Esperanza in the Arctic!

It’s a long, long way from Germany to Svalbard, but the Esperanza has arrived at Ny Ålesund, just 1,231km from the North Pole, for the start of the Arctic Under Pressure expedition. Around 2,500 people and about 3,500 polar bears live in Svalbard, an archipelago set of islands 60% covered by glaciers (that’s about 36,500 sq km of ice!). We’re very, very far north in a wild, wild place.

We came alongside here in Ny Ålesund on Tuesday, having sailed through the midnight sun from Longyearbyen into Kongsfjord (“Kings’s Bay”), surrounded by brooding snow-covered mountain peaks and massive glaciers. Before that, the Esperanza had sailed from Kiel in Germany with a cargo of nine giant marine monitoring systems called “mesocosms” on the helideck.

Accompanying the nine mesocosms are three scientists from the German marine research institute IFM-GEOMAR; Sebastian, Matthias and Jan; who are being joined in Ny Ålesund by many more colleagues. While here, they will be carrying out a massive study of the biggest threats to our oceans; acidification of the marine ecosystems.

Greenpeace are supporting IFM-Geomar’s work, not only by transporting about 30 tonnes of equipment to Nye Ålesund, and helping the scientists deploy the mesocosms, in the cold waters of Kongsfjord, but also to get the story of ocean acidification out to the world. Each of the nine mesocosms will create a 17m high, 50 cubic metre isolated column of sea water, into which will be added different levels of CO2, in order to model the effects of acidification from now into the next century.

Dave Walsh, GREENPEACE, 27 May 2010. Full article.

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