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Svalbard, Artic Norway

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Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Europe, about midway between Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is the northernmost tip of Europe and its settlements are the northernmost permanently inhabited spots on the planet. Located between the 76° and 81° parallels, they are far more northerly than any part of Alaska and all but a few of Canada's Arctic islands. In fact, they would be permanently locked in by ice if not for the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream. The permanent population is less than 3000, nearly all of which is concentrated in the main settlements of Longyearbyen and Barentsburg.  

           Around 60 per cent of the islands are covered by ice. The climate is Arctic, summers are cool (July average 6.1°C) and winters are cold (January average -15.8°C), but wind chill means that it usually feels colder. The high travel season is during Svalbard's brief summer, from June to August, when it's light and not too cold outside. However, the so-called "light winter" (March-May), when there is both sunlight and snow, is also increasingly popular for winter sports.

           Svalbard features the midnight sun from April 20 to August 23.  The sun stays under the horizon during the polar night from October 26 to February 15. The biggest threat on Svalbard is polar bears (isbjørn). Five people have been killed by polar bears since 1973, and if travelling outside settlements you are required to carry a rifle at all times to protect yourself.  More information here and here.

Möller glacier

Möller glacier in Möllerfjorden a beautiful day in August 2008.

Iceberg in Liefdefjorden

A big iceberg in Liefdefjorden that has broken off from the Monaco glacier. This iceberg reached several meters above the water surface, which give a hint at the real size (nearly 90% of their mass is under water!).

Drift ice at 80° parallels.

Drift ice at 80° parallels. The North Atlantic is in fact the only place on the planet where you can be almost certain to pass the 80° parallels with a ship – the northern hemisphere there is mostly icecovered and at 80° you will hit a continent. An interesting thought is that there were hardly any other people between you and the North Pole at this time.

Svalbard Reindeer

The stout, short-legged Svalbard reindeer is a distinct breed of reindeer and is not to be found anywhere else. Its exterior is well suited for life in the Arctic and prevents it from loosing heat during winter when it is fairly inactive. The animals are not very wary and often stroll between houses in the settlements. There are currently some 10,000 animals spread out across the archipelago.

Lilliehöök glacier

The magnificent Lilliehöök glacier in Lilliehöökfjorden, whose ice-front of almost 7 km plunges into the sea from a height of up to 40-80 meters.

Lilliehöök glacier

The fjord looks beautiful with icefloes skattered all the way from the glacier front.

Lilliehöök glacier - calving

This picture shows calving from the glacier. The calving caused a big wave.

Lilliehöök glacier

You can see that the glacier had been active lately, and had “calved”.

Lilliehöökfjorden

This area is named after two Swedish men which were part of several expeditions around 1840.

Iceberg

Iceberg in a beautiful deep colour.

Magdalenefjorden

Magdalenefjorden is one of the best known fjords on Spitsbergen – it is a beautiful fjord with jagged mountains. The fjord look faboulous with peaked mountains and some mysterious fog.

Magdalenefjorden

Magdalenefjorden

Magdalenefjorden - Gravneset

Landing at Gravneset where Dutch whalers from NW Spitsbergen came to bury their dead in th 17th and 18th century. Today stone gatherings and wooden coffins remain from the around 130 graves. On this beach you can see remains from three blubber ovens. This is where blubber from whales was melted and distilled into oil.

Nordstjernen in Magdalenefjorden

Bathing in Magdalenefjorden

The drift ice don’t prevent somebody from taking an invigorating plunge in the sea water that is maximum plus 2 degrees Celsius around 10 degrees latitude from the North Pole.

80° parallels

80° parallels

The beautiful light on Svalbard

The light on Svalbard will be etched in your memory forever. Impression can be overwhelming. Around the clock summer sunshine. Svalbard features the midnight sun from April 20 to August 23. The sun stays under the horizon during the polar night from October 26 to February 15.

