a boat of Ocean Wide Expeditions. The wind blows all ice back to the glacier. Fresh water from the glacier is like a well surfacing in front of the glacier. The fresh water is lighter than the salt fjord water and floats on top. With this current, the spot is free of ice and zooplankton comes to the surface. Many kittiwakes feed on this plankton. The picture above shows this location, where the water turns red from the ssdiment in the water. Janwillem makes a video.
kleurverschillen in het water

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20080710 10:46: extra accommodation

Extra accommodation

10 July 2008 10:46

declaring it part of the Netherlands Arctic Station www.ipy.org
Thanks to a sponsor, we are able to double our accommodation in Ny-Ålesund for the benefit of research into climate change. The arctic is one of the best places in the world to see the effects of global warming on nature and people. The arctic climate impact assessment has shown this and the international polar year has been an opportunity to stimulate research and public awareness.
The station is more and more becoming the home for several institutions from the Netherlands to do arctic research. Scientists from the Netherlands can stay in the hut and benefit from all international polar research which makes this place to a lively research centre. We know have room to welcome more scientists. Living conditions are modest but stimulating. You can contact Maarten Loonen to join.
the living room the kitchen, now the stable the laboratory
the western bedroom These are the rooms in the new hut. On the top row from left to right: the living room, the kitchen (which is now used as a barn for the goslings) and the laboratory. On the left the western sleeping room upstairs. On the right the eastern sleeping room. There is room for 5 people in the hut and some storage space. the eastern bedroom
time to celebrate Time to celebrate. Janwillem brought an extra flag.

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20080709 14:43: photography

Photography

9 July 2008 14:43

Long lenses Waiting for the vixen
For the third year, Jasper Doest is staying in the Netherlands Arctic Station to take pictures of the arctic foxes. This year, Maarten van der Voorde is coming along. Together, they are sitting outside for hours with big lenses and a lot of patience. A visit to Storholmen is a highlight. The evening before their departure, they have made a song and play it for us in the social room of Kings Bay (see video).
Approaching a reindeer Janwillem guards
Janwillem Loonen
photo Maarten van der Voorde http://maartenfotografie.blogspot.com/ photo Maarten van der Voorde http://maartenfotografie.blogspot.com/ photo Maarten van der Voorde http://maartenfotografie.blogspot.com/

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20080709 14:30: national news

national news

9 July 2008 14:30

From 2 till 9 July, two people from the national news on the public network are gathering news in the village. From 21 July, the national news will broadcast 4 3-minute-specials about the consequences of climate change in the arctic.
Marieke de Vries and Hans Struik are enthusiastic about the opportunities in this village.
Radio diary of Marieke de Vries (in Dutch)

3 juli 2008

arrival in Ny-Ålesund

4 juli 2008

between the glaciers

5 juli 2008

football

6 juli 2008

birthday

7 juli 2008

schooting

8 juli 2008

swimming

9 juli 2008

strict regime

22 juli 2008

bird flue

22 juli 2008

polar bear

23 July 2008

melting glaciers

24 July 2008

many stations

24 July 2008

much oil

Video reports at the bottom of this page
Fresh from home in the fog. Compare with the picture below The old picture from 1918
Start of a boattrip Hans at the location of the old picture Marieke makes a teaser in front of the glacier
Together, we go searching for a spot where a photo from a glacier was taken in 1918. The glacier has shown a spectacular retreat. We all are impressed by the change, but aklso by the beauty of the site, the rumbling of falling ice in the glacier and the amount of blue icebergs in the fjord. More about calving glaciers can be found here.
interview with Oddvar Why are there so many foreign stations in this village? Marieke interviews Oddvar Midtkandal, director of Kings Bay and me as station manager of the Netherlands Arctic Station. Earlier I have heard them talk about the length of Oddvar. How can you have some scenery instead of blue air behind the man while filming? On the left picture, you can see the solution. Place the director on the vulnerable tundra and film from a high point on the road! interview with Maarten
Janwillem interviewed for the children news Janwillem is interviewed for the special news for children. He tells about his research on arctic foxes. In the evening broadcast there is a whole item from 0:26 till 0:50 and 6:50 till 9:10 minutes. You can view the Dutch broadcast by clicking here.
During the afternoon, there is a short announcement from 3:00 til 3:40, which can be viewed here .

photo Maarten van der Voorde


21 July 2008: summer ice extent 21 July 2008: insects 22 July 2008: polar bear
Mark Serreze and Nick Owens were still in town because of the Ny-Ålesund symposium. Carl Petter Nielsen is checking the weather and tells about insects. Polar bear footage from a cruise around Spitsbergen.

23 July 2008: glaciers 23 July 2008: arctic oil 24 July 2008: research stations
Maarten Loonen takes the journalists to a spectacular retreating glacier. Predictions on large amounts of oil cause new dreams. Why are there so many international research stations on Spitsbergen?

24 July 2008: tourism 25 July 2008: spitsbergen
Many tourists come to Spitsbergen. Why? Dutch history on Spitsbergen


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20080708 10:13: Malaysia

Malaysia

8 July 2008 10:13

the location is photographed, described and coordinates are taken sampling Two Ph.D. students from Malaysia need to collect samples. Their supervisors have introduced them to me to assist during sampling near lake Solvatnet. They want to establish a collection of Arctic microalgae, as an addition to the current collections of antarctic, tropical and temperare microalgae at the University of Malaya Algae Culture Collection. In this collection they will study physiological and biochemical response of the microalgae to environmental stress and the molecular basis of stress adaptation.

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20080705 21:05: mother goose

Mother Goose

5 July 2008 21:05

Goslings in her arms Already 8 years, few goslings survive to fledging with an arctic fox den in town. This year we have decided to raise goslings in captivity to monitor the development of their digestive tract and immune system. Together with Kathryn, I have collected 16 newly hatched goslings from 9 nests and brought them to the village. Taking care of these small creatures is intensive work and Sley sk Hyman is helping me. She is staying in the village together with her parents while her father is making a reportage about the effect of pollution on arctic wildlife. He has discovered a new story in the work of his daughter, playing mother goose.
Randi with goslings all around him the family Hyman The goslings seek protection near the Hyman family

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20080705 19:10: birdhealth

Birdhealth

5 July 2008 19:10
An important aspect of the research we do here in Ny Ålesund is birdhealth. During the last few years, many animal diseases have been the focus of attention in Europe (and elsewhere) and when considering birds, avian influenza comes to mind. Not only is it important to know how, for example, the barnacle geese population is thriving, it is also import to know if it is possible for them, or other bird species, to carry the virus of avian influenza with them and the occurence of this virus in arctic populations.
Maarten using the noose to catch a male Succes! Equipment needed for the tests
To be able to do the tests and obtain information from the geese, we must catch them. This can be a stressfull situation for the animals, and in order to reduce the stress to a minimum, the geese are captured with a noose. Maarten has become a pro using the noose so on our trip to Prins Heinrich island, the first goose is caught within minutes so the testing could begin right away.
Taking blood samples Weighing the geese Kathryn in her lab
We take fecal samples to see if there are any intestinal parasites, cloacal and throat swabs for testing for the occurence of avian influenza and blood samples to see how active the immune system is at the moment. We also measure and weigh the geese to be able to get an overall view of their health. We need a lot of equipment to do all this in the field and we "set up shop" everytime we are on the island. After returning with the samples, it is important to start the work in the laboratory as soon as possible.

Page made by Kathryn Sisson


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20080702 12:00: Ny-Ålesund symposium

Ny-Ålesund symposium

2 July 2008 12:00

the official symposium photo during the symposium minister Tora Aasland closing the symposium
The Ny-Ålesund symposium is an annual event where politicians, scientists and industry meet and discuss problems related to climate change. It is an interesting discussion about science and possible solutions. The urgency to act was clear among the members. But also limitations to proceed became clear. An important meeting to develop strategies.
participants, click for larger picture
List of participants of the Ny-Ålesund Symposium 2008 from left to right

Dr, Sergey M. Pryamikov

Head of the International Science Cooperation Department, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of Roshydromet

Russia

Mr. Alexey Kokorin

Head of WWF-Russia's Climate Change Programme, WWF

Russia

Mr. Ragnvald Nærø

Executive Vice President, Statkraft

Norway

Dr. Michal Szulczewski

Professor, member of the Polish delegation

Poland

Ms. Karen Nossum Bie

Deputy Director General, Ministery of Education and Research

Norway

Ms. Kari Balke Øiseth

Director General, Ministery of Education and Research

Norway

Mr. Knut M. Ore

Chair Kings Bay AS

Norway

Ms. Inger Johanne Wiese

Senior Advisor, Ministery of Environment

Norway

Mr. Bård Mikkelsen

President and CEO Statkraft

Norway

Dr. Karin Lochte

Director Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

Germany

Dr. Pål Prestrud

Director CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo

Norway

Mr. Hans Enocson

Director, National Executive Nordic Region (including estonia and Latvia) General Electric

Sweden

Dr. Helge Drange

Professor, Bjerkeness Centre for Climate Research

Norway

Mr. Uwe Barth

Member of Parliament, german Bundestag

Germany

Dr. Arvid Hallén

Director General, The research council of Norway

Norway

 

Mr. Lorents Lorentsen

Director OECD Environment Directorate

Norway

Mr. Oddvar Midtkandal

Director Kings Bay AS

Norway

 

Ms. Therese Steen

Senior Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister

Norway

Mr. Bjørn Tore Godal

Special Advisor on Energy and Climate Issues Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norway

Dr. Matts Eriksson

Acting Programme Manager/Senior Water Specialist International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

Nepal

Dr. Annette Schavan

Federal Minister of Education and Research

Germany

Mr. Banbit Anthony Roy

Ambassador, Embassy of India, Oslo

India

Mr. Paul Warwick

President (Europe and West Africa) ConocoPhillips

Norway

Dr. Kim Holmén

Research Director Norwegian Polar Institute

Norway

Ms. Tora Aasland

Minister of Research and Higher Education, host

Norway

Dr. Kazimierz Stepieñ

Chairman of the Council of Science

Poland

Mr. Kapil Sibal

Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences

India

Dr. Nicholas Owens

Director British Antarctic Survey

United Kingdom

Dr. Jackie Grebmeier

Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences.

