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Full list of all science projects

sorted on themes: archaeology, biodiversity, eDNA, lakes, landscape, pollution, social science, vegetation.

DNA evidence of hunting practices in Svalbard over 400 years


Using methods that have produced far-reaching insights into the demographic history in Greenland, the DNA400 Project sets out to investigate well-preserved biocultural materials from archaeological sites in Svalbard in order to reconstruct hunting strategies as well as subsistence economies across the different hunting eras in the archipelago. Features that lend themselves extremely well are, for instance, refuse heaps and blubber ovens. In a pilot study during the Dutch expedition, we will target a whaling site (Gashamna), a Pomor site (Dolerittneset), an early modern mining site (Advent City), and a former science base (Würzburgerhytta). In addition to animal species that traditionally dominate excavated zooarchaeological assemblages, we expect to be able to add a new dimension with evidence of previously under- or unreported species. As in Greenland, we now have an option of reviewing all earlier assumptions and drawing new conclusions about long-lasting living-resource exploitation.

People involved in the project Frigga Kruse.

Zooarchaeology of surface remains at a Russian Pomor hunting site


The project will involve comprehensive mapping and surface survey (no excavation or collection) of a large bone scatter at the 18th century Pomor hunting station Dolerittneset, Kapp Lee, Edgeøya. This full documentation of all visible animal bones, artifacts and ecofacts will shed light on Pomor walrus hunting and processing at Kapp Lee and elsewhere in Svalbard; such a detailed zooarchaeological analysis of surface midden-scatter can provide abundant information on the timing and methods of these practices.

Site locations and descriptions
The focus site of the project is Dolerittneset, northwest Edgeøya (approx. 78.07865915163048, 20.81773609326912), well-known locale among both tourist guides and researchers as the site of Pomor marine mammal hunting/processing activities, and is situated approximately four kilometres south of Kap Lee. (More detailed information on the archaeology and history of the site is provided in Section 6.)

In addition to Dolerittneset, I will aim to visit (though not disturb) as many analogous archaeological sites during the expedition. Additional sites of interest on/around Edgeøya include
  • Habenichtbukta, southwest Edgeøya (approx. 77.54124847506502, 20.848810605880548): Part of a nature reserve, this is a restricted archaeological site, comprised of Pomor whaling stations;
  • Kraussbukta, southwest Edgeøya (approx. 77.52049262945116, 20.894129206613506): Also part of a nature reserve, walrus crania can be found on the surface; nature reserve; and
  • Small, neighbouring islands Zieglerøya (approx. 77.41386034326707, 22.4297105378133), Delitschøya (approx. 77.38748376330535, 22.52097051730112) and Spekkholmen (approx. 77.37898276111423, 22.51224200915931): All part of a nature reserve, access to these archaeological whaling-station sites is restricted. Frigga Kruse has documented walrus remains on Spekkholmen.

The general aim of this project is to shed more light on 18th-century Russian Pomor walrus hunting and processing (butchery) activities in Svalbard; the specific aim is to acquire detailed data on the remains of hunted animals (likely to be mostly marine mammals) present on the surface. This information will not only contribute to our knowledge of Pomor hunting strategies and technology, but will aid in the development of a comprehensive historical/archaeological research framework for Svalbard.

People involved in the project Sean Desjardins, Frigga Kruse.

Assessment of dominant marine coastal species and non-indigenous species with eDNA

RIS-id = 11352

Edgeøya is located in the southeast of Svalbard and still relatively isolated from warmer currents that travel north along the west coast. However, warmer currents may eventually reach this area and shipping activities are already increasing, holding the potential of introducing new species. Both warming and new species may impact local marine biodiversity. Information on coastal marine biodiversity and presence of non-indigenous species in Storfjorden is limited. During the SEES2020 expedition marine samples will be collected at Kapp Lee to describe the coastal marine system using novel eDNA and traditional identification methods. This will act as baseline for future changes.

People involved in the project Martine van den Heuvel, Hans Verdaat.

Bird census and historical places from previous expeditions


During the wintering in 1968, I made several bird censuses, which I repeated in 2015. I would like to do this again during the new expedition and report on changes over time.

People involved in the project Ko de Korte.

