Dutch SEES Expedition to Spitsbergen with Minister of Education, Culture and Science

9 February 2020

From 3 to 12 August the SEES expedition will travel to Spitsbergen for the second time. The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, will accompany the researchers, who will investigate changes in the Arctic region.

The Minister announced this during a meeting to celebrate the centenary of the Svalbard Treaty, which was organised by the Dutch section of the World Wildlife Fund and the National Maritime Museum on Sunday 9 February in Amsterdam. The expedition further builds upon the success of the first SEES (Scientific Expedition Edgeøya Spitsbergen) in 2015.

Minister Van Engelshoven: 'This expedition is of major scientific importance. Dutch scientists play an important role in interdisciplinary research into the consequences of climate change for the Arctic region. I am therefore pleased to accept the invitation to take part in this expedition.'

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Polar station

The driving force behind the SEES expedition is ecologist Dr Maarten Loonen (University of Groningen), who also manages the Dutch polar station on Spitsbergen. ‘Global warming is occurring so rapidly in the Arctic region that we expect to already be able to see differences since the last expedition, five years ago. With the help of new techniques, we will record and further work out these changes. Another aim of this expedition is to encourage collaboration between polar researchers and to offer young researchers new possibilities. Fortunately, there will be 24-hour daylight during the expedition.’

Researchers at the Dutch polar station on Spitsbergen already often collaborate with their Norwegian colleagues. They provide the necessary facilities and increasingly coordinate the research data obtained as well as the logistics. Several Norwegian researchers will join the expedition.

Programme

The expedition will make use of the ship M/V Ortelius and will depart on 3 August from Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. The expedition will end there too. The destination is Edgeøya, an uninhabited island on the eastern side of Spitsbergen. Forty Dutch scientists will participate in the expedition. They will be joined by ten foreign scientists and ten specially invited guests from governance and media. There will also be forty places for participants from the Arctic University.

On 12 August, a concluding mini-symposium will be held at the university campus in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, which the Dutch press can also attend. Around that time it is also expected that the Mosaic expedition will be released from the polar ice in the vicinity of Spitsbergen.

Funding

NWO has provided funding for the expedition from the Netherlands Polar Programme. Other funding sources are the University of Groningen, Oceanwide Expeditions and the possibility of 40 tourist spaces onboard under the umbrella Arctic University, which will provide daily lectures onboard. These tourist spaces are subject to the scientific programme; visiting the research locations will depend on the local conditions (weather and the presence of polar bears).

Source: NWO