Fogged in

    Today we made a valiant effort to go out to the fjord. After a late brunch we got out in the boat around noon, but had to turn back as a thick bank of fog shrouded the glaciers. It’s just not safe to go out in the fog, given the dangers of icebergs, falling ice if you get too close to the glacier face, and the possibility (albeit remote) of swimming polar bears. Not to mention how difficult it could be to navigate with no visibility.

    Ny Ålesund shrouded in fog
    Ny Ålesund shrouded in fog
    So after a couple of CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. casts further out in the fjord (we are interested in seeing where the warmer Atlantic water is, since the water close to the glacier is still colder than we’d expect at this time of year), we turned around and spent the afternoon in our office space. We have plenty to do - processing bathymetry and CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. data.

    But we are getting somewhat nervous about the fact that the fog has settled in, even into the evening. We only really have two more field work days left. (We fly out on Thursday, and need to spend the bulk of Wednesday packing up our gear.) But, as we’ve learned all too well on this trip, unpredictability is the nature of field work!

    Live Zoom event Monday!!

    We also spent time getting ready for Monday's Zoom event (which we are very excited about!). If you are around - Monday July 16 at 3:30 EDT - please join us. You can register at this link. It will also be recorded if you can't make it.

    Thoughts about the Interconnectedness of Nature

    As we were working today, I noticed a reindeer slowly making its way through the research base. I made this really nice video from the top of the building where our office is. The reindeer on Svalbard are a subspecies of reindeer found in other parts of the Arctic - they are smaller and more solitary. This is a result of their isolation on the coastline of the islands of Svalbard which hold far fewer resources than in other parts of mainland Europe or North America. Watching this beautiful animal makes me think about how connected geology and biology are in how organisms evolve.

    Svalbard reindeer
    A Svalbard Reindeer munching on the grass in Ny Ålesund.
    I’ve also been thinking about how connected animals and other organisms are to the cryosphere (the areas of the globe covered with permanent ice, like much of Svalbard). What would happen to those organisms if the ice disappears?

    Ice margin of Kongsbreen Glacier
    The ice margin of Kongsbreen Glacier, which has almost entirely retreated out of the ocean. I wonder how that has affected the ecology of the bay in front of the glacier?
    Seals haul themselves out of the water onto icebergs to regulate their body temperature. How would the loss of icebergs affect their ability to do this? And polar bears can easily hunt seals when they are on the ice; how would the loss of ice affect the ability of polar bears to hunt seals?

    Bearded seal
    A bearded seal hauled out onto an iceberg in front of Kongsvegen Glacier.
    Swimming seal
    A seal swimming in the water in front of Kongsvegen Glacier.
    Certain birds like the ivory gull depend on icebergs for nesting. They look for gravel-covered icebergs to build their nests, which are away from predators like foxes. Other birds, like fulmars and kittiwakes, depend on the upwelling plumes in front of glaciers for food (the cold freshwater coming off the glacier shocks small animals like krill making it easy prey for the birds). What will happen to these birds if glaciers retreat back away from the ocean. In that case no more upwelling plumes and no more icebergs from those glaciers. Organisms all the way up the food chain will be affected. I recently learned that Arctic Skuas raid other birds for their food! They will steal food from kittiwake nests, for example. (In fact, their scientific name is Stercorarius parasiticus which means “parasitic jaeger” because they parasitize other birds!) Without ice, what will happen to those birds?

    Herring gulls on an iceberg
    Several herring gulls on an iceberg in front of Kongsvegen Glacier.
    Arctic Skua in Kongsfjord
    An Arctic Skua flying in front of Kronebreen Glacier looking out over Kongsfjord. (Photo taken by drone!)

    As our project begins to wind down, and we go back to our lives in Massachusetts, I am left thinking about how interconnected our world is. On a much larger scale, I am thinking about how connected the Arctic is with the rest of the world. As I am reminded constantly, the decisions we make in our lives and in our society affect the geology - and ecology - of the Arctic. And this will connect back to us - in the form of changing sea levels and changing weather patterns. So, more than ever, we need to act to keep climate change from getting much worse.

    Boat in in front of Kongsvegen Glacier
    Our boat in ice-free water in front of Kongsvegen Glacier. This part of the fjord was covered in ice when I was here ten years ago.