Microbical biodiversity and the search for metabolic pathways


During SEES-2022 we will study microbial biodiversity and its dynamics compared to 2015. Focusing on its possible relations to climate change, pollution, (recent) industrial activities and increased marine traffic-movements. Additionally, we will use the unique pristine biodiversity of the Arctic ecosystem in our search for metabolic pathways (genetic level and living organisms) related to 1) the production of biopolymers (such as PHA) at low temperatures, 2) the subsequent cell-lysis of bacteria/algae for release of biopolymers and 3) the fate of such biobased plastics (biodegradation). The microbes and enzymes are of interest for sustainable (low temperature and low energy demanding) production of green and biodegradable chemicals that are produced intracellularly by bacteria/algae (e.g. bioplastics), making them competitive with the industrial production of fossil-based chemicals/plastics.

People involved in the project Janneke Krooneman.

How does macroalgal cover change between intertidal habitats differentially affected by rising temperatures on Svalbard?


The abundance and diversity of macroalgae in Svalbard in expected to increase due to warming temperatures and a reduction of sea ice. As macroalgae provide shelter and food to many invertebrate and fish species, changing macroalgal communities have the potential to greatly impact Svalbard's rocky beach ecosystems. There is a rich history of macroalgal research in Kongsfjorden, but studies are more sparse in the East of Svalbard where ice scouring keeps macroalgal cover low. Surveying the macrofaunal community in rocky beaches in Edgeøya and Kongsfjorden will help provide a baseline for future research, as well as an opportunity to better understand how environmental conditions affect regional differences in macroalgal cover.

  • Quantify the macroalgal cover over the inundation zone in East Svalbard rocky beaches using transects (to establish a baseline for future studies), and, if possible, in West Svalbard (to use as a comparison). Hypothesis: We expect to see less macroalgal cover in East Svalbard than West Svalbard.
  • Sample macroalgal community to describe species diversity and abundance at rocky beaches in East Svalbard. If possible, we would also like to describe epiphyte abundance and diversity. Hypothesis: We expect to see different species and less diversity in macroalgae, as well as associated epiphytes, in East Svalbard than West Svalbard.
  • Evaluate presence of stressful growing conditions by measuring morphological characteristics (e.g. frond length can be a proxy for ice scour, or discoloration can be evidence for UV damage). Hypothesis: We expect to see greater evidence of stressful growing conditions in East Svalbard than West Svalbard.
  • Look for evidence of the kelp-barnacle (fucus-balanus) associations in East Svalbard, which have been mostly absent in this area due to ice scouring.

We will conduct quadrat transects over the inundation zone in rocky beaches with photographs to be analyzed for macroalgal percent cover and species composition. We would collect select macroalgal samples to be analyzed for species composition and diversity, morphological characteristics (like frond length) and, possibly, epiphytes.

Collaboration: Cruise participants can help with data collection since sample collection methods, as well as measuring macroalgal morphological characteristics, can be easily taught. This sampling can be done in conjunction with other researchers studying the intertidal area, like Sophie Brasseur, Martine van den Heuvel-Greve, and Paul Renard. Collaboration with macroalgal experts for species identification will be necessary after the cruise.

People involved in the project Lauren Wiesebron.

Soil invertebrates


Svalbard supports a rich diversity of soil invertebrates despite its harsh climate. However, the current knowledge of their geographic distribution is poorly known. This is especially the case for the less visited eastern side of the Svalbard Archipelago. Therefore, I want to investigate how different vegetation types support diversity of associated invertebrates.

People involved in the project Ingeborg Klarenberg.

Arctic and alpine fungi occuring in Svalbard

RIS-id = 11507

The research aims at improving our knowledge on the ecology, distribution and systematics of arctic and alpine fungi occurring in Svalbard (biodiversity assessment). The fieldwork consists of collecting DNA samples and small amount of fruit bodies for molecular systematics and gathering info on the ecology of the collected fungi. The data will be compared with those collected on Edgeøya and other parts of Svalbard in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 2015. Changes in species composition will be related to climatic change.

People involved in the project Leo Jalink.

Distribution of seabirds and marine mammals


Distribution and abundance of marine mammals and seabirds change continuously, but quantitative information on at-sea distribution is scarce. Climate change can lead to structural changes in distribution of species: a northward expansion of harbour porpoise distribution is hypothesized. During SEES we will collect quantitative data on the distribution and abundance of seabirds and marine mammals in Svalbard waters by conducting a ship-based visual survey, and collect passive acoustic monitoring data to detect presence of Harbour Porpoises in Svalbard waters.

Northwards currents transport plastic and other anthropogenic litter from more industrialized regions in the North Atlantic towards the Arctic. If available, biological samples such as deceased seabirds or faeces from seabird colonies or Arctic foxes are collected and analysed for potential plastic uptake.

The survey will be conducted from the bow, where a bird observation box will be fixed. An opportunistic line-transect survey is conducted when the ship sails with ca 10 knots on a predictable course (such as during transit). All birds, marine mammals and particular floating matter (balloons and fishing vessels) are logged at one side of the ship. To this end, one survey team of two or three observers detect, identify and count these objects within a strip of 300 m wide. Standardized counting methods from the European Seabirds At Sea (Tasker et al. 1984) are used. The behaviour of observed animals is noted according to Camphuysen & Garthe (2004). GPS positions and environmental conditions are recorded. Whenever possible observations are made during other activities, these are recorded as off-effort observations.

People involved in the project Susanne Kühn, Hans Verdaat.

eDNA: analysing spatial and temporal variation in marine predators


In marine environments, prey-predator relationships remain obscured and recording of spatial or temporal variation in either group requires considerable effort. Using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in this study we will record on the one hand direct predation, by analysing scat samples of walruses. Additionally, possible changes over time by comparing scat samples collected in 2020 to samples collected in 2015. On the other hand, by recording environmental DNA (eDNA) throughout the expedition, we will record presence of both the predators (including other marine animals) and their prey.

People involved in the project Sophie Brasseur, Martine van den Heuvel.

Assessment of native and new freshwater fish species


Water temperatures in the North Atlantic have increased in the last decades as a result of climate change which facilitates the northward movement of many fish species that were previously constrained by low water temperatures. Literature has shown that new fish species have been found in both coastal waters and freshwater systems on Svalbard. Information on freshwater fish populations on Svalbard is limited, particularly around Storfjorden. During the SEES2020 expedition freshwater and marine samples will be collected and analysed from lakes, rivers and the marine environment around Storfjorden using novel eDNA methods. This will provide a baseline for future changes.

People involved in the project Ingeborg Mulder.

Tracking rapid Arctic marine changes with simple tools: e-DNA and microplastic identifiers in seabird faeces

RIS-id = 11351

Climate change and (micro)plastics are major concerns for the future of Arctic ecosystems. Studies on food webs and pollution as indicators of hazardous environmental impacts are, however, often complex, laborious and costly, while Arctic research benefits from short visits for data collection and minimizing disturbance to the natural environment. Novel, rapidly developing techniques using e-DNA can likely overcome this and contribute greatly to a timely understanding of important environmental changes. In this project, the focus is on collecting seabird faeces for identification of changes in food resources using e-DNA and on possible consumption of (micro)plastics.

People involved in the project Joep de Leeuw.

Changes in coastal communities with eDNA and visual methods


Edgeøya is located in the southeast of Svalbard and still relatively isolated from warmer currents that travel north along the west coast. However, warmer currents may eventually reach this area and shipping activities are already increasing, holding the potential of introducing new species. Both warming and new species may impact local marine biodiversity. Information on coastal marine biodiversity and presence of non-indigenous species in Storfjorden is limited. During the SEES2020 expedition marine samples will be collected at Kapp Lee to describe the coastal marine system using novel eDNA and traditional identification methods. This will act as baseline for future changes.

The project was designed by Paul Renaud, who could not participate in 2022 and introduced Emilia Sztybor to replace him.

People involved in the project Emilia Sztybor, Martine van den Heuvel.

Reconstruct recent and past climate and environmental change by investigating lake deposits

RIS-id = 11526

We want to reconstruct recent and past climate and environmental change by investigating lake deposits using multiple proxies and dating strategies in combination with growing season reconstructions based on recent and fossil Salix polaris leaf material. The proposed research will lead to: 1) better understanding of base-level natural environmental changes in arctic environments over the last thousands of years; 2) quantification of the impact of recent climate change on artic environments; 3) contribute to the knowledge of relative sea-level changes by dating the isolation of the lake basins; and 4) explore the potential of tephrostratigraphy to reconstruct atmosphere dynamics.

