This morning we began our journey home, and I’m writing this blog from a cozy restaurant in Longyearbyen.

    This month has been incredible for me, and it will take a while to process everything we’ve done and experienced. One of the things we’re hoping to do is to put together a short video describing what we’ve noticed about the impact of climate change on the retreating glaciers of Svalbard. That will certainly keep me busy into the next school year trying to organize and process all of the videos I was able to collect. In the meantime, you can watch all of the short videos I put together on this YouTube playlist.

    Homeward bound

    Yesterday was another day of heavy fog. We hadn’t intended to do field work, because we had to pack up all of the scientific gear. I was hoping to do a hike after we finished with that, but, because of the risk of polar bears, hiking in the fog is a dangerous thing to do!

    packing up
    Packing up our gear. We need to make sure every item is put in the exact same box that it came in, for the purposes of customs.
    Amundsen statue
    A statue in the middle of Ny Ålesund of polar explorer, with an Arctic Tern perched atop his head!

    This morning we awoke to bright sunshine, which meant that there wouldn’t be any delays with the flight to Longyearbyen.

    Morning in Ny Ålesund
    The bright sunny morning we awoke to after several days of fog. This is the view from my dorm window.
    After breakfast we boarded the plane and flew directly over Kongsvegen and Kronebreen Glaciers. With the spectacular weather, this allowed me to get aerial shots of Ny Ålesund and the glaciers we had studied.

    Ny Ålesund from the air
    Ny Ålesund from the air
    I went back to look at my photos from 2011, and I found aerial shots from almost the same angle for both years. From this perspective the retreat of the glaciers is really obvious. Note that the distance from the ice margin in 2011 is about 1.7km from the 2021 ice margin (about a mile)

    Aerial shot of Kronebreen Glacier and Collethøgda 2011
    Aerial shot of Kronebreen Glacier and Collethøgda, July 14, 2011 (photo courtesy of Ross Powell).
    Aerial shot of Kronebreen Glacier and Collethøgda 2021
    Aerial shot of Kronebreen Glacier and Collethøgda, July 29, 2021

    The fast retreat of these glaciers has been the running theme of my experience in Svalbard, and of the blog. Our big challenge now is how to document that for a wider audience. My big hope is that through effective outreach we can influence people to help change our society to one that is fossil-fuel free in the near future.

    Thank yous

    As our work winds down, I want to take the opportunity to thank many people who have made this experience possible.

    Most importantly, I was to thank Julie Brigham-Grette. She is an impressive scientist, and a truly wonderful human being. Her work as a scientist is driven by a desire to improve the world, which she does in such a humble and collaborative way. I am thankful that she offered to bring me back this year, and that she gave me the chance to be involved fully in the work. She even pushed me to learn a new skill - drone flying! And I have learned so much from Julie about geology, climate change, and about generally how science is done.

    I also want to thank the other two members of our team, Kelly and Xander. They are wise and mature beyond their years, and I have learned a great deal from both of them as well.

    A big thank you to all the people at Norse Polar and Kings Bay for all their help, support, and creature comforts at Ny Ålesund. We were able to conduct our research, sleep comfortably, and eat well because of all their efforts.

    I want to thank Janet, Judy, and all the folks at PolarTREC for supporting me in 2011 and again this year, and for all the opportunities throughout the intervening years. You have exposed me to experiences that I never even knew existed!

    A big thank you to National Geographic Explorers for funding the research, and to the Brookline Education Foundation, the National Education Association and the Heath School PTO for funding my participation.

    Stay in touch!

    We’ll be home on Saturday, where I will experience the dark sky for the first time in a month. Although I will be winding down my blog writing, I will continue to monitor the comments. So keep them coming and I will do my best to respond. Stay in touch through the bog, through Facebook, Twitter (@sciencegold), Instagram (@sciencegold), or my YouTube channel

    By the way, if you weren’t able to attend Monday’s PolarConnect Zoom event, you can watch the archive here.