    Ny Ålesund, Svalbard
    Weather Summary
    Very foggy
    7°C (45°F)
    Wind Speed
    1 m/s



    Dear, Mr.Goldner.
    I hope you've learned something new on your adventure in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard. While I was reading this journal I noticed that you talked about the affect that fog had on your adventure. This made me wonder about the affect that the the ice had on the fog. Due to the fact that the temperature is a lot colder than places such as Massachusetts I was wondering how different weather impacts the amount of fog and the time it lasts.
    I was also wondering how the fog affects the glaciers. Does it cause them to melt faster or melt slower. Lastly, I was wondering if the fog tells you anything about climate change. If it does tell you new information how do the researches get that information. Hope the fog goes away so you can go to the "fjord".

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Giorgos, great questions! I am not sure about the answer to your question about how ice affects fog, but it's a great question and I will try to find out more. But fog develops when the air gets so humid that water droplets form - it's essentially a cloud forming at ground or sea level. It's common in areas near the ocean because there is water evaporating off the ocean that can then condense out. While there is less water evaporating off a glacier (although it can sublimate - go from solid to vapor), you are correct that the air can be colder over the ice than over the water. So this might have an effect on fog formation.

    Because it's generally cold here and we're near the ocean fog is quite common - probably more common than in Massachusetts. Your question about the effect of climate change on fog is interesting; my guess is that climate change might cause less fog because as air warms it can hold more water vapor before it condenses. This is similar to cloud formation, and I think there is some disagreement about whether climate change will cause more or less cloud formation.

    Again, I will try to look into answering your questions more than I was able to here! What are your thoughts?

    Kathleen Yee

    Dear Mr Goldner,
    Its incredible how much wildlife there is out there despite the temperature being so cold!
    I was wondering if in the fog can animals still see through the fog when swimming? or do they not know where they're swimming if you have to be aware of polar bears? Also in the last picture, I don't see many ice chunks for animals to lay on, do you know if thats because of climate change or is it natural? I hope that you get to find all the research and information that you need from this trip!

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Katie, great questions! I'm not sure exactly how fog affects the ability of animals to swim, but animals use all sorts of navigation tools beyond seeing, so I imagine it doesn't have a huge effect on most animals. Bears, for example rely more on smell than sight to find their prey (which is why we are very nervous about going out of town in thick fog!).

    As for your other question, the amount of ice in the fjord really varies day to day. For example, when we first got here there was a lot less ice to navigate through. But yesterday it was completely jammed up with ice. It depends on many factors. Obviously the most important factor is the amount of iceberg calving. That is related to climate change, although it's also very dependent on the day-to-day temperature and sunlight. The amount of ice we see also depends on the wind and tides, because wind and tides can push ice out of the area in front of the glacier and further out to sea where it's more likely to melt (because the water is warmer). And also on how much meltwater is coming off the glacier, because if there is more meltwater the water currents are stronger and those currents push the ice out of the way. In fact, one of our clues to identify meltwater plumes from the glacier is to look for areas where there is less ice. Meltwater is definitely related to climate change, but wind patterns and tides are not.

    Charlotte Pappas

    Hello Mr. Goldner,

    Foremostly, I was interested in reading this post, especially the section about how the reindeer on Svalbard are a subspecies of reindeer found in other parts of the Arctic, which means due to genetics and the environment, the reindeer species on Svalbard eventually developed their own traits to adapt to their surroundings. For example, the reindeer on Svalbard developed a trait for having a smaller size and being more solitary, because their surrounding habitat has fewer resources than in other parts of mainland Europe or North America, and is more isolated.
    Moreover, another example of evolution that I can think of is of the peppered moth species in the Untied Kingdom during the 1800s, as the peppered moths used to be a light white color to match the bark of trees that they hid on to protect themselves from predators. However, due to the increasing uses of factories, more soot was in the air, which resulted in the bark of the trees that the peppered moths hid on to turn a dark black color. Therefore, eventually, due to genetic mutations and natural section, the peppered moths developed a trait that caused them to be a darker black color, which allowed them to better adapt to their changing environment.

