Monday, October 1, 2012

Other Images that I have found since I've been back but would still like to share.

With being back for over a few months I wanted to post these last two pictures. The first above just to truly show the comedy of where I was in compared to the rest of the world.

This second image is one that I found and didnt quite remember taking. It sums up a lot for me with the trip and I think shows the uniqueness of Svalbard. This is the early morning sun coming out of the clouds, when I went for a walk on my last day in Svalbard at about 3 in the morning. Well Svalbard I hope to see you again sometime.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

With my bags mostly packed and my apartment all cleaned I think I finally am beginning to realize that this is my last day in Svalbard. It certainly will not be the last time I see the town of Longyearbyen though. One thing I have learned from being here is that once you come to Longyearbyen you simply have to come back. Most people  met came here to take one class or do one research project but always ended up coming back. I the reason for this lies in both the beauty and opportunities that cover all of Svalbard. I'm not sure where else you could hike a snow covered mountain in the middle of July with reindeer grassing in any field you cross, or another place where the a rifle slung across someones shoulder is required to walk out of town. To come to Svalbard is to see a very unique part of the world, although it is certainly not a place made for everyone. Here you must work to see the beauty by climbing the mountains, or suit up in a Survival Suit to brave the Arctic waters. It truly is the ultimate place for adventures and I am sad to leave here. The piece that makes it all okay is the simple truth that I was given the chance to visit Svalbard and I fully embraced that chance. When I look around I am surrounded by the peaks that I have conquered and when I look out across the water I wish for a orange onesy and another Adventure. I have climbed these hills by foot, with the help of a Swedish tank, by snowmobile, and I truly don't think I could ask for anything else. I have loved my time here in Svalbard and will never forget it.

Now for the last few days I have been preforming the final testing and have hopefully collected everything I need to be able to put together a report explaining what I have accomplished. In terms of what it looks like well....

This shows on the right side the spectrometer which will detect the light that is seen by the sensor which is mounted on the left side at the end of that silver tube. The system on the left side is what I have been working on and as you can see the sensor is placed inside the integration sphere right now as it would be for testing.

Sorry for the blurry photo but I figure it still shows the basic setup. You can also see the sensor looking at -80 degrees on the vertical axis during some of the testing.

Next is simply a picture of the beautiful days that we have been having here.

Next on my last day I decided to do some touristy things one of which included visiting the Svalbard museum, so I got to see this bad boy.

This particular bear weighed 1212 lbs and ended up being taken down at close range with a magnum 500 revolver and that was all I could decipher from the Norwegian sign. Also at the Museum were some interesting picture of Longyearbyen while it was just a mining town.

The first picture was taken in the 1930's and the next picture is one that I took from a similar position this week. It is easy to see both the similarities and the differences. The landscape is very much the same but it was interesting to see how much they have contained the river through the center of town.

Now for another comparison, the beginning of my trip to the end of my trip.

This is what the mountain providing the backdrop for Longyearbyen looked like when I got here in may.

This is what it looks like now at the end of July

I do have to say that this mountain it probably what I will miss the most about Svalbard. One simply because of its utter beauty whether it is covered in snow or not. Two for the amazing scene that it makes out of Longyearbyen no matter where you stand. Three because it was probably the first thing I saw everyone morning when I walked out of my apartment and whether it was blue sky or cloudy. Some day I will come back and climb to the top of those peaks that beckon to me every time I see them.
I will end with what happened in the lab after the final tests were finished.

Thanks UNH and UNIS for this opportunity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For the beginning of this week I was again lucky enough to go out on a great adventure. I joined four other people on a hike out to a student cabin owned by UNIS where we spent the night before hiking back into Longyearbyen. The hike out took us over the mountains on the right side of Longyearbyen which I have much wanted to hike to the top above, for main reason that I knew the view would look something like this.

