Science Blog: Zoé Forgereau: Day 4-7
I am Zoé Forgereau, a Master student from UiT, going to Svalbard for a fieldwork with the members of the PHOTA project, which include two researchers: Karley Campbell, Benjamin Lange and two other master students: Janina Osanen and Laura Martín. I will make you discover what it is like to go into the field as a student researcher through my own experience in the Svalbard Archipelago!

Day 4: 29.03: Avalanche and snowmobile training

In the morning, the members of the PHOTA project started planning the potential routes to Van Mijenfjorden, the fjord where ice cores and sea ice algae will be collected. For organizing the route, the risk of avalanches also needs to be taken into account!

Then, we were trained in driving snowmobiles. It was the first time for all the Master students. During the snowmobile training, we were also trained to save people in avalanches. There, we even made the encounter of a reindeer.


Potential routes to Van Mijenfjorden, in white on the figure.

The members of the PHOTA project for their snowmobile training.

The members of the PHOTA project for their snowmobile training.

Lunchtime break, the members of the PHOTA project eating on a glacier.

Avalanche training pictures taken by Laura Martín.

Avalanche training pictures taken by Laura Martín.

Avalanche training pictures taken by Laura Martín.

Encounter with a reindeer.

Going back to Longyearbyen.

The team on its way back to Longyearbyen.

The team on its way back to Longyearbyen.

The team on its way back to Longyearbyen.

The team on its way back to Longyearbyen.

Relaxation after the snowmobile and avalanche training.

Day 5: 30.03: Polar bear protection and first aid training

In the morning, the members of the PHOTA project organized the fieldwork equipment for the upcoming days and prepared for the Polar bear shooting training! Indeed, Polar bears can be aggressive in Svalbard!

On the trip to shooting cabin, we saw the entrance of the Global Seed Vault. The Global Seed Vault is a former coal mine used to store a large diversity of seeds in the event of seed shortage in other genebanks around the world.

Then, we arrived to the shooting cabin from where we had a picturesque view! There, we shot with big game rifles on targets that represented polar bears. After using big game rifles, we trained to shoot with flare guns. Flares are used to scare polar bears !

After the shooting training, we went back to the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). There, we had a first aid training so that we know how to react to incidents in the field, for instance, in case of hypothermia (due to cold temperatures), bone fractures, snowmobile accidents, avalanches or snow blindness (due to sea ice cover). We also performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a doll in order to be able to resuscitate an unconscious and difficult breathing patient!


Organizing the field work equipment.

The entrance of the Global Seed Vault.

The shooting cabin.

The members of the PHOTA project used big game rifles to shoot targets.

Everyone did really well.

The team after shooting! Pictures taken by Laura Martín.

The team after shooting! Pictures taken by Laura Martín.

The team after shooting! Pictures taken by Laura Martín.
Karley Campbell and Benjamin Lange shooting with big game rifles ! They were like professionals. We can feel really well-protected with them on the team. Watch a clip of us shooting at targets (YouTube).

Day 6: 31.03: Preparing the fieldwork

The members of the PHOTA project spent the whole day preparing and packing the equipment for the fieldwork. Many containers were full! Some with, for instance, cooler jugs, which are buckets for melting ice cores.

Some fun moments in the afternoon! The Master students went rolling in the snow before going to the warehouse to clean and pack all the equipment.


Preparing and packing equipment.

Preparing and packing equipment.

Rolling in the snow.

Day 7: 01.04: Preparing the fieldwork

The members of the PHOTA project spent again the whole day preparing and packing the equipment for the fieldwork. Laura also tried out her experimental set up!

In the afternoon, Karley Campbell and I cleaned the lab where the radioisotope C14 will be used to measure the sea ice algal primary production.


Trying out Laura´s experimental set up.

Packing up the sledges.

Packing up the sledges.

Cleaning the C14 lab.

Cleaning the C14 lab.

Cleaning the C14 lab.

Cleaning the C14 lab.