    Furthermore, as you said in this post, I also agree that the environment has a immensely profound impact on the organisms that live on it, and due to climate change's influence on the environment, it has impacted and continued to impact many organism spices in negative ways.
    For instance, since icebergs in the Arctic is melting, and seals depend on icebergs to regulate their body temperature, if the icebergs kept on melting, then the seals would not be able to properly keep their bodies at the right temperature, which could result in them to be too hot or too cold. In addition, since polar bears can easily hunt seals when they are on the ice, if there is less ice in the Arctic, then the polar bears would have a harder time hunting seals, which could result in them to potentially starve if they cannot find enough other food.
    Overall, my main take away from this post is that it is important to take actions against climate change, as it affects the state of the Earth's environment, which then negatively harms and deprives organisms from allowing their species to thrive, and one question that I am wondering about is are all organisms being negatively affected by climate change, or are some organisms benefited by the changes in the climate and environment?

    That is all of my thoughts for now.

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Charlotte, this is such a thoughtful comment. I really like the connection you made between the miniaturized reindeer and the peppered moths you learned about last year. Yes, it's evolution in action! I've learned that they have been in Svalbard for about 5,000 years, which makes sense because that was a time when the climate got a bit colder, so there would have been more sea ice - allowing them to travel to such a remote location.

    As to your other question, yes there are organisms that will benefit from a warmer climate. As far as I know, most of those are not organisms that humans typically enjoy being around. For example, poison ivy thrives in an environment with more carbon dioxide. And there are many species of insects that will proliferate in a warmer world.

    Isaac Ashton-R…

    Hi Mr. Goldner
    It has been really interesting looking at the drone footage and the wild life that you are documenting, but I have a question: which species of animal that you saw do you think will be most affected by climate change and why? I think the species of bird called the "ivory gull" will be the most affected because they have to nest on glaciers but if the glaciers melt then they would have no safe place to nest. I hope you enjoy you're last few days in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard.

    From Isaac

    Ionait Mulligan

    Mr. Goldner,

    Learning about the different animals was very intriguing; and reading the section about fog made me wonder if any of these animals have any adaptations that help them see through the fog you described, and/or deal with the climate in general? Additionally, how have animals reacted to the melting ice?

    - Ionait

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Ionait, these are really good questions. Humans tend to rely mostly on sight for navigation, in which case fog makes it quite difficult to get around. However, other animals have much better developed senses in addition to sight (or instead of sight). Bears, for example rely more on smell than sight to find their prey (which is one of the reasons why we are very nervous about going out of town in thick fog!). And many marine mammals have a very good sense of hearing, so they don't need to rely on sight as much.

    Your other question about how animals are reacting to melting ice is an important one to study. The problem is that the melting of glacier ice is happening so fast that most animals don't have the ability to adapt easily. You may recall that evolution generally happens slowly, so if animals suddenly find themselves in an environment that they are not adapted to, their survival becomes threatened. Polar Bears are certainly being stressed as the amount of sea ice (frozen ocean water - not glaciers) gets less. They prefer to hunt seals on sea ice; seals which swim underneath the ice and come up through holes to breathe. Without sea ice, they are forced to hunt on land where food resources can be more scarce.


    Hi hi hi hi Mr. Goldner :3
    Back here in Brookline I’m doing great even though I don’t get to experience, learn, and record great amazing things alongside other different but amazing scientists (I’m still jealous). Anyway two things I agree with you about this diary is that it seems to be a very wise idea to not enter the water because you would obviously most likely not end up like the titanic (sarcasm) and I agree as well with the idea of all does worries for both the environment and animals (even the cool rocks![I’m obsessed with rocks])
    Next are two ‘THICK’ questions, one is what could we learn if we went into the fog? (Apart from possibly dying) And two, what or which animal/enviormental place is at the most risk of climate change?

    That’s all for this comment from your dear student Sofi <3
    P.S. I’m very very very goood because in August 7th it’s my birthday
    P.P.S. Fabian says hi

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sofia, thanks for your comment - and Happy Birthday! Also, please say hello to Fabian. I hope you are both having an excellent summer.
    It's an interesting question about whether we'd learn anything specifically from going out into the fog. The only thing I can think of is that the wind tends to be very low in foggy conditions, so maybe if we were interested in seeing the effects of wind on how ice moves in the fjord that might involve wanting to go out into the fog. But, as you indicated, that would be very risky!

    I'm not sure which animal in particular is most at risk, but as for locations the Arctic is probably the most vulnerable area. It is warming much faster than anywhere else on the planet, and this means that the animals that depend on the particular ecological conditions of that region are being forced to adapt faster than anywhere else.


    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    I hope you are having lots of fun in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard. While I am reading your blog post I've come up with an important auestion. In your blog you talked a lot about climate change and how it is affecting the ecosystem. And it made me wonder how the organisms that live there will adapt to this rapid change. For example evolution naturally occurs over millions of years. However us humans are changing the climate so rapidly I am left wondering if the creatures will adapt fast enough. And if so, how will they adapt to their new climate so fast. Hopefully us as humans will find better ways of fueling ourselves. With technologies such as renewable energy.


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Zack, thanks for your very thoughtful comment. Your point is really important - it's not just that we are changing the ecosystems but that we are changing them so rapidly that organisms may not be able to adapt fast enough. So that makes it all the more critical that we act as humans to change our behavior as soon as possible. It's a hard thing to do because it means asking ourselves to change our lifestyles and the way we get our energy. But, as you said, it is possible and the technology is there!

    Matthew Hanaghan

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    I noticed you mentioned the fact that the water was colder than you expected. Is this because more parts of the ice fell and cooled the water? Also, wouldn't climate change make the water warmer?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Will! Thanks for your question. I don't think I explained this topic well at all, so thanks for asking me to clarify. First it's important to understand that the water in the fjord has two main sources - meltwater from the glacier and ocean water from the Atlantic. The meltwater is colder freshwater that is full of sediment, and the ocean water is saltwater that is warmer (and does not contain much sediment). Svalbard is in an interesting location - even though it's so far North (only about 700 miles south of the North Pole), it's coastal regions remain ice-free in the summer. This is because warm ocean currents from the Atlantic Ocean make their way all the way up to Svalbard. Eventually that water seeps into the fjords. As I understand it this is a seasonal change - in the winter the water in the fjord remains cold as the Atlantic water doesn't come into the fjord. Then in the summer, the Altantic water begins to come back in. Generally we would expect to see that happen by July. This year, however, which has been a particularly cold year up in Svalbard, there was no sign of the warmer Atlantic water coming into the fjord.

    I don't know if this is a climate change-related phenomenon, or if it was just an anomaly. But I have been reading about how the large ocean currents seem to be shifting because of climate change. Perhaps it's possible that as ocean currents shift a phenomenon like this could become more common.

    Paige Hammond

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    I hope you had a good trip to Svalbard. I saw that you said it was very foggy on your trip. I was wondering if it was this foggy when you had been before. I also noticed that you said you did some CTD casts in the fjord to find warmer water. Where was there warmer water and why was it warmer in that area?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Paige, thanks for your thoughtful questions! When we were there in 2011 we also had plenty of fog. However, we were there for a longer time so losing a day or two because of fog had less of an impact on our work. As to your question about the warmer water, you can read my response to Will's comment just above yours; he asked a very similar question!

    Adithi Jayashankar

    Hi Mr Goldner!

    I’m a little late to read the blog post, but it definitely was really interesting. Your writing about how different forms of life are connected and how a domino effect might happen if one goes extinct reminded me of an activity we did in 3rd Grade (Ms. Harty’s class). Each student represented a plant or animal, and one person started off with a giant ball of yarn. Then someone would pass the ball to another “organism” which was related to it: either predator or prey. Then that person would do the same thing.

    It’s a simplification of what you described to allow eight and nine years olds to understand, but I remember it nonetheless. All of Earth’s organisms play a vital role in our ecosystem, whether it is keeping a species’ population in check, feeding something else, pollinating plants, or decomposing organic matter.
    If you take one organism out of the equation, be it tiny or huge, the effects can be disastrous.

    As a Bostonian, I know that climate change isn’t as obvious here as in other parts of the world. We don’t have fires raging all over the place, and we still have snow in the winter. It doesn’t, however, mean that climate change will never bring fires to Boston, or turn all of our snow into rain.

    Similarly, for some humans, the trivial struggles of animals seem far away. It can seem like this will never affect us. We are on the top of the food chain. Just because seals go extinct, it doesn’t correlate to our own destruction in some people’s mind. So my question is: how will it affect us? Will only the ecosystem of the arctic collapse (and stay self contained), or could that have a chain reaction across the world? It matters regardless, but I think it would force people to admit the disastrous effects of climate change if it is their own well being in the balance.

