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Tempelfjorden - a place to worship the Arctic

Hot on the heels of the completion of the expedition reports for the 2023 expedition, the members of the Arctic Research Group are already developing the plans and seeking funding for the 2025 expedition.  Forty one years ago, in 1983, before the founding of the Arctic Research Group, several of the founding members went on a scientific research expedition to Tempelfjorden and Bunsow Land. 

Situated only a few hours by boat North-East from Longyearbyen, on the main island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Tempelfjorden has the impressive Tunabre glacier feeding icebergs into the fjord.  Situated alongside is the Von Postbre glacier that is a receding glacier providing an access route to the Fimbulisen ice cap to the East. The centre of Bunsow Land features a single wide flat-bottomed valley, a lush green haven for wildlife in summer, flanked by impressive mountains.  

This dramatic and stunning area had been chosen by the 1983 expedition of the Polar Exploration Group to carry out glaciological, botanical, geological, meteorological and ornithological studies.  There is always scientific benefit in putting another dataset into the timeline and the decision was reached not long after the return from Recherchefjord last year, that another visit to Tempelfjorden would be the next expedition of the Arctic Research Group, subject to the usual permissions being granted by the Svalbard authorities.

The hard yards have begun again with the planning, fundraising, administration and regular evening meetings to enable the foundations of the expedition to be planted.  The membership of the Arctic Research Group are committing many hours of their volunteer time once more to bring the expedition out from just an idea and a conversation, to reality and an experience of a lifetime for those selected to go.

It is without doubt that revisiting the same expedition area 42 years later for those who went there in 1983, will reveal once again the dramatic changes that have taken place in so short a time, as the Arctic warms more rapidly than the rest of the planet.  The ice has receded further, the ground will be wetter to travel across, the weather may well not be as harsh in 2025, the number of people in the area will be greater. 

What won’t be so different is the beauty of the mountains and the fjord, the animals and the birds, the characteristics of the light, the sounds of the wild.  We will still fall in love once again with the Arctic. 

The science is just as important now as it was then, the efforts to deliver the highest quality and maximum output from the research projects will be the same and the efforts put in by everyone involved will be amazing.

Tempelfjorden is a place to worship the Arctic.

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