People involved in the project Wim Hoek, Cecile Hilgen.

Lake sediments and organic geochemical paleotemperature proxies


We plan to collect sediment cores from any accessible lakes as part of the SEES Expedition. We anticipate these sediment records will span approximately the past 10,000 years, and plan to date the cores using a combination of cryptotephra analysis and macrofossil radiocarbon dating. We will then produce paired, independent, high resolution paleotemperature records using novel organic geochemical proxies. The first is based on compounds called alkenones produced by haptophyte algae living in the lakes (the Uk37 index). Van der Bilt has successfully applied this proxy to lake records from NW Svalbard in the past (van der Bilt et al., 2018). We also plan to utilize a relatively new proxy based on bacterial membrane lipids known as branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs). The distribution of these compounds has been shown to relate to local air temperature, and they have been successfully applied to Arctic lake settings in the past (e.g. de Wet et al., 2016), though not on Svalbard to date.

Additionally, the team of Wim Hoek is planning on reconstructing climate over the past 4,000 years using techniques that are complimentary but do not overlap with the proxies described above. We feel the generation of supporting datasets from the same lakes will increase the efficacy of our data and strengthen conclusions from both teams.

People involved in the project Willem van der Bilt, Wim Hoek.

Plankton communities in Arctic lakes


With the proposed study we aim at using key ecological indicators to assess changes in High Arctic lakes and ponds. We plan to study the biodiversity and community structure of freshwater phyto- and zooplankton in relation to goose presence and ecological succession/age of a waterbody. For the phytoplankton part of this study we focus on Desmidiaceae communities (desmids) in Sphagnum. Additionally (when possible) we would also like to investigate the vascular plants around the studied waterbodies (vegetation mapping) as this species group is also influenced by the increasing numbers of geese. Finally, recent investigations show that microplastic might even be present in snowfall in the Artic. This may have strong effects on the ecosystem there. Since these plastics might even be visible in the zooplankton samples, we would like to investigate those as well. No additional sampling is needed, however.

People involved in the project Christophe Brochard, Maarten Loonen.

Methane emissions and microbial communities from lakes

RIS-id = 13142

Wetlands, including lakes, are the main natural source of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Although methane emission from thawing permafrost has been intensively studied, little is known about emissions from the numerous lakes within the high-arctic landscape. In addition, the balance between methane producing and methane consuming microbial communities, and the impact of their community composition on methane flux, remains one of the largest uncertainties in Arctic methane emission predictions. Therefore, this proposal aims to quantify methane emissions from lakes on Edgeøya and Barentsøya, and relate this to the composition of the microbial communities responsible for these emissions

People involved in the project Annelies Veraart.

Tundra ponds on the move


Earlier on we studied aquatic ecology in tundra ponds. We focused on the Arctic tadpole shrimp, Lepidurus in relation to zooplankton and geese. Our results from 2015 showed that Barnacle geese induce both top-down and bottom-up effects.

The increase over time of goose numbers has had cascading effects on the freshwater aquatic community. So feeding conditions on the winter grounds in Scotland have an effect in the Arctic. Our approach for this year's research has three lines:

First, fieldwork will comprise mapping the spatial occurrence of crustaceans in different depth zones of selected arctic ponds.
Second, we will extend our research in the field to the role of another end-user of crustaceans, the Grey Phalarope. Phalaropes perform a complete moult of body feathers, before taking off from the tundra ecosystem to the coastal marine upwelling zones where they spend the winter, several thousands of kilometers away from Svalbard. They concentrate in areas where crustaceans are abundant. During this expedition we will map feeding conditions and hope to discover important staging sites in the eastern islands and the Sørkapp area.
Third, on board, experiments will be undertaken to study the diurnal activity of zooplankton in relation to the presence and activity of Lepidurus, their main predator. For this we use four mini tanks to mimic various environmental conditions. So extended research along three lines, fascinating and therefore very much looking forward meeting you all up North!

People involved in the project Mennobart van Eerden, Arne van Eerden, Maarten Loonen.

