Monday, 9 September 2013

Hello everyone. It's Ribanna! Just a wee update as Luci has promised you guys to hear from me as well :) We've had a fantastic and super-exciting field trip the last week. Unlike Luci, however, I was in the other group doing some hydrological investigations of a lake (Kongressvannet) and its catchment area. We took some pictures and the exact GPS position to measure the lake level which is apparently changing in great extents every year having effects on the outflow which occurs partially underground.

                            Fig 1: Kongressvannet and me in my group trying to find the best spot

Measuring the outflow of a lake is hydrologically done by simply stirring 1kg of salt into the running water and measuring the conductivity at another point several meters further down. For this reason, we've been carrying fancy wading trousers all the way to the lake which was quite helpful anyways because we had to cross quite a lot of rivers that were deeper than expected.

                                                   Fig 2: Wading in the water

So far so good, for our way back, we've made kind of a silly decision which was to hike on top of a moraine. Hiking is fun, glaciers are wonderful, climbing is always exciting. But when you're hiking on a moraine you have a 50/50 chance of solid ground or loose stones. And you can't assess your next step which means you either get hurt quite a lot or you slow down your pace to a minimum, eyes down, arms out for balance and then it takes you ages to get back. After our time in Svalbard, we will deffo have legs of steel and an incredible sense of balance. That's for sure!

We arrived back at the radio station at 8.30pm and were starving. However, the group Luci was in, was still out and the last time we had radio contact, they estimated not to be back before 10pm. Eventually, they arrived back at 10.30pm and dinner wasn't served one minute earlier.

The next day, we decided to find the walrusses as Luci already told you guys. I won't add more photos of those massive guys, but I will try to upload a video right here:

We got really close, I would have loved to wobble their wobbly bodies, but I reckon they would not have liked it.

After this highlight, a group of 10 people (including myself) splitted up to investigate a glacier. So again, we were climbing massive moraines, found a couple of ice caves and we could hear rocks and ice falling off into the ridges and crevasses all around us. It was a bit scary to be honest, but as the experienced people were totally relaxed, I reckoned it should be alright!

                                          Figure 3 and 4: Debris covered glacier to be explored!

The way back from the field trip was properly wet! It was raining and quite windy and the Polar Circle boats have a good speed so that the spray felt like hail and there wasn't much to cover our faces so that Luci and I ended up with some properly skin-damaged cheeks. However, jumping over the waves is so much fun, I'd love to do it more often!

Last friday we had the first snow covering the mountians around Longyearbyen! How exciting! I can't wait for the winter. The nights are getting darker by now, but still, we do not have an official night...well, 2 days to go! Yesterday, we hiked up Larsbreen, a glacier right behind our barracks, and built giant ice lady that we called "Helga". Check her out, she will be protecting our barracks from polar bears from now on!

                                          Figure 5: Helga, the giant polar bear guard and her team!

                                                               Figure 6: A deeeeeeep crevasse

After that we hiked up Trollsteinen (850m) to get a stunning view which was a bit limited by reeeeaally big and dense clouds. Actually we couldn't see anything, but it was worth getting up 850m for a peanut butter jelly sandwich and a nice sip of water imagining mountains, valleys, glaciers and polar bears around us.


                                         Figure 7: Stunning view just below the clouds!
                                         Figure 8: Now it's getting foggy!

That's me for now! Enjoy the week and keep checking our blog :)

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