    Fulmar flying over iceberg
    A fulmar flying over an iceberg (from drone footage).
    Research team photo
    The research team posing after one of our long days of successful data collection last week.

    Longyearbyen, Svalbard
    Weather Summary
    Sunny with light breeze
    8°C (47°F)
    Wind Speed
    3 m/s


    paul kirshen

    Mark - really enjoyed your informative blogs. Your students are lucky. The same can be said for Julie's.
    Safe travels home and I look forward to reading and hearing more about the research.

    Mark Goldner

    Thank you, Paul! I have really enjoyed getting to know Xander and learning alongside and from him. I'm sure you are quite proud of him!
    I look forward to meeting you in person.

    Meredith Richardson

    Dear Mr. Goldner,
    I'm sorry to see you depart Ny Ålesund - although, I'm glad that you were given this exciting opportunity in the first place, compliments of everyone you listed under "Thank yous"; It's heartwarming to see how many people came together in order to support *science*....!
    Honestly, I really enjoyed following your blogs; I found them very interesting and engaging. Before reading your posts, I had thought of the arctic as a barren, untouchable, however, I have discovered that it's fascinating - and beautiful, too. More than that, I am appreciative of and inspired by your research, and believe it will effectively call attention to the looming climate crisis, which--if I do say so myself--is a cause quite close to my heart.
    Thank you again for this great learning experience. I look forward to seeing you in September!

    Mark Goldner

    Thank you for your comment, Meredith! I am glad that you were inspired by my experiences and that you have begun to appreciate the value of the Arctic. It's important that we all recognize how interconnected the Earth is. As they say, "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic!" Enjoy the rest of your summer!

    Charlotte Pappas

    Hello Mr. Goldner,

    Foremostly, I found it interesting reading this post, especially the part when you showed two pictures you took from around the same angle of the Kronebreen Glacier from different decades, and they look drastically different.
    For example, I noticed that in the first picture of the Kronebreen Glacier, which was taken on July 14, 2011, the Kronebreen Glacier is much further forward, and there also appears to be more snow on the top of the mountains in the distance and on the huge rock in the middle of the Kronebreen Glacier.
    However, I noticed that in the second picture of the Kronebreen Glacier, which was taken on July 29, 2021, the the Kronebreen Glacier is about 1.7 kilometers back then it was in the 2011 picture, and there appears to be less snow on the top of the mountains in this distance and on the huge rock in the middle of the Kronebreen Glacier.

    In addition, in the 2021 picture, I observed that a lot of the glacial ice from the Kronebreen Glacier is a light blue color, which is much different from the glacial ice from the Kronebreen Glacier in the 2011 picture, as in that picture, the glacial ice is mostly a white color.
    Therefore, based on my previous knowledge about how when a glacier starts to flow and recede, and it's glacial ice starts to melt, small blue pools of water called meltwater lakes can form on top of the glacier, I am predicting that the reason why a lot of the glacier ice from the Kronebreen Glacier is a light blue color in the 2021 picture is due to the fact that it contains many meltwater lakes.
    Furthermore, based on the information that the Kronebreen Glacier in the 2011 picture does not seem to contain as many meltwater lakes as it does now, I am also predicting that the Kronebreen Glacier today is melting at a faster rate then it was 10 years ago, because if the Kronebreen Glacier 10 years ago was melting just as quickly as it is now, then it would have likely had to have a similar amount of meltwater lakes to the amount it has now.

    In conclusion, I believe that this information and observations that I noticed are clear evidence of climate change's drastic negative affects on glaciers in the Arctic, based on the amount of glacial ice loss from the Kronebreen Glacier within a 10 year period, and the fact that the Kronebreen Glacier carries more meltwater lakes then it once did, and one wondering that I have is that is the Kronebreen Glacier actually melting at a faster rate then it was 10 years ago, and if it was, then what is the difference between it's melting rate in 2011 then it's current melting rate?