Goose impacts on biological communities in Arctic ponds under contrasting climates


Adding to effects of climate change on arctic freshwaters, migrating birds, particularly geese, are increasingly impacting these high latitude freshwaters. On Svalbard, the impact of increasing goose populations on the freshwater environment has been studied on the western part of the archipelago. However, the increasing goose populations are extending their range towards the eastern parts of the archipelago. Hence, the freshwaters in this more pristine region are at risk from the combined impact of climate change and increasing goose populations. The proposal will address this issue by an inventory of the biodiversity of differentially impacted freshwaters on Eastern Svalbard.

This project was developed by Thomas Jensen, who was unable to join in 2022 and introduced Ann Kristin Schartau to replace him.

People involved in the project Ann Kristin Schartau.

Depths of Winter: Estabilishing a baseline survey for high resolution glacier melt on Edgeøya.

RIS-id = 11513

Since the mid-1980s, the ablation zone of Svalbard glaciers has been rapidly expanding (Noël et al., 2020). In the warm summer of 2013, the ablation zone even covered the entire glacier area of Edgeøya, eastern Svalbard. Following strong atmospheric warming, the snow layer formed in previous winters (firn) is barely able to survive throughout the summer, exposing the underlying dark bare ice at the surface, hence enhancing melt. As a result, glaciers of Edgeøya have likely tipped into a state of sustained mass loss, where summer melt in expanding ablation zones exceeds the shallow winter snowfall accumulation.

People involved in the project Brice Noël, Bas Altena.

Movement patterns of people on arctic tundra


Tourism can create soil erosion on heavy visited routes. How close do they stick together and use the same path? Does this pattern change after they have been warned for polar bear activity?

With a GPS-logger-app on their telephones, we want to study the patterns of movement of the various participants of the expedition while they have landed on a tundra site. Do scientists, tourists or journalists move in different patterns or speeds? Do social units stick together all the time? Are people taking exactly the same track? How far are people away from their guards?
At the end of each day, the tracks are collected and stored. Participants on this project need to give their consent for the use of their data, the data will be pseudonymised and the results shared with them before publishing.

People involved in the project Renno Hokwerda, Maarten Loonen, Frits Steenhuisen.

Rates and interactions between landscape- and soil-forming processes

RIS-id = 11481

Arctic ecosystems are changing rapidly and there is a need to quantify the rates and interactions between various landscape- and soil-forming processes. Most soil studies on Spitsbergen were, however, conducted on the west side of the island near Petunia bay. Since there is a clear climatic divide between the west and east of Spitsbergen, to which landscape development is strongly linked, soil formation on the east side of Spitsbergen is expected to be different. Two studies are proposed for further elaboration depending on the feasibility within the SEES expedition.

People involved in the project Maud van Soest.

Survey of reindeer abundance and distribution


We propose two projects with relevance for previous data collected in Edgeøya. First, we will do local surveys of the abundance/distribution of geese (brent, barnacle, pink-footed) and the population structure of reindeer for qualitative and quantitative comparison with previous surveys, and for future reference. Second, we will perform an adjusted/improved version of Eigil Reimers'experimental study (2012, AAAR) on animal fright responses to polar bears. In particular, we will compare fright (sight, alert, flight, escape) distances in reindeer and gees when the approaching person is dressed in dark hiking clothes, white clothes, and a polar bear mascot suit.

People involved in the project Mathilde Lemoullec, Brage Hansen.

Dynamics of ionospheric plasma and irregularities over Svalbard

RIS-id = 11525

We will use a GISTM receiver ( Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Ionospheric Scintillation and Total electron content Monitor (GISTM) receiver ) to study the total electron content and ionospheric plasma irregularities over east Svalbard. This data will analysed used together with complementary measurements from established stations on west Svalbard, to study the local spatiotemporal evolution of ionospheric plasma irregularities over whole Svalbard in the context of space weather effects on the quality of the GPS, GLONASS and Galileo signals.

People involved in the project Wojciech Miloch.

Bringing arctic experience to school kids


Stichting Arctic Explorer

People involved in the project Tom Huijzer.

The Arctic Marine Litter Project - Sources, causes and solutions

RIS-id = 11528

Even in the sparsely populated Arctic, the shorelines are littered with plastic waste. These plastics pose a direct threat to wildlife in the region. However, little is known about the origin and underlying causes, which prevents stakeholders in taking action. Through the Arctic Marine Litter project, we support stakeholders in providing previously unavailable knowledge using a new technique. During SEES2020, we will actively engage with passengers by inviting them to collect and analyse beach litter with us and by providing lectures on board the Ortelius. The results will be communicated in reports, social media and at international meetings and conferences.