    That’s all for now!


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Adithi, thanks for your very thoughtful comment! I like the connection you made to that wonderful food web activity you experienced in 3rd grade. It's important to realize that organisms - and the physical world they inhabit - are all interconnected. Also, it's important to know that we don't always know how changing one part of the food web will affect the rest of the food web. For example, if seals became extinct, how would that affect the fish population? And how might that affect their prey? Ultimately we don't know how the balance might shift. Here's a great example from a different location - in Yellowstone National Park wolves were gone for many years (due to overhunting). This made the elk population increase. Those animals like to eat the buds of aspen trees, so with an overpopulation of elk, there was a drop in the number of aspen trees. Then, wolves were reintroduced to the park, and those tree populations recovered. So, that is an example of an unexpected connection that we should consider as we wonder about the loss of certain species.

    Sonia Wexler

    Hi Mr. Goldner!

    I hope you are having a great time in Svalbard! You mentioned the water was warmer. Did the fog have anything to do with that; did it affect the water tempeture? Since it was very foggy and you couldn't go out because it was dangerous, I was wondering if in the future there will be advanced technology that will let you go out in extreme weather conditions like fog. If you ever go back to Svalbard in the future will there be better technology for not only fog, but other purposes? This year when you came back to Svalbard did the technology improve from your trip in the past?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sonia, thanks for your comment! Actually this year the water in front of the glacier was colder than it had been ten years ago, because the warmer Atlantic water hadn't come into the fjord (at least by the time we left). I don't think that's a long-term trend, just a one year blip (although we'd have to wait several years to know for sure). But you raise a great question about the connection between water temperature and fog. Fog is merely a cloud that forms on the surface, and some atmospheric scientists are wondering about that question on a global scale - will warmer water affect the formation of clouds? Warmer water and air will result in more evaporation of water, which should produce more clouds. Exactly how and where that happens on the planet is not completely understood, because there are so many other factors that influence weather. As to your question about technology, the biggest change from ten years ago is better GPS technology, and, of course the drone technology.

    Edward Flint

    Hi Mr. Goldner

    My first question is why did you go on this trip if it was going to be so dangerous? I say this because you mentioned icebergs, no visibility, falling glaciers, and polar bears. My second question is what kind of food did you eat while going on this trip? Thanks!

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Edward! I love your questions! Actually, while there are dangers, we also know how to keep ourselves safe. So, for example, we wouldn't go out in the boat if it was too foggy. We would make sure to stay far enough away from the glacier to avoid falling icebergs, and we carried weapons to protect ourselves against bears. We also wore survival suits to make sure to stay warm and dry if we fell out of the boat, and we always had a radio with us in case we got into trouble so someone from the research base could come rescue us if necessary (we never had to do that!).
    The food is served cafeteria style, so the cooks would put out big pans of different types of food and you just help yourself. I am a vegan, but they always had a delicious vegan option for those of us who don't eat animal products. Some of my favorite dishes were a vegetable stir fry, and a really yummy dish that looks and tastes like pulled pork but was made from a really interesting fruit called "jack fruit"! There were plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and a delicious dark rye bread that I used every day to make sandwiches to bring out on the boat with me. All of the food is shipped up by boat every few weeks. (I wanted to take pictures of the cafeteria and the food, but they have a strict "no photos" rule in the cafeteria for some reason!)

    Emily Morse

    Hi, Mr. Goldner,

    I thought it was really cool how much wildlife there was out in the cold temperature. I went to Nantucket and I saw a lot of seals too. It is also really foggy in Nantucket. I was wondering what other weather conditions you faced and how that affected your studies? I hope you found all the information you needed for this trip.

    Emily Morse

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Emily, yes it's amazing how life will find a way to flourish no matter how harsh it may seem to us! In fact, I met another scientist up in Ny Ålesund who studies tiny microscopic animals (specifically, tardigrades and rotifers) in the middle of Antarctica where it is way below freezing all the time (and in a location that is literally the driest place on Earth!). Those little animals have found a way to thrive even there!

    We were lucky with weather - aside from a couple of days of fog, we were able to go out almost every day we were there.

