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Svalbard – The Polar Arctic Region

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A young female polar bear looking for food. This was the only polar bear we saw on the entire expedition that was close enough to photograph. Even with binoculars, we could barely see two others that were more than 1/2 mile away. This is far fewer than were observed in the same week in June 2018.

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A large bearded seal resting on the sea ice in the Svalbard Islands. This is the only one I saw and it was several hundred yards away.

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in the Svalbard Islands:
The front of this glacier is falling off owing to the high temperature.

This is the almost completely melted remains of an iceberg. The air temperature was 10 degrees C (50 degrees F).

Ice is clear when it has oxygen in it. Ice is actually blue when it has no oxygen in it. When a glacier has many tons of ice on the top, it presses out all of the air in the ice on the bottom. That portion is blue. When the front of a glacier falls off , it twists onto it side and we see the exposed blue bottom.

Beauty Created in Destruction

The blue bottom of the glacier is now lying in the warm air. As it melts the surface produces beautiful patterns.

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a Beluga whale swimming in the Svalbard Islands
Note the total lack of ice on the land.

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a Puffin swimming in  the Svalbard islands

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a Puffin sitting on her nest and looking at me

Notice how the sea ice is in small pieces and spread far apart. There was very cloudy weather and the air temperature was more than 5 degrees C.

This is where the sea ice prevented us from going any further North. The pieces are too far apart for polar bears to swim. The latitude here was 80 degrees 10 minutes N. The measured air temperature was 10 deg C which is 50 deg F

Svalbard Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus)
a starving reindeer in Svalbard I photographed on June 15, 2019
Over 200 Svalbard reindeer have been found dead on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. That’s one of the highest recorded death tolls since population monitoring commenced in 1978, and scientists believe climate change played a key role. According to a report on the Norwegian Polar Institute’s website, the Svalbard reindeer suffered a lean Winter, starving to death because of a shortage of food. Those that didn’t starve to death were found to be underweight.

Arctic fox. He is shedding his white winter fur and he will become mostly black.

several small blue icebergs

nesting Brünnich’s guillemots

gull

geese

goose guarding its nest

birds fighting

abstract of water flowing over rocks and moss

beautiful extremely small plants between purple flowers in the wet soil (no permafrost)

A lone reindeer looking for food. But the soil was wet like a bog and there were very few plants in it.

Monica with her head in the clouds

Monica and Jeffrey sitting in a zodiac. This photo was taken by Nenita Miller, a wonderful photographer.

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