People involved in the project Eelco Leemans, Martine van den Heuvel.

Mercury levels in soil and vegetation of arctic terrestrial ecosystems.


I would like to collect soil and vegetation samples to analyse mercury levels to create a spatial overview of mercury levels in Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. Earlier experiments with goslings showed adverse effects at low levels of exposure. This project would enable us to put the results of those studies in a wider context. In addition to the soil and vegetation I would also like to collect goose faeces, indicative for exposure to contaminants in the food. Most research on mercury in the Arctic has been performed in the marine ecosystem. This project will focus on the terrestrial project with potential implications for herbivores like geese and reindeer.

People involved in the project Nico van den Brink, Frits Steenhuisen, Maarten Loonen.

Plastic particles in polar water systems of southeastern Svalbard


We aim to investigate transport and occurrence of microplastics on Edgeøya (Svalbard). We plan to sample soil and surface water at 10-15 locations (including Rosenbergdalen) during the SEES 2022 expedition. In the lab (VU Amsterdam) the samples will be analysed using pyrolysis gas-chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS) to assess the concentration and identity of microplastics. Py-GC-MS enables the identification of the plastic polymer types and quantifies the total amount of microplastics (per polymer type) in a sample expressed on a mass base (e.g. ng/gram), which is a different, complementary metric to particle counts that are determined using e.g. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) approaches (as in Bergmann et al., 2019). Although the sampling procedure is designed to prevent contamination, possible background contamination is determined by taking and analysing control samples.

In parallel, additional samples will be taken (at the same locations) for organic matter analysis (content, type, quality) to follow up on earlier work performed by Vonk et al. on SEES2015 (Kellerman et al. 2021). To further characterize the presence of chemicals from anthropogenic origin (Chemicals of Emerging Concern), suspect and non-target screening using high resolution mass spectrometry will be done using dedicated workflows incorporating a novel annotation database.

People involved in the project Jim Boonman.

Ship based measurements of NO2 and aerosols

RIS-id = 11487

Air pollution measurements in the Arctic are rare. We will measure (on the ship) NO2 and aerosols using the MAXDOAS instrument, which was proven to work well during SEES2015 to a) validate satellite data and model output, b) interpret transport of air pollution to the Arctic, and c) compare the observations to the 2015 (and other) data. During the SEES2015 campaign the standalone operation of the MAXDOAS on the ship was successfully tested, and knowledge gained will be applied to improve the stability and completeness of the observations during

02 mei 2022 in Dutch: KNMI nieuwsbericht over de apparatuur die geplaatst is op het expeditieschip Ortelius onder de titel: Luchtvervuiling in het Noordpoolgebied.

People involved in the project Richard Bintanja.

Baseline contaminant assessment on the remote Storfjorden coasts of southeast Svalbard


Edgeøya is located in the southeast of Svalbard. The southeast corner is still relatively unspoilt with minor fishing and tourisms activities in summer time compared to the western side of the archipelago. It receives the dominant air mass from south-westerly winds, which can transport different types of contamination such as chemicals and microplastics. It therefore serves as relevant background area for contaminants coming from other regions.
During the SEES2020 expedition terrestrial samples will be collected along the Storfjord coast (Kapp Lee in particular) to assess background levels of microplastics and chemical contaminants (Hg, PAHs). This will act as baseline for future changes.

People involved in the project Frits Steenhuisen.

A comparative cultural history study about the symbolic value of expeditions

theme:social science
RIS-id = 11840

By interviews, text and image analysis and observation the SEES 2020 expedition will be compared with the 1878 schooner Willem Barents expedition to Spitsbergen and Nova Zembla. The WB 1878 journey is the first Dutch scientific arctic expedition. In the book there will be made a comparison with the latest Dutch scientific expedition.

People involved in the project Adwin de Kluijver.

