Friday, October 20, 2006

Task A, and some more answers...

OK. So today we started to do Task A - remember that you need to convince the examiner as well as me that you appreciate the possible futures for Svalbard. This means researching information which is expressed in your own words and not just cut and pasted. The exam boards don't like cutting and pasting and neither do I.
Some of the pieces of card looked worryingly empty of actual details - I'm sure those will be produced in the next 2 weeks, and be added once we return.
In the meantime, have a good half term !

And now some more answers and images...


When you first visited Svalbard, was it what you expected it to be ?

We had previously been to Iceland, so I think we were expecting that Svalbard would be similarly mountainous with plenty of spectacular scenery and lots of ice. We weren’t disappointed. The scenery is breathtaking – everywhere! Also there is no pollution so the atmosphere is very clear and if the weather is good you can see for great distances.

Do you take extra precautions when travelling around Svalbard ?

We were travelling in a small ship and our shore expeditions were by Zodiac (see pictures - the zodiacs are the large inflatable boats with outboard motors). You have to have the appropriate clothing for the weather, of course. For example, in Kongsfjorden there are 21 glaciers flowing down from the ice-cap, so the air can get a bit chilly. We were very fortunate in having very good weather on both our trips with no chilling winds. Nevertheless, you do have to wrap up properly.

Going ashore, we wore life-vests in the Zodiacs and dumped them on the beach when we arrive

d. Our guides and the Russian crew were very safety conscious at all times. Ashore our guides carried rifles in case we inadvertently came across a polar bear.

The rifles were intended to scare the bear off and it’s also illegal to shoot polar bears. However, as a last resort it would be better to shoot one than be eaten by it!

Fortunately, for us and the bears, the rifles were never required.

Have any of your family visited Svalbard and if so are there opinions different to yours ?

No, we’re the only ones in our family who have visited Svalbard.


What animals did you see ?

We did see long-tailed skuas, Brunnich’s guillemots, little auks and ivory gulls, all of which aren’t seen in the UK. We didn’t see many whales apart from a few Minke but we did see walrus up close, bearded seals, reindeer and arctic foxes and lots of polar bears. The polar bears were the most exciting.

Did you see the Northern lights ?

No! You only see them in the winter months when the sky is dark. In the summer at these high latitudes there is daylight for 24 hours a day.

What is the climate like in the summer ?

The summer weather is very pleasant – cold, but with lots of sunshine. On both our visits we were lucky in that we had no poor weather – well, only one afternoon on our first visit, and one morning on our second trip.

Luckily, we had almost no wind since that would have created quite a chill factor. We had calm seas, lots of blue sky and sunshine, and some occasional cloudy days.

Further north, (we got to about 475 miles from the North Pole), it’s a lot colder in among the sea ice – even with the sun shining.

No comments: