LONGYEARBYEN, Svalbard — This past fall, meteorologist Sven Sundgaard had the opportunity to help launch two incredible women on their global project high in the arctic, far from everything.
They chose to leave behind friends, family, daily comforts - talk about self-isolating - for a bigger purpose:
It doesn’t get MUCH more 'socially distant’ than Svalbard: it sits high up in the arctic just a few hundred miles from the North Pole.
It’s a place where Polar bears outnumber people. Luckily, we only saw them from FAR away. But signs of them and other wildlife are everywhere.
It’s out of this place ‘Hearts in the Ice’ was born:
“Hearts in the Ice was designed to be a global platform for a dialogue on climate change and a way to engage citizens from around the world in a inspirational positive way.”
Instead of hoarding toilet paper, they had to bring everything they’d need for 9 months. They’ve been living in a tiny, old trapper’s cabin.
Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Falun Strom are 7 months into their 9 month over-wintering expedition in this desolate place. Both have witnessed the rapid changes of climate that is hitting places in the arctic particularly hard.
Hilde has been living and working as an expedition leader in Svalbard for decades.
“The ten last years I’ve seen so much changes in the climate. Higher temperature, more rain coming down, more snow. Then in 2015, we had a big avalanche in the settlement of Longyearbyen and that avalanche took away 12 of my neighbor’s houses. Inside there were 17 people and two of them died: a 2-year-old girl and 43-year old man. That actually changed my life. It made this climate change personal.”
The women have been conducting citizen science research like mapping glaciers by drone and bringing awareness to the ocean plastic problem. Connecting with classrooms around the world regularly.
They know that the key to saving our planet lies with the future, with the youth.
Both women agree: “Mother Nature needs her daughters and her sons. Now more than ever. Now, time waits for no one.”
One of the important elements of this project is THAT technology, satellite connection to keep the conversation going with classrooms and people around the world on what they’re doing. Click here for a link to the YouTube live lecture hosted at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 2.
Sunniva and Hilde offer some tips on living in self-isolation:
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