Hi Reddit and fellow ice-lovers,

We are Frigga Kruse, Franziska Paul, and Linus Müller-Hillebrand of the Timeless Arctic Project and we are part of the Timeless Arctic Project. Over the course of five years (2018-2023) we are assessing the impact humans had on Svalbard - a formerly pristine environment until it was discovered by European whale hunters.

Also in the team, we have a drone pilot, a scientific illustrator, a nature photographer and filmmaker, a specialist in plastic waste, a psychologist, a bacteriologist, and an archaeologist.

The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation as a Freigeist Project since 2018. That basically means that we've got a nice pot of money and can work on a project, which the foundation deemed to be inventive and original. In our case, we want to quantify the human presence and the commercial hunting in the formerly pristine ecosystem of Svalbard.

Frigga is our team leader. She has a PhD in Arctic Archaeology, specilised in Svalbard (which she has visited many times), and this is her project. Svalbard was first documented by Willem Barents in 1596. Soon afterwards, Europeans voyaged to the North to hunt bowhead whales, polar bears, Atlantic walrus, Arctic foxes, and Svalbard reindeer. The populations of these "Arctic Big Five" got diminished to the point of almost-extinction. In the 20th century, protective measures were implemented in hopes of recovering the populations. Now Frigga wants to quantify the number of animals killed and study the human-animal-interactions of 420 years of Svalbard history.

Franziska is doing her PhD in Archaeozoology. Her goal is to study the remaining walrus bones left by European hunters. She will count the number of dead animals, quantify the age structure and look for marks on the bones, which will tell her how the animals were killed. This way, she will find out more about hunting techniques of past times.

Linus is the EOC Officer (Education, Outreach, and Communication) and is responsible for PR. Besides working for TA, he is doing a M.Sc. in Environmental Management.

Us three are here today to answer your questions about the Arctic, Svalbard, the project itself, and whatever else comes to your mind.

Comments: 154 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

rimshot9992 karma

What do you think of the increasing tourism on Svalbard? I'm surprised at the number of hotels in Longyearbyen.

timelessarctic87 karma

Linus - I sometimes think about my own interest in going there. I could theoratically do my research locally as well. But I chose Svalbard because... I want to go there? In a way, I'm a tourist as well, but I try to justify it with doing something valuable while I'm there.

timelessarctic63 karma

Frigga: When coal mining in Longyearbyen came to an end, the town had to reinvent itself. Or diversify. Tourism plays an important part in people's livelihoods, but it was never investigated if there should be an upper limit and how it could be implemented. Due to Covid19, many things will change now.

I occasionally work on smaller expedition cruises. I like the communication platform for my research. However, I am not reliant on the income, and I would rather not work on bigger ships.

Buggi_San55 karma

How is Svalbard ? I came to know of it first when I read of it in "His Dark Materials" and have been fascinated by how isolated it is. Also considering the current pandemic how is the COVID situation there?

timelessarctic58 karma

Frigga: Yes!, His Dark Materials and that film The Golden Compass instantly home in on Svalbard. I couldn't believe it! Mind, Svalbard in summer is not like the book at all. Svalbard in winter is not far off though, esp. if you sit in a small hunter's cabin in the middle of a snow storm (I have to imagine this; I have not done this myself).

When I am guiding tourists, I tell them to pack like they are going to Scotland in late autumn. The summer whether, during which I do my guiding, is fairly changable but not that extreme. Rain mixed with wind chill is a bummer.

timelessarctic53 karma

As for Covid, it's dire. People have stayed healthy; I think there is currently someone in quarantine. They simply do not want the virus there as the hospital and the infrastructure could not cope. However, people are out of their jobs! Much hinges on tourism and the tourists are not coming! No one can yet see an end to that situation. Many are leave Longyearbyen for good. Going finish.

