Svalbard the most enchanting island

The beauty of the Glacier


AN INTRODUCTION TO SVALBARD

Svalbard is actually a little group 
of islands in the far north,
 
it covers an area of 63 000km2 
where
 approximately 60% of this 
is 
covered by glaciers. The largest islands
 are:
Spitzbergen, Nordaustland, BarentsIsland,
 EdgeIsland and 
Prince Karls
.
The population is approximately divided as follows:
  • Lonyearbyen 2 040. (Norwegian capital)
  • Barentsburg 500    ( Russian mining )
  • Ny-Ålesund 40      ( Norwegian international research senter )
  • Sveagruva  250 (Norwegian miners that travel to and from 
    
  • the mining     village only living periodically on the island
  • Hornsund  8    ( Polish research station ) 
    
The main transport to Svalbard is by flight from Tromsø in the North
 of
 Norway.
It is also interesting to note that there are no roads between
 the towns.

GALLOPING GLACIERS
 
 Svalbard is like nowhere else on earth, it is mystically 
beautiful with it's ruggedness and special light. Which at this 
time of the year,
 early spring, only appears around lunch time for approximately two 
hoursand then it is dark again. 

Dark or not you will never be bored on Svalbard there is so much 
going on if you keep your eyes and ears open. If nothing else you 
will keep your wits about you just looking out for hungry lurking 
polarbears. 
Most activities here take place away from the villages just
 adding to the excitement. You are adviced to engage the local 
guides who know the area and are excellent bear chasers. No kidding!
You will never be told not to go out after dark here........caught
 on? Good! And it's not advisable to get sozzled on bear or otherwise. 
Alcohol and cold don't go too well together and it just adds a little 
spice to the bears meal. 
In the towns there are very good restaurants and bars, stay there 
if you want to party. 

This place is a magnet for scientists, astronomers, wildlife 
enthusiasts amomgst others.

An article i read by Eva Therese Jenssen an informations consultant
 for the university senter on Svalbardcaught my attention today.

I cannot translate the entire article but as i would like to share with 
you a little of what i find interesting
i will use this to base my story to you.
I am not going to try to impress with great terminology because i just 
can't!My story will come from my heart and i will write to you as i 
experience things.
If you on the otherhand want to contribute with your own knowledge 
please do, i read everything and this is also
a great way for learning.


A GLACIER AWAKENS ON SVALBARD

Jenssen states that glaciers on Svalbard are not like glaciers on the 
mainland. These are known to move ata slow rate for as long as several 
hundreds of years and suddenly out of the blue get themselves into top 
gear and can slide several kilometers in only a few short years.
After some research on the net i learned that this also goes under 
the name of "The galloping glacier" isn't that just great? This is 
something that
is happening in some glaciers around the world but not all of them.
I wanted to know why. Why do some behave in this way and others not?
According to Walter A. Wood who wrote about the surge of Steel Glacier 
formerly known as Wolf Creek Glacier.
The hundredfold speedup in glacier motion in a surge is supposedly 
caused by the build up of high water pressure in the basal passageway
 system, which is made possible by a fundamental and pervasive change
 in the geometry and water-transport characteristic of this system. 
Wood interestingly points out that volcanic eruptions, Avalanches and 
earthquakes are all dramatic natural events which attract attention and 
interest of a broad segment of the lay community.
Avalanches and volcanic eruptions are eye catching with their immense
 power and beauty but more often than not they draw attention when they 
cause disruption to the work and creations of man. This is so true, 
there are many natural fantastic happenings around the world but if it 
doesn't cost us anything we are at risk of  missing the priviledge 
of knowing. 
I can also interprate this as « putting your money where your mouth
 is » if it costs it hurts.
The glacier surge is also a dramatic natural event that hasn't been 
too much in focus, There has been no real known threat to society 
before the movement of the Italian glacier in 2001 the Belvedere 
glacier ( Monte Rosa Italien Alps ) was reported to undergo a 
surge-type movement with speeds of up to 200m/yr versus 30m/yr 
measured the previous year. 
The full article can be read at:www.cosis.net

A little mountain village came under threat of being washed away 
and was evacuated.
In mountain glaciers ice flows in response to the mass of ice 
involved, gravity and the slope of the glacier .
The glacier receives it's nourishment in the form of snow to sustain
 it's advance.If climate changes this supply of nourishment under
 correctconditions also changes. Variations in climate will affect the
 so called"normal flow"
In recent years scientists are recording the increase in  the 
amount of glaciers accelaration in their rates of flow. 
These surge type glaciers are geographically clustered and one
 particularily concentrated cluster is found in the Svalbard 
archipelago.  
Glacier surges may provide useful insight into the expected 
behaviour of ice streams under the influence of a changing climate.
Jenssen further states that there is increasing curiosity around 
climate changes she mentions further that the glaciers are getting 
extra special attention  especially as research has shown that they 
are shrinking, reducing in overall size. 
In other countries there has been some speculation that the increase
 in the amount of "Galloping glacier" .....surge glaciers awakening 
could be linked toclimate changes and global warming.
Jenssen interviewed Monica Sund who is a student of glaciology at the 
university of Svalbard, who makes it clear that the surge activity
 and the shrinking of the glaciers are both connected. Although the 
shrinking can be affected by climate change it is also a normal part 
of the surge activity. When the galloping slide ends, the glacier 
naturally pulls back and returns to a slow gradual slide.

A new surge in svalbard

A study has now ben started in Svalbard where a surge event will be 
recorded from start to finish.  UNIS have recorded the 
increased movement in one of their   glaciers. They believe that a 
surge is awakening.
The surface of the glacier in question has over a short period of 
time started to break up and larger areas have started to move
 downwards.
The two greatest recorded surges in Svalbard happened around  
the same time. Bråsvellbreen slid between 1936 and 1938 . 
30 kilometers width of gacier slid 15 kilometers down during the 2 year 
activity period.
Negribreen travelled with a width of 15kilometers down 12 kilometers 
out into Storfjorden during the period of one year between 1935 and 1936.
In recent times at the beginning of 1900 Fridtjovbreen in 
Nan Mijenfjorden on Spitzbergen began to break up at such an incredible
 pace making it dangerous to reach.  
It is only now in 2008 that the movement has stopped and the glacier
 is receding that scientists can once again safely reach this area to do 
their research. 
 It will be exciting to folow the path of this new glacial surge, only 
time will tell how far and fast it travels. 

  

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Comments 1 comment

It's just me profile image

It's just me 6 years ago from Alaska

Thank you, I love learning about other places in the north. The more we share and learn the better it is for all of our arctic peoples. We have such a delicate ecology.

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