Svalbard 2015 - Final blog post from the Svalbard team!

Our time in Ny Alesund went by far too quickly, and before we knew it the last day had arrived. Julia and I went to take soil samples at the edge of the village. We couldn’t dig very deep because the water table was very close to the surface, but at least I got a good look at some soil which helps me understand what I am up against with the model. Niko and Stephan packed up and got everything ready to send back to Germany. In the evening, Stephan jumped into the cold water in the fjord with some of the Ny Alesund locals, although the next day he was feeling (and looking) pretty sick so I feel quite ok that I wasn’t brave enough to do it.

Julia digging the soil
Me taking soil samples.

On Monday morning we were ready to go, but the weather was not looking friendly. The wind was much stronger than it had been all week, for the first time it was raining, and the clouds were coming down low over the mountains. There was nothing to do but wait to see if the plane would come. We were lucky at breakfast to see an Arctic fox come right up to the door of the building! A good farewell from Ny Alesund. The only thing we didn’t see was a polar bear and on balance we were quite happy about that.

Arctic fox.
Waiting in the minibus to see if the plane arrives.

We said goodbye to everyone and loaded into the minibus with all our luggage and the rest of the passengers - a full flight this time. Then we sat at the airport waiting for the plane while the wind rocked the van and the rain lashed on the windows… Eventually it arrived! There were no nice views from the window this time, but we were glad to get back to Longyearbyen for some last Svalbard shopping and some lunch. Then we were off on the big plane again, back to the mainland, to Oslo, and to home.

Waiting in Longyearbyen airport for the plane home.

As well as being in an awesome place, I enjoyed the chance to spend some of my working time outdoors, and it was great to spend a week with such nice and funny people. I asked them all what they thought of the trip, so you can get some different perspectives.

Julia says: “It was a great trip, with formidable weather conditions (except the arrival and departure times..) and no polar bear appearance. We got a lot done (finished our to do list), had a look around at tundra and glacier sites, and the team was great. I still have to laugh when I think about the videos! I also had some more scientific ideas, it happens when I am distant from my office and have the cold air in my face and a view of beautiful landscapes.”

Stephan says: “It was a very nice experience with lots of things I’ve never seen and/or done before. To see very huge glaciers, polar foxes and reindeers and flying very with small airplanes and eat strange brown cheese. Sauna with clothing, to find cut handbones on a mountain and the broken bed under Niko ;-). A very nice trip, with very nice guys!”

Finally from Niko: “First time and hopefully not the last time to Svalbard! A quite different experience to the expedition in the Lena-Delta (Russia) I had before. Great urban facilities in this kind of remote place, a shop, bar and very tasty canteen, it’s a real small cozy village. But the best in expeditions is the same, intensive work outside in a sometimes rough environment, meet very nice people and get unique impressions of nature! Thanks a lot to the permanent AWIPEV and Kingsbay Staff for their support which makes this experience possible!”

I would like to echo the thanks to everyone at Ny Alesund, from all of us, and lastly thanks to you (the reader) for following this blog to the very end. Hope you enjoyed it!

Ny Alesund from the mountain.
Ny Alesund sunset.
Written on September 8, 2015