This I think gives a very good view of what Longyearbyen looks like in the summer time. Now in order to reach the cabin we have to travel across the top of this plateau and then down the other side. The way across was a perfect combination barren rocks, snow, and very soggy moss.

This is what the view looked like as we got closer to the opposite side of the plateau. We then were faced with the problem of our hiking route. Due to the fact that there is still a lot of snow in some places most of the valleys where you could hike down were blocked with snow. All of these valleys also had rivers running beneath the snow so you had an added risk of falling through added onto an already dangerous descent. There we had to hike to the end of the far along the side of the plateau until we found a valley that had melted enough to let us pass down into the valley below. This turned out 4 hour hike into a ten hour hike. Although because we had to hike the extra distance we got to see things like this.

This is just one pack of reindeer that we saw as we were hiking. They were everywhere grazing around us as hiked and I must have been able to get about 15 ft away from them before they would shy away. After we got down into the valley we got an impressive view of the whole valley.

We then had to cross the river going down the valley due to the fact that our cabin was on the other side. I of course plunged right into the river at the first nice spot to cross and ended up being submerged above my knees. I then waived off my companions and told them to find another spot. This made for a great picture to show a perspective of how large these mountains are.

You can see all four of them as they look for another spot to cross, they finally just decided that they would have to get wet.

They unfortunately did not do much better than I did and still ended up going through deep water. We finally then made it to the cabin.

I don't think many things can beat a cabin on the sea side in the Arctic. We then cooked way to much pasta and played a card game that we found in the cabin called Arctic Quiz, which I felt was very suiting. Then after some much needed sleep, what could be better than some Arctic morning air.

I also got the nice surprise of seeing this.

It is slightly hard to see but after a little rain during the night we got a nice rainbow across the sea. We then made a large bowl of oatmeal, cleaned up the cabin and headed back to Longyearbyen. On the way back we decided to take the road that followed the coast back which was very beautiful but slightly less adventures, I think we had had enough adventures from the first day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Today was simply one of those days where as soon as you look out the window and see how beautiful it is outside your simply cant do anything except go outside and enjoy the day. So when it looks like this outside..... you go outside.

So I went for a nice walk out along the road following the water and the old coal bucket lines, which made for some great pictures.

It is also interesting when you walk around Longyearbyen that anything that was built here during the original mining in Longyearbyen in now considered historic and can not be touched. So anything from the towers in the picture above to old rust cables have to be left where they are, which makes for some interesting sights. Also some of the towers and such buildings have been knocked down in small avalanches and all remains can not be touched. Which means that some that when you are walking around you constantly see old rusty cables lining the ground.

I also found a small pool of water by the side of the road with another good example of the rusted cabling that lies all across the countryside.

Farther down the road I had to take a picture of this truck because it truly is the most popular car out here and I cant say I have ever seen one in the US. Also I would say this would make a great advertisement for the Toyota Hilux

Also while I am on the subject of transportation I have thought that it is strange that the only type of road sign that can be seen in Longyearbyen is this.

Which of course means that they don't have any stop signs and at any intersection there is only these yield signs, which I find very odd. Although it works very well and I have not seen anything close to an accident. I am sure this mostly comes from the fact that there is not a lot of traffic out here in Longyearbyen but it is also an impressive view on the people here.

There was also a boat sitting in the bay that made for a very nice picture.

Overall it was a beautiful day here and this may of had something to do with the lack of a large tourist boat sitting at dock but I can only hope the beautiful weather continues.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The question that I have thought about while I was preparing to write this entry was, how do you describe the best day of your life? It is a tough thing to do but I will do my best to take you through it. To start off the amazing trip that I had comes from the fact that the lab that work for back at UNH has instruments setup at different locations around Svalbard. One of these locations is Isfjord Radio where I went. The reason I went there was because the system was no longer working and I had to go out there and attempt to fix it with the help of one of the engineers from back at the lab. So lets start off with a map.

