Work, work, work…and a little bit of play

We are now on day 15 of the experiment, and the last few weeks have blurred into one big sampling/filtering/analysing fest, with little time for, well, anything else really. We haven’t had much time to enjoy and appreciate our stunning location, and you know what they say about all work and no play….

The view that teases us from our lab

However, last Wednesday, we were treated to a day off – a very exciting prospect for a bunch of hard-working scientists! Myself and Susan took the opportunity to escape Ny-Ålesund, and headed off on a soggy stomp across the rapidly thawing tundra. We saw lots of lovely Arctic fauna (reindeer, snow buntings, Arctic skuas, terns, fulmars, guillemots, eiders, purple sandpipers, ringed plovers…) and some very colourful flora. Luckily, we did not come across any hungry polar bears…..

making our escape....

Arctic flowers

The weather has shown some improvement over the past few days, which means we can make the most of the endless evenings that we benefit from at this latitude. On Sunday night, in glorious sunshine, we took a boat out to our local glacier Kongsbreen – one of the largest glaciers on Svalbard.

captain john at the helm

The drive to the glacier front was a bit of an iceberg-dodging exercise, as the fjord is scattered with beautiful, sculptural bergs at this time of year. And when we were within about 1 km of the glacier, a huge townhouse-size chunk of glacier spectacularly crashed into the fjord, sending a boom echoing around the mountains, and followed moments later by some subtle but noticeable tsunami waves. A perfect way to spend a Sunday evening 🙂

Kongsbreen...

Ny-Ålesund nestled in the mountains

Another feature of summer life in Ny-Ålesund are the ship-loads of tourists that arrive on a fairly regular basis. On Saturday, 3500 people descended on us – which is a bit of a shock when you are used to about only 100 people! It is a good people-watching opportunity though, and it is quite amusing to see hundreds of people in matching jackets all patiently queuing up to buy their souvenirs in the world’s most northerly shop….

the huuuuge cruise ship and strange people-carrying pods

polar bear-themed souvenirs all round...

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