Buggi_San15 karma

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question ! All the best with your endeavours

timelessarctic37 karma

Frigga: Thanks for asking. I should add that the people who have it worst... are the dogs. There is a real crisi over how to feed the sledge dogs which have grown in number to keep the tourists happy. Now, there are no tourists... what to do with the dogs? :/

stormcrow131310 karma

Is there maybe a charity or fund set up where we can donate to at least feed them?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: To feed whom? Ah, you probably mean the dogs! I believe there may already be such actions, but I wouldn't know where to look. Maybe you can ask the local newspaper, Svalbardposten.

stormcrow13132 karma

OK, thank you very much.

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: Ha!, look at this, now the question has found it's right place! When I saw it pop up, it wasn't connected to this thread. I dread to think what you thought of me ;)

Tina_Kiel21 karma

Hallo :), when did you know you want to become a scientist? Was there a special experience?

timelessarctic30 karma

Frigga: I really like new knowledge, so I went to university in the first place to get loads and loads of new knowledge in the Bachelor and later in the Master degree. I am quite good at languages, but I did not want to do a language degree because I thought I would only be learning what I already know, just in a new language :/ (Of course, you learn about cultures, etc, too, but such was my thinking back then).

Once at uni, you kind of drift into your research direction :) You have to pick something for your dissertation anyway and eventually you get hooked on something that really interests you :)

Did that give you an idea?

timelessarctic21 karma

Linus - I quit two majors before I started Biology and suddenly it just clicked. Sometimes things just fall into place.

timelessarctic15 karma

Franzi:My father once built me a pond, as I was so fascinated by animals, and said "I am pretty sure you are going to study biology when you grow up". That was the point I always said "I want to study biology and become a scientist".

cincinnaticj719 karma

When is the best time of the year to visit Svalbard?

timelessarctic47 karma

Frigga: Of course that depends on what you go for. If you are interested in Arctic wildlife, I recommend round about end of July: all the newborn are underway then!!! Fox cubs, reindeer calves, chicks of any kind!!!

However, there is also something to be sad for the polar night in Longyearbyen or for when the light comes back and you travel further afield in a snowy, cold but beautiful landscape.

Whatever you do, you will need a guide and polar bear watch. You cannot leave Longyearbyen by yourself.

Afraid-Jellyfish-29416 karma

How would you rate a) polar bears and b) puffins on a scale of 1 (kinda boring, will not be looking for those) to 10 (SO EXCITING I WILL BE MAD IF I DO NOT SEE THEM EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. THAT I SPENT IN SVALBARD!!!!)?

timelessarctic30 karma

Frigga: Polar bears are a 10 for nerve-wrecking! At least if you are on land and then need to evacuate :/ Puffins are a 10 for "customer satisfaction" :) They make tourists in general and photographers with large lenses in particular very happy when I am guiding :)

timelessarctic18 karma

Franzi: For both I have to say I would be very excited to see them and the rest of Svalbard's wildlife. However, I would prefer seeing the polar bear from a long distance

timelessarctic12 karma

Linus - I haven't been there yet, so I'd totally go for a ten on both. Polar bears, because I want to see them before they see me (since I don't plan on being eaten just yet). And puffins because the populations are decreasing and seeing them would be really nice.

Apart from these logical reasons, it would also be heckin nice to see Arctic animals in general when I'm there. It's part of the expereince, I guess?

where_is_the_cheese13 karma

Have you listened to The White Vault?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: I had not heard of it, but now I have saved it. I do like audiobooks and stories, so this will be a treat.

TechnicalFuel210 karma

Hello! I was wondering what each of your favorite films are?

timelessarctic12 karma

Franzi: Catch me if you can

timelessarctic8 karma

Linus - There are so many good ones and I can't decide, but I really like "Everything is Illuminated" ALSO with Elijah Wood!

timelessarctic8 karma

Frigga: The Good Son. With Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin as kids. I never liked Macaulay Culkin, but the film rocks.

