Sorgfjorden & Nordaustlandet, Svalbard

May 27, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

The wake-up call sounded just as the National Geographic Explorer was about to anchor inside Sorgfjorden (“The Fjord of Sorrow”). This fjord is located on the northernmost part of Spitsbergen and is named after a battle in 1693, when a fleet of 40 Dutch whalers were attacked by three French warships. 13 Dutch ships were captured; many men died. We went ashore to go hiking at Crozierpynten, where we found the remains of a couple of huts. This place was chosen in 1899 as a Swedish station connected to the very successful Arc-of-Meridian Expedition. 

During lunch we sailed across the northern end of Hinlopen Strait to Murchisonfjorden located at approximately 80°N. We spent the whole afternoon in this fjord in the most magnificent weather. During this stay, we listened to two presentations. Erika Larsen, our National Geographic photographer, talked about “Racing the Thaw,” focusing on how rising temperatures in the high Arctic can cause the relocation of villages, as well as other cultural challenges. Naturalist Jonathan Zaccaria then shared “An Introduction to Svalbard,” with an emphasis on Svalbard history and the policy related to this archipelago. Watching the edge of the mighty Austfonna ice cap behind us as we left the fjord was the perfect end to another great day of exploration.

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About the Author

Carl Erik Kilander


Carl was born in Norway and received a master’s degree in forestry and nature conservation from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 1973. His professional experience is mainly connected to environmental issues and natural resource management on the Norway mainland and in Svalbard. A major part of his professional experience comprises planning and management of protected areas, particularly in the southern parts of Norway and Svalbard. During the period 1999-2001 Carl was Head of the Environmental Department at the Governor of Svalbard´s office. He has also been District Manager (southwestern Norway) followed by the position of Senior Environmental Adviser at the Norwegian State Forest Service.

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