USA

Dr. David Carlson

Director IPY international programme office and British Antarctic Survey

United Kingdom

Dr. Yong Ren

Deputy Director General Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, Ministery of Environmental Protection

China

Dr. Frank Paul

Research Associate Department of Geography University of Zrich - Irchel

Switzerland

Mr. Laurent Stefanini

Ambassodor of France, delegate to the environment

France

Dr. Mark Serreze

Senior research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for research in Environmental sciences, national Snow and Ice data Center, University of Colorado at Boulder

USA

Dr. Etsuo Akiba

Deputy Director National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Japan

Mr. Wojciech Ludwik Kolnczyk

Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary

Poland

Dr. Knut A. Alfsen

Head Research Director CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo

Norway

Mr. Per Sefland

Governor of Svalbard

Norway

Dr. Rasik Rajindra

Director Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research

India

Mr. Neloy Khare

Director Ministery of Earth Sciences

India


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20080701 11:00: India opens station

India opens station

1 July 2008 11:00
official picture after the opening
Mr. Kapil Sibal, minister of science and technology and earth sciences of India, has opened a new station in Ny-Ålesund and is the 10th nation in town with a permanent residence. They are now using the old school building. From left to right:
Dr. Kim Holmén (research director of the Norwegian Polar Institute),
Dr. Binita Phartiyal (paleoclimate),
Dr. Anupam Sharma (paleoclimate),
Ambassador Banbit Antony Roy,
Minister Kapil Sibal,
Minister Tora Aasland (minister of research and higher education from Norway),
Dr. Rasik Rajindra (director of the indian national centre for antarctic and ocean research, geologist)
Mr. Asium Chaudnasiy (geologist/glaciology) Dr. Shailendra Saini (polar ionosphere),
Mr. Himanshu Chaurasia (polar ionosphere).
clipping the ribbon three minsiters of science minister Sibal speeches.
The minister cuts a ribbon In the station with three ministers of science: Ms. Tora Aasland (Norway), Dr. Anette Schavan (Germany) and Mr. Kapil Sibal (India). Minister Sibal gives a beautiful speech of which I have written down a few sentences.
Mrs Gandhi had the vision to start an antarctic research station. Now we also open an arctic station. Antarctica is an area of dicovery, the Arctic is an area of cooperation. Here on earth, on a tiny spot in the galaxy, we are gifted with life. We as human beings are insignificant, but we have the duty to preserve, to add value. The coal in this town is an added value from nature. Leaves turn into coal and ultimately even diamonds. Nature adds value and we must do the same as human beings.

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20080626 15:30: royal visit

Royal visit by the heirs of the Scandinavian thrones

26 June 2008 15:30

From left to right: the Governor of Svalbard (Sysselmannen), Kim Holmén (director of research of the Norwegian polar Institute), crownprince Haakon of Norway, Nick Cox (stationleader of the British NERC station), crownprincess Victoria of Sweden, Oddvar Midtkandal (director of Kings Bay), me and crownprince Frederik of Denmark nice meeting you
thumbs up for the wooden shoes
Today, Ny-Ålesund is visited by the heirs of the Scandinavian throwns: crownprincess Victoria of Sweden, crownprince Frederik of Danmark and crownprince Haakon from Norway. They are on a boattrip with the Swedish ice breaker Oden and arrive per helicopter. It is an important day for us, because these three people are ambassadors for polar research and research into climate change. There is a program with informal presentations and an excursion to the Zeppelin and marine station. During the city walk, Oddvar and Kim lead them towards the Netherlands Arctic Station. Victoria immediately notices my wooden shoes as token of my nationality. On the large picture above from left to right: the Governor of Svalbard (Sysselmannen), Kim Holmén (director of research of the Norwegian Polar Institute), crownprince Haakon of Norway, Nick Cox (stationleader of the British NERC station), crownprincess Victoria of Sweden, Oddvar Midtkandal (director of Kings Bay), me and crownprince Frederik of Denmark
the geese are hatching on the islands timing is essential
birthday of Alexia
I tell them about geese, grasses and foxes, goose behaviour, bird health and timing of breeding. They are really interested and it is a pleasant conversation. We link to the barnacle geese on Gotland, Sweden and the greylag geese on Saltholm, Denmark. Victoria's garden is full of canada geese and this year there is even a mixed pair canada goose-greylag with young. They comment on my Dutch flag and I explain that the orange part is because today is the third birthday of Alexia, third heir to the Dutch throne.
you can see the birds nesting here you can focus
migratory birds need to travel before they experience the warming arctic
They look through the telsecope to the geese and eider ducks on the closeby island. It is a photo opportunity. There is a loud noise of camera's from all sides. I am impressed by the knowledge and commitment of my guests.
Your Royal Highnesses, thank you very much for being such a terrific ambassadors for polar science.
four national networks and journalist from the newspapers full atention more press

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20080625 18:05: puppies

Puppies

25 June 2008 18:05

 
Out for the first time Mother tries to keep them inside Unstopable
Based on last year's experience, I boosted that Randi would have puppies which would appear for the first time on 25 June. To my own surprise, i was right. At 18:05 we saw 5 puppies appearing out of the den. Magnificent clumsy. Again it will be a difficult year for the geese. One family can eat more than 400 goslings.
Five puppies

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20080618 12:30: live event

18-19 juni 2008 On the occassion of "Earth Day" in the International Polar Year, I participated in a live session on internet (18 & 19 June). I was broadcasting from the arctic station on Spitsbergen.

Although not many people participated, it was an interesting session, with a new medium. A session with people both at Spitsbergen and in New Zealand was quite special.

All is taped and can be viewed on the internet following this link.
Part 2 starts with my presentation.

see a video registration by clicking here

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20080614 18:03: monitoring

Monitoring

14 June 2008 18:03

 
The day before yesterday we started mapping the locations of Barnacle Geese nests at the islands Storholmen and Prins Heinrich. At the wintering sites in Scotland, Barnacle Geese mainly feed in large flocks at salt marshes and grasslands, but here pairs are mainly found in rocky areas. We localize the nests, read the letter conbinations from the colour rings of both parents, and monitor the progress of the reproductive attempt during the breeding season. At the moment, most pairs have a nest with eggs.
Barnacle Geese breed in rocky areas A Barnacle Geese pair GPS introduction
In some nests there are eggs of two different species. The white eggs are Barnacle Geese eggs, while the green eggs are from a Common Eider. Possibly, this Barnacle Geese took over the nest of a Common Eider to obtain a good nesting location. We marked all eggs with a permanent marker to see if new eggs have appeared in a nest at a future nestcheck. Sometimes Barnacle Geese defend their nest vigorously when we come in close proximity. Some geese stand at a distance from their nest and make a lot of noise, but others try to attack us when doing the nestchecks.
A nest with three Barnacle Geese eggs and three eggs of a Common Eider Maarten doing a nestcheck Martijn being attacked by a Barnacle Geese during a nestcheck
For the geese it is important to vigorously defend their nest, because predators are often in close proximity. Glaucous Gulls, Arctic and Great Skuas search for nests to try to eat the eggs. The Glaucous Gulls have chicks at the moment and also attack us when we come too close to their nests and chicks.
Glaucous Gull Arctic Skua Glaucous Gull nestling
While waiting for the others to go back to Ny Alesund, we had some time to enjoy the view on the fjord.
Een nice view on the fjord

Page made by Martijn Hammers


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20080610 19:50: group photo

Group picture

10 juni 2008 19:50

 
We make a picture from every group at the station for our webpage [people].
Maarten prepares the camera Our final group picture made by a passing person
Maarten wants to take the picture from behind the pile of snow. Kathryn has got a special Dutch flag with a text written in almost Norwegian: "Det gås hus". The distance between the camara and the people is to big. Three times Maarten fails to join the group before the picture is taken. Finally with some help, the right picture is the end result. The video in the middle shows Maarten's attempt, The pictures below were the result.
Effort 1 Effort 2 Effort 3
Jelte needs three times to before his timer is functioning properly. He stays on the inside of the pile of snow.
Effort 1 Effort 2 Effort 3

Finally we are all photographed in an active pose in the hut. Jelte Rozema Maarten Loonen
Martijn Hammers Kathryn Sisson Stef Weijers

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20080609 19:00: safety course

Safety course

9 June 2008 19:00

New visitors need a safety training before they can go into the field. This inbvolves lectures about bear behaviour, weapon safety and shooting practice. I join the course fro two Flemish botanists, so I can check my own skills. Wojtek is our teacher.
Unload the gun Only start shooting when the bear is within 25 meters and approaching. The first shots are off target
But perfect shots follow soon The course tries to create a confidence that you can handle the gun safe and effective. Everyone is able to hit the target after a bit of excercise. We talk a lot about awareness and making the right decision. It is important to minimize the risk that a polar bear has to be shot.

After all these years I am more afraid for the gun than for the risk of meeting a polar bear in the field.

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20080609 11:15: snow cover

Snow cover

9 June 2008 11:15

From the plane, we had a good view on the amount of snow. This year it is much more than last year, but there were enough snowfree patches for the geese to start nesting at the same date.
Three crowns
The tree crowns are characteristic mountain tops for ships entering the fjord. Now we pass them through the air.
Storholmen Ny-Ålesund
Storholmen, almost a snow free island. Much more snow at Ny-Ålesund.

