Mr. Bond and the ice girls

Well… our time here is coming to an end (by far too fast), and I just would like to introduce some snapshots how life works…

In the last post you have already seen how mosquito works. Here is an impression how avalanche hazard mitigation works in Khibiny mountains (credits of Zuzin, 2006):

Alternatively, there is conventional avalanche protection, such as dams

and local structural protection, such as this splitting wedge.

OK, and this is how catering works in our local residential community:

…the ice girls (I am not kidding – it was their invention) are already prepared for food…

Why I am called Mr. Bond? – Well this is another story, but I am holding an interesting visa of the category “007”. Of course, in my real life I am the helicopter pilot… 🙂

So today we will receive the last data, will eat the last fish for a while, and then we will have to say goodbye to this stimulating place which is – on the one hand – really unique in terms of nature and inspiration, and – on the other hand – heavily influenced by mining activities and profligacy.


Last but not least it is time to say thank you and Большо́е Спаси́бо for the stylisch hospitality and all the organisational efforts that had to be undertaken prior to our arrival

to the local INTER-ACT station manager, Ms. Yulia Zaika and the entire team of the Khibiny teaching and research station! It was a great opportunity to be able to come here!

Have a nice time up there, and hopefully we will be able to return soon!

Cheers, Alla, Tatiana, and Sven 🙂 from the Arktika-Express connecting Murmansk with Moscow…

…towards quantification…

Having another of these bright and awesome sleepless almost-midsummer-nights we thought it may be useful to get into science, to approach quantification and measurement. Just to be politically correct, of course. Well, and since we are going to collect data for risk assessment, we are on our way to a specific roadside census – there is a need for our late-night performance in counting cars and passengers in order to get proper data. Since permanent counting points are missing here, it is all handmade by us. One passenger car, two passengers. One passenger car, one driver only. One public bus, five people inside (time to increase the capacity, this would even help to preserve resources…), one car, one driver, one car, one driver, one car, one driver,… [two hours later] again this police car with two people (towards resource economics), then the security car with two guards, then again the police car… [four hours later] …hundreds of mosquitoes later… again the police car… time to go to bed (for now).


This is the Moscow Roadside Census Team 2012: Micha (volunteering), Tatiana, and Alla

Moreover, we were already collecting some information on the avalanche tracks in the local archives – data mining could also be interesting, believe us… and even more challenging if you try to convince the representatives of the local administration that they should start working during business hours 🙂

Well, this is actually just a quick impression of our database on snow avalanches in Kirovsk – with a particular focus on avalanche tracks no. 13-23. We kindly would like to acknowledge the efforts by Pavel Chernouss and Nikolay Moroz from the Center for Avalanche Safety “Apatit” in Kirovsk for sharing this data with us.

Anyway, something is going on every day, but this is it for now.

Have fun with our blog, Tatiana and Sven

NB: Wanna know sth. about these fancy flies? – Here it is:


(sorry, stolen from wikipedia)                         …and what you are always told will help…

Getting started…

Adapting to the polar day conditions we tried to settle down and getting organised: between leisure there are lots of things to do, such as
– accessing parts of the Russian avalanche literature with a particular focus on the Khibiny region,
– collecting data from the local Centre for Avalanche Safety (CAS),
– visiting the field sites and doing some works out there (mapping, etc.).

So at the beginning Tatiana was really trying me to get the difference between Б and Ь versus И and N, well, and I am really good meanwhile in pronouncing КОЛЬСКОЕ the right way.
The colleagues from the CAS were really helpful and provided us with data on the avalanche tracks we are interested in. At the end we even got a special tour through the museum of the “Apatit” mining company – did you know that in the Khibiny massif we have 100s of different (and sometimes rare) minerals, and that muscovite is supposed to have this name because it was used as window glass for the Bohemians in Moscow in former times?

Sami blood

Eudialite mineral (to be scientifically correct: Na15Ca6(Fe2+,Mn2+)3Zr3[(Cl,OH)|Si(O,OH,H2O)2|Si3O9|Si9O27]2); the myth tells that the red mineral is Saameese blood after a big fight…

Visiting the field sites ended – after two other nice days with clear sky – in cold and rough conditions where the only highlight was cooking some tea in the taiga… apart from hot Russian борщ and some smoked Caucasian cheese.


So it is quite easy when your day has only 24 hours, just take the night and everything is fine.

Tatiana and Sven 🙂

News from Khibiny

So finally, we made our way through the Northwestern part of this country, passing Saint Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург) and the wonderful region of Karelia (Карелия), and then arriving after a train ride of almost 33 hours in Apatity (Апатиты) this morning.

Northern Karelia, around midnight:

Over long distances the railway is single-tracked only:

From Apatitiy to Kirovsk (Ки́ровск) it is only a 30 minutes drive, and after some shopping we are now here in the Khibiny teaching and research station of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Due to the midnight sun there is no hurry at all, so while Tatiana is already working in the library I am in concern of our physical well-being: today, the menu will be Russian ravioli filled with deer and a special sour cream sauce. Today’s weather conditions: clear sky but frosty, as is so far our accommodation.

Overview of Kirovsk…

…and here we will live and work during the next weeks:

Cheers, Sven and Tatiana

Just arrived in Moscow…

Hi all there

This is a blog from the ARCTIC RISK project to be carried out at the Khibiny teaching and research station of Lomonosov Moscow State University. On our way to Khibiny we just arrived in Moscow to organise the last administrative things… Here is a short impression of Moscow State University, our host for these first days:

Moscow State University

I am writing this from my small room here in the 18th floor of MSU main building, ahead of our trip to northern Russia. My name is Sven Fuchs, I am a researcher at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, and I specialised in the assessment of mountain hazards and risk. We will report during the next three weeks or so from our field campaign, which is related to the spatiotemporal assessment of snow avalanche risk. So here is some background information on our project:

There is a relatively long tradition in the management of risk related to natural hazards in mountain regions of Europe. However, the concept of risk is static over time, while losses are the predictable result of interactions among three major dynamic systems: the physical environment, which includes hazardous events; the social and demographic characteristics of the communities that experience them; and the elements at risk such as buildings, roads, and other components of the built environment.

In our project, a model for the spatial and temporal development of avalanche risk will be developed. In order to systematically analyse a spatiotemporal development of hazard, elements at risk and vulnerability, the city of Kirovsk located adjacent to the Khibiny research station was chosen as test site. The city of Kirovsk in the administrative district of Murmansk was only founded in 1929, soon after large deposits of apatite and nepheline were discovered in the area. The study area is chosen because of (1) the almost unique situation of a mountain agglomeration prone to hazards with clearly regionally and temporarily defined construction activities; (2) the unique situation of an agglomeration heavily dependent on and influenced by industrial activities, including land development for plant construction, residential construction, and the construction of infrastructure lines; and (3) therefore clearly distinguishable categories of elements at risk, including settlements, industrial production sites, infrastructure facilities as well as road and railroad networks.

You want to know more on the output of our research activities? – Have a look here…

So this is it for now – thanks for your interest in our research!

Red Square at night