Address cumulative impacts of increasing polar tourism

theme:social science
RIS-id = 11493

This project is a problem-oriented polar law and governance project. The combination of strong increases of tourism and a focus on specific (less strategic) issues in tourism research and tourism management is likely to result in a slow but continuing 'consumption' of polar values. This project aims to identify and study strategic instruments and approaches - applied in Svalbard - to prevent cumulative impacts of increasing polar tourism and to assess whether these instruments and approaches may be applied in Antarctica. Envisaged output includes a peer-reviewed publication, a conference presentation and a Norwegian-Dutch working paper for the ATCM.

People involved in the project Kees Bastmeijer.

The language of perceptions

theme:social science
RIS-id = 11482

Language chance and development in small and isolated communities, exemplified by the Nederlandse Spitsbergen Expeditie 1968-1969. The diary of this expedition, of which the digital edition will be presented during SEES 2020, offers fascinating samples of language development: not only running gags and word play occur, but above all new words and expressions are coined for every day routines as well als for a multitude of places and objects. We plan to visit the site and some of its surroundings in order to precisely understand the meaning of these expressions, and are in the unique situation that a surviving expedition member will be present and will be able to answer questions that arise from the written material.

People involved in the project Hans Beelen.

Perceptions of collaborative research

theme:social science
RIS-id = 9565

The expedition is promoted as the Arctic Academy, where involving tourist passengers in science projects is encouraged as a key element in outreach and support for addressing the challenges the Arctic faces. This project will - through cooperation between scientists from various teams- actively seek engagement of guests in research carried out on board and on site. By applying social science methods it will assess passengers and scientists perceptions of collaborate research and its potential benefits and how this collaboration takes shape and evaluate factors that contribute to successful collaboration and the on-board outreach objectives of the Arctic Academy concept.

People involved in the project Nathalie Steins.

Understanding of the appreciation of environmental change in Svalbard

theme:social science

SEES2020 will bring together people with varied and deep interests in and knowledge of Svalbard. We propose to capitalise on this unique opportunity by capturing detailed understanding of environmental change experienced by SEES participants working in and/or exploring Svalbard. The method envisaged is qualitative conversational style interviewing complemented by (micro-ethnographic) walk-alongs and a reflexive visual research approach using maps and photographs (both extant and research-driven). We will thereby be able to convey a rich and deep understanding of environmental change in Svalbard and contribute to reflexive dialogues and meetings on board that will enrich the experience of expedition members.

People involved in the project Annette Löff, René van der Wal, Zdenka Sokolíčková.

Notion of 'nature' of natural scientists

theme:social science
RIS-id = 11528

With our background in social anthropology, archaeology and heritage studies our aim is to study the gathering and construction of 'science', data and notions of 'nature' through an observation of (and interviews with) natural scientists in the field. We are interested in fieldwork practices, and relationships between scientists and landscape, animals and plants, and in long-term relationships with the field - repetitions, series and returns - making SEES particularly relevant. Anthropological fieldwork implies participation in normal activities, which, as in earlier fieldresearch in Ny-Ålesund, implies spending time with and assist a group of natural scientists. We are specifically curious about research on 'ruderal ecologies', that is new ecological relations and transitions triggered by prior human activity - such as, e.g. archaeological remains of hunting and whaling, traces of settlement, or lasting/abandoned scientific apparatus. The archaeological component of our project brings in the landscape perspective, focusing both on descriptive landscape surveys and on observing how scientists engage with 'nature' or landscape on a macro and micro scale. With reference to heritage studies we are interested in how certain conceptions of nature and nature-culture relations affect scientific endeavours carried out in these landscapes, and how the research conducted affects back on understandings of nature and natural heritage.

People involved in the project Thora Petursdottir.

Understanding how experiencing environmental change in the Arctic affects climate action

theme:social science

This study aims to understand how SEES participants' experiences of environmental change in Svalbard affects the likelihood that they take individual and collective action to mitigate climate change, and to adapt to climate change. Research suggests that personal experiences are more likely to promote climate action than providing factual knowledge. We will study whether SEES participants are more strongly motivated to take climate action after SEES, and whether this increases the likelihood that they engage in climate actions. We will not only consider individual mitigation actions (e.g., save energy, reduce meat and dairy consumption), but also collective actions (e.g., protesting, convincing others to take action). Moreover, we will not only consider private sphere actions, but also whether people are more likely to take action in their professional roles (e.g., at work). This will reveal to what extent SEES might have wider impacts, by also influencing the actions of non-participants.