So on this map you can see where Longyearbyen is and then the trip out and down the fjord to get to Isfjord Radio. Since there aren't normal passenger boats going out there I unfortunately had to go on a guided tour of the fjord on my way to Isfjord Radio (sarcasm is hard to convey through text, but that was serious sarcasm). Over the course of these two days that I have been out there, I have taken 400 pictures. I still don't think I will be able to convey how amazing it all was. To start off this is what the fjord looked like on our way out.

Also the boat we made the journey in was this awesome little PVC boat.

Next stop on our adventure we stopped by a bird cliff located on the side of the fjord. It was truly amazing sight.

Now this just looks like an awesomely impressive cliff but if you look close....

The whole thing was filled with birds! It was fun do because there was also an elderly couple joining on the trip and the man was an avid bird watcher and was able point out all the birds. Now on to the next stop in the guide.

This is an abandoned Russian mining settlement that has a very special inhabitant. Living in these house is a mouse and this mouse carries a very special bacteria that if caught by humans will shut down your liver and kill you. So this turns this already spooky settlement even spookier. Next on the list of stops was the port for this mining settlement.

You can see the mine storage over to the right side and the housing and the dock to the left. Some of these houses are even still in use as a overnight cabin because these buildings are located far enough away that they don't have the problem with the mice. This also made for a nice picture, not sure what this structure was used for though.

The rest of the trip was simply to get to Isfjord so I will just show some nice pictures from the way.

This is looking out of the Fjord out into the big blue Ocean. Next we arrived at Isfjord Radio.

Now I will explain the funniest part of having to fix the system out here. It was installed in a building out here that got renovated and when that happened the building the acquisition system was in got turned into the honey moon sweet. So in the back closet of this honey moon suite sits this....

Not sure what I would say if I found a big black box in the closet of my honey moon suite... Anyways after taking it apart some and following the instructions from our ALL KNOWING engineer Paul, we got it running again.

Luckily I took a break at one point to look outside and see a pack of white whales passing by.

It ended up being a pack of about 50 of them, and it was quite a strange sight to see these white whales passing by. Then we got to dinner here at the Isfjord Radio hotel. Now I have had dinner in a few restaurants at Longyearbyen but nothing compares to the food at this hotel. Dinner was a three course meal of, whale and seaweed, Lamp and mach potatoes, and a brownie with raspberries for dessert. My favorite piece was probably the whale, it tasted almost exactly like a thinner steak. Then it was finally time to go to sleep but it was hard this view out of my window.

When I woke up I saw that someone had ventured outside.

Edvard is very much enjoying himself out here and was feeling much more at home.

Then as I wandered around the hotel in the morning I found this polar bear picture...

Ya, a polar pooping... Great sight. Then we had a wonderful lunch or some kind of fish soup which was delicious and a strawberry milkshake. Ya the food here was amazing! Then we headed back out onto the sea but of course you need to wear one of these!

We got provided with these awesome Arctic survival suits where even if you fell in the water you would only loose 2 degrees of heat in an hour, and they look awesome. Plus we got to watch how men put boats back in the water.... with a crane!

Once the boat was in we headed back out onto the fjord and went to go check out another mountain filled with birds.

As we sat there with the boat turned off all you could hear was the screech of thousands of the birds. As we left this mountain mom.... I found you your cabin.

Next we ventured into the next little bay where we got to see a glacier!

Its hard to see but to give it somewhat of a size, on the right side where the end of the glacier meets the sea there is another boat there that is about the same size as ours but all you can see of it is a darker spot. It must have been about 40 meters high. As we got closer to the glacier we got a nice surprise.

A big bearded seal relaxing on the ice, we got very close and it stayed calm and almost became interested in us. We then got a good close look at the glacier.

We then turned around and headed home, on the way back we got another great visitor.

The trip back ended up being a little rough but it was beautiful the whole way back.

Now I am sure I have left somethings out but hopefully I have shown how amazing of a trip I had. I may end up having to post some additions later on once I remember some stories from the trip.