Svalbard in August

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Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15
Svalbard in August

Not exactly a plant hunting excursion but a nice trip anyway.

Last time it was vacation, very fine weather and flowering plants all places, this time it was work, cloudy and the fall had arrived; but interesting anyway.

We didn't go far from Longyearbyen either but had to bring guns anyway. (My daughter who is a student up there now told me she has to bring a gun every time she is going to pee behind a boulder when she is out in the fields!)

Adventdalen (The Advent Valley) in fall colour. Adventelva (The Advent River)

 

 

This German plane is from WW2.   Adventfjorden (The Advent Fiord)

 

 

Hjortfjellet and Operafjellet (fjellet = the mountain). The EISCAT radar used to study interactions between the Sun and the Earth.

 

 

Breinosa, at about 600m it isn't many plants. The rocks are part of a vast block field. Up here only mosses and lichens grow (and the Svalbard poppy).

 

Hoy
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A yellow lichen at Breinosa.   View from Breinosa - Scott Turner breen (glacier).

 

 

 

Eriophorum scheuchzeri ssp arcticum  and  Saxifraga cespitosa in seed.

 

 

8000 years ago the valley was an arm of the fiord. The old beach is deposited at about 54 m ASL. Later a glacier covered the beach with a moraine and glaciofluvial deposits.

 

 

Animals living in and on the beach was killed. This clam, Mya truncata, still contained organic material and the siphon is freeze dried.

 

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

RickR
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Joined: 2009-09-21

Wow, I had no idea a siphon could be so long!  But, I have only seen them on the freshwater mussels here in Minnesota.

Amazing that it could be preserved so well.

 

In the pic with the man(?) kneeling with the Eriophorum, is that ground dry enough to not get your knees all wet?  Maybe he's wearing waterproof pants?

 

 

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
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Joined: 2009-10-27

Magnificent, barren scenery, Trond, and what fabulous colours in the close-ups!  Looks like a really special trip - thanks for showing us the photos.

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15

RickR wrote:

Wow, I had no idea a siphon could be so long!  But, I have only seen them on the freshwater mussels here in Minnesota.

Amazing that it could be preserved so well.

 

In the pic with the man(?) kneeling with the Eriophorum, is that ground dry enough to not get your knees all wet?  Maybe he's wearing waterproof pants?

The siphon can be up to about 15cm and the clam can bury itself down to 30cm. The very dry and cold climate preserve organic matter for centuries!

The area where the man is kneeling is part of a patterned ground (similar to that shown by Lori but here it is saturated with water). In this case the polygons are rather firm but the boundaries are filled with water that freezes in winter. These freezing - thawing cycles produce something called ice wedging which make the ditches (and the stone rings and polygons).

So, yes, the ground is firm enough and usually not very wet but the ditches are wet and deep. The water doesn't drain because the ground is still frozen under about 1m deep.

 

Lori, it is barren but at the same time it is rather green (in summer). You will find plants (including mosses and lichens) almost everywhere. It is also animals, from polar bears (not often seen in summer), reindeer and insects etc of course. And not to forget birds, thousands of them although many leave in winter.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Hoy
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Joined: 2009-12-15

We investigated Longyearbreen (-glacier) which has receded several hundred meters in about 100 years.

The left picture shows the terminal moraine in 1936, and the right picture shows the lateral moraine in the same year.

 

 

 

Left pic: The white clad person stands where the glacier reached in 2004, the blue clad person where the glacier was in 1990. You can see the limit of the ice where it was in 1936 in the upper left corner. The right pic shows the dead ice slowly melting.

 

 

It is a lot of debris on the ice and meltwater dig streambeds in the ice.

 

 

View of Longyeardalen (-valley). The debris is full of fossils particularly of plants form early tertiary woods. The conifer is Metasequoia occidentalis. Metasequoia, Taxodium and Larix are adapted to midnight sun and winter darkness (they are deciduous).

 

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Thanks, Trond. Geology is so interesting (especially when you have no clue!). 

 

What is "dead ice"?

I can only guess....

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Hoy
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Thanks Rick.

What's your guess of "dead ice"? 

Dead ice is when a glacier (or pieces of it) stop moving and melt where it is. Huge amounts of ice can be concealed inside the moraine where it slowly melts. This makes the ground very hummocky with pits and depressions.

In fact, many polar glaciers are cold (cold based) which means they are frozen to the underground and rarely moves at all (but it is movements inside the ice and debris is transported downwards).

On Svalbard the glaciers are polar or semi polar (polythermal). The last ones are frozen to the bedrock only at the edges (you know, the melting point of ice decrease with the pressure). On the mainland of Norway almost all glaciers are warm based (the ice is above the melting point where it is in contact with the bedrock) and moving. This kind of glaciers do a lot of eroding.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Hoy wrote:

Thanks Rick.

What's your guess of "dead ice"? 

 

I was thinking a detached and stagnant part of the glacier or a perhaps the remnant of a glacier.  One might have thought I had it right, but I didn't understand the gravity <grin> of it, at all.

Thanks for explaining so clearly. 

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

cohan
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Joined: 2011-02-03

Fantastic place at any time, it seems- I've even seen photos of Longeyarbyen in winter looking very beautiful, though I'm not sure I'd visit then ;)

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

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