Afraid-Jellyfish-2949 karma

Would you say this is the coolest thing ever that you can do as a scientist or do you prefer working in the lab? (or is there something else even cooler) (how about writing those funding proposals, Frigga? Sounds fun?)

timelessarctic9 karma

Linus - There are so many cool things to do as a scientist! But yeah, I'm really happy about this path and it is at least the coolest thing that happened to me (so far ;) ). Lab work is still part of it for me though (but I enjoy that as well).

timelessarctic9 karma

Frigga: It's hard work to come up with ideas, get funded, do the organsisation... but, yes, it's also the coolest thing! I am my own boos in the Timeless Arctic project, and I count my blessings every day :)

Even writing funding propopsals has its good sides. It's a creative process, and you get better at it every time. Naturally, it's Christmas come early when you hear they got accepted!!!

timelessarctic8 karma

Franzi - I really enjoy working in the lab, but I would also say, that the expedition is by far the most coolest thing that ever happened to me during my early scientific career.

Afraid-Jellyfish-2949 karma

One thing you definitely must not forget to pack for your journey?

timelessarctic21 karma

Linus - Anti-Sea Rhino Undergarments. You never know.

jalison933 karma

one would expect that being trained in drawing anti-sea bear circles might be more relevant

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: You got my with that cultural reference, but I searched for it: https://spongebob.fandom.com/wiki/Anti-sea-bear_circle

timelessarctic3 karma

Frigga: By the way, in Antarctica, you keep feisty fur seals at bay by clikcing two stones together. Truth! They do not like the sound.

Oh, I just searched for the possible English name for a certain device, and came out at the German one: Knackfrosch! (Thanks to Wikipedia) It translates to a clicker or cricket (also thanks to Wikipedia). And no, it does not work for polar bears!!!

timelessarctic11 karma

Frigga: A zillion come to mind! But for your question, I will pick my small digital camera. It's nothing fancy, but it is the best thing to photo-record your journey, be it for research or "for fun".

I also have very expensive binoculars (for bear watch mostly) on which I keep a whistle (for warning the team) and a paper clip (for clearing the outlet pipe on an outboard motor when it gets blocked).

timelessarctic9 karma

Franzi - my sleeping mask to protect myself from beeing awake the whole trip

probablyonmobile8 karma

How do you not get completely depressed about the impacts you see? Hell, just a glance at the news makes me reconsider waking up; I can’t imagine actually diving deep into the bleak details.

timelessarctic12 karma

Frigga: I genuinely believe the world, this planet is beautiful! Svalbard has so much to offer! And the hunting history is bleak on occasion, but we are seeing that the main game species are recovering from its impact. (Mind, we do not know yet how climate change will affect them.)

I also think human beings are by and large wonderful. We could do more to appreciate the wonders of this world though before losing them.

And lastly, through this project I get a chance to tell the (hi)stories of this amazing part of the world. Science communication and story telling are extremely important. To all generations. Which is why we decided to do today's AMA ;)

timelessarctic7 karma

Linus - I get you. But I think this is also what drives me. The feelings I get from reading the news fuel my ambition!

When talking about climate change, a lot of people feel helpless or don't know what to do with their feelings about it, get depressed etc. I think as a society it was important to shine light on the emerging dangers CC poses. But now it is time to transition into a new phase, where we focus more on the steps we can take to stop it. Not only globally, but also locally.

Buggi_San8 karma

Can you tell me what roles the other members of your team play for example the archeologist and the bacteriologist ?

timelessarctic17 karma

Frigga: The most important person is Franzi! The main reason why we are going is so that she can do the fieldwork for her PhD research in archaeozoology. We are aiming to visit some walrus slaughter sites that are know to me. I have been to Svalbard many times since 2008.

Franzi will be supported by myself (knowledgable person ;) and polar bear watch) as well as Matthias Lang. He is a drone pilot: we want to spatially analyse the bones as well to see if we can say something about, for instance different slaughter events or the impact repeated tourism visits had on the assemblage.

I really wanted a filmer and an illustrator on board: Lars Soerink and Jakob Näf, from the Netherlands and Switzerland, respectively.

Since the team was growing and we had ten bunks to fill in any case, I've asked a guiding colleague of mine along as a second polar bear watch: Birgit Lutz. That way we can split the team and a seond group can do other things.

