Polar Bears International

From the comfort of the Norwegian Polar Institute's research park in Svalbard, Rupert Krapp of the NPI readies a sled for use in transporting equipment for the Maternal Den Study. Photo copyright BJ Kirschhoffer/Polar Bears International.

4/29/2016 1:03:29 PM

Polar Bear Research Base: A Tech Guy's Dream

I recently returned from taking part in a polar bear maternal den study in Svalbard, Norway, where I worked with scientists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the Norwegian Polar Institute - PBI's main partners on the project.

For a tech and science geek like me, one of the coolest parts of the experience was the chance to work in the Norwegian Polar Institute's Longyearbyen research park, Svalbard Forskningsparken

The University Centre in Svalbard and NPI operate a fantastic research base in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. This facility is the neatest thing going for Arctic science, education, and research. The building itself has classrooms, lecture halls, computer labs, office space for visiting scientists-even a cafeteria complete with an open fireplace! It also has lab space with giant freezers for storing collections, and my favorite part: well-equipped workshops and warehouse space.  

Imagine the entire far end of a building equipped with racks and racks of Arctic gear, scientific equipment, and places where research teams like ours can work on their snow scooters and load their sleighs before an expedition. You can weld, machine, pound, and putter to your heart's content in preparation for any Arctic fieldwork you're about to embark on.

Best of all, experienced researchers work with students in a hands-on learning environment. Specialists from geology, to biology and glaciology all congregate in this pine-clad building that feels like a huge sauna. No feature has been overlooked or neglected and all the tools you need are at your fingertips.

As we worked to prepare our research gear for the den study, folks around us were packing ice-coring equipment, preparing to venture out on two- or three-day geology expeditions across Spitsbergen. It was such a fun atmosphere to be immersed in and we felt very lucky to have been invited by NPI researchers Jon Aars, Magnus Anderson, and Rupert Krapp.

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