Arctic Research Group 2017

Location: Bockfjorden region of North Spitsbergen; Lat & Long: 79.30°N, 13.40°E

MembersIan Frearson (leader), George Haddon Winter, Andrew Hodson, Aga Nowak.

Affiliation: Arctic Research Group (Charity  1167722)

ARG members are safely back from their trip following a most unusual and frustrating yet somehow strangely rewarding experience in Svalbard. Read more below.

Leader's Note

Objectives: A multi-disciplinary expedition to the Bockfjorden region of North Spitsbergen to gather information on the area round the most northerly warm springs on land in the world. Work will include observations of vascular plant species in areas of influence and remote from the springs, seeking geological specimens of primitive fish fossils, meteorite recovery and looking for colonisation of recently exposed ground generated through ice retreat. 

See ARG Announcement 6 June 2017: Hot Topic in a Cold Place

Geology       Ecology         Glaciology       Meteorite Recovery       Photography        Ground Proving    

Dates: 27 June to 26 July 2017




Supported by: Gino Watkins Memorial Fund.

ARG News from Svalbard

7 July: Due to the initial presence of really bad pack ice to the North West of Spitsbergen the planned route out to Bockfjord on Norsk Polarinstitutt's research vessel RV Lance was directionally changed to an anticlockwise one. This mean we had to endure the hardships of eight days of nothing on which to live but food and drink whilst  taking in the whole of the Archipelago, including stops in some of our favourite and many new places.  One of these was the privilege of a visit to the meteorological station on Hopen before travelling back up the East coast to Agardbukta, through the straight between Edjoya & Barentsoya, into the ice ridden Hinlopen Stret and on to visit Wahlenbergfjorden, Murchison, up past Moffen and beyond the 80th parallel then into Woodfjord and our objective Bockfjord.  Once again more than expected and increasing ice allowed us just a short three hour window to go ashore and take some samples before having to be whisked away. this was not only a tricky, but lengthy job, requiring two boats since the rib was not powerful enough to push through the increasing pack to reach us so the jet boat was substituted.  And a return to Longyearbyen with virtually nothing to show. 

27 July: A week later we set off again accompanied by researchers from both Imperial College and St Catherine University Minnesota, eventually reaching our goal, not on the 2nd July as planned but the 15th.  Frantic visits to our research areas allowed us just five precious days to undertake our projects before having to leave once again to return, with more unexpected pack ice almost blocking our passage between the mainland & the islands of Amsterdamoya and Danskoya, on which an unfortunately beached sperm whale had provided many meals for some really lethargic bears.
Talk about being given the golden opportunity, this trip was a gift, if a little unexpected and at times frustrating one.  We got to see almost the whole of the coast and much of the fjords of Svalbard in one singly trip plus an opportunity to use the experience as a wonderful opening for future expeditions to this remote and remarkable area of Svalbard.   Ian Frearson

Photo Gallery

(click to see the bigger picture)

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© Aga Nowak, Andy Hodson, Haddon Winter