Cruising in Svalbard: A student perspective

Cruising in Svalbard: A student perspective

Top image: Hauling in instruments for CTD measurements. Photo: Eivind Torgersen.

For the second time in a mere two months, UNIS students were able to join a FAABulous and IMOS research cruise across Isfjorden and towards Van Mijenfjorden on the coast guard vessel KV Svalbard. Read their account here.

19 May 2017
Text: Héléna Cuny, Alex Wardale, Matilde Bourreau, Julia Dusaucy Higelin and Patrick Schimmel (UNIS Arctic Biology bachelor and master students spring 2017).
Photos: Eivind Torgersen.

We joined ongoing sampling expeditions, for the FAABulous (Future Arctic Algae Blooms – and their role in the context of climate change) and IMOS (Isfjorden Marine Observatory Svalbard) projects, and were also able to work on our own projects as part of our master theses or internship periods.

The projects focus on different aspects of algae bloom dynamics in a backdrop of climate change in the high Arctic. To ensure our sampling was successful, we worked closely together with the friendly crew of the coast guard vessel “KV Svalbard”.  We got to know the crew a little and the crew got to know us. Ideas and experiences got exchanged and we felt very welcome aboard. Even though at times the sampling was a challenge, it was an overall great experience that we would love to participate in again. We would like to thank the crew for their assistance and their fun talks during the meals and during the work on deck.

Working with the coast guard meant being ready for emergency situations. Not even an hour into our busy schedule the bridge received an emergency call about an accident on the sea ice in Tempelfjorden. It was fascinating to see the coast guard operate in an emergency situation like this and we are glad that they were able to help the victims.

Field work is one of the main reasons students come to UNIS, to join challenging sampling programmes in the amazing backdrop of the arctic. And challenging it was. Especially on the second day with strong waves rocking the boat and literally knocking our equipment through the lab container. Everything was worthwhile when we noticed that we were sampling the fjord in the middle of a fascinating diatom bloom period. The very unique smell of the algae is one we will not easily forget. Thank you, Phaeocystis pouchetii.

Transfering plankton into sample container

Collecting zooplankton onboard KV Svalbard. Photo: Eivind Torgersen.

Deeper in Van Mijenfjorden we were better able to enjoy the fantastic scenery when the gray clouds cleared off. The on-board processing of the samples taught us that we were facing a different scenario yet again in this part of the fjord. It made us realize the importance of these expeditions and cruises in ensuring the timeline studies of the algae in the area.

These four days were all very different and we got to see both Svalbard’s dangers and its beauties. Before we knew it, it was over and we saw Longyearbyen looming in the distant. Definitely ready for the next cruise!

Thanks for reading,

Helena, Alex, Matilde, Julia and Patrick.

From left: Héléna Cuny, Alex Wardale, Matilde Bourreau, Julia Dusaucy Higelin and Patrick Schimmel

From left: Héléna Cuny, Alex Wardale, Matilde Bourreau, Julia Dusaucy Higelin and Patrick Schimmel. Photos: Eivind Torgersen.

Read more and see video with interviews here: (in Norwegian): http://forskning.no/havforskning-marinbiologi-planteverden/2017/05/fullklaff-planktonforskerne

Labwork on ship

Labwork onboard the coast guard vessel KV Svalbard. Photo: Eivind Torgersen.

Filtering water samples

Handling zooplankton samples during the FAABulous and IMOS research cruise in late April 2017. Photo: Eivind Torgersen.

 

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