Prior to arriving here in Svalbard, I was completely unaware that we would be staying at such a nice place as Isfjord Radio. You can get a shower here, do laundry once in a while, drink coffee in the morning, and dry all of your clothes off after long days out in the elements. You can put everything on the table physically (carry that boat! hike that double time! there's no crying in coring!) because you know you're going to get an incredible hot meal when you get back at 7 or 8. Unfortunately, a tired, hungry field worker (little more blue collar than 'assistant') has little comprehension of the food that they (me) can put away in one sitting. Tonight, I am doing my best to sit up after eating 19 meatballs, three helpings of mashed potatoes, gravy, berries, and strawberry shortcake…"lay off me, I'm starving…"
Today was another excellent day working with my friends from AG212 over in the karst lake territory completing bathymetric and 'ctd' profiles (ctd standing for conductivity, temperature, and density). I primarily worked with Hanna and Elin but also overlapped with Lauren, Lukas, and Sara. While contributing partially to some geomorphic mapping, much of my day was spent either on polar bear watch while they worked on the small lakes, carrying the inflatable boat from pond to pond, or interviewing folks for this here journal. You've heard me talk a ton about this place and the science but less so in depth about the characters that I'm here with. So, without further ado, here's some questions and responses from Hanna and Elin that I managed to get while chasing them around a small karst lake. While doing bathymetric profiles there isn't much to do while the sonar/gps gear records data but paddle and answer personal questions…I'll throw in some pictures from today between questions to break things up and prove I didn't stay in my morgenkaper all day playing internet poker (morgenkaper is a fun norwegian way of saying bathrobe…get it, morning cape? way cooler).
These questions were asked while running around 'lake 6' in the karst lake area of the Linne valley. As they completed the bathymetry they circled closer and closer to the pond's interior thus responses toward the end required me to run and write, such that the majority of errors or omissions will be found accordingly.
Elin, student at University of Tromso, Norway, Geology major from Southwest Norway
Hanna, student at Lund University, Sweden, Physics major from Norrtalge, Sweden
Dan: "So to start, why Svalbard?"
Elin: "The University of Tromso (Elin's school) is a common exchange school with UNIS, the University Centre in Svalbard. Also, I knew Svalbard to be a place with textbook examples for the study of geology. The mountains, skiing (especially the skiing), and the social community of living in the arctic that I heard about from friends were draw. Plus, this place is its own sort of exotic."
Hanna: "I heard about courses at UNIS through an exchange meeting and the spring courses sounded very cool with LOTS of field work. This course (AG212) sounded like you got a chance to work as an independent researcher on your own project from the planning all the way through completion."
Dan: What did you find but didn't expect in coming to Svalbard?
Elin: "The community here in Svalbard (Longyearbyen) is a very different from other places. Because you're so isolated and there aren't tons of jobs, everyone who's here is up here because they really want to be. This makes people care more about the things and people around you, volunteer, and take care of your surroundings."
Hanna: "Coming to the AG212 course specifically, I though we'd be in tents the whole time not a nice place like a hotel in the remote arctic. That was a positive! I also didn't know that this place was a sort of polar desert. I thought it would be much rainier! Also, I've learned more through experience in this course of only a few weeks than I think I could have learned in a whole semester of classes. Seeing the big picture out here, walking with Mike, Steve, and Sara, learning the environment from the karst lakes to the marine terraces…so nice! People would ask me what I would be doing in this course and I'd tell them 'um, be out in the field…' and to be out here for 9 hours a day, that is nice too."
Dan: "Where do you hope this experience/this field of geology will take you?"
Hanna: "Well, not quite sure yet. My main subject is physics but I want to continue to research geology and pursue geophysics. From here I would like to come back next spring to UNIS and hopefully complete a bachelors thesis. My main interests have always been particle physics and cosmology but I find the 'end' result of those fields often ending up working only in the laboratory. Biogeophysics, that is starting to sound like a perfect field and I get to be outdoors!" Hanna has had some incredible experiences at CERN as a student seeing what happens at one of the world's foremost particle physics laboratories/particle accelerators.
Elin: "Good question! I started with geology to be outside and I think I will continue with a masters in either sedimentology, something paleo-oriented, or hydrogeology (keeping away from marine environments). Time will tell!"
Dan: "What makes where you come from special?" (to share with everyone reading from other locales)
Hanna: "I grew up in the countryside about an hour from Stockholm (Sweden) near the forests, lakes, and islands of the east coast archipelago. There I spent my time out on the ocean sailing and riding horses inland. I learned responsibility out there alone and a love for the mountains and being close to the water."
Elin: "My hometown is just outside the city in southwest Norway but my parents were from the countryside and grandparents were farmers. Going back to where they came from I grew up to a big extent being outside a lot. I've travelled quite a bit but guess that I am starting to get old (laughing) because I am starting to think about settling down and appreciating more and more the 4 seasons, the mountains and the big lakes of Norway."
Dan: "Svalbard being quite the adventure in itself, what is next on the bucket list?" Explaining the overtly American phrase…
Hanna: "I'd like to finish up my bachelors and then look into pursuing my Masters degree in New Zealand. Also, visit Elin in Tromso!"
Elin: "I'd like to take some months off to go on a very long hike: be outdoors, go kayaking…but I've already taken lots of years off : )…" but that is ok Elin...