Enter Linus, Marlene, Sean, and Merle. Linus wants to sample different deposits for microplastic. Marlene Jessen wants to do her project on bacteria, basically looking at "unlikely hosts" on our archaeological sites to investigate if something new or unexpected will come out of it. She'll look over Sean Desjardin's shoulder as he will be excavting a midden (refuse dump of fromer Russian walrus hunters). And Merle Schmidt? She is doing a project on positive psychology of the group. What do we all bring and what do we all do to make this project a success. And more importantly, how does this inform studies about resilience in our society and what can we tell young people about Arctic research.

I typed a lot. Please ask more specifically whatever you like :)

NineNineOhFour7 karma

Is the area small enough that you know most people? I first found out about Svalbard from Cecilia Blomdahl on tik tok and Instagram. https://instagram.com/sejsejlija?igshid=sjtiuieqn6cd it looks so beautiful!!

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: I guess if you lived in Longyearbyen, you could place most people after a short while but maybe not known them. There are over 2,000 inhabitants there, and I don't think I even know 2,000 people in total!

I am nowhere near knowing even a handful, and the population keeps changing. I am getting better at knowing summer researchers and summer guides though.

Renya_Karasuma7 karma

I seem to get quickly sick at colder regions. What precautionary efforts should I do before travelling to Svalbrad? Thanks in advance!

timelessarctic9 karma

Frigga: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I've not heard of anyone complaining about that. Could it be that you are not drinking enough water? I know that the cold represses the need to drink - but we all should keep the water topped up. Also, the air in Svalbard is extremely dry! I never go up north with a ton of moisturiser in my luggage these days. And since I have very short hair, I always, always wear a hat. Do these answers go in the right direction...?

timelessarctic11 karma

Frigga: PS I know that colleagues who stay in Svalbard for months at a time also take extra vitamin D.

bluecat20015 karma

What is the impact of your presence there? Could you not just work remotely?

timelessarctic8 karma

Frigga: We have a carbon footprint for sure! Flying there, being on board of a ship for three weeks, flying back... but I can as of yet combine it with my conscience.

I did consider if any of it could be done remotely. It is one of the big topics of the Arctic Science Summit Week that is happening just now. But archaeology cannot be done remotely; you really need to be on site. In addition to that, archaeologists and archaeozoologists are highly specialised, so we could not ask the community to do our work for us.

It would maybe be different if we were just doing visual surveys, but this is hands-on archaeology in need of very special fieldwork permits.

It's a good and just question. We think about this all the time.

timelessarctic6 karma

Franzi - We are trying to minimize our impact as much as we can by including the data gathering with a drone. Since the archaeozoological approach is to quantify the extent of walrus exploitation, to identify historical population dynamics as well as to analyse the abundance of animal species at each site, the fieldwork inevitable


So how much ya'll get paid and what should we do to get a job like yours?

timelessarctic10 karma

Linus - I'm just a student assistant, so I only work a few hours a month for a little more than German minimum wage. However, my place in upcoming expeditions in paid for. Other people have to pay it themselves and I couldn't afford that on my own. So that's really nice.

I have a BSc in Biology, now I'm doing a MSc in Environmental Management. But as you can read in our OP, we have people from all kinds of backgrounds. I would say the main thing is reaching out and getting into contact with people. Be good at something and apply it to the Arctic environment, whatever that may look like.

timelessarctic8 karma

Franzi: I did my master in biology and afterwards started with my bachelor in archaeology. At the beginning of my bachelor studies I applied for the PhD research position within the timeless arctic project. So because I was lucky and got the job I kind of jumped from the natural science to the social science.

timelessarctic8 karma

Frigga: I came up with the research questions behind the Timeless Arctic project and then wrote funding proposals to, well, get the funding and my staff funded. My sister is a teacher here in North Germany; works out that the wage I get through the project budget and her wage are really quite similar.

To do research in Germany, you'll need a PhD. You could also try the route via the tourism industry, but it's competetive these days. I was lucky to "get in" via my research and with my fieldwork stories about archaeology and just about everything else.

Heroroar5 karma

Hi, can I ask, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve found in your line of work in Svalbard?

timelessarctic14 karma

Frigga: A plank of wood! Seriously. I was measuring a building and there was the wooden lid of a box... that came from the dynamite factory of Alfred Nobel! Wow! How long had it been there!

On that note, I also found what looked lile old chewing gum, and that worked out to be small sticks of dynamite. Over 100 years old. I keep them "in a safe place" now, so I can show tourist grups when we happen to land in that place...

timelessarctic11 karma

Frigga: Any archaeology in Svalbard is not very old. Just about 420 years. But it keeps very well. So one of my favourite sites is a small whaling station, the remains of which just lie right at the surface. Tink about that: here in Germany, they would have been ploughed under ages ago; there, you can just see them at the surface.

timelessarctic12 karma

Linus - The ships by whale hunters were barely heated and sailors would often gather around the one and only oven under deck. Sometimes it was so cold that their shoes started smoking, because they would sit so close to the fire, while the skin on their backs got frost blisters simultaneously.

timelessarctic6 karma

Frigga: Ah, Linus is right, there are also a zillion cool facts that we learn from the written docuemnts that are important sources for our work. I could talk about these endlessly...

inthesandtrap4 karma

Hey there!

Did any of you read the book about the 4 guys who were stranded there on Svalbard for 4 or 5 years? I'm amazed every time I think of it - which is every time I look at a world map.

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: I did indeed. It wasn't just any guys; they were four Russian walrus hunters and they were not prepared to stay longer than one winter. They managed six years! You have to wonder how. You have to simply marvel!

MuddyDonkeyBalls3 karma

As a middle school science teacher, has your team ever considered hosting teacher fellows to help with the research, similar to Teach Earth Fellowships? Teachers could help on the project for a couple of weeks to see what the research is like and find ways to incorporate it into curriculum. For myself, because clearly I'm interested, I teach life science and our last unit is on human-environmental interaction within ecosystems. Being able to help would be super interesting and relevant to what I teach.

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: Do your students know your reddit name ;)

Yes, we have and are considering taking educators on board the expedition, but we unfortunately only have ten bunks. At the moment, there are two educators and a science communicator in our 'ground crew', ready to jump in if one of the core team needs to drop out. We are hoping to make the absolute most of the education, outreach, and communication!

On that note, have you heard about Polar Educators International (PEI). They are have some great resources for teaching polar science in the class room. mind, they are a little thin on archaeology, but my team is working on that.

BronzeHeart923 karma

How's the weather over there during Summer?

timelessarctic5 karma

Frigga: I guess my team and I really found out what the weather is like when we spent a few weeks in summer 2016 in a tent camp! It was alright though. We were dressed for the cold. The average in July/August is around +6 degrees Celsius. The wind chill can be nasty. The worst was the rain. No, I lie, the worst was having to get up out of your sleeping bag in the morning.

Talking of sleeping bags: I do have a woolen hat and a pair of gloves ready, in case it gets too cold. A colleague recommends having a chocolate bar handy: if you wake up cold, you can eat it and it will power the system for a while longer.

I tell people to pack for the changability of a Scottish autumn.

BronzeHeart923 karma

Already. From where I sit, it sounds rather cozy, eh?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: We split the bear watch, so that people would only have to do three hours every other day. It's a beautiful time on the tundra all to your self... anyway, it was gary's watch and he had to wake us up in the morning, and he calls to me through the tent walls and says, "Frigga, the stove is not working." "Try the back-up." "That's not working either." Slight sense of panic... Mind, this problem, too, could be solved with a paperclip clearing the fuel pipes. Totally MacGyver! Totally cosy...

ifyouknowwhatImeme2 karma

When are you starting your band?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: As soon as I no longer find my Arctic research rewarding. I guess by then I'll be covering "oldies" from back in 2021 ;)

ifyouknowwhatImeme2 karma

Wouldn't matter what you played, Timeless Arctic is the best band name.

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: Ah, now I'm catching your drift. I never sat still enough to learn an instrument prperly, but I can sing a little. I occasionally do when I am guiding tourists. Usually, the Arctic surroudings require you to be small and silent, but once in a while, it seems to be the right time for a song. Something traditional.

