Polar bears in Svalbard report


This 2015 video is called Polar Bears / Documentary (English/HD).

From Polar Bears International:

A Challenging Ice Year in Svalbard?

Monday, February 22, 2016 – 11:29

Contributor: Andrew Derocher

The winter of 2015/16 has been a wild one for the Arctic. January was warm beyond belief across the Arctic, with sea ice tracking at record low levels. Svalbard’s polar bears, in particular, were challenged by the virtual absence of sea ice anywhere near the cluster of islands until late December.

When I worked in Svalbard with the Barents Sea Population, we were based on Hopen Island in the southeast corner of the archipelago. At times, up to 40 female polar bears denned there, but it was clear that they were sensitive to sea ice conditions. If the ice didn’t arrive at the island by the first week of December, females couldn’t reach the area in time to den and had to go elsewhere.

While Hopen Island lies at the southern range of the denning habitat in Svalbard, 2015 presented new challenges to bears throughout the Barents Sea population. Sea ice was very late arriving at Kong Karls Land, which is a major and critically important denning area for the population. Kong Karls Land is what I consider one of the three jewels of polar bear denning. Along with the Churchill denning area in Canada and Wrangel Island in Russia, these three areas have unusually high densities of denning females.

Kong Karls Land can have 80 dens a year in a rather small area. Bogen Valley on Kongsøya (Kings Island) used to be like a polar bear condominium complex: Females often denned a minute’s walk from their neighbor. Some females, probably a bit bored after months in a den, would move their cubs to other dens if the former resident had already taken her cubs out to the ice.

What happened to denning in 2015/16 in Svalbard won’t be known until the Norwegian field crew reports back. It’s a worrisome time. Sea ice didn’t arrive until December in much of the archipelago. The changes in Svalbard have come much faster than expected.

Many of the areas where I studied bears from 1996-2002 are no longer polar bear habitat: They don’t have any sea ice now. While the recent COP21 agreement in Paris is a positive step forward, the challenges for polar bears remain as they were. We all have a role to play and the Paris Agreement is a promising start, but we need additional leadership and a fast transition to a low-carbon future to address the challenges ahead.

Polar bear conservation in Scotland: here.

Svalbard expedition 2015, videos


This summer 2015 video is from just before the big Dutch expedition to Svalbard. In this video, there is an interview with Piet Oosterveld. He was in Svalbard in 1968 as well, and tells about an attack by a polar bear then.

In this video, there are interviews with expedition participants.

This video is about traces of oil exploration in the 1980s, which can still be found in Svalbard.

This video shows the return of three expedition participants to Kapp Lee on Edgeøya island, where they were in 1968-1969 as well.

This video shows beautiful images by cameran Ruben Kocx in Svalbard.

This video is about research on Edgeøya island about springtails, fungi, etc.

This video shows the return of the scientists to Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard. They have found bones of whales, reindeer, etc.

This video is also about the return to Longyearbyen.

This video is about polar bear excrement, which will be studied.

This video shows various sides of the expedition.

This video is from Ny-Ålesund on Spitsbergen: visit by Dutch minister of foreign affairs, and a seal.

This video is about tourism in Svalbard, like the Longyearbyen camping ground.

Svalbard weather station working well


This August 2015 Dutch video is about meteorologist Peter Kuipers Munneke and others installing an unmanned weather station on a glacier in the eastern part of Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago.

Peter Kuipers Munneke told Dutch NOS TV today that the station is working well. Even though there has been a snow storm. And it is now polar night, meaning the solar panels don’t work, and batteries have to provide the energy.

A few days ago, it was 24 degrees Celsius below zero at the station.

380-million-year old tropical forest discovery in Svalbard


This video from the USA says about itself:

Devonian forest

4 November 2013

This scene is excerpted from the Colorado Geology: Devonian-Mississippian video (in progress). These trees are the Progymnosperm Archaeopteris, and the forest floor includes Racophyton. Major soils did not develop until the first trees evolved on land.

From Geology:

Lycopsid forests in the early Late Devonian paleoequatorial zone of Svalbard

Christopher M. Berry and John E.A. Marshall

Abstract

The Middle to early Late Devonian transition from diminutive plants to the first forests is a key episode in terrestrialization. The two major plant groups currently recognized in such “transitional forests” are pseudosporochnaleans (small to medium trees showing some morphological similarity to living tree ferns and palms) and archaeopteridaleans (trees with woody trunks and leafy branches probably related to living conifers).

Here we report a new type of “transitional” in-situ Devonian forest based on lycopsid fossils from the Plantekløfta Formation, Munindalen, Svalbard. Previously regarded as very latest Devonian (latest Famennian, 360 Ma), their age, based on palynology, is early Frasnian (ca. 380 Ma). In-situ trees are represented by internal casts of arborescent lycopsids with cormose bases and small ribbon-like roots occurring in dense stands spaced ∼15–20 cm apart, here identified as Protolepidodendropsis pulchra Høeg. This plant also occurs as compression fossils throughout most of the late Givetian–early Frasnian Mimerdalen Subgroup.

The lycopsids grew in wet soils in a localized, rapidly subsiding, short-lived basin. Importantly, this new type of Middle to early Late Devonian forest is paleoequatorial and hence tropical. This high-tree-density tropical vegetation may have promoted rapid weathering of soils, and hence enhanced carbon dioxide drawdown, when compared with other contemporary and more high-latitude forests.

Brünnich’s guillemots, Svalbard and the Netherlands


This video shows a Brünnich’s guillemot, on 29 July 2012, near Lauwersoog in the Netherlands. This Arctic bird is very rare in the Netherlands.

The recent Dutch Svalbard expedition went to the biggest Brünnich’s guillemot nesting colony of the archipelago: Stellingfjellet, with about 100,000 nests. There, young fledgling birds were then jumping off the cliffs to the sea, often accompanied by their fathers.

Birds and whales seen during Svalbard expedition


This video is called Ortelius, polar bear, Svalbard June 2015.

This morning, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio broadcast an interview with participants in the big Dutch Svalbard expedition who had counted birds from the expedition ship Ortelius.

They did not only see birds, but also cetaceans; including fin whale, minke whale and white-beaked dolphin.

Among the bird species counted were Atlantic puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, ivory gulls, little auks and Brünnich’s guillemots.

Svalbard expedition, another wildlife update


This video is about birds in Svalbard in July 2014, including eider ducklings, Arctic tern, black guillemot and long-tailed duck.

Peter Kuipers Munneke, participant in the big Dutch Svalbard expedition, reports today about researchers going by boat from Edgeøya island to Barentsøya island. There, they investigated a lakelet which had not been in contact with sea water for thousands of years.

More on the lakelet research, about botanical changes, by Lineke Woelders: here.

Marieke Borst, another participant, blogged on 23 August 2015 (translated):

Here I see them, the birdwatchers. This expedition has brought many of them here. Amid the most spectacular scenery they focus their binoculars on northern fulmars, kittiwakes, pink-footed geese, glaucous gulls, Brünnich’s guillemots and ivory gulls.

On 22 August 2015, Ms Borst reported about seeing a ringed seal (see also here), an Arctic fox and reindeer on Edgeøya.

Svalbard polar bears: here.