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  • Heidi Sevestre

2018 Fieldwork is complete!

What a great year 2018 has been for Glaciers On The Move. We have been fortunate to conduct two successful field campaigns in Svalbard, one in the Spring and one in the Summer.

Svalbard, the Norwegian Archipelago where our project is taking place.

Why organise two field campaigns? First of all, to collect as much material for the exhibition we are creating. We want to immerse visitors into the mysterious world of surging glaciers, and this requires sounds, photographs, videos. Visiting Svalbard over two different seasons is like visiting two different planets. Glaciers look completely different when they're snow covered, blocked by vast expanses of sea ice, or when they have lost most of their snow cover, and really stand out in the dry rocky landscape of Svalbard. Some places are also more accessible in the spring than in the summer, and vice versa. We chose to visit two glaciers: Tunabreen in the spring, and Wahlenbergbreen "Big Wally" in the summer:

From TopoSvalbard (NPI): Locations of Tunabreen (Red) and Big Wally (purple).

Tunabreen is fairly easily accessible in the spring by snowmobiles. It takes between 1 and 2 hours to get there from Longyearbyen, the "capital" town of Svalbard. We decided to spend four days in the field at the end of April 2018, with two nights in a cabin and one night in the tents. The weather was absolute perfection (perhaps a little bit too sunny for pics!) and the sea ice conditions were solid.


Home for three days in Tempelfjorden.

During this spring fieldwork we installed two time lapse cameras, built by Heidi, powered by Harbortronics. One was installed on the East side of the fjord, at about 2m above sea level, and a second one on the other side, West, at about 40 m above sea level, on the moraine looking down the glacier.


Time lapse camera 1 on the East side of Tempelfjorden.

Tunabreen is a fantastic glacier for our project, accessible, but most importantly, surging! In April 2018 the glacier was still moving at about 3 m per day, quite impressive.

David collected thousands of wonderful pictures, working night and day to get the best angles and atmosphere.


David photographing the impressive surging front of Tunabreen from the sea ice.

We are so grateful for the help provided before during and after the fieldwork by Dr. Miriam Marquardt and Dr. Anne Elina Flink!

And a few months later we were ready to explore a new glacier! Big Wally started surging in 2013, and was blasting a good 9 m per day at the beginning of 2018. The glacier is difficult to access in the spring but in the summer, ships organise weekly cruises there. This was our entry point into Yoldiabukta, the bay currently behind invaded by the glacier. Summer fieldwork is very different from spring fieldwork, in the sense that you don't have snowmobile to take you from A to B and carry all your gear, you only have your legs and backpack. We spent a whole week camping in this beautiful place.

Home for a week!

Since we had a whole week to study Wahlenbergbreen we had time to collect a large amount of material. First off, we installed two new long term time lapse cameras on the north side of the glacier. These will stay there for a year. We had two other time lapse cameras from the company ENLAPS to collect a series of shorter-term time lapse, on both sides of the bay.


The TIKEE from ENLAPS surveying the glacier front.

These have been so easy to use! We also flew the drones extensively and tried to capture the sounds of the glacier. It was so noisy! Cracking and calving all the time.


We also took kayaks with us to explore the fjord, a very important component of calving processes. And a good excuse to take amazing pictures of icebergs! Some days, the fjord was absolutely filled with icebergs from all that calving, just a beautiful sight.

And again for this fieldwork we were so lucky to be surrounded by the best of the best, who really helped us tremendously in the field. Thank you Nina Adjanin, Charles Amory, Anatoly Sinistyn! And of course all of those who couldn't join in the field but still made this fieldwork possible, thank you!!

Now it's time to process all this material we have collected, and start planning the exhibition for the end of next year! Exciting times ahead :)

pics by Heidi Sevestre and David Wrangborg

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