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20080609 11:00: travel tips

Travel tips

8-9 June 2008 11:00

 
The first entry on this year's weblog contains tips for travellers. Tip 1: Beware of pick pocket. They stole all my camera equipment in the train passing through Amsterdam.
1: SAS service desk in the bagage reclaim area 2: Marianne Polarrigen 3: First entrance to Lufttransport
Tip 2: Ground personal in Schiphol gives instructions that your luggage will have to be collected at the bagage hall in Gardermoen/Oslo to go through customs. This will not happen if your luggage is labeled for Longyearbyen and your flight will not have an extra landing within mainland Norway. Upon arrival in the bagage hall go directly to the SAS service desk, get yourself a number in line and check with them if your luggage will appear. It safes you an hour waiting.
Tip 3: The buss brings you to Marianne Polarrigen for 50 NOK per person. A taxi costs about 120 NOK. On arrival find the proper door which is marked "resepsjon" (middle door picture 2). When you enter the hotel you have to leave your shoes at the entrance. This is a common habit in Spitsbergen
4: Second entrance to Lufttransport 5: Third entrance to Lufttransport 6: Hangar Lufttransport
Tip 4: Your route to Lufttransport while arriving at Longyearbyen airport is a bit hidden. Up the stairs into the right door, which brings you in a roofed passage. First door to the left. Straight on in the hall to the hangar whgere there is someone to weigh your luggage. Than return to the hallway and take the door to the left, remove your shoes and go up to the waiting room. Free coffee behind the bookshelves.
Tip 5: All luggage will be stowed away during the flight. Don't forget to take your photo camera with you in the plane. Ear plugs are regarded as extra comfort during the flight. Tip 6: Enjoy your trip, but be prepared for waiting.

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20070805 20:00: helping hands

5 June 2007 20:00

It is a windy day and we cannot catch. Yvan learned Janwillem a trick with photo's and here you can see the results.
My son Janwillem is field assistant. He manages to help me a lot. Sometimes I have the feeling that he is everywhere.
Move over the small picture and a large version will show.

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20070804 19:00: icebergs

Janwillem voor op de boot

4 August 2007 19:00

Janwillem and I are retrieving Yvan, who has been reading goose rings on Gerdøya. In a shallow part of the fjord, we have to move in between the ice bergs.
Later that day, we loose an anchor when a clip on the chain breaks.
tussen de ijsbergen

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20070804 16:41: kittiwakes

Janik and Inez working at the kittiwake colony on top of the slope

4 August 2007 16:41

Inez and Janik study kittiwakes on Brøgerhalvøya. We want to test also the immune system of some kittiwakes and we are visiting them to sample three birds. They are working on top of a steep slope, heavily fertilized with dung from the breeding birds. The kittiwakes breed were the vegetated slope changes into a steep cliff. There, it is raining wtardrops and gull shit.
Kittiwakes are caught with a fishing riod with at the end a smal nylon string. The gulls are sitting on the ledge without moving. This makes it an easy job. After catching, we are taking a blood sample. The procedure is repeated with two chicks. Bas returns the chicks in the nest while Janwillem holds the chair.
Maarten catches an adulte kittiwake searching for a vene sampling blood
returning a young kittiwake to the nest done back at the nest
The blood needs to be transported to the laboratorium as soon as possible. The descent is steep. We are walking on distance from eachother. Sometimes a stone roles down and we don't want to hit eachother.
de afdaling

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20070803 01:16: schoolkids

basketbal

3 August 2007 01:16

In the Korean station there is an international group of students on a mission against global warming. Now, they are visiting the North Pole and next, thay will travel the world with a petition. Among the Korean kids, Janwillem is a celebrity. Last year he has been on Korean television. One student hopes to do similar research as Janwillem.
Tonioght they play basketball together.
scholieren
internationals

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20070801 21:00: storholmen catch

Janwillem, Bas en ik gaan met de motorboot Yvan en de cursisten gaan met de boot Stockholm We passeren de boot Stockholm
Bas en Yvan kleden zich voor de kanotocht het team aan het werk het team aan het werk
ganzenkuikens werken op het strand

1 augustus 2007 21:00

Met een groep studenten van de cursus AB-201 "Terrestrial Arctic Biology" van UNIS gaan we vangen op het eiland Storholmen, waar een kleine 100 ganzen ruien. Het is een plek zonder vossen. Daardoor zijn er families van ganzen. Maar er is ook weinig zoet water.
De studenten maken hun studiecruise op de boot Stockholm. Die vervoert al het materiaal naar het eiland.
ringing sexing cloacal swab Maarten ringt, bepaalt het geslacht en neemt de maten van de kuikens. Ook worden met kleine wattenstaafjes monsters genomen uit de bek en het poepgat voor een zoektocht naar virussen.
midwing head trancheal swab
Maarten takes the measurements
video van de vangst op Storholmen release

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20070801 17:00: herding geese

1 August 2007 17:00

With kano's herding the geese around the island
The geese are herded around the island of Storholmen. Bas and Yvan are in the canoes and are followed by a motorboat and students on the beach.
the followers

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20070731 21:00: lecturing

UNIS students observing geese

31 July 2007 21:00

Today, there is time for a tradition. The UNIS-course AB-201 Terrestrial Arctic Biology is spending some time in Kongsfjorden on a cruise. I give a lecture. They spend time observing geese. and finally I will try to organise a goose catch with them.
This year Steve Coulson and Christiaane Hbner are supervising.
UNIS students observing geese

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20070730 23:21: killing bacteria

Bas at work the heating block for incubation of test samples
agar plates in a sterile hood

30 July 2007 23:21

Bas is testing the killing ability of the blood which we have sampled from the geese. It is a simple but laborious test. Fresh goose blood is incubated with bacteria. The amount of surviving bacteria is determined by plating them on agar plates. After incubation of the agar plates for 1-2 days, the colonies can be counted. The difference in the amount of colonies on the incubated plate compared to a control is a measure for the activity of the innate immune system. The innate immune system are fagocytic cells and the general capacity of the blood to kill bacteria.
Bas is in the lab, making long days of preparation, testing and counting colonies. Note his overheated head.

We have received support for this test by the German station (sterile bench, incubator and laboratory space) and the Korean station (autoclave). It is a true example of a positive cooperation between stations within this town.

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20070726 21:39: fjord count

Different colours in the water A sharp border between fjord water and glacier milk

26 July 2007 21:39

We are counting moulting geese in the fjord. Landing on all islands and visiting all coasts.
While doing that, we notice different colours in the fjord. Water from the glacier contains a lot of silt and surfaces on the salt fjord water.
Both large and small ice float in the fjord. We are landing at a kittiwake colony called Krikjefjellet.

Janwillem at Krikjefjellet passing large ice passing small ice
under the kittiwake colony Janwillem
Janwillem holds the boat a ringed seal While Yvan and Bas are counting geese on this island, Janwillem holds the boat. All islands are visited.
We come across a ringed seal without fear.

In total we counted 346 moulting geese and 79 goose families with 167 goslings and 17 reindeer. Last year these numbers were 408 moulting geese, 42 families, 90 goslings and 14 reindeer.

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20070726 00:26: bearded seal

Olga

26 July 2007 00:26

Olga is leaving tomorrow and we make a farewell boattrip.
In between the ice we have a close meeting with a bearded seal.
Janwillem
father and son in the boat  

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20070725 13:00: station managers

the station managers

25 July 2007 13:00

Every wednesday, all station managers come together for a short meeting with Kings Bay, to discuss the ongoing bussines. From left to right in the back: Chinese station: Wei Luo, Netherlands station: Maarten Loonen, United Kingdom: Rob Smith, Japanese station: Hiroshi Kanda, the scientific advisor of Kings Bay: Bendik Eithun Halgunset. From left to right in the front: the Korean station: Young Jun Yoon, the combined German and French base: Rainer Vockenroth and the base commander of Sverdrup Station of the Norwegian Polar Institute: Trond Svenøe.

We exchange information on current research projects and special visits. It is also a good place to combine knowledge from the past into present day operations and to improve and discuss safety and logistics.

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20070724 18:05: french catch

24 July 2007 18:05

Catching geese together with French students
Bas herds the geese towards the nets
carrying geese We have caught a small group of geese together with a group of French students. In the catch there was one logger bird and Bas has started with his test on blood samples to measure the innate immune system.

Below I am teaching Yvan how to measure and sex a goose.
team at work
tarsus head a fluffy helper

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20070723 18:45: glacier front

Janwillem together with Fred Goldberg close to the glacier front expedition leader Delphine waves good bye

23 July 2007 18:45

The Aleksey Maryshev of Ocean Wide Expeditions is visiting Ny-Ålesund. This boat has delivered my expedition material and I have been giving lectures on this boat during each visit.
It is a nice arrangement with Delphine, the French excursion leader. During my lecture, the boat travels to the glacier front. The captain dares to come very close. On the way back to Ny-Ålesund, we have a nice dinner after which we are dropped home in a zodiac.
This trip Janwillem can join and we meet Fred Goldberg. A passionate polar explorer, who is one of the guides on board.
Janwillem says thanks

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20070723 16:22: greenhouse

Bas is spraying the grasses a close-up of the grasses

23 July 2007 16:22

Bas is looking after the grasses in the green house. We are growing grasses on a solution with enriched nitrogen to make dead plant material which breakdown can be followed in detail. It is an experiment by Lise Fivez. You can find more about her research here.

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20070723 12:20: blue whale

een uitademwolk van een blauwe vinvis
zeekr een blauwe vinvis

23 July 2007 12:20

een blue whale!

Janwillem bekijkt de grote walvis door een telescoop
We have observed a blue whale in the fjord! This species is the largest living animal on earth. I hardly could believe it and thought the British researchers, who discoverd it, where mistaken. But they had proof. Their knowledge and the photograph were good evidence. The middle picture shows the enormous back with the very small triangular fin. Compare it with a fin whale as observed by Bas and Yvan earlier here.

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20070722 17:00: seed vault

22 July 2007 17:00

The Arctic Seed Vault. It has been in the news all around the world. Bill Gates is one of the big financers. In a mountain in Longyearbyen, they build three rooms. They should contain all seeds of the world. If cooling of the rooms fails, than the mountain should stay cold enough for many years to safe the seeds. If all ice in the world disappears, than the facilty is still above sea level.
a cartoon from the Netherlands

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20070721 11:00: catch Isdammen

Restricted access has created a bird reserve

21 July 2007 11:00

Isdammen, the lake near Longyearbyen which holds the town's drinking water has developed into the largest moulting site for barnacle geese on Spitsbergen. Last year numbers upto 1500 geese were counted. Though it is close to town it has been restricted access, large and quiet. Even pinkfooted geese raise their young here.