Samfag2 karma

I lived there for a few years and eventhough its breathtakenly beautiful, I've come to the agreement with myself, people shouldn't be living in Svalbard at all! 100%electricity is generated from burning coal and burning trash for heating. They are literally peeing in their own bathtub. Is this your opinion aswell?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: It is beautiful. Many places in the world are. Luckily, I can look out the window and think that about my own village every day :)

I am not overly negative, and I see some poetic justice in the way we are chosing to treat the planet (I refrain from using 'our' planet) and how it's backfiring on us. And I don't have a bathtub; I think it's a waste of water!

tarzan3222 karma

What is the biggest impact on Svalbard from humans? And is there anything imported to the area that makes it worse?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: I think the biggest impact was having been put on the map by Willem Barents in 1596 in the first place!

But imagine, even if the island group had not been reached by people yet, it would be experiencing climate change and global population! Woah, that's mind-boggling!

You'd have to define what you think is "bad" human impact. There have been biological and technological introductions, the latter making human habitation possible. I bet none of the Arctoc foxes are too happy about getting rabies from time to time...

dusky_shrew2 karma

Sorry to be late to this; there's much I'd like to ask :) Svalbard (probably) landed in the broader consciousness when flooding began to impact the seed vault.

If you're still taking questions: what has been your most jarring finding, and how should the broader population feel about it?

timelessarctic8 karma

Frigga: Of course we are still taking questions! Not just about Svalbard (Spitsbergen), but also about the Arctic or Polar Regions in general :)

I am not sure if that many people know about the seed vault in Longyearbyen. Did you know Syria was the first country to already withdraw seeds again! I guess when they designated the vault, they thought more about climate impacts than, well, the impacts of war!

My most jarring find? I can't say I look at them that way. However, we are looking at the remains of centuries of the overexploiation of an environment, so every bone may be seen as one too many. Mind, I try to tell the (hi)story a little bit more differentiated.

timelessarctic5 karma

Frigga: What I like about the slaughter sites or any bones in general (there are many on the raised beaches that do not stem from human activties) is that they usually form miniture ecosystems around them, giving support to small plant communities. Then a reindeer comes past and nibbles on them :)

timelessarctic6 karma

Frigga: I would be happy if the audience to our Timeless Arctic project would stop and think for a while: about whale products past and present, about walrus products, animals furs, soya plantations and plastic. How much do we really need, if any, and how much is just feeding into a luxuary lifestyle?

ryan3372502 karma

Where even is Svalbard?

timelessarctic8 karma

Frigga: hahaha, good one ;) If you draw a line from Norway's North Cape to the North Pole, there's an island group somewhere halfway. That is Svalbard. You may know it better as Spitsbergen.

The name Svalbard pops up in the old sagas and was adopted by Norway for the island group. The name means cold coast (which may refer to a land) or cold edge (which may also refer to the solid edge of the sea ice). So it's an old name for an original place we will never know now used for this island group.

ryan3372502 karma

Thank you, Im not really great at geography so this is good to know so I know what your talking about.

timelessarctic3 karma

Frigga: I doubt I would have really known it if I hadn't applied for a PhD position why back when. Luckily, it's easy to explain where to look for it.

Rethread2 karma

What do you do to amuse yourselves with downtime (if any)? Any good/interesting practical jokes?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: On expedition, be it research or guiding, there is no such thing as downtime! It's easy to exhaust yourself because you don't want to miss a thing! So you mostly catch up on sleep, whever the chance arises. Or you are glued to your binoculars, trying to spot wildlife. I do bring a book, and I usually get to read it, too. It's important to tune out on occasion. Also, you are always around people! As much as I like my colleagues and crew, sometimes you go to your bunk just to be alone...

lmatonement2 karma

Can I visit Svalbard? In the winter? How do I go about it?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: Thanks for chipping in, folks. So, yes, it is actually fairly easy to fly to Longyearbyen (in non-corona times), but it is not that easy to get around without a bear watch paid for the task. Svalbard is usually a very expensive trip, even if you manage to stay at the campsite and only eat the specials from the supermarket. It needs to be planned very well; don't just go on a whim.

