onsdag 27. februar 2008

I saw the sun today

- and it´s still big, round and yellow.

The sun seen from Adventdalen, shining through Bolterdalen.

More sun in Helvetiadalen. Me in front.

For the first time since October I saw the sun, and it made me whoop!

tirsdag 26. februar 2008

Grand opening of the Seed Vault

The Global Seed Vault finally opens today, and we aren´t invited. But yesterday we were, to the final rehearsal - together with a large part of the local population. The weather was really bad, and the drivers of the 5 large buses that took us up the winding, narrow road to the vault, through the blizzard in complete darkness, did an excellent job. The weather today is a lot better, but still windy.

Anyway - we weren´t allowed to take pictures during the ceremony, but here´s one of the host, Fredrik Skavlan.

Underneath is the scene where Mari Boine and Coco Mbassi performed, and where Nobelprice-winner Wangari Maathai spoke about deliveries of seeds. They´ll be doing the same things today, more about that here.

Afterwards, we took some snapshots of the beautiful ice-art in the halls.

And we did a little posing, Emma and I...

The art-piece that´s on the entrance of the vault looks really nice, but as the weather was so horrible last night, I couldn´t get a good shot of it, and I have nicked the one under from here. It´s made by the Norwegian artist Dyveke Sanne.

The bear in front is made of ice, by the way...

The whole town has been flooded with camera-teams for several days - it´s quite entertaining to see reporters and camera teams snooping around the streets and shops, carrying heavy gear. Here and here are a couple of reports. There´ll probably be more before this day is over.

Update 8 o´clock: you´ll find the whole ceremony here.

søndag 24. februar 2008

Across the bay

... lies Hiorthhamn.

Hiorthhamn used to be a coal mining settlement, just across from Longyearbyen, nearly one hundred years ago. For a while (between 1938 and 2002), the place was called Moskushamn, after the many musk-oxens that could be seen around the area. Hiorthhamn is only a short ride away, and a nice destination for a daytrip.

Buildings from the old settlement - and some new cabins, nicely situated on the shore.

Picnicking with Finn, Alvar, Cathy and Lydia.

Looking back towards Longyearbyen.

A closer look: red arrow pointing at our house.

Looking southeast, towards Adventdalen.

And then home.

fredag 22. februar 2008

More on quake - and clouds

According to this link, it was no coincidence that the eclipse and the quake yesterday happened almost simultaneously. Svalbard is situated in an area near the atlantic ridge, and may be vulnerable to the moon´s tug when it´s relatively close to earth.

Well, I don´t know. Sounds a bit dubious to me.

Also - I have to adjust the aforementioned distance from here to the epicenter: 140 km, not 90.

And finally, today´s cloud picture...

I told you I have a thing for clouds.

torsdag 21. februar 2008


This morning, around quarter to 4, we were all wakened by a shaking house. Well, not all of us - Emma slept through it all, and was annoyed when she later realized she´d slept through a record-breaking earthquake. It´s been the big talk in town all day, so doubly annoying not to have even noticed...
By the way, during the trembling moments, it didn´t occur to William the geologist that it was an earthquake - he thought it was the wind trashing the house (the weather was quite noisy). I, too, thought it was the wind. Not until later this morning did I realize it was a quake, when I heard it on the radio.

Anyway, here´s where the epicenter was - about 90 km south of Longyearbyen. If it had been right here, more than books would have fallen down.

And this is how it looked like from here (seismologically).

Something else that happened last night, that we knew would happen, was the nearly full moon being eclipsed by the earth-shadow. But as the sky was completely overclouded, we didn´t bother to stay awake for it.

Luckily, the other day we had a lovely view of the moon bouncing on pink clouds, and that´s nearly as nice.

mandag 18. februar 2008

Here comes the sun II

Here´s looking north towards the airport at lunchtime.

28 January

30 January

5 February

8 February

and today.
A closer look on today´s picture reveals sunlight on the mountaintops across Isfjorden. Real genuine sunlight!!!

Here comes the sun, and George and I say it's all right!

fredag 15. februar 2008

Frozen beach blues

More photos. Bear with me, when the light is like this, I can´t help myself, I have to try to capture a little of it.

Here´s from yesterday, from the local beach - looking north across Isfjorden, and east towards Hiorthfjellet and Adventdalen.

I must add that I almost froze my fingers off when taking these: it was -16C and a freezing wind from the north.

Tomorrow the sun will pop up over the horizon, but here in Longyearbyen it won´t be visible before the 8th of March. So hopefully we`ll have a sunny, warm day at the beach then, sometime in May? Somehow, I think not...

onsdag 13. februar 2008

6 months in Longyearbyen, today!

Seven things I´ve done that I wouldn´t have done if I hadn´t been here:

1. learnt to shoot
2. learnt to drive a snowmobile
3. flipped over on a snowmobile (I haven´t mentioned that have I?)
4. been in a coal-mine
5. lived through a nearly three-months long night
6. driven a dog sled
7. written a blog

Okay, maybe I´d have done that last bit anyway - but it wouldn´t have been a Svalbardblog.

And of course there are other things too, that I´ve done for the first time, like joining a pub-quiz team, teaching, and learning to do pilates. But that´s something that I can do (and probably will do) after I´ve left too.

So what new things to come for the last months here? Meeting a polar bear I hope will be one thing. Not too close up though...

søndag 10. februar 2008

Back to Kapp Laila

On snowmobiles this time.

View across Coles Bay to the old Russian harbour Grumant.

Lovely "sunset", around half past three.

A quiet evening in the cabin...

... followed by a windy night and a grey departure.

We´ll be back - again!

torsdag 7. februar 2008

Longyearbyen expanding

Who´d have thought that so many people want to live up here, on such a cold, desolate island? But that´s indeed the case. The population in Longyearbyen has risen steadily since people settled here one hundred years ago - the first years only male mineworkers, then after some years a few women and children as well (230 altogether in 1920). In 1959-60 there were 741 inhabitants (523 men, 127 women and 91 children) - and in 2006 the number of people had reached 2001.

And it´s still rising - by 2011 the population is expected to reach 2260, that´s an increase of 13%. There´s still slightly less women than the average on the mainland, and a lot less children and old people, but Longyearbyen has definitely become a family-society, which needs several nurseries, a big school - and of course housing. There´s a constant need for new houses for everyone - last year they built 20 new flats/houses, and in 2006 51.

There are three building sites being finished as we speak, one in our street - and more will come.

Houses have to be built on poles - because of the permafrost. It seems that the biggest part of the job is to get the poles into the ground!

The third nursery was opened last year, and as far as I know it´s already full - another will be needed fairly soon. And the school has been extended several times, in 2006 a new wing was added - to the cost of around 30 million kroner.

Our addition to the building activity - the igloos - are in a sad state, I´m afraid, due to the inevitably effects of gravity. But at least we can see them now.

mandag 4. februar 2008

Today was pink day

At noon, looking across Adventdalen towards Hiorthfjellet and Operafjellet.

søndag 3. februar 2008

Blue, blue, blue! And then some blue...

Earlier today, a snowmobile-trip to De Geerdalen.

A short stop in Adventdalen...

... next to a couple of iron beds(?!).

De Geerdalen. Looking south towards the (still) hidden sun.

View towards Sassenfjorden. Tempelfjorden on the middle/right, Billefjorden on the left (where we went to Pyramiden last September).

Maybe there´s little point in showing photos. As I´ve said before, nature is best when you´re in it, experiencing it - pictures can never communicate exactly how wonderful it is. But there´s no question about the colour. Blue.