Fifty scientists set for North Pole expedition

In late August, a Dutch expedition will travel by boat to the island of Edgeøya on the east side of Spitsbergen, Norway. From 1968 to 1988, a Dutch station there in the arctic gathered large amounts of ecological data. The expedition will gather and compare new data to account for the impact of global warming on the polar ecosystem.

The scientific crew of 50 to join the expedition includes biologists, archaeologists, geologists and social scientists. Comparing the newly collected information to the old data should give scientists a clear picture of the effects of climate change, according the university.

A number of prominent Dutch people are joining the expedition. Among them are a polar meteorologist, NOS weather presenter Peter Kuipers Munneke, and D66 MP Stientje van Veldhoven. Three of the first Dutch people who spent a winter on Edgeøya in 1986-69 are also returning to the island.

Expedition initiator Maarten Loonen from the University of Groningen has spent six years in preparation for it. "This group will enable us to study the ecosystem from every angle," he said. "Global warming has probably encouraged plant growth. But it does not seem to benefit the reindeer, as they are finding it more difficult to survive the winter."

The Netherlands has historical ties with Spitsbergen which was discovered by Willem Barentsz. The Dutch traces history of history on the archipelago can be seen in the remnants of mining and whaling industries.