We arrived in Longyearbyen, around midnight on Friday night after a day and a half of travel. It didn't seem like midnight because of the light but we all felt exhausted.
We had a long layover in Oslo (about 8 hrs) so we had taken a bus/train to a famous Vigeland Sculputure Park. It gave us a chance to get outside and walk around to stretch from the cramped plane. The weather in Oslo was beautiful and sunny. The park is the largest sculpture park in the world created by one artist. The figures were beatifully carved in great detail. During our travels we managed to stop for a photo op at the castle for the Norwegian Royalty.
It took 3 hours to fly from Oslo to Svalbard and as we were about to land people on the plane began to add layers of clothing and a hat. I was wondering what I was getting myself into because I didn't have any extra layers. My computers and camera gear filled my carry-ons and I had no clothing to spare. It worked out fine however, the night was quite mild and we managed. Most of the people travelling to Svalbard in the summer are tourists here to hike, many are scientists like ourselves and all seem to carry hiking gear in backpacks.
Our first day in Longyearbyen is a day for us to get settled, recover and start our lectures at the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS). UNIS is supported by the Norwegian Government and is a center for all arctic research carried out by the Norwegian Universities. They also welcome guest lecturers such as our professors, Al Warner and Steve Roof. We had a lecture on the GeologyThe science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the physical, chemical, and biological changes that the earth has undergone or is undergoing. of Svalbard by Steve Roof and then a lecture on the Glaciology of Svalbard by Al Warner. We learned about the glaciers over geologic time scale and then related it to the HoloceneThe time period beginning at the end of the last Ice Age about 11,000 years ago and characterized by the development of human civilizations. (current time scale in which we live). With enough background of the arctic science, the undergraduate students can begin to select the area they will work on during their field study.