I have planned a catch to practice with the rest of the goose catching teams which are going to Nordenskioldkysten and on a boat trip with FRAM. We have received great help from Steve Coulson at UNIS, who is developing an interest in birds as vectors for long distance transport of insects.

The three goose expeditions needed a lot of logistic planning. Jouke Prop is running the expedition in Nordenskiøldkysten and Jesper Madsen has organised the catch of pinkfooted goose from the boat FRAM in Isfjorden and Edgøya.

During the catch, we have extra help from Inger Berggren, who is visiting Spitsbergen with a keen interest in birds, Vidar Bakken, who has a long history in ornithology and teaches at UNIS and several students from the course "flux of energy and matter from sea to land" at UNIS.

Birger Amundsen of the local newspaper "Svalbardposten" made a lot of pictures and we had two pages in this weekly. "flux of energy and matter from sea to land" op
the net building team from the Netherlands
Janwillem at UNIS Maarten Loonen working on logistics
From left to right: Mark Gorissen, Janwillem Loonen and Sjors Koppes Waiting for the last goose
Goetz and Inger Vidar Bakken Vincent Munster On the pictures from left to right:
Goetz Eichhorn sampling blood while Inger Berggren holds the goose.

Vidar Bakken has a large experience in ornithology but today he is starting with geese

Vincent Munster samples a goose for virusses
Svalbardposten

Svalbardposten Svalbardposten

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20070718 14:31: snowbunting parasites

ringing an adult female snowbunting a nestbox where Yvan found young snowbuntings

18 July 2007 14:31

We are studying the excretion of small parasites (coccidiosis) in snow buntings. Last year we discovered a new species of coccidia in snow buntings. Olga Dolnik has done a lot of research on coccidiosis and found a diurnal rhythm in excretion. Now we study the diurnal rhythm under coinstant light conditions. We have taken a few young into captivity and we are force-feeding them until their release.
Bas holds a young snowbunting Olga measures the snowbunting all faeces is collected
Maarten is adapting the IKEA cages Maarten and Olga measuring and ringing a snowbunting cages with snowbunting
We have very handy bird cages from IKEA. Maarten is sowing sleeves to the exit so the birds cannot escape. When the first snowbunting is brought in, Maarten and Olga discuss the measurements. Keeping the birds in captivity is a lot of work. Olga is up many nights and the whole team is assisting to ensure that Olga has a bit sleep left.

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20070716 15:33: postmaster

the pile of letters me as postmaster

16 July 2007 15:33

I have received 250 letters of collectors of cachets, stamps and polar items. They want me to return their letter with special cachets and my signature. It is a couple of hours work, but it helps to make the station well-known.
an example of a letter before it is brought to the post office An example of a letter, with as extra a special sticker from the Netherlands international polar year 2007/2008.

See also here.

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20070715 14:10: catching foxes

Maarten looking over the fjord green TAN has been caught by a fox and rescued by Maarten bringing the geese to the nets

15 July 2007 14:10

We are trying to catch the foxes to mark them. They will get a colour tag in each ear. Photographers are not happy with those tags, but we need the foxes to be individually recognisable to build our story. From last year, we know that it is the same mother at the den and that her daughter Randi is still visiting the den. This resulted in fierce fights between mother and daughter.
putting up traps foxes close to a traditional life trap marking righ ear white we have caught one left ear white
holding taging tagging sexing sexing






Maarten with puppy ->

release of puppy ---->
Maarten with puppy release of the puppy


numberleft earright earsizesexhindlegbodymassremarksname caught
11blue 216whitepuppyfemale8.9 cm1000 g Annette15/7/2007 13:50
12yellow 13greenpuppymale10.0 cm1376 g Bas16/7/2007 12:15
13yellow 14whitepuppyfemale8.4 cm851 gblind left eyeOlga16/7/2007 12:20
14yellow 7red 116puppymale9.6 cm1174 g Yvan16/7/2007 12:25
15blue 213greenpuppyfemale8.8 cm833 gJulia20070716 19:13
16yellow 15blackpuppymale8.9 cm1116 gRob20070716 20:00

The following foxes from last year are observed in 2007: Randi, photographed by Ronald Visser on 30 May 2007
numberleft earright earnamecaughtwhere seen?
7greenyellow 11Randi2006 puppyvisiting town
8whiteblue 205Tina2006 mothersame den
Daan (no. 3) is reported dead, 2 others probably too and two more because we found two left-over heads of foxes close to the den. They were eaten by the surviving foxes.

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20070714 20:40: first goose catch

14 July 2007 20:40

The first goose catch. We are catching a flock of 26 non-breeding birds at Solvatnet. They have started moulting as non-breeders usually start two weeks earlier than succesfull breeding birds. This small flock is ideal, to learn everyone in the team what is expected during the catch.

On the top picture Maarten is overlooking the fjord. The geese did not want to leave the lake easily. They knew that a fox was hiding there. It took one of the adults, but Maarten was able to chase it away. The adult gTAN survived and Maarten is carrying it now to be measured.
cloacal inspection for sexing growing feathers measuring the head
cloacal inspection for sexing growing feathers measuring the head
the team at work blood sampling waiting
the team at work blood sampling waiting
Maarten with goose on his lap To the left: Maarten with a goose on his lap.


To the right: Maarten opens the fence
and the team posing after the catch.
opening the fences afterwards posing for a picture
release

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20070713 20:37: hiding food

FLASH plugin needed

13 July 2007 20.37

The puppies are supplied with more goslings than they can eat. They start to hide the prey for difficult times. This video shows a fox hiding a gosling. Afterwards, I go and look at the cache. The gosling is almost completely hidden.

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20070710 23:04: snowbunting ringing

climbing to a nest   a picture from the nest
waiting for a poo

10 July 2007 23:04

We are ringing snowbunting young. Later in the season Olga Dolnik will come to study the excretion of coccidisosis in the faeces. It seems that she will be late. Most snowbuntings are already fledging. We are checking the nests and ringing the young with colourrings.
another nest under the Chinese station Under the entrance of the Chinese station, we find another nest. It is a handfull of birds a handful

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20070710 14:15: my research

Three short video's which I made for the Dutch polar blog on www.pooljaar.nl/vogels. In these movies, I explain the observations which I am making. Unfortunately for you, I make my comments in Dutch.
FLASH clips get the proper plugin if video's are not visible
What do we observe through the telescope All you can learn about shit Vegetation research

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20070709 11:42: cultural heritage

Ricardo at Amundsenmast

9 July 2007 11.42

Ricardo Roura is doing a Ph.D. study at the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, studying the interaction between cultural heritage and tourism. In the polar regions, there can be found a lot of vulnerable sites and artefacts from historical events related to whaling or polar exploration. Tourists visit these sites and hear different stories. In the video, Ricardo explains about his observations near the mast where the zeppelin was moored which helped Amundsen pass the north pole to Alaska.
steps on the tundra

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20070708 13:02: reporters

8 July 2007 13.02

Ny-Aalesund is visited by numerous journalists and television crews. They want to hear stories about climate change and research. Here you see some interviews taken from me by the Norwegian television and the BBC1. They always want the glacier or geese in the background.

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20070708 12:41: schoolkids

a british group of scholars telling stories
about research

8 July 2007 12.41

Today 40 kids ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old, are visiting us. They have one a contest about sustainable use by an organisation called ice edge. Nick Cox of the British station has prepared their visit. Small groups go with various researchers and artists and learn about research and the environment. Of course I explain them about grasses, geese and foxes.
learning by experience

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20070707 13:30: artists

Antonia is painting with a view on the geese

7 July 2007 13.30

Two artists:Antonia Phillips and her husband Richard Jeffrey are visiting the English station. They have been inspired by the pictures on this website. Antonia has already painted geese at the wintering grounds on Caerlaverock, Scotland. Together we have visited Storholmen, where I have checked nests. Richard has made pictures and Antonia sketches.
art on the floor
reading rings checking nests making notes
reading ringschecking nestsmaking notes

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20070706 10:15: important visitors

taping an interview with the Norwegian minister of Education

6 July 2007 10.15

Important people are visiting our village. The minister of education of Norway (Øystein Djupedal) and the European commissionar (Janez Potocnik) are visiting Ny-Aalesund. Together with them, a lot of journalists are visiting. This morning the whole party is visiting all stations in the village. For the Netherlands station, it means, that we hoist the flag and that I walk on my wooden shoes. In front of the station, we observe the geese through a telescope and I tell about my research.

a picture from Svalbardposten, with the commisionar to the left and the minister to the right

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20070705 18:02: whales

5 July 2007 18:02

During a far count , Bas and Yvan meet some beluga's and a fin whale while looking over the fjord. I have never seen a fin whale before. The beluga's are regular guests in the fjord. A few days later I see another pod from the quay (photo bottom right).
beluga's in the fjord fin whale
beluga's

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20070704 14:43: nest check

Yvan with a gosling the gosling gets a webtag Bas with a gosling
Young purple sandpipers

4 July 2007 14.43

Every other day, two people are visiting the breeding island to monitor hatching of nests. Newborn goslings are marked with a small metal numbered plate in the web of the foot.

Bas and Yvan discover two nests of snowbuntings and a nest of a purple sandpiper with young (photo left).

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20070704 10:30: rescue operation

rescue operation

4 July 2007 10.30

I am woken up by a helicopter, which approaches at low altitude flying above the goosepond. It appears to be a rescue practice. The helicopter has just airlifted a German diver from the fjord and is bringing this diver to the decompression chamber which is installed in the marine laboratory. All the noise make my day start in poor spirit.
the helicopter landed on the football field Lize is not disturbed

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20070703 19:30: calving glaciers

vlakbij een gletsjerwand

3 Juli 2007 19.30

I am invited for a lecture on the Maryshev, a ship operated by Ocean Wide Expeditions. During my presentation, the ship continues into the fjord towards the largest glacier. The captain is not afraid to approach the glacier to a distance of only 30 meters. Beautiful transparent shades of white and blue.

The apporach is not without risk. See the video on the right. Two blocks of ice fall down the glacier. The top one explodes as a kind of cluster bomb. Note the chunks of ice falling in between the glacier and the ship.

video of retreating glaciers

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20070702 20:30: nutrient cycle

collecting substrate

2 July 2007 20.30

Lise Fivez of the University of Antwerpen is visiting us to start her experiment. She wants to grow plant material enriched in a stable isotope of nitrogen. This plant material will be added on the top of vegetation plots and she will follow the fate of the isotope, to determine which compartment (grasses, mosses or soil) will take up most of the nitrogen and with what speed.

First she has to collect substrate to plant the grasses. That is not easy in an environment full with stones, rocks and ice.
sediment
becomes substrate collecting grasses planting
substrate collecting grasses planting
focussed in the greenhouse sampling an exclosure
focussed in the greenhouse sampling an exclosure

To the right, you can find a short video in which Lise explains her research in Dutch. More information on her project can be found on the website of theuniversity of Antwerpen FLASH video in Dutch


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20070702 11:30: making rings

2 July 2007 11.30

The goose rings are send to us as flat engraved darvic plates. They have to be molded into rings. The result is a big box with almost 500 rings.
flat darvic put into boiling water Yvan molds them into rings
new rings Bas is enjoying the work the new stock

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20070626 14:00: Germany or Netherlands

26 June 2007 14:00

In the German station, two scientists from the Netherlands have been working. Today Ronald Visser and Willem van der Pol are finishing and cleaning. They have studied the effect of glacial sediment in the fjord on fytoplankton. Apart from field measurements, they have had a shading experiment on the old jetty.
Note the wildlife. A nesting barnacle goose on the big stone in the harbour and all the kittiwakes lined up on the quay.
opruimen
de oude pier vol drieteenmeeuwen het experiment afbreken

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20070625 20:00: fox puppies

25 June 2007 20:00

a puppy Six puppies have been observed sofar. They are again beautiful and playful but they will eat all goslings. Luckily, the local people are not feeding the foxes and there is no waste dump anymore. So the foxes have to survive on their own. mama fox

mama with puppies  A lot of attention for these pups.
playful attack one of six a young of last year visiting the den
mama with puppies mama with puppies
mama with puppies
a video starts when clicking on play
allow flash to view a video

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20070623 21:00: mid-summer party

23 June 2007 21:00

Mid-summer party
Mid summer party
On Saturday, following the longest day of the year, there is always a mid-summer day party. This year the theme is Starwars. Everyone dresses for this party.
Mid summer party Mid summer party Mid summer party
Mid summer party Mid summer party Mid summer party
The strangest visitors of the party Dwarfs The boat of Sysselmannen always delivers the field-inspectors during the party. They have prepared a surprise for us. Two men dressed as dwarfs. Their bellies are the faces. A wonderfull hilarious act. Thank you Mr. Sysselmannen and Mr. Head of Police. We have enjoyed it. Your bellies are vivid faces.
A great act

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20070623 15:00: collecting eggs

Landed on Ytre Breyane

23 juni 2007 15:00

For the second year, Steffen Hahn is visiting the station. He is collecting and dissecting 50 eggs of barnacle geese. He will analyse stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon. The ratio of the isotopes shows the origin of the food at the moment when the tissue was built. Are geese using nutrients of Spitsbergen, Norway or Scotland for their eggs?
One egg from each nest This egg is unfertilized At this moment, the data suggest that barnacle geese rely on southern nutrients while pinkfooted geese seem to use more energy from arctic origin. After this year it is time to write a scientific paper about this topic.

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20070621 14:00: nestcheck

21 June 2007 14:00

Nestcheck.
We visit the breeding islands in the fjord to read rings and count nests. See also the two video's at the bottom of this page.
Maarten on Storholmen green SSF protects his nest many goose droppings around the nest
The two students who help me this year: Bas van Schooten and Yvan Satgé Bas poses with this goose
allow flash to view a video verdediging Left: a video with commentary in Dutch, which I made for www.pooljaar.nl/vogels.



Right: a video about out boattrip back to the town. Sometimes it is a rough ride.
allow flash to view a video boatride

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20070621 10:00: tourists visiting

A large cruise boat

21 June 2007 10:00

Large cruise ships are regularly visiting Ny-Ålesund. In total 30.000 people will visit the village this year. They mainly visit the shop and the most-northern post office of the world.
Turists everywhere The turists walk over the few roads in the surroundings of Ny-Ålesund. This pictures shows the lines against the mountain, where the people are looking in the area of the old mine.
allow flash to view a video Toeristen tsunami Left: a video by Ronald Visser on www.pooljaar.nl about the turisten tsunami (in Dutch). You can start the video's by clicking on the screenshot.




Right: a video by Claire Evans on www.pooljaar.nl the shop (in English).
allow flash to view a video Winkeltherapie

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20070620 20:00: warming the tundra

The road brings us halfway to the plots

20 June 2007 20:00

We are building open top chambers for Jelte Rozema. He was unable to put them up earlier because there was to much snow. Now the tundra has become snowfree. A car brings the material halfway. Then the road is damaged and we have to carry the glasses further on our back. Sixteen open top chambers and sixteen control plots. Now for the third year placed on the tundra east of Ny-Ålesund. In these plots, plants of White Arctic Bell-heather (Cassiope tetragona) are marked.
From there we carry the glasses
Securing the green houses
See the video where Bas explains the set-up in Dutch.
allow flash to view a video rozema
Earlier blogs about this research: weblog 2005

Information in Dutch about this research can be found on www.pooljaar.nl.

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20070620 12:00: station opened

From left to right: Maarten Loonen, Bas van Schooten and Yvan Satgé

20 June 2007 12:00

The station has opened now for the summer season 2007. After unpacking, we installed the new station shield and hoisted the flag. After spending two extra days in Longyearbyen we received a warm welcome. Many old friends and there will be also many new.
allow flash to view a video Spitsbergen A short video from the first day at the station. Bas fixes a detector which should register fox movements. Yvan has found a leg of a fox. A white fox is sleeping on the moss. a white fox still in winter fur
the leg of another fox

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20070618 16:00: impossible to land

Fog over Kongsfjorden

18 June 2007 16:00

We tried to reach Ny-Ålesund but we did not succeed. To much fog. We left Longyearbyen at 15:30. It was a blue clear sky. In KOngsfjorden we saw the first clouds. A sharp border halfway the fjord. Also the airport was completely covered in fog. If the airstrip had been 50 meters more inland, we could have landed. Now it was impossible. After 30 minutes and two low flying passes, wereturned to Longyearbyen.
Je kunt net het dorp zien We could see the landingstrip and the village through the fog.
Can we land?

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20070531 12:00: to much snow

Where are the vegetation plots? No happy faces

31 May 2007

In 2006 spring started early. This year is much later. Snow everywhere and nowhere to go. Jelte and Bert cannot find there permanent plots on the tundra and they return without placing the open top chambers on the vegetation. You can see the joy on their faces.
Snow everywhere

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20060816 17:00: last trip

A final boat trip. Photo: Inger Greve Alsos
A final boat trip through the fjord. Farewel Spitsbergen, see you next year.
Farewel Spitsbergen, see you next summer. Photo: Inger Greve Alsos
Hanging out in front of the glacier A traditional trip for departure, is a boat trip to the front of the largest glacier. Every day, chunks of deep blue ice (coloured blue under the pressure of the ice masses above) fall in the fjord with the sound of thunder.

The ice front is 60 meter high and dangerous. We approach with the rule-of-thumb: Never come closer to the ice front than that the ice front is as large as your thumb when you have your arm fully stretched in front of you.

On 13 Jyly, I made a video of ice falling of the glacier. That day is described here.

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20060815 08:30: Zeppelin station

the cable cart goes up for a test run Janwillem knows no fear

15 August 2006, 08:30

Today, we can go with Jane Helén Carlsen to the atmospheric station on top of the Zeppelin mountain. With the cavle cart it takes about 15 minutes. From the station, there is a wonderful view on the village, the fjord and the mountains.
The station measures also carbondioxide which we exhale and therefore we can only go outside a view minutes. Our stay outside is written in a log. All air from the inside of the building goes via a tube 200 m down the mountain, out of reach of the instruments.
A short stay on the platform Exhanging filters A picture of us
poster In the station hangs a beautiful poster with two graphs. The first one is showing CO2 concentration as measured at this station. There is an annual cycle, showing lower levels of CO2 in winter when there are no plants taking up this gass for fotosynthesis. It also shows an increasing trend in CO2 over years and this increase is going faster and faster.
The right picture compares the measured trends with data from ice cores, showing that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been changing, but is reaching now an unprecedented high.
Remember CO2 is an active greenhouse gass and one of the major suspects for global warming. Something to think about...

View on Ny-Alesund from the top of Zeppelin mountain. To the left the bay Thiisbukta, in the middle the port, then the lake Solvatnethet and to the right the Amundsen mast.
view of the village
a picture through the telescope These are two pictures take through the telescope. a picture through the telescope

Latest picture from the webcam on the Zeppelin station

Below, you can see the latest picture from the webcam located on the Zeppelin mountain south of Ny-Ålesund. With good weather, you can see the town, the Kongsfjord and Blomstranden on the other site of the fjord.


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20060814 1500: Korean students

Watching geese. Explaining about geese, foxes and vegetation Demonstrating an exclosure

14 August 2006, 15:00

A group of Korean students is visiting their arctic station and the station leader has asked to explain them a bit about our work. They are accompagnied by a television crew.


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20060813 1900: jumping foxes

Filming foxes. Playing foxes

13 August 2006, 19:00


The net behind the goal on the football field has blown down. The foxes have discovered a trampoline. They play and jump. Janwillem and Maarten sit in the middle of this play. Later we will show here some video and pictures of Janwillem, who was sitting opposite from Maarten.

What are we observing? I have tagged nine puppies, but they rarely come out all at the same time. We are trying to find out group structure and dominance hierachy within the litter.
Playing foxes If you sit and wait, the foxes come close.


