They are spending 9 months in this Svalbard-hut

Here’s the first all-female overwintering project in Svalbard, Norway, to survey climate change escalation.

Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm will be the first women ever to overwinter in Svalbard, where they will observe, record and broadcast extreme climate change events as they happen in the High Arctic real time. “Hearts in the Ice” are two women who locate their love of life and livelihood in the polar regions of Svalbard and Antarctica.

“Hearts in the Ice” was launched to create global dialogue and social engagement around climate change in the Polar Regions. From August 2019 to May 2020 (9 months) seasoned expedition leaders, Hilde Fålun Strøm and Sunniva Sorby will inhabit a historic 20-square meter trapper’s cabin known as “Bamsebu.”

To witness and experience the polar front of extreme climate change, Sorby and Fålun Strøm are prepared to endure months of total darkness and a constant threat of polar bear attacks during the Arctic Winter. They will occupy Bamsebu with no running water or electricity and aim to have the smallest carbon footprint possible by using solar and wind energy and reducing all packaging from their suppliers and providers. They will for the first time, use Electric snowmobiles as they endeavor to live with the smallest footprint possible.

Life at Bamsebu will be broadcast and published in real-time via Iridium satellite through social media to scientists, students, adventurers, and interested citizens from around the world. They will conduct live satellite calls with schools from North America and Europe twice monthly and these videos will be published on the “Hearts in the Ice” Blog. Sorby and Fålun Strøm will conduct observations and gather data in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, The UNIS, NASA, University of Maine Climate Change Institute and The Scripps Institution of Oceanography.    

Hilde Falun Strøm

– Climate change is having a greater impact in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet, says Hilde Fålun Strøm.

– Temperatures have increased by twice the global average over the past 50 years.

Their mutual concern for the future of ice and the welfare of our planet is what motivates their venture. They would encourage everyone to get outside, explore and fall in love with your own backyard. This connection to our natural world will encourage greater protection of our special spaces. 

– We invite everyone to tune in to the broadcasts and blog posts as we share our day-to-day living and observation of escalating climate change, says Sunniva Sorby.

By collaborating with NASA and their GLOBE Observer Program, along with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Fjord Phyto project, Sorby and Fålun Strøm will act as Citizen Scientists.

They will be taking observations for NASA that will help their satellites better understand how clouds assist in the overall changes in our planet’s climate. They will do this by timing their observations with the exact time that the NASA satellite flies right over their camp in Svalbard. Simultaneously underwater, Sorby and Fålun Strøm will study the sea with Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  By utilizing a very precise scientific instrument called a Castaway CTD, they will be analyzing the influence that the Gulf Stream has on the West Coast of Spitsbergen. Through this, they can get a vertical profile of the water column out in the fjord that will tell us temperature and salinity variations at differing depths.  This will also give them an indication of the amount of fresh water being contributed by glacier run off.

Sunniva Sorby

– Creating conversation and accessibility to the events of the Arctic are absolutely essential to furthering our understanding of the impact of climate change. As citizen scientists on the front line of where change is felt the most, we knew technology and data collection would play an important and essential part in our journey, says Sunniva Sorby.

Sorby and Fålun Strøm will be calling into their Hearts in the Ice web administrator one time per week with their observations in the Arctic of wind, weather, ocean temp, and salinity. Meanwhile, their Citizen Science Advisor (who is the Citizen Science Coordinator for Polar Latitudes), Bob Gilmore, will do the same with the ships’ Iridium Sat phone from the Antarctic.  Through this coordination they will have a snapshot of Arctic and Antarctic data and observations one time per week. Their findings will inform and update Arctic climate research. 

With the use of Iridium Certus Satellite and the MissionLink device they will conduct twice monthly live from Bamsebu video hosted “hangouts” with hundreds of schools globally.

Learn more about the project in this video: