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Svalbard and Jan Mayen: Storfjorden ice formations

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Storfjorden ice formations > Svalbard and Jan Mayen > Europe

[Visited: May 2019]

Sailing up Storefjorden makes for quite a change from the previous experience we had on our ship. While the west of Spitsbergen is under influence of the Gulfstream which ends right there, the east has no such warming influence. Its waters are colder, and there is noticeably more ice, even in May. When I wake up in the morning, the rattling sound of chunks of ice hitting the hull of our ship makes me wonder what is going on and I make sure to be on the bow as soon as I can. Dark skies hang low over the wide fjord, and the ice stretches to the horizon. Long lines are carved into the ice, which is dark blue, with patches of white where smaller pieces of ice have been incorporated into the ice field a long time ago. The history of the winter can be seen in the ice cover.

Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Ice formation with lines and dark clouds in the background of Storfjorden

The strongly defined lines of ice then are replaced by vaguer lines, all pointing towards the horizon. It almost feels like we should not be breaking this ice at all, as we disturb the scenery. With the current low temperatures, I imagine that the broken ice will freeze again behind us, perhaps leaving another line in the fjord. Then, we reach a stretch of water, with small chunks of ice floating everywhere. After a while, we reach a part of the fjord where small shards of ice have frozen together, forming a giant mosaic of uniquely shaped pieces of white ice, frozen in a dark blue, often even black, connection. It looks like an enormous jigsaw puzzle, pieced together by the Ice God. Meanwhile, we see more and more icebergs, many frozen into the sea water. Will they ever break lose, and continue their way towards the south, where they will slowly melt away into the sea?

Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Ice floating on the waves of Storfjorden

The clouds lift, slowly, making the colours a more pronounced blue and white. The snow-capped mountains in the distance, the blue sky above it, the white ice, the blue ice. The ice around our ship changes constantly. Sometimes, a thin layer of ice lies on the waves, and the sunlight makes them appear like abstract, curved lines. There are stretches where we seem to be sailing through water, but there is a subtle layer of dark blue ice, and the waves look like there is oil floating on them. Then, thousands of small white particles, frozen together in a work of art. Stretches of fast ice which our ship tackles effortlessly. A sheet of ice hitting the ship, making it shiver. I end up spending hours on the bow, looking down how our ship pushes its way through the frozen world of Storefjorden. With all the wildlife and spectacular mountain and glacier scenery, definitely one of the highlights of our expedition.

Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Sea ice floating on the water of Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Lines carved into the sea ice of Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Pattern of tiny pieces of ice frozen together in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Pieces of ice frozen into Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Mosaic of frozen ice with mountains in the background of Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Water between plates of ice in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Ice pieces of ice frozen in in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Broken ice in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Icebergs and ice in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Ice mosaic in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Seawater ice patterns in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Ice plates floating in Storfjorden
Picture of Storfjorden ice formations (Svalbard and Jan Mayen): Delicate pieces of ice in Storfjorden

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