    May Gardner

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    I found this blog really interesting because it really shows that small things can be a factor of larger and larger things too and you may not always realize it at first. Along with that thought I was wondering if there were other specific parts of this trip where you noticed the interconnection to the level you did this time? Also, were there many or very little days where it was unsafe to go out and did you find this to affect your research and if so how?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi May, thanks for your thoughtful comment and questions! Yes, during this trip it really hit home to me how deeply connected everything is. Another example I can think of is the population of barnacle geese and how they depend on grass growing in the tundra for most of their food source. As the climate warms, we can expect more grass to grow, which could increase the population of geese up in the Arctic. This could also have some effect on the reindeer. The reindeer also depend on the grass, so if the grass increases in population that could also help the reindeer - BUT this also depends on the rate of increase in the geese. It's possible that the geese population will increase faster than the reindeer and they may prevent the reindeer from also benefitting. BUT then again, the reindeer also like to feast on the goose poop (!)... So there are many many connections, and it's unclear as the climate warms rapidly how this will affect each organism.

    We were very lucky in terms of the weather this time - there were only a couple of days when it was either too foggy or too windy to go out.

    Wilson S

    Hello, Mr Goldner!
    I was reading your page and i saw in one of the photos that the water looked almost brownish, so i was wondering if the water was murky? I also remember you saying that you swam in the Arctic water, if so how cold was the water?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Wilson, yes the water is super brown because of all the sediment that the glaciers create when they grind over the landscape and pulverize the rock. All of that sediment becomes part of the glacier, or is carried by sub-glacial streams to the edge of the glacier. Then when the sub-glacial stream exits the glacier, that sediment is deposited into the water. Also when icebergs calve off and melt, they also release the sediment. The water is so incredibly murky that if you put your hand in the water up to your wrist. you wouldn't be able to see your fingertips! We didn't get to swim this year - we were too busy and also the air temperature never really got warm enough where we felt like going for a dip!

    sean clingingsmith

    Hello Mr. Goldner

    whats your favorite animal you've seen during your time there.
    Sincerely Sean Clingingsmith

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sean, I would have to say the reindeer are my favorite. The reindeer on Svalbard are called "pygmy reindeer" because they are unusually small. That's because of a phenomenon known as "island dwarfism". When animals get trapped on islands (which must have happened thousands of years ago when some reindeer wandered across the ice to Svalbard), they have fewer resources than they do on the mainland. Then it becomes beneficial to be smaller because they need less resources! So, over time, they tend to become smaller. Normal reindeer are the size of the kind of deer you might see around here. The ones on Svalbard are about 1/2 that size!

    Wilson S

    Hello Mr Goldner!
    I was reading you page when i saw in a photo some birds on a chunk of ice, and it made me wonder, how often do you see wildlife? And if so what is you favorite animal in the arctic? i was also wondering how often you see a upwelling plume? and also are upwelling plumes dangerous to go close to?


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Wilson, we saw wildlife all the time, especially sea birds. As to my favorite animal, I actually just wrote a response to Sean that you can read, above this comment :)
    There are probably 5-6 noticeable upwelling plumes across Kronebreen and Kongsvegen glaciers. They aren't particularly dangerous in that it's just water flowing up the glacier face and out. Sometimes you can see the water bubbling up right at the glacier, but we can't get that close to the glacier face anyway (you always need to stay at least 100-200 yards away from an active glacier in case icebergs calve off). Then the water flows out across the fjord from the glacier. You definitely notice the current pushing hard away from the glacier, so it was often hard to keep the boat in one place when in the plume (such as when we were doing CTD casts).

    Ruihan Ji

    It was really cool reading about all these cool animals. What really made me interested was seeing the Svalbard Reindeer. I used to think that the arctic was an empty and desolate place with barely any living things. But reading this article made me realize ecosystem of different and unique species of animals. I have one question for you: Can you tell me about some prehistoric animals that used to live in the arctic.

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Ruijan, you're asking a great question, but it's not my area of expertise. What I can tell you is that during the Ice Ages, there were several areas of the Arctic that weren't covered with ice (because it was dry there, so not enough snow built up to create glacier ice. For example, large parts of Alaska were very cold, but not covered with ice and many grasses and other small plants could grow. Many exotic species like mammoths, mastodons and saber-tooth tigers lived there, supported by those plants. When I was in Alaska I was able to find a mammoth tooth!

    luka gallucci

    Hello Mr.Goldner,

    Did you see any polar bears, and if you did what did you do about it?

