Read about Michelle van Dijk, a guide with 13 seasons of experience in the Arctic.

Transcription from interview with Michelle [02-10-2016], unedited:
“Glaciers do have a natural lifespan in which they surge and retreat, so calving (when large parts of ice break off glaciers and fall into the water) is a part of what glaciers usually do. If glaciers would only retreat, the ice balance would be the same, as there would be accumulation of ice on top of the glacier. The average glacier in Spitsbergen is loosing mass.

The presence of Arctic fish is a much clearer indicator of change. Atlantic fish which were not here ten years ago swim in the waters of Spitsbergen. Two fishing vessels catch them in the fjords. There are also humpback whales, which used to be more present in the Atlantic. There are dolphins as well, but they were already present before the temperature changes.

The changing environment also leads to the starvation of reindeer. In the wintertime the landscape changes rapidly; it rains and freezes and then it rains again. A layer of snow melts and then freezes, so the ground is covered with layers of ice and snow, and ice again. Usually, reindeer dig through the snow for food, and as they cannot dig through the ice they often die of starvation. One comes across many reindeer carcasses when going for a hike.”