    That is all of my thoughts for now.

    Mark Goldner

    Thank you Charlotte, for your very deep reading of my blog and your thoughtful comments. I'm not sure that there are actually more meltwater lakes on Kronebreen than there were in 2011. It is probably more because of the specific pictures and camera angles. Back in 2011 I didn't have the drone to look from above, and we only get a few minutes from the airplane to take the aerial shots. You may be right, though, and it is a logical conclusion to assume that there would be more meltwater lakes as there is likely more meltwater. I will definitely have to check into that for you to see if your inference is correct.

    Also, I'm not sure of the specific rate of melting. It's a hard thing to quantify, and I'm not sure that this has been done. Again, I will check into that for you. But one thing you can see is the retreat rate just as a simple measure of the distance that the ice face has retreated. If you study this image that Xander put together from satellite images, you can see that the retreat rate is increasing.

    Joachim Panitz

    Hi mr. Goldner, I find your expedition very interesting. It is a shame that great things must come to an end. I found out that Longyearbyen is the northernmost town in the world in Norway and most arctic expeditions settle there. I am also learning Norwegian for 2 months now and it is a very interesting language. It is also great that even after taking off from the settlement you can still make great sights of glaciers through the rocky ground. I hope to visit that settlement in the future and make great discoveries as well. I hope you had a great flight back home and continue to have great fun with science!

    -Joachim Panitz

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Joachim, thank you for your comment! Longyearbyen is a very interesting town, and it shows the tension between preservation of the important Arctic ecosystem and economic development. There are many tourists who come there as well as scientists. The town has grown considerably since I was there ten years ago, mostly fueled by the tourist industry. Tourists are often interested in seeing wildlife and the beautiful glacial landscapes. But with increased development comes more pollution and of course, more carbon emissions which drive global warming... Yet the economy of this region depends on the income received from tourists. So it's a very complicated place!

    Your other comment really made me think a lot about perspective. This time I was able to view the glaciers from above using the drone, which is something I couldn't have even dreamed of 10 years ago! Having that visual perspective (and, then, of course, the aerial shots from the plane as we departed) gives me a much more complex picture of glacier systems.

    Mia Jones

    Hello Mr. Goldner!
    It was a lot of fun to read all about your expedition and your findings. It seems that this was a very productive trip. I'm really thankful I get to read about such an interesting and unique exploration. All the pictures were very informative and beautiful. How has being in Ny Ålesund changed you? Was it hard to adjust after coming home?
    Yours Truly,
    Mia Jones

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Mia, thanks for your comment and questions. It was truly an amazing experience. One of the things that I was reminded of is how challenging it can be to do scientific research in such a remote location. We faced a number of challenges and we had to be very flexible to adjust to those challenges. For example, when we realized that our velocity meter wouldn't work in that location, we had to settle for using the drogue device. I was also reminded of how incredibly beautiful the glacier landscape is, and I feel quite lucky to have been able to spend so much time in such an amazing place. Therefore I am even more resolved to do what I can to help make sure we preserve what we can of the Arctic before it's too late.

    It was not too hard to adjust to coming home because it is still summer vacation and I could catch up on sleep pretty easily. I did enjoy having total darkness during the nighttime for the first time since early July :)

    Mia Sellam

    Hi mr goldner,
    I’m glad you had a great time with your research and seeing the Arctic and I’m excited for you to show us what you’ve learned and discovered once we get back to school. What do you think was something you learned the most about when you were there? Was there anything you learned that was really unexpected? I’m glad I got the opportunity to read about your experiences. I hope you have a great rest of your summer!
    -Mia Sellam

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Mia, thanks for your comment and questions. I learned a lot about how interconnected everything seems to be - for example, I had never realized how different marine mammals and birds depend on the health of the glaciers, since the sediment they deposit provides nutrients for the bottom of the food chain. This interconnectedness is very important to understand because melting glaciers will do more than just raise sea levels - it can affect ecosystems in a negative way.

