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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

The world’s most northerly permanent settlement – and marine laboratory

The weather seemed much the same as yesterday when I woke up in Longyearbjen this morning – but there was a surprise when I went out to the airport, which is close to the water. The bay was full of chunks of sea ice which had wafted in during the night. It completely changes the panorama and reminds you you are indeed in the Arctic.
The weather is calm but cloudy, so picture-taking was difficult. This gives an impression of the area we were flying over, though:

The plane to Ny Alesund in the far north – just 1,000 miles from the North Pole – is a small one – there were 9 of us on it this morning – reserved for scientists and people with official business in Ny Alesund – the world’s most northern permanent settlement.

Once a coal mining village, Ny Alesund is now a scientific research centre, with the world’s most northerly marine laboratory. Clearly an ideal choice for a project looking at marine life. There’s only a very small group of people here over the winter, but at the moment, the staff are preparing for the challenge of having around 60 extra people here, working on the EU-sponsored EPOCA programme, looking at the effects of ocean acidification on marine life. More details later.
Some of the locals were out to greet us:

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza was also waiting in the harbour.

This will be my home for the next few days, as the team of scientists headed by Professor Ulf Riebesell from the IFM-Geomar Institute of Kiel University and the technical experts get the mesocosms ready to be deployed in the fjord and set up the equipment to do the monitoring in the marine lab.

These ‚’medium-sized worlds’ are around 8 metres high, the ‚floating frames’ have what look like rolled up plastic sacks inside, which will capture sections of the ocean complete with ecosystems inside, where scientists will change the acidity of the water to different levels in the different mesocosms. ´
They will stay in the water here for five weeks, during which time the experts on all different aspects of marine life will check what effect this has – weather permitting. More soon when I talk to the Professor himself.


May 28, 2010 | 7:35 am