80° parallels

80° parallels

View toward Gustav V Land

80° parallels

80° parallels

80° parallels

Villa Fredheim - Tempelfjorden

Villa Fredheim was built in 1924 by Hilmar Nøis. Hilmar Nøis is the Norwegian trapper who has spent most winters in Svalbard, 38 years in total. Most of them with headquarters here at Fredheim. He wanted people to visit his trapping station and learn about Norwegian overwintering trapping.

Snowmobile in Tempelfjorden

Tempelfjorden is a fjord branch at the inner end of Sassenfjorden, a part of Isfjorden at Spitsbergen. The fjord is named after the magnificent mountain Tempelfjellet, which resembles a temple.

Tempelfjellet - Tempelfjorden

Tempelfjellet - Tempelfjorden

Tunabreen clacier

Tunabreen (clacier) in the innermost Tempelfjorden.

Tunabreen clacier

Båten i isen - Boat in ice

Normally in April, the sailing boat Noorderlicht is frozen in solid ice in Tempelfjord to serve as a destination for snowscooter or dog sledge tours.

Svea

Sveagruva, or simply Svea, is a mining settlement at Svalbard. Currently, around 300 workers living in Longyearbyen commute to Sveagruva for work on a daily or weekly basis. Sveagruva has no permanent inhabitants. The mine is operated by Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani.

Sveagruva

The town was established in 1917 by Swedes. It was thereafter destroyed in 1944, but quickly re-established after World War II. Today, Sveagruva produces up to 4 million tons of coal annually making it one of the largest underground coal mines in Europe.

Camp Zöe in Krossfjorden

Camp Zöe hut

Camp Zöe hut was build by Henry Ruid, “the polar bear king”, in 1911, for Ernest manfield and Northern Exploration Co. It was used as a satelitestation for another trapper hut, while today it is used by the locals in Ny-Ålesund.

Krossfjorden

Flora

At first glance Svalbard appears to have very scant vegetation. A closer look will, however, reveal a large number of plants. There are in fact 170 plant species, altogether in the archipelago. Plants that wax large and luscious are not the ones to deck the slopes of Svalbard. The wind and cold tend to destroy anything that does not cling to the ground.

Krossfjorden

Krossfjorden

Krossfjorden

Beautiful colors

Isfjorden

Polar bears

The biggest threat on Svalbard is polar bears (isbjørn). Five people have been killed by polar bears since 1973, and if travelling outside settlements you are required to carry a rifle at all times to protect yourself. Photo: Ole Selberg

Polar bear

The polar bear has been unconditionally protected since 1973. The polar bear hunt never had as disastrous consequences as did the hunt for the previously mentioned ocean mammals. It is one of the world's largest predators. A big male may weigh nearly 800 kg. Females are smaller than males, having half their weight. The polar bear's staple food is ring seal and bearded seal. The polar bear is a common sight, now, in Svalbard, and the population numbers around 3000 individuals. Photo: Ole Selberg

Seal

The ring seal is the most common ocean mammal in these parts. It is the smallest of all our seals and it will often be sighted dotting the ice on the fjords in spring. The bearded seal, on the other hand, is the largest seal on Svalbard except for the walrus. This indolent animal is not as common as the ring seal, but often sighted in areas with shallow water, all over Svalbard.

Seal

Photo: Ole Selberg

Artic fox

The dainty Arctic fox is common almost all over Svalbard. Its diet consists of seabirds, eggs and carrion. It tends to tag along behind the polar bear helping itself to the leftovers of the bear's haul. In spring, seal pups are an important source of nourishment. It catches and kills them on the ice in the fjords. The Arctic fox can cover large distances looking for food, and it roams way out onto the ice floes. Photo: Ole Selberg

Monaco glacier

The magnificent Monaco glacier, whose ice-front of almost 6 km plunges into the sea from a height of up to 40-80 meters. The glacier was “surging” during the nineties, that means it suddenly advanced rapidly after many years of little movement. This sudden advance caused the ice to crack up and the huge crevasses make it an even more spectacular sight today. The glacier owns its name to an expedition in 1906 organised by prince Albert I of Monaco.

