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Tom Arnbom, Northeast Passage day 1: Leaving Longyearbyen

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This summer, WWF is helping support two expeditions that will take on some of the world’s most difficult waters, to see first-hand the effects of Arctic climate change. One expedition is sailing across the top of Russia, a journey of 6000 nautical miles through the Northeast Passage, while another is attempting a west to east transit of the Northwest Passage, also by sailing boat, a journey of about 7,000 nautical miles.

Tom Arnbom of Sweden was on the ‘Explorer of Sweden’ though the Northeast Passage, as was WWF Arctic Programme Director Neil Hamilton for much of the trip, replaced near the end by WWF polar bear coordinator Geoff York. On the ‘Silent Sound’ Cameron Dueck of the Open Passage Expedition is filing regular stories from the Northwest passage. Come back for photos and stories throughout the summer, and follow the progress of the boats as they follow in the wake of some of history’s most intrepid explorers.

By Tom Arnbom

The sailing vessel The ExplorerThe sailing vessel The Explorer

It is a beautiful day and along the cliff edge east of Longyearbyen there are several swarms of dovkies (little auk). They look like black smoke flying back and forth in the sky. I am onboard the sailing vessel Explorer which will bring the expedition members to the Pacific through the Northeast Passage. We are about to head north to Ny-Ålesund and visit scientists to know the latest about climate changes. Yesterday, I met a scientist on Polarstern (a large german research vessel) and he told me that they have discovered large areas of bubbles with methane west of Svalbard. It is to early to say if it has been going on for a long time or is a new “thing”. They will head out to research the areas to find out more.

Methane is a very active green house gas and more and more evidence show that this gas is leaking out in many places in the Arctic. I will come back on this.

Hopefully we will encounter walruses to night – but more on this in the next blog.

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