    I also was reminded of how important good teamwork and cooperation are, which I guess is another form of interconnectedness. It was amazing to listen to and participate in conversations around the dinner table where scientists doing different types of experiments would share with each other, give each other ideas, share data, etc. It reminded me of how important it is to listen to and work with people in order to do science.


    Thought I left a comment here but I guess it never went through. For a question, how did you plan around the weather? Like, if it rains and you can't see anything, what would you do?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi David, if we can't see anything because of rain or fog, then it would be too dangerous to go out into the field. This is because of the risk of polar bears, but also not being able to navigate around icebergs, rocks, etc. There was always plenty to do, even on days when we couldn't go out into the field. There was data to analyze, blogs to write, emails to catch up on, and also just having informal conversations with other scientists - which gave us new ideas about the work we were doing.

    Sofia Andersen

    Hi Mr Goldner,
    I loved reading this blog! I thought it was so cool how you could get photos from almost the exact same angle as the last time you were there ten years ago. It was crazy to see the difference between the two photos, and how much it changed. A question I have is, do you think you'll ever go back to Svalbard?

    -Sofia Andersen

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sofia, thanks for your comment. I would love to go back again to continue to monitor the changes that are occurring, and to learn more about glaciers. However, it is quite expensive to do so. I had to raise about $6000 in order to participate, and I have to thank the Brookline Education Foundation and the National Education Association for giving me grant money to come along. And that money was just for me to come along - Dr. Brigham-Grette got a $50,000 grant from the National Geographic Explorers which funded her, the two students, and a lot of other costs (equipment, shipping, etc.).

    John S.

    Dear Mr. Goldner,

    thank you for the interesting blog. how many different birds do you think you've seen? I think the phots are really interesting, see you next year!


    Mark Goldner

    Hi John, some of the birds I saw were: Arctic Terns, Barnacle Geese, Arctic Skuas, Great Skuas, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Fulmars. Those are just the ones I can identify! I'm sure there were several other birds that I just was unable to identify!


    Dear Mr. Goldner,
    I thought your blog was really cool! I really like how even though you guys are taking a trip for science your having fun and it shows people how you can learn and have fun at the same time. The question I have is what was the biggest change from the last time you went and do you think it was because of climate change

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Armani! Thanks for your comment. Yes, it was an amazing experience and I'm super lucky to have been able to go back to Svalbard.
    The biggest thing I noticed was just how far back the glaciers have retreated, which is clearly due to climate change. If you look back at the two aerial photos on this blog post you can see quite clearly how different the glaciers look. Not only have the glaciers retreated back, but they also look more stretched out and thinner than before. Again, this is all because the air and water temperatures around the glaciers are warming up, which is causing an increase in the melting.


    Hi Mark (and team),
    I'm so glad we were able to host your expedition a decade later. What an incredible story you shared with us! The images are amazing and do show the true magnitude of the glacier retreating so fast.
    Thanks for being such an amazing science communicator and educator! Here's hoping you have a great school year and I'm looking forward to that video!

    Janet Warburton

    carter cagnina

    Dear Mr Goldner
    I had fun reading a couple of your blog posts. I think it's really cool too see the change in the icebergs from 10 years ago to right now. I hope that you learned a lot and had a lot of fun up in Svalbard. Do you think that you would ever want to go back to Svalbard whether it's for research or just for fun?

    Mark Goldner

    Thanks, Carter. Yes, I would love to return to this amazing place. I hope that what you and other students see in my blog, photos, and videos, is how incredible and special this place is - and that we need to act as a society to change our habits before this incredible landscape disappears.