GerryAttric2 karma

How much microplastic have you found?

timelessarctic3 karma

Frigga: I've taken part in several garbage collections on some extremely remote islands. The macro stuff is scarry enough. We haven't looked into the micro part yet; that is a project on the upcoming expedition in August.

GerryAttric2 karma


timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: And even here I marvel at the currents and I marvel at the strange ways in which our planet works! I hope our smart heads can solve the ocean-plastic problem soon!

GerryAttric2 karma

Everything gets recycled eventually. Sometimes it takes billions of years. We are overwhelming these natural cycles

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: One day people or their equivalents will be collecting plastic fossils. Imagine finding a Barbie doll!

TimelessGlassGallery2 karma

How timeless?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: Legit! So timeless is a play on words. Many people perceive the Arctic in general as timeless; we used to use phrases like eternal ice - but, well, I guess no one who has any idea about the state the planet is in uses that anymore :/

Timless also suggests that we simply do not have much well-dated data yet to really differetiated hunting practices and their immediate and lasting effects.

We are thinking of keeping the timeless part and then just adding other regions of the Arctic as we expend our research :)

AsicsGirl2 karma

How do you cope with environmental grief?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: By accepting that human beings are not perfect. We seem to be setting on finding out which way the dinosaurs went! Only we seem to be going that way knowingly and willingly.

ajarwalk2 karma

Hello! I was wondering what each of your favorite films are?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: That was the first question we got on this AMA! Is there a trick behind it? In any case, I have more than one favourite film, so I'll name The Last Unicorn here.

LucaMidorikawa2 karma

I have a question for Frigga ! May I know what did you study for your bachelors and masters and how you got into Arctic archeology ?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: My Bachelor was a joint geology and archaeology degree in Glasgow. My Master was in forensic archaeology in Bournemouth. I once went on a trip to Antarctica and thought the worst of the traces of past human activities there. Little did I know I would one day get hooked on that kind of "trash"! It wasn't straightforward though. I worked as a geologist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where everything is industry, mining, ship-building... without the experience of that amazing cultural heritage, I would never have been attracted to a PhD in mining history and industrial archaeology. It was rather by chance that it happened to be in Svalbard in the Arctic.

These days, I am the Chair of the Polar Archaeology Network. And I teach Arctic archaeology at Kiel in the hope that others find their way into the subject.

LucaMidorikawa2 karma

This is awesome ! Thank you for answering.

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: You are welcome! None of this is a secret. My CV is accessible online. In fact, most scientists are easy to find online, at the very least because of our publications. Tax payers usually fund our work, so we owe the public accessibility.

zenneutral2 karma

How was the experience of visiting the seed vault in Svalbard ?

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: I only ever made it to the front door. To the gangway. Well, to under that gangway. And you would only ever end up under it if you had a friend who was into geo-caching: there used to be a geo-cache there. I don't know what happened to it now that they have totally re-vamped the site and entrance... But me, myself, and I can say that I once sat under the old gangway...

I have, however, been on a tour into the coal mine at Barentsburg. Fully suited and booted. There, they house a film archive. Someone had dropped a slide just outside its door. Well, that poor little slide now never made it into the archive. Any guesses as to what was on that slide?

... the Sphinx!!!

ButtercupColfax2 karma

Are there any provisions of the Svalbard Treaty you feel are outdated or need to be revised/updated?

Edit - Feel like adding an Arctic lawyer to your team? Environmental regs in Svalbard are pretty extensive, especially regarding archeology.

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: My PhD thesis treats British mining at the time when Spitsbergen was still a no man's land and the company's tried to get the island group incorporated into the British Empire. Interesting stuff (even if I say so myself!)

The Treaty (signed 1920, ratified 1925) only really treats the land and not the sea. It never foresaw this increase in tourism, and international science and scientific collaboration is badly covered, esp. when it comes to accessing and working in protected areas. But generally, those involved in the fieldwork application and permission process are doing what they can.

I lead a research group in Arctic historical ecology in Kiel. I'd welcome all, if I could. Funds are the limiting factor, but maybe you have a cracking idea...