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20060813 1730: helikopter photo

The Sysselmannen helicopter. The village Storholmen

13 August 2006, 17:30

All summer I hoped for an opportunity to get aerial photographs from the village and Storholmen to help with mapping the vegetation. Today the helicopter of the Governor of Svalbard (Sysselmannen) will pick up one of his people. There is not enough fuel for a small trip but Rune Bård Hansen offers to take pictures on their way out. The picture of the village will be used for mapping the buildings (see here). The picture of Storholmen will be used as basis for a vegetation map.


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20060813 1200: Cecilia leaves

You have to be self-supporting, I was carrying the camera. Nordstjernen is waiting

13 August 2006, 12:00


Cecilia leaves.

She came her together with me, but now she has to make room for the next visitors. It was a hectic night in which she was entering her last data, sorting samples and packing, together with a short stay in the bar to say goodbye. The hut is a mess, but we will clean that. The Ny-Ålesund band is playing farewell and friends from UNIS wave from their boat.
Bye You should be glad that there is no sound with this picture. Nobody could play any instrument. Friends from UNIS


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20060812 2230: goose meal

The gizard is a big egg-size organ.

12 August 2006, 22:30

After returning from a goose count west of the village, we observe a puppy walking with a big gosling. The gosling is so big, that the fox cannot move far. We observe, film and photograph its behaviour. Note the eartags: left white right red: this is Oddvar.
Maarten filming Janwillem observing


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20060810 2000: NDVI

Janwillem is writing data of the spectrophotometer.

10 August 2006, 20:00

We are measuring the greenness of Ny-Ålesund with a spectrophotometer. From the reflectance in the red and the infrared wavelength, we can calculate NDVI, a measure for plant biomass. results will be presented here later.


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20060809 2230: Daan leaves

We have dressed up. Linda made this picture. Daan is hugging goodbye Bye Daan
The boat is gone but the music continues

9 August 2006, 22:30


Daan leaves.

This was already the third year that Daan helped me with the field work. We both like it up here.
Daan is leaving with the boat Nordstjernen. This boat was long ago part of Hurtigruten, the shipping line along the Norwegian coast. In the mining period, the boat was always welcomed with music. In my early years, we did the same. It was for me important to join, because the boat arrived at 8:00 o clock and those who played music received breakfast on board. In those days, we were cooking our own meals and a breakfast with eggs, bacon and salad was much appreciated. Now the boat arrives in the evening and the music is played at departure and not at arrival. It is still a vivid happening, probably because it usually coincides with an open bar evening. We have no practice runs and I have not heard any sensible music yet. But we do our best and we are entertaining.

Bye Daan.
Let me try the drum.
We also play at 24:00 when the Sysselmannen boat leaves. Now Janwillem plays the trumpet


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20060808 0704: earthquake

8 August 2006, 07:04

In my home town, an earth quake was felt, which happened in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands. The earthquake was 3.5 on the scale of Richter and related to the expoitation of a natural gass field.

I am trying to get readings on the instruments in Ny-Ålesund who have registered this earthquake.

registration of gravitation Helge Digre gave me a readout of the supercooled gravimeter, which he is servicing for the Japanese station. This instrument registers changes in the earth mass. The liquid inside of the earth is responding on the movements of the sun and the moon like the tides of the ocean. In the picture to the left this is seen as the red line. Small distortions e.g. storms are seen as the green line. There is clearly something happening at the 8th of August 2006.
Some more explanation about the supercooled gravimeter as explained by Helge:
The instrument exists of two round loops cooled to a temperature of minus 269 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Kelvin), with liquid helium. In these loops a current is running almost without resistance due to the low temperature. The moving electrons produce a stable magnetic field in which a small iron ball is hanging. The position of the ball is depending on the earth gravitation and registered.
Starting a current in the two loops is also a nice story. The loop is connected with two wires, relatively close together. When a current is send through these wires, the electrons follow the shortest route. But this part of the loop gets warm and resistance builds up. The electrons start now to follow the longest route through the loop. When the electrons arrive again at the short part of the loop, this has cooled down and the electrons continue circling through the loop without resistance.


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20060806 2000: Storholmen catch

With two kayaks and a zodiac on the water and a group of people on the beach, we bring the geese to the net on the beach.

6 August 2006, 20:00

For the third year, I organize a goose catch with the help of a group of students from UNIS, who are visiting during an excursion. The students have had a lecture about goose ecology and have spend a day observing goose behaviour. Now they have some action. We are catching on Storholmen. Complicated logistics but with support of Stockholm, the boat which is used for the student cruise. We caught 96 geese.
We collect the geese at the southern tip of the island and bring them to the right beach.
The geese arrive at the net
The geese arrive at the catch site
Boats push the flock of geese gently on the beach
Boats push the flock of geese gently on the beach.
No way back to sea.
The escape to sea is blocked.
Side by side we herd the geese into the coral
Side by side we herd the geese into the coral.
Maarten closes the door
Maarten closes the door.

What happened earlier:
a boat with students and equipment arrives on Storholmen Maarten is assigning tasks the net is ready, waiting for the kanoes to arrive
A boat with students and equipment Assigning tasks The net is ready

After the catch, geese are ringed and measured:
the students want to learn we caught one canada goose Maarten is explaining his work with a barnacle goose on his lap
Students observe the ringing We caught a Canada Goose Explaining my work
father and son at work:sex is male father and son at work: ninth primary is 57 mm Father and son at work: sex male, ninth primary five seven.
Almost thirteen year is my son. Ever summer, his father is away studying geese. He always asked for a possibility to come along and this year I saw an opportunity. He masters an english conversation after his first year high school and a lot of internet gaming (world of warcraft).
He is studying foxes and proves his value as a field assistent during this catch. He is writing down all measurements. From four sides, different people exclaim figures and he has to put them at the proper loaction in tables. He proves to be a natural talent.

This catch we cooperate with people from 8 nationalitiesten.We need a clear protocol to minimize mistakes. Letters are called according to the radio alphabet en numbers are called one by one. When someone from England says ee she means A, when someone from Norway of the Netherlands says ee, she might mean E if she spells in her native tongue. That is why we say alpha and echo.

The radio alphabet: alpha bravo charlie delta echo foxtrot golf hotel india julia kilo lima mike november oscar papa quebec romeo sierra tango uniform victor wiskey x-ray yankee zulu

A number like 263 is pronounced in Dutch like twohundred three and sixty. That is why we say two six three while calling this number. In this way we hope to minimize mistakes.



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20060806 1100: Strijbos

they are at the top of the most green area

6 August 2006, 11:00

Today, there is an interview on Dutch radio with me about a famous ornithologist, called Jan P. Strijbos. They first start a tape from 1939, where Strijbos is telling about his adventures in Kongsfjorden. Then they ask me questions about the present situation. You can hear this radio item by clicking here.

This man had been in Kongsfjorden in 1939 and 1957 and has written a book about it.
Strijbos 1957
The picture above is from his book. It must have been in 1939, because on the right hand side of the picture, there is a wooden construction which was the zeppelin hangar. It was destroyed in WO II. Kristian Thowsen, the office manager from Kings Bay, helped me to make a similar photo. His picture is below.
The background of the picture is similar, but the angle of the view is completely different. Strijbos must have been using a kite or a balloon to make his picture.

Note the glacier in the background. It has retreated enormously since 1939.
Strijbos 1939 Thowsen 2006
view on Ny-Alesund from Kloten.
view on Ny-Alesund from Kloten. To the left the view from the mountain Kloten without telelens. Kristian had to make a long walk to get a similar picture.

The cold air at this latitude contains so little water and smog that you can over long distances. The village is 5 kilometers away and the glacier in the background is 17.5 km away.
map showing the camera position


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20060803 1030: field assistent

1-19 August 2006

My son Janwillem is helping me as a field assistent. Marion, my wife has brought him to Spitsbergen. Here you find a page with family pictures.

station haren schiphol descent oslo
station Haren Schiphol descent Oslo
waiting for the next flight arrival Longyearbyen breakfast in the hotel
waiting for the next flight arrival Longyearbyen breakfast in the hotel
shopping street the village first encounter
shopping street the village first encounter
the last flight 100 kilometer here my daddy lives
the last flight 100 kilometer here my daddy lives
observing geese together watching foxes looking for whales
observing geese together watching foxes looking for whales
behavioural observations of foxes close so playful
behavioural observations of foxes close so playful
boating ice bergs in the fjord testing survival suits
boating ice bergs in the fjord testing survival suits
steam engines in Ny-London view on Ny-Aalesund the old marble mine
steam engines in Ny-London view on Ny-Aalesund the old marble mine
a group photo with cloaks and the new flag
a group photo with cloaks and the new flag
Jw with unloaded gun a tame reindeer view on the village
Janwillem can carry the unloaded gun he approaches a reindeer view on the village
in front of Brandalhytta in a hut a short break in a hut
attacked dug attacked by an arctic skua
boat departure he can play Het hele dorp zwaait enkele oudgedienden uit. Dat gebeurt met een fanfare. Janwillem krijgt een tuba en binnen 3 minuten blaast hij een deuntje.
mama leaves have a nice trip back mama leaves
to Storholmen a break on the tundra
to the island Storholmen a break on the tundra
attacked by a great skua zoefff
attacked by a great skua zoeff
Arriving on the island Catching geese Writing Teamwork
Arriving on an island Catching geese Writing Teamwork
Contact via internet Chatting with his sister The new internet connection was of great value to both of us. Being away for eight weeks, we could still take part in all family affairs. A webcam made communication easy.
For Janwillem it was a mix of outdoor life, helping me, his own researh on the foxes and playing World of Warcraft.
Contact via internet Chatting with his sister
A goose count... ...west of town... ...crossing the red river
West of town counting geese crossing the red river
A tea break in a hut Writing in the hut log  
A tea break in a hut Writing in the hut log.  
Rubber boots or walking shoes? Walking shoes are OK at least after snowmelt
Rubber boots or walking shoes Walking shoes are OK... ...at least after snowmelt
Building a cath area Cages for holding geese Experimental treatment:clippng
Building a cath area Cages for holding geese Clipping grasses
Just for a picture Manouvring between ice flows In front of the glacier
Behind the wheel at low speed Ice everywhere In front of the glacier
The first part of our return trip With 14 passengers  
The first part of our return trip With 14 passengers  
Polar bear alert Janwillem loves the fox display This used to be coal mining town
Svalbard Museum: a safe encounter Polar fox hunting a seal pup on the ice Mining for coal
Departure from Lonyearbyen Daily flights to the mainland  
Departure Longyearbyen Daily flights to the mainland  


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20060729 0300: bird cliff

view from the bottom of the bird cliff. they are at the top of the most green area Daan is already coming down
Here you can see the steepness of the area They climb with ladders to the nests

29 July 2006, 03:00

Daan and Cecilia have been taking blood samples at the bird cliff of Blomstrand were Janik and Ine are working with kittiwakes. I am going to get them home. When I arrive, they are still working and I climb to them. At this cliff, you can beautifully see how the excrements of the birds fertilize the area.


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20060728 1500: earmarking foxes

test
inspection by the vixen

28 July 2006, 15:00

Marking foxes. The fox den under the London-houses is famous. The foxes are very tame and used to people. Are they still behaving natural? They have such a large impact on the goose population, so I have to study these foxes too. In order to recognize them, they need to be marked. Thanks to Eva Fuglei, Bjorn Andes and Ian Gjertz, I was allowed to tag them individually. Today I started catching and I was able to tag 9 foxes within one day. I think I still miss the father and one puppy.
We used traditional fox traps. A stone on the door is enough weight to keep it closed when a fox is inside.
we caught a puppy with big gloves now I am a fox catcher too ready for marking
puppy caught with big gloves handle with care fixation

ready for marking colourful marks weighing release
I hold the fox, Cecilia marks and Daan takes the pictures colourful marks weighing the fox release


numberleft earright earsizesexbodymassname We will start a facilty on our webpage to enter sightings of foxes and geese. We are very interested in keeping track of the whereabouts of these foxes, over the autumn and winter. Please keep a check on www.arcticstation.nl and see under [sightings of animals]. For sightings, you only have to know which colour in which ear, because the colourcombinations are unique. We than name them by two colournames, left ear (seen from the fox perspective) first and than the colour of the right ear.
1greenblue 206puppynot sexed1360 gCecilia
2blackred 106puppymale1460 gMaarten
3greenred 105puppymale1396 gDaan
4whitered 104puppymale1440 gOddvar
5blackblue 207puppyfemale1220 gLinda
6blackyellow 12puppyfemale1363 gAlexandra
7greenyellow 11puppyfemale1190 gRandi
8whiteblue 205adultfemale-Tina
9whiteyellow 10puppymale1396 gRick
10red 125whitepuppymale1402 gJanwillem

The first nine foxes were caught 28/7/2006 between 13:00 and 20:00. The next day I had two recaptures and decided to wait with baiting the traps until an unmarked fox was around. 30/7/2007 17:30, we caught the last puppy (no. 10).


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20060726 1830: third goose catch

26 July 2006, 18:30

walking with geese through the village
explaining what will happen getting the geese together a walk.... ...through the village... ...towards the nets
slowly, gentle
For the third goose catch, we are walking the geese through the village towards the net. In the top row of pictures, you see Maarten explain to a group of volunteers, how they will encircle the geese. You need a bit of a lesson in goose behaviour and everyone has to understand my hand signals. Than we were pushing the geese out of the small pond and walked them through the village to the nets on the east side of town. It went very smoothly.
On the largest picture you can see that we did catch some goslings this time. Pictures with Maarten are taken by Johan Strm.
closing the pen
The gate is closed and we start putting the geese into green enclosures so we can collect their faeces.
grabbing the geese putting them in individual cages
While Maarten is grabbing a goose, the others cary them over to Olga, who places them in inidvidual green cages to collect their faeces.


Maarten with the last goose a group picture We started catching at 18:00. Then waiting two hours for the goose to empty their gut til 20:00. We started ringing the goslings and parent birds first and they were released again at 22:00. Than we did all other birds. We were finished at 00:15.

Daan with gosling


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20060725 2030: fjord count

boating in Kongsfjorden

25 July 2006, 20:30

This is the period in which all geese are moulting. The first non-breeders will start to fly again at the end of this month. The breeding birds will continue moulting another 3 weeks. In this period we are going to count the geese in the whole fjord. Daan and Cecilia started with a count to Gasebu. Secondly I brought them to Kvadehuken and they counted the area from the point of Brgerhalvoya to the village. Then Vincent, Olga and me were going by boat along all islands and the coast of the inner fjord.

We counted 408 barnacle geese in the fjord. Since 2000, the number shows a steep decline from 1500 adult geese to about 400 right now. We need a year without heavy fox predation soon, to allow some recovery of the population.

Earlier we have counted 339 nests on the islands. Some geese must have left the fjord after the young have been predated.
coffeebreak at Stuphallet On the trip from Kvadehuken, Cecilia and Daan made a coffeebreak. Daan is pouring coffee, while Cecilia made the picture to the left.

On the picture to the right, there is a group of moulting pinkfooted geese near Ossian Sarsfjellet. Among them was one bird with a blue neckband: P40. Unfortunately you cannot see this on this picture.
pinkfooted goose at Ossian Sarsfjellet


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20060724 1700: second goose catch

herding the geese to the nets
a stroll along the beach

24 July 2006, 17:00

The second goose catch. Here you see how we bring the geese with kayaks to the nests. Daan and Cecilia in the kayaks, Maarten on the beach and Vincent taking the photo's. There is no panic among the geese. We simply walk with them along the beach to the nets.

blocking the way
Olga blocks the way, the geese come out of the water and move on land into the net

into the pen
closing in the geese
close the door caught
close the door caught


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20060724 1230: kittiwake sampling

geese are kept for a few days Steve Portugal next to his experimental setup the goose resting
the goose resting
the goose resting

24 July 2006, 12:30

Cecilia and Vincent have been brought to the other side of the fjord where the Norwegian Polar Institute is catching and studying kittiwakes. They help with the catch and are taking blood samples.
The kittiwakes are caught with a noose on a long fishing rod.


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20060723 13:30: costs of locmotion

geese are kept for a few days Steve Portugal next to his experimental setup the goose resting

23 July 2006, 13:30

In the British station, there are three scientist from the University of Birmingham, who are fascinated about the achievements of the geese and want to study how they are able to do so. This summer, they are measuring the energetic cost of moult and locomotion. They hold a few geese for a couple of days and let them rest and walk on a tredmill. In the meanwhile they measure heart rate and oxygen consumption.
the goose walking on the tredmill Pete Frappal preparing the oxygen measurement
the fox checking the cage The polar fox came checking our geese during the night. Kai Marholdt of the French-German station made this picture.


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20060722 2000: goose catch

Measuring and sampling barnacle geese in Kongsfjorden

22 July 2006, 20:00

Our first goose catch.
I planned to catch 25 adults without goslings, we did catch 22. With kayaks we herded the geese to the nets at Amudsen mast. Most of them were already ringed. We measured their body condition and took some blood and faeces samples for analysis.
It was a wonderful opportunity to optimize our procedures.

If you move the pointer over the picture, you can read additional comments.

Vincent Munster and Steve Portugal bring geese to Olga Dolnik, who places them in individual cages to collect faeces
the geese are placed in individual cages to collect their faeces a goose in a box the polar fox checks if there is any food
Daan Vreugdenhil is sexing the goose Cecilia Sandstrm is taking a blood sample Vincent Munster is taking a cloacal swap
Daan measures and Maarten writes In these pictures, you can see the goose team at work. Daan Vreugdenhil is sexing a goose, Cecilia Sandstrm is taking a blood sample, Vincent Munster is taking a cloacal swap, Maarten writes and Olga Dolnik is collecting faeces. Olga Dolnik collecting faeces


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20060721 2355: my hat is stolen

my hat is stolen i want it back finally victory not sure the fight is over
the criminals  

21 July 2006, 23:55

On a far count west of the villag, an arctic skua steals my hat from my head without warning. It lands with the hat 100 meters away and picks at it vigorously. I will not let this happen. My first attempt failes and the skua takes the hat another twenty meters. Bit in my second attempt I succeed. Vincent Munster has photographed this last attempt.


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20060721 1600: faeces from snowbuntings

Olga Dolnik checks a snowbunting young a nest of snowbuntings in a ventilation hole of the workshop

21 July 2006, 16:00

Olga Dolnik is an expert in avian coccidiosis. She is staying for 10 days and collects faeces of many bird species. Under the microscope she distinguishes at thousand times magnification small unicellular parasites which live in the intestinal tract. Many young birds are infected with this parasite. In the new program BIRDHEALTH we hope to study how this infection influences growth and survival of young.

Here, she is checking young snowbuntings. This bird species is the only passerine on Spitsbergen. It migrates to the mainland in winter. Breeding at this high lattitude the birds develop extremely fast. The young are fed with insects, which are not abundant at this extreme lattitude.
we needed a ladder to climb to the nest
baby snowbunting


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20060720 0545: murder

click for video click for video click for video click for video click for video
Maarten makes a video about the foxes

20 July 2006, 05:45

Last time the pictures where peaceful, now they are about murder. In the early morning, a parent fox brought an adult moulting goose. At noon, a gosling was delivered. The puppies are realy exited and fight together to monopolize the prey. I could come very close and made a video. Unfortunately, the video vos20060720.wmv is not available anymore.