    Sarah Murphy

    Hi Mr Goldner,
    I really enjoyed reading this blog and all the others. I found it very interesting to see photographic proof of how climate change is affecting our planet. A question I had was I noticed that you said the the glacier moved back 1.7km in 10-11 years . I am wondering if that would be the case in the next 10-11 years or if the affects of climate change would cause it to get even smaller than it did in the previous block of time. I am also wondering what are things that people could do to actually make a difference and lessen the impacts that climate change is having .I know there are small things that people could do, but unless everyone did that it would only make a miniscule difference. I know that driving electric cars is one and I was wondering if there are any other things that we could do, thanks.
    -Sarah Murphy

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sarah, your questions are so important! The most important thing we can do right now is to raise our voices and DEMAND that our leaders take immediate action to cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions. It is helpful for each of us to do our part - like driving electric cars, eating less meat, etc. but it's going to take large-scale action on the part of governments and corporations to really get this problem under control. We are lucky to live in a democracy where we can speak up. The more of us who speak up the more our leaders will be forced to listen!

    Ryan lackey

    Dear Mr.Goldner,
    I thought this blog was interesting. I thought it was crazy how much the glacier has melted over the years after how you explained in class about how slow the pace is usually. My question was is the glaciers cut back going at a slightly normal rate or is it thrown of a large amount because of global warming?


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Ryan, thanks for your question. I think you're probably referring to two different ways that the glacier is moving. First, the glacier flows downhill - this is simply due to gravity pulling all that mass of ice down over the land until it hits the ocean. (Or, in many cases, it never quite reaches the ocean and melts before it gets there.) The other type of motion is the retreat of the glacier. It's a little confusing, but even in retreating glaciers the ice is still flowing downhill - it's just that the edge of the glacier is slowly moving backward. This is because the edge of the glacier is where the ice can no longer remain frozen in the summer. That line, or the terminus of the glacier, thus retreats backward. (I hope that makes sense!) Both types of motion are increasing because of global warming. In a world where the atmosphere was not warming up, the glacier would flow at a particular rate, but the terminus would stay fixed in one place. Because of global warming, glaciers are flowing faster, because there is more meltwater lubricating the glacier as it flows across the rock so it can slide more easily. Also the retreat of the edge of glaciers is also getting faster.

    May Gardner

    Hi Mr. Goldner,
    I see from this blog that the expedition has ended and I was wondering will you continue to work on parts of this research that you can from home and if so what will that be? Also you talked about in this blog the melting of the icebergs and how that has changed and I was interested in how different and in what ways you think the location would be if you were to do a third trip?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi May, great questions! I hope to stay involved in the analysis of the data, and in fact Dr. Brigham-Grette hopes that we will present our data at a conference in Oregon at the end of October. Mostly I am planning to work with Dr. Brigham-Grette in compiling all the drone footage and to put together some videos that will (a) help us visualize how the glacier is changing and (b) help teachers teach about glaciers and global warming using the footage I collected.

    I would love to go back to the Arctic (or the Antarctic!) and I always have my eyes out for opportunities to do so!

    Matthew Rosales

    Hi Mr. Goldner,

    I hope you enjoyed your time in Svalbard! When I first got to the two pictured of the glacier 10 years apart, I didn't think it was real. I think the reason why I couldn't believe it is because people actually settled on the land that the glacier used to be on! one question I have though is what happened to the ice. I know it may be a dumb question, but I'm very curious to find out how the extra land got there that way people could settle there!

    Thanks, Matthew

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Matthew, what's interesting to me about your question is that it gets to the idea of what kind of land is there that is exposed after the glacier retreats. Usually right after the glacier retreats what it leaves behind is a very unstable mix of mud, rocks, and ice. This would not be a very good place to settle on - you'd have to wait a long time for the land to become more stable. In fact, a lot of what looks like solid land is actually still frozen ice filled with mud and rocks. Eventually that will melt and the rocks and other sediment will sink down.

    Eventually, though - like hundreds of years from now - the land will settle out and dry out, plants will have taken root, and there will be enough soil and roots to hold the land in place making it stable enough to settle on.

