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New polar expedition to Spitsbergen headed by UG researchers

The scientific expedition will take place from 13 to 22 July 2022.
02 March 2022
Poolexpedition
Photo: Frits Steenhuisen

A large group of researchers will once again travel to Spitsbergen on a polar expedition under the leadership of researchers from the Arctic Centre of the UG . They will research the rapid warming of the polar regions from the perspective of different scientific disciplines. UG researchers Maarten Loonen, Annette Scheepstra, and Frits Steenhuisen are leading the expedition. Last Saturday, the participants held a meeting in Groningen in preparation for their journey. The first polar expedition organized [PP1] by this group took place in 2015.

In the polar regions, global warming is taking place four times faster than anywhere else in the world. The expedition to Spitsbergen will identify these changes in a region that has barely been touched by humankind. During the polar expedition, referred to as SEES (Netherlands Scientific Expedition Edgeøa Svalbard), the participants will gather data on location and compare these data to those from 2015 to understand the changes. Many interest groups will gather during the expedition: scientists, policymakers, politicians, and media. There are also hopes that this expedition will strengthen international cooperation with Norway in the area of polar research.

Different disciplines

The researchers participating in the expedition are all working on their own projects, which are distributed over nine different topics including biodiversity, ice research, archaeology, nature perception, and pollution. Most participants were selected by a committee of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). They presented their research projects during the meeting in Groningen. Intensive collaboration between different disciplines is crucial to finding answers on all topics during the expedition.

In total, 50 professional researchers and 50 paying tourists will participate, both contributing to the research. Moreover, there is room for some journalists (including the NOS), policymakers, and politicians.

Maarten Loonen on Spitsbergen (Photo: Ronald Visser)
Maarten Loonen on Spitsbergen (Photo: Ronald Visser)

Organization

The Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen is leading the expedition, with Maarten Loonen as the scientific leader, Annette Scheepstra as the coordinator, and Frits Steenhuisen as the logistics leader. Every summer, Loonen manages the Dutch Polar Station in Spitsbergen. The expedition is funded by the NWO from the Dutch Polar Programme , in which five ministries participate. The participants will sail on Ortelius, a ship owned by OceanWide Expeditions.

The expedition was originally planned for August 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last modified:02 March 2022 09.43 a.m.
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