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20060718 19:30: peaceful or not

foxes playing in an exclosure

18 July 2006, 19:30

The goslings grow rapidly, but we see less families every day. Today, Daan saw a fox attacking a family group and eating all six goslings. The scene is so peaceful. Foxes playing in an exclosure (oops, yes it should keep animals out instead of in) and geese sleeping.
sleeping geese photo: Vincent Munster
families photo: Vincent Munster

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20060716 17:30: covering new ground

Cecilia waves Woitjek goodbye the hut Geopol, with whale bones and reindeer antlers inside we start the wood stove and dry our clothes, an atmosphere of former times

16 July 2006, 17:30

We have planned an overnight trip to the tip of Brgerhalvya to visit all lakes in this area. With a high predation in our normal study area, this area might be an alternative. It is a vast area 15 kilometers from Ny-Alesund. Just in time I realized that I was planning a daytrip of 35 kilometer. So we switched to an alternative plan. I asked Woitjek to drop us with the boat of the Norwegian Polar Institute and we stayed overnight in the hut Geopol.
a stone desert stone circles made by nature a dead reindeer started this green spot
This tip is called Kvadehuken, which is based on the Dutch name Kwaade Hoek: bad corner. Many shallow rocks in front of the shore made it dangerous to pass. The area is of unearthy beauty. A stone desert, filling the view, with depressions with small lakes and stone circles. Green circles with lush vegetation mark the spot where once a reindeer died and fertilized the soil. The nutrients of the decomposing body started vegetation and arctic skuas use these patches to sit, nest and defaecate. Over many years, the patch becomes greener and greener. With reindeer and goose droppings to continue this process.
the edges of the stone circles form the microclimate for germination of seeds and spores logging soil perturbation The world best polygones are found in this area. Stone circles formed over centuries by soil perturbation. Freezing and thawing in the top soil, with permafrost in the deeper soils has sorted the stones.
We found this site where the soil was monitored automatically.

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20060714 14:30: arctic terns

incubating tern at marked site tern shit on my jacket terns with hatched chick
In the village, arctic terns are nesting. These birds are the longest migrants and winter in the antarctic. In the end of the nineties we had over 300 breeding pairs in the village. Now, this number is much lower due to fox predation. We monitor the nests and their survival together with Brge Moe. Nests are staked out and visited daily. The area close to the dogyard seems the best place in town. Tern nests do hatch here. The terns are attacking vigorously. They pick on peoples heads and also divebomb with their shit. But around 14 July, the fox starts to clean this area. Within three days all eggs and hatchlings disappear.

14 July 2006, 14:00 feeding photo: Vincent Munster

red dots are tern nest in July 2006

attacking photo: Vincent Munster

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20060713 18:00: birdclif and calving glaciers

landing with the zodiac from Noorderlicht observing the birds birdclif Ossian Sarsfjellet

13 July 2006, 18:00

De captain of the sailing boat Noorderlicht has invited me for a trip to the birdclif Ossian Sarsfjellet. It is the largest birdclif in the fjord and I have never been on land at this site. The day is a bit grey, but the experience is magnificent. On the way to the clif, I give a lecture for the turists about goose ecology. Than we land next to the clif and climb up to a wonderful view.
watching the calving glacier calving glacier

bearded seal
We returned to the boat, had a nice dinner and sailed to the glacier front. There we observed ice falling of the glacier causing a tsunami-like wave. I made a video of the falling ice.
And we ended the trip viewing a bearded seal from close distance on an ice flow. Thank you Gert.

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20060711 19:30: feeding goose families

feeding goose families

11 July 2006, 19:30

The goslings are growing rapidly. On this picture you can see some of the oldest goslings in town. This group moved out to the east of the village after being disturbed many times by the fox. Note the green legbands with inscriptions.

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20060711 03:30: catching eiders

we catch eider ducks with a snooze on a fishing rod maarten with a female eider

11 July 2006, 03:30

Thierry Boulinier is studying eider ducks on Storholmen Next year we will start a new research program on avian diseases (www.birdhealth.nl). This year we have sampled a few eiderducks. We are taking a little bit of blood and make a swap with a bit of cotton through the cloaca and the mouth. We don't expect to find any dangerous virusses, but the dynamics of low-pathogenic virusses might help us to understand interactions between virus and host.
Cecilia holds the duck for sampling a cloacal swap

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20060709 21:00: catching guillemots

a bird cliff with brnnich's guillemot checking nests catching birds while hanging on ropes
measuring the bird taking a small blood sample

9 July 2006, 21:00

Cecilia is going with Erlend Lorentzen and Graeme Loh. These men are ringing Brnnich's Guillemot for the Norwegian Polar Institute. They first check the nests from a ladder but then decide to work from the top of the cliff hanging on ropes. A unique opportunity for us to sample other birds.

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20060708 18:00: last nest check on the islands

The geese defend their nest.... ...while Maarten checks the nest....
...the geese have to wait

8 July 2006, 18:00

Again, we are checking nests. There are only a few nests left. The last nests are hatching and the geese are not happy to see us.

We mark the goslings of nests where the parents are unringed. Webtags are used. These are small metal plates which are pierced through the web of the foot. When we recatch this gosling later, we know its nest and hatchdate.

This goose has seen me before. She refuses to show her goslings to me. I can touch and pet her. It is green PA with hatching eggs and two goslings in the nest.
 
Maarten showing a marked gosling there is a numbered webtag attached
 
the goose does not want to show her assets green PA has eggs.... and goslings

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20060707 15:00: measuring grasses

small exclosures to measure plant production measuring ringed grasses

7 July 2006, 15:00

To assess the amount of food for the geese we measure production and consumption of the grass. In the village, there are 12 paired plots: one exclosed, one grazed. Every plot contains four marked shoots and every week we measure the length of each leaf on the shoot.

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20060706 22:00: reading rings on the islands

reading rings hold them in the nest Cecilia with goslings
a male goose, trying to impress me

6 July 2006, 22:00

Nestcheck on Prins Heinrichoya. Cecilia reads the rings of the geese while I apporach the nest. The geese try to frighten me. Not all eggs hatch simultaneously. This nest still has an egg with a holw while three goslings wanted to walk away with the parents. Cecilia places them back in the nest.
To the right two glaucous gull chicks, grown by eating eidereggs and ducklings.
grown on hundered eider ducklings

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20060706 13:30: wildlife photographers

photo: Jasper Doest

6 July 2006, 13:30

Three days, there have been three Dutch wildlife photographers been staying in the Netherlands station. They have been waiting for hours for the puppies to come close to them. The results are magnificient.

More of their work can be seen at www.doest-photography.com and www.wildimages.nl.
from left to right: Jasper Doest, Bart Breet, and Krijn Trimbos

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20060703 15:00: foxes eat goslings

the mother fox has left the pups with a gosling fight or divide

3 July 2006, 15:00

The mother fox has been delivering goslings earlier, but this is the first time I can catch it on film. The puppies fight over the prey but the winner runs away. The others go for a drink at their mother.

This summer, these foxes will kill hundreds of goslings.
lactating polar fox

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20060702 12:00: boat trip to the islands

preparing the boat at the island and the first picture of me

2 July 2006 12:00

in the harbour it is quiet
in the fjord it is different We go by boat to the breeding islands. Today, the sea is rough. The boat drops on the waves and salt water wettens our faces. Near the island Storholmen, we can leave the boat in the shelter of the island. Erik and Cecilia look after the telescopes

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20060701 10:00: cruise boats visiting

boats in the fjord
in line for the post office

1 July 2006, 10:00

Today, it is full of tourists. One boat at the quay and two anchoring nearby. Small boats are used as ferries. I counted 361 persons on the street. There is a long que for the post office. The picture below is taken from the first floor of the Sverdrup station.
tourists everywhere

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20060701 00:30: midnight sun

midnight sun

1 July 2006, 00:30

It has been drizzling for three days, but tonight at midnight the sun breaks through the clouds and we are enjoying a lovely evening.

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20060630 09:30: den of polar fox with puppies

click for video

30 June 2006, 09:30

Today, we counted not seven but nine puppies of the polar fox. To the left my first photograph made with digiscoping through my telescope. I still have to learn a lot. All others were much less. However I did make some video (vos20060630.wmv), which is not available anymore.

Later today, I will have an interview with VPRO-radio (program called "The unfinished past"). They have found a news item from 1939. The godfather of birding (Jan P. Strijbos) tells about his trip to Spitsbergen to the godfather of nature conservation (Jac. P. Thijsse). They will broadcast this item on August 6, together with my interview. Strijbos did write a nice book about his Spitsbergen trip which I have never been able to buy.
click for video
click for video
click for video


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20060629 17:00: reading rings

Cecilia is reading rings at Solvatnet

29 June 2006, 17:00

Families of barnacle geese arrive in the village. It is important to read their rings and check which goslings did survive. While Cecilia is reading the rings, the fox is watching her.
The fox is checking her

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20060628 11:00: video about nest checks

28 June 2006, 11:00

Maarten Loonen and Kjel Tore Hansen are checking the nests on Juttaholmen. I have made a short video which gives an impression of the work and the sounds.

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20060627 20:30: glaucous gulls attacking

The glaucous gull is defending its nest

27 June 2006, 20:30

While checking the barnacle goose nests on the islands, we are also checking the presence of predators. Here Cecilia Sandstrm is checking a nest of a glaucous gull, which is vigorously attacking her.
 
Cecilia being dive-bombed Three young ones

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20060627 19:30: Steffen Hahn collecting eggs

Steffen Hahn, collecting eggs

27 June 2006, 19:30

Where do the geese collect the nutrients for their eggs? Are the nutrients from the spring staging period on the Norwegian mainland or are they gathered just before egg laying on Spitsbergen? Steffen Hahn is working together with Marcel Klaassen (Netherlands Institute for Ecology) on this question. He is visiting the Dutch station for one week.
Analysing the eggs

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20060627 12:00: checking nests on Storholmen

The geese are trying to chase Erik away. Kjell Tore has to read the ring

27 June 2006, 12:00

The largest breeding island in the fjord is Storholmen. On this island, every year we map all nests. We work in pairs. One of us slowly approaches the nest. We note the distance at which the female leaves the nest (a measure for her motivation to defend the nest). Clutch size is recorded and the rings of the geese are read. While one person is approaching the nest, the other is looking through the telescope from a distance.
Kjell Tore and Cecilia checking nests Marking the position of the nest with a GPS Good parents gueard the nest, most geese leave at 5 meter distance

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20060626 17:00: Nick Cox observes foxes

Nick Cox is observing the polar foxes

26 June 2006, 17:00

222 I had hoped to have a year without polar foxes. They have a tremendous effect on the goose population and have eaten almost all goslings in the last 5 years. The warm winter and the lack of ice should have caused them difficulty. However, there is a den again next to our hut and Nick Cox has counted seven puppies.

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