    Jad Torres

    Hi Mr. Goldner,

    I hope you enjoyed your trip to Svalbard! I really found it fascinating how within the span of one decade a glacier can move so far away, and how people can settle on the environment which the glacier was previously at. Something that I curious about is why people decided to settle at where the glacier used to be, and how they get their resources?


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Jad, your question is interesting because it gets to a little history of Ny Ålesund that I didn't explain in this blog. It turns out that Ny Ålesund was first settled around 100 years ago by a coal mining company. For about 50 years there was an active coal mine there. In fact, there are still remnants of the coal mining operations there. In the 1960's, the Norwegian government decided it wasn't that profitable to continue mining there (plus there had been some fatal accidents!), and they decided to transform the little coal mining town into a research base. It's interesting to wonder why people would decide to mine coal there, and that's because of the very ancient geology of the area. Turns out that 100 million years or so ago this land was much more tropical - there were plenty of trees and other plants, and animals, and this piece of land was much closer to the equator! (In fact, I have a cool plant fossil that I found up there!) Those plants and animals died and became compressed into coal. So it's a really interesting testament to how much our planet can change if you give it enough time!

    Micheal Siedlecki

    Dear Mr. Goldner
    I think it is unbelievable that you had the opportunity to go to the Arctic, and even cooler to hear about all the things you did. I was especially interested in what animals you got to see. My question is if you got to see any sea animals, and if you did please tell me which ones.

    -from Micheal Siedlecki

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Micheal, thanks for your comment. The main sea animals we saw were seals (Bearded Seals) and many types of sea birds, such as Arctic Terns, Fulmars and Arctic Skuas.

    Addy Jalan

    Hi Mr. Goldner,

    I see from this blog that your trip has ended and I hope you had a great time! I loved following along and reading your blog sometimes throughout the summer! One thing I was wondering was are you going to continue researching and studying and learning more about glaciers in this area from home? And if you are planning to, how are you going to do so? Also, if you would want to make a trip like this again, what would be the next location and why? Oh, and lastly, did you see any polar bears?


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Addy, I hope to stay involved in the analysis of the data, and in fact Dr. Brigham-Grette hopes that we will present our data at a conference in Oregon at the end of October. Mostly I am planning to work with Dr. Brigham-Grette in compiling all the drone footage and to put together some videos that will (a) help us visualize how the glacier is changing and (b) help teachers teach about glaciers and global warming using the footage I collected.

    I would love to go back to the Arctic (or the Antarctic!) and I always have my eyes out for opportunities to do so! The issue is always money... so I am always looking out for ways to fund my participation. For example, this summer the Brookline Education Foundation generously gave me a grant which paid for a lot of my expenses.

    We did see polar bears once; you can see the video here. They were definitely around. Almost every day we would hear on our two radio people reporting in with polar bear sightings. (They report those so that others know where to be on alert and which locations to avoid.)

    Zubin Kahoussi

    Hi Mr. Goldner,

    I see that your trip has ended I hope you had lots of fun in the arctic and maybe one day you can go back. I found it really interesting how the glaciers melted and changed over time. It's really sad you couldn't go on your hike because of the polar bears it would've been really cool and interesting to see. Im wondering if you got to see all the animals and if you liked them or not?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Zubin, thanks for reading my blog! I am curious what you mean by "all the animals"...? I don't really think much about whether I "like" animals or not, but rather I tend to think about their roles in an ecosystem. For example, I did get to see this fox hunting a group of geese and this very short video of a fox carrying a goose that it caught. It made me think about how, although it might feel sad to see a poor little goose getting killed by a fox, that the fox plays a very important role in keeping the population of geese under control. Another animal that many people don't really "like" are the Arctic Terns. They tend to attack people, like you can see in this video. But they are simply protecting their nests, because they are very easy prey for predators like the foxes. And they are remarkable birds - they have the longest bird migration in the world, traveling over 12,000 miles each year from the Arctic to the Antarctic!