This study will build upon the SVALUR project and the SESS2020 project'Understanding of the appreciation of environmental change in Svalbard' by examining the consequences of experiencing environmental change on individual and collective climate action.

People involved in the project Linda Steg, Annette Scheepstra.

Landscapes of knowledge and understanding

theme:social science
RIS-id = 11945

Thematically anchored in the project SVALUR (Understanding Resilience and Long-Term Environmental Change in the High Arctic: Narrative-Based Analyses from Svalbard), and methodologically embedded in social anthropology, the project will look into the affective and relational landscapes of knowledge production. Questions of interest are: What is the emotional/affective aspect of knowledge production during a scientific expedition? What does the landscape of relations look like among various actors (scientists, other passengers, crew, guides, non-human actors)? How is knowledge being produced, what are its drivers and challenges? What is the difference between knowledge about and understanding of environmental change? What kind of stories of change are being lived and reproduced? Special attention will be paid to research "qualified" as long-term monitoring (its meaning, importance, character, motivation and problems). Methods include participant observation, conversations of both formal and informal character, auto-ethnography, experimental methods such as collective audio-visual diary entries, daily questions for expedition members posted on a flip chart, and group reflection sessions. The project is part of the 2022 expedition. Data will be created through interaction with other expedition members, both on board and on land. No specific data collection sites are thus indicated.

People involved in the project Zdenka Sokolíčková.

What do people appreciate most during the expedition

theme:social science

Particpants are asked to write down every evening the most impressive experience of the day in only one sentence. We want to analyse which aspects of the expedition are appreciated best and if we can recognize patterns in this appreciation.

Participants on this project need to give their consent for the use of their data, the data will be pseudonymised and the results shared with them before publishing.

People involved in the project Maarten Loonen.

The changing vegetation and landscape in Rosenbergdalen

RIS-id = 11496

Rosenbergdalen is a valley close to Kapp Lee on the north-east side of Edgeøya. In 1977, the vegetation was intensively mapped with 131 quadrats of 1x1 m2 and a list of 72 plant species by Hester Heinemeijer. In 2015 we re-visited the site and re-mapped 34 of these quadrats and the close environment to study vegetation change. The changes in coverage and species composition were spectacular. In 2020 we want to continue mapping the vegetation at the earlier used quadrats and intensify permafrost measurements of active layer depth variation using scanning equipment and citizen science.

People involved in the project Maarten Loonen, Wouter Rooke, René van der Wal, Mennobart van Eerden, Leo Jalink, Michael Stech, Hans Kruijer, Koos de Vries, Christophe Brochard.

Vegetation phenology affecting moulting goose distribution

RIS-id = 11520

In the Arctic, waterfowl may migrate after breeding towards sites with higher food quality, before undergoing wing moult. On Svalbard, a later vegetation phenology occurs on higher elevations, and further to the east (i.e. Edge&oslas;ya). These locations are therefore expected to offer a higher food quality for moulting geese. We aim to test whether moulting geese indeed can profit from this at these sites during moult. We use additional data from expeditions in 2015 and 2018, and GPS-tracking data of geese. Because climate warming is more rapid on Edgeøya than on Spitsbergen, suitability of moulting sites may change there more over time.

People involved in the project Kees Schreven.

Towards efficient monitoring of arctic bryophyte diversity

RIS-id = 11517

Global climate change may lead to significant changes in the arctic tundra vegetation, as data from Rosenbergdalen from the 1980s and 2015 suggest. During SEES 2020, we will resample plots at Rosenbergdalen to extend the inference of changes in the bryophyte vegetation composition through time. New approaches to facilitate the identification of arctic bryophyte species (chemocoding and DNA metabarcoding) will be tested to speed up biodiversity assessment and vegetation monitoring. Soil and air metabarcoding will be used to infer the role of airborne diaspores and the soil diaspore bank as sources of propagules that may germinate when environmental conditions change.

People involved in the project Hans Kruijer, Michael Stech.

Mapping of vegetation


I would like to join the expedition to work with vegetation assessment, both in areas previously unvisited by the previous expedition, and to revisit previously assessed areas to document potential changes due to climate and herbivores etc.

People involved in the project Elisabeth Cooper.

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