Grumant - Isfjorden

Grumant was a Soviet Russian settlement in Svalbard abandoned in 1961. "Grumant" is a Pomor toponym traditionally applied to the whole of Svalbard, and may be a corruption of "Greenland," with which this land was confused.

Grønnfjorden

View from Barentsburg toward Grønnfjorden and Mt. Linnefjella.

Longyearbyen

Air view of Longyarbyen. Longyearbyen is the administrative centre of Svalbard. Longyearbyen has approximately 2,075 inhabitants. It is one of the world's northernmost towns.

Longyearbyen

It’s named after an American John M. Longyear who started the first coal productions in the longyear valley in 1906. It was bought by a Norwegian company in 1916. Today the town is a modern town with almost every civilised facility you can imagine.

Aerial railway - Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen was originally a mining community. The aerial railway with its tower trestles, main plant and shipping crane still stand and striking, protected cultural memorials from the time the coal was transported by overhead conveyor from the mine to the port.

Down town Longyearbyen

You can buy what you need in Longyearbyen.

Longyearbyen

Gruvebusen.

Longyearbyen

A slice of Longyearbyen and the surrounding mountains.

Longyearbyen

Mine 2b - Longyearbyen.

The Mine 2b entrance. Set alight during the battle (World War II) in 1943 fires burned here until 1962. A new nine passage was opened and operations until 1968.

Mine 2b - Longyearbyen

Mine 2b at winter time.

Adventsfjorden

At summer.

Adventsfjorden

At winter time.

Adventsfjorden

Snow mobiles returning to Longyearbyen.

Adventsfjorden

Snow mobiles returning to Longyearbyen.

Longyearbyen

Midnight sun at Longyearbyen i April 13.

Longyearbyen

Midnight sun at Longyearbyen i April 13.

Longyearbyen

Svalbard Limousine

Limousine at 78° parallels.

Barentsburg

Barentsburg is the second largest settlement on Svalbard, with about 200 inhabitants, almost entirely Russians and Ukrainians. The Russian-owned Arcticugol Trust has been mining coal here since 1932, and during the Cold War Barentsburg was a veritable hotbed of activity as the Russians attempted to expand their zone of control over the islands. Although Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources. Currently, Russia is the only country to maintain such a presence.

Barentsburg

Although coal is still mined in Barentsburg, it is no longer exported, and the town relies entirely on mainland Russia for food and coinage. There have been instances in which not enough food was sent, and aid packages were sent from Longyearbyen. Also, the coal company has been known not to pay employees until they finish their two-year contract and return to Russia. Tourism is still only an embryonic industry and is not generating enough income to revive the town. In this respect it must also compete with neighbouring Longyearbyen, which has a well-established 'adventure tourism' industry and provides superior facilities and infrastructure.

Lenin statue - Barentsburg

Lenin statue. It may be only the world's second most northernmost statue of Lenin (the top spot still belongs to Pyramiden at Svalbard). There's a five-pointed star and the Communist-era slogan Miru Mir, or "Peace to the World". The sign also serves a useful function during winter, as when the star becomes visible again, the polar night has ended and summer is coming.

The main street in Barentsburg

The main and only street, ulitsa Ivana Starostina.

Barentsburg

Living quarters in Barentsburg.

Barentsburg

Pomor Museum in Barentsburg

Barentsburg

View from the port.

Barentsburg

Ny-Ålesund

Ny-Ålesund is the northernmost permanent settlement in the world - at 78°55N. Today, it is inhabited by a permanent population of approximately 30-35 persons. All of them work for one of the research stations or the logistics and supply company "Kings Bay AS", which 'owns' and runs the research village. In the summer the activity in Ny-Ålesund is greatly increased with up to 200 researchers, technicians, and field assistants.

World’s northernmost locomotive set

The world’s northernmost locomotive set from the mining period is kept in mint condition in Ny-Ålesund.

World’s northernmost post office

You also find the world’s northernmost post office in Ny-Ålesund.

Roald Amundsen

The Roald Amundsen monument in Ny-Ålesund.

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