    Luka Gallucci

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Luka, we saw a mother polar bear and her cub once, and here's a video I took. We were watching safely from the top of a 2-story building where we had lab and office space. We never saw any bears when we were out in the fjord. But we did hear, on our two-way radio that we had for emergencies, other scientists radio in to inform others of polar bear sightings. That happened almost daily, so we know they were around!

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Luka, we saw a mother polar bear and her cub once, and here's a video I took. We were watching safely from the top of a 2-story building where we had lab and office space. We never saw any bears when we were out in the fjord. But we did hear, on our two-way radio that we had for emergencies, other scientists radio in to inform others of polar bear sightings. That happened almost daily, so we know they were around!

    Zach Driben

    Dear Mr. Goldner,
    Thats so crazy! I cant believe there was that much fog in the glaciers!

    From, Zach Driben

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Zach, it can get very foggy there, because the water from the Atlantic Ocean causes water vapor to form. Then, because the land (and glacier ice) is so cold, it can cool the air down enough to make that water vapor condense into low-lying clouds (which is really what fog is - just a low-lying cloud).

    Sage Kapusta

    Dear Mr Goldner,
    Its terrible what is happening to the seals. In your photos I can see the mucky ocean water. Its terrible how much climate change has effected life and the oceans. Just by reading your blog and looking at the photos that you have posted I can tell how much more depressing the arctic has gotten. What are your expectations over the next years and how you think the ocean and glaciers will change over time?

    Sage Kapusta

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sage, thanks for your comment. It's depressing to think about what is happening over the long term, but it's still a beautiful and magical place to visit and study!

    I am somewhat optimistic that as more and more people become aware of what is happening, this will call them to action. I predict that in the next 5-10 years, the American people will finally call out strongly and loudly for our leaders to act on changing the way our society works so that we can finally cut the amount of carbon dioxide we emit and turn this problem around!

    Eli Hoffman

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    Reading through this article really made me realize how much global warming affects the animals in the arctic and all around the world. I always knew that global warming affects animals but I never thought it was this severe. Something that I also never realized is how much animals depend on the ice. Something that I was wondering after reading this was are there any animals do you think will be most affected by climate change and do you think there are animals tat could benefit from the ice melting?

    From, Eli Hoffman

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Eli, I think animals that will be most impacted by the loss of ice will be animals like seals and polar bears. Because of that, I wonder if some of their prey might benefit. For example, the fish that the seals depend on, perhaps. But I'm really not sure!

    Zubin Kahoussi

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    After reading through this I really saw how bad global warming really is and how much it affects our planet. I was wondering how bad the fog was because in the picture it was really bad almost impossible to see in which makes me wonder how animals see?

    Mark Goldner

    Many animals, like polar bears, rely more on their sense of smell and hearing than they do on their sense of sight. So the fog has very little affect on their ability to move around and hunt for prey.

    Ben Dankwerth

    Hello Mr. Goldner,

    Its a bit alarming to realize that all of these animals are directly connected to the glaciers. what operatically stood out to me was the ivory gull, which you said "the ivory gull depend on icebergs for nesting. They look for gravel-covered icebergs to build their nests, which are away from predators like foxes." So the question that lingers in me is, what will the birds do when they run out of nesting area? will they just simply go extinct? Or will they adapt in time?.

    Ben Dankwerth

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Ben, you're asking a very good question. The answer is not a good one, though... evolution usually happens slowly, so it would probably take many generations for birds like the ivory gull to adapt to new nesting conditions. But we are changing their environment so quickly that it's likely they will not be able to adapt. In that case, they may very well go extinct. That is, unless we can act now to change our behavior as humans and cut our greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing the ice to melt.

    luka gallucci

    Hi Mr.goldner,
    I was wondering when I read that there was a lot and a lot of fog how this is effecting the animals and the researchers?


    Luka Gallucci

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Luka, the fog makes it quite dangerous to go out and do field work, whether on land or in the ocean. One big risk is polar bears, which can smell really well so they don't depend on their eyesight to stalk their prey (including humans...). Another risk, on the ocean, is not being able to navigate well around icebergs and rocks that you can't see.