    Zach Driben

    Dear Mr. Goldner,
    How crowded was it boarding the plane? Was it just you guys or were there more people?

    From, Zach Driben

    Mark Goldner

    It's a pretty small plane; it only holds 12 passengers. Our plane was full, with all 12 seats filled plus the pilot and co-pilot. The plane is super comfortable, though! All of the passengers were scientists just like us, but from several different countries in Europe (plus another person from the US).

    Alex C

    Hello mr. Goldner! I See your trip has ended and I hope you had a great time! I really enjoyed reading your blogs. If you had to pick a couple moments, what would you say were your favorites throughout your journey?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Alex, thank you for your comment. It's hard to pick a single moment, but I think the highlight for me was flying the drone over the glacier. I was able to see parts of the glacier that otherwise would be impossible to see. It gave me a new understanding of the structure of glaciers, and an appreciate for how massive and dynamic they are ("dynamic" means changing).

    Kylie Kovalko

    dear MR. G

    One thing before I ask my question, I would like to give you a compliment about the photos! i love the plane view pictures there really beautiful, and it makes me sad the global warming has caused such a beautiful place so much trouble, on the topic of trouble you wrote that it was danougs to go on a hike with a lot of fog because of the polar bears. My question is, is it more common for the pulper bears to come out during the fog if so why? how can they threw the fog? If the reason they come out is to hunt then how do they see their prey? I looked it up and barely anything came up so I hope you can answer my question! it’s really a shame that you had to leave without a final hike but i can tell you enjoyed yourself!! witch is great to hear

    See you soon!

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Kylie, I can see that you are really interested in the different ways that animals have adapted to different environments! Polar Bears really rely more on their sense of smell than they do their sense of sight. So losing their ability to see due to fog is not much of a hindrance to them. So, for humans, we are at a huge disadvantage in an encounter with a bear in the fog - we have a lousy sense of smell but excellent eyesight, so if we lose our ability to see in the fog, we can't detect the bears. But they can detect us!

    Ruihan Ji

    Dear Mr. Goldner
    It is shocking to see the complete change of the once enormous glacier. Seeing the pictures, I have realized that much of the arctic is melting away, due to climate change. My favorite picture from this blog is the small bird perched on the statues head! I really hope that your expedition ended well and wish you good luck, (In case you go back.)

    See you in health class.

    Ben R

    Hi Mr. Goldner,

    I can't find my original comment, so I'm going to re-ask my questions. First, what do you think was the most important discovery that you made from your research during this trip? And also, do you think that that this glacier's rate of melting will increase as time goes on due to climate change?


    Mark Goldner

    Hi Ben, I think the main takeaway from our trip is witnessing the incredible amount that the glacier ice has melted. In addition, we got a chance to really talk about how interconnected the ice is with living things in the ecosystem. So, for example, we wonder whether the retreat of glaciers will have an effect on the bird populations? Those kinds of questions were new to me - last time we were in Svalbard we were focused only on the specific glacier research we were doing; this time we had a chance to explore these other connections.

    If we don't change the way we operate as a society, then, yes, the rate of glacier retreat will increase. I am hopeful that we are on the verge of a major societal change, where the population will demand of our leaders dramatic reduction in greenhouse gases. Then, over time, I hope we will see the rate of retreat slow down.

    Sumedha Jalan

    Dear Mr. Goldner,
    I hope you enjoyed your stay in Ny Ålesund. When you went in 2011 to now, were there drastic changes there or just small changes. Did somethings disappear since you last went there. Since you took photos from the same angle did the stuff surrounding it move or change?

    Mark Goldner

    Hi Sumedha, the changes to the ice were pretty dramatic - not only had the ice retreated about a mile, but the glacier looked thinner and more stretched out. The surrounding rock, which I think you are referring to, didn't change that much though.