Voicy-ZA2 karma

Longyearbyen is a gem. I've been fortunate enough to visit it 3 times before...and heading back there again next month.

@Franziska, are you focussing on the historical numbers and human-impacts for Jan Mayen as well? I believe the last bear was shot there in the 80s...and the fauna is now limited to birds and 2 huskies (Storm & Kuling).

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: I don't know if Franziska will log in again. Her PhD project does not cover Jan Mayen. My general research and fieldwork ideas do. It's just a real bummer to get to!!!

timelessarctic1 karma

Franzi - Hey, sorry for my late reply. As Frigga already said, I am solely focusing on the human related changes in animal populations in Svalbard. However, Jan Mayen sounds like a very interesting area for such examinations.

WatchTheBoom2 karma

Would you rather fight one polar bear-sized puffin or thirty puffin-sized polar bears?

Follow up: How many puffin-sized polar bears do you realistically think you could fend off for several hours and what's your reasoning?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: Just for a laugh, I just looked up the list of unusual measurement units on Wikipedia. Your units are not listed, and my scientific brain cannot cope. However, if we convert centipawn (whatever that is...) to centipaw, we could maybe work out how many times I would need to be pawed by either before I go down.

Oh, I just don't know. Death by puffin might be quick. Death by tiny polar bear might be like piranhas... I go for puffin!

timelessarctic1 karma

PS: I'm a fairly good left-footed soccer player... but ten tiny polar bears would be the limit, I feel...

jek9991 karma

iirc you’re required to have a gun when visiting svalbard, so doesnt that mean you have to be 18 AND you have to complete a norwegian gun test? if so wouldnt it be easier to move to america and THEN go to svalbard?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: Check out what the Governor says about this on sysselmannen.no

Wantingknowledge1 karma

Thoughts on climate change?

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Frigga: The planet's climate has always been changing. We are actually at the end of the last ice age. There is much scientific data to suggest though that humans have accelerated the process beyond predictability. We've tipped the points.

Rubz8r01 karma

How much radiation had America hid in Greenland and how soon will it affect the arctic?

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: That is a question I cannot answer. I don't know. There are varying amounts of radiation distributed all over the planet, incl. the Arctic. The assessment programmes I know of seem to be focussing on mercury just now. But I waffle; I don't know.

snappytimid1 karma

How do you not get completely depressed about the impacts you see? Hell, just a glance at the news makes me reconsider waking up; I can’t imagine actually diving deep into the bleak details.

timelessarctic1 karma

Frigga: The big picture can be very overwhelming. I recommened to people to also look at the small, good things that happen in their communities. And if they are not happening already, get involved in initiatives that put quality back into your life.

WhiteyB-9 karma

A meteorologist can't accurately predict the weather from day to day so what makes you think that humans legitimately are causing climate change? and not just an earth cycle.

timelessarctic11 karma

Frigga: Meteorologists are pretty good at what they do; how accurate do you need the weather report to be? As for human-induced climate change: using the generally accepted scientific method, all data points that way. But whether one believes the scientific data or not, the question is in any case what we all can do to alleviate the negative trends we are, all of us, witnessing in the world today.

WhiteyB-7 karma

Thank you for the quick response and your answer was pretty good. However in my line of work I do heavily rely on the weather as I have to plan for outdoor functions. If they tell me it's going to rain all day tomorrow and I cancel the function and it turns out it's sunny all day I lose money. So you see the impact it has and it happens more often than one would think.

timelessarctic4 karma

Frigga: My colleagues and I insist on our researchers and tourists wearing rubber boots! Not some expensive walking boots, which you'd just ruin; rubber boots. If there's no water from above, there'll in any case be water from below. Salty sea water, water on the tundra and in the mires...

timelessarctic2 karma

Frigga: u/WhiteyB, I don't think your question deserves the negatives points it received. You asked me a question and you heard me out. And you were polite. You may have a different opinion, but hearing someone out and being polite is extremely valuable.

In the Arctic, there is more and more talk about co-creating research and co-creating knowledge, and you can only do that if you listen to each other and each other's believes.

I wish you luck with your future functions. I hope you make it through the pandemic okay!!!