Category Archives: Svalbard

NO MASKING THIS SUNNY SPIRIT: First rays of sun return to Longyearbyen in four months as hundreds gather for Solfestuka celebration w/ only tiny COVID-19 cloud to put folks in a ‘zone’

solfestparaglide

On a day so “mild” – a mere 12C with little wind – face masks weren’t necessary for Mother Nature’s non-viral presence (or required by human authorities), hundreds of locals and visitors gathered for a remarkably bright and normal celebration at midday Monday welcoming the first return of sunlight in four months upon the world’s northernmost town.

SHUTDOWN TO SNOWMOBILES AGAIN: Ban on motor traffic in three popular areas to protect wildlife OK’d by governor; strong protests by tourism, researchers, cabin owners, filmers, others

snowmobilezones

A ban on motorized traffic in three areas heavily populated by seals and polar bears will be in effect from March 15 to June 1, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday after evaluating often highly critical comments from a wide variety of local interests from tourism to university research that use the areas.

THIN HUNTING: Polar bear that attacked man this week weighed one-third less than normal for its age, expert says

bear030221

A polar bear that was fatally shot after attacking a man in East Svalbard on Tuesday was the six-year-old male son of a well-known female bear who has visited near Longyearbyen for many years – and he weighed just 231 kilograms, at least one-third less than a healthy bear his age, which may have been a factor in the attack, according to a Norwegian Polar Institute expert.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 1, 2021

firereport2020

Emergency calls to the fire department decline in 2020 due largely to the loss of visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 foreigners from eight different countries received a total of 285,000 kroner in “travel-home” COVID-19 grants last fall and a frisbee golf course is expected debut this spring.

POLAR BEAR INJURES MAN IN EAST SVALBARD: Bear shot and killed after attack on two-person excursion to Mohnbukta

polarbearattack030221

A man working on a film project was injured by a polar bear Tuesday morning during a scouting excursion with a co-worker to Mohnbukta in east Spitsbergen, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The polar bear has been shot and killed,” an announcement at the governor’s website states. “The governor was notified of the incident at 9:25 a.m. today. The man who was attacked by the polar bear is slightly injured. He is now being treated at Longyearbyen Hospital.”

SUN RA-RA: Solfestuka returns during one-year anniversary of pandemic with a (mostly) full traditional schedule – plus the vorspiel show from the recently cancelled Polarjazz festival

sun22

It’s sunny news this year’s Solfestuka festival will retain most of the traditional elements of Longyearbyen’s most-famous annual celebration, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there’s one big cloud on the horizon for the festival scheduled to start March 6 in that the annual revue showcasing local events of the past year in satire and song won’t be staged. However, perhaps offering some extra light is the lineup for the weeklong festival is extra eclectic, including the political separatists behind those neon “Make The North Great Again” signs getting local kids to sing their slogans, a swashbuckling and silly sledding contest, a polar dip/Arctic sauna, and resurrecting “the best night”of the cancelled Polarjazz festival.

MINE 7 TO CLOSE IN 2028: Last Norwegian coal mine to shut down when Longyearbyen’s coal power plant does; Store Norske will then dismantle mine and focus on ‘greener’ energy

mine7closing2028

The “cornerstone” of Longyearbyen’s 115-year existence is set to reach its final end after a years-long phaseout, as Mine 7 is scheduled to cease operations in 2028 and be dismantled during the next two years, Svalbardposten reported Friday.

40M KR. MORE IN CRISIS AID FOR SVALBARD: Parliament approves increase in general fund allocation for archipelago, intended to help tourism companies hurt by COVID-19

crisisaid022321

The latest and perhaps simplest of several emergency measures intended to help Svalbard cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by Parliament on Tuesday, which provided 40 million kroner intended to help the decimated tourism industry by increasing the general fund allocation for the archipelago in this year’s national budget by about 10 percent.

SPACE HURRICANE: First observation of super storm in polar ionosphere revealed in study co-authored by UNIS researchers

spacehurricane

Illustration of a space hurricane by Shandong University

In a discovery sure to illuminate the imaginations of the many believers of alien/paranormal life in the remote far north, the first-ever observation of a space hurricane in the ionosphere over the North Magnetic Pole is being revealed to the world in a study co-authored by two researchers at The University Centre in Svalbard.

HALF OF NORMAL TOURISM = TWICE AS NICE NOW: Average of 226 overnight visits in Svalbard this week is highest since September; numbers rise rapidly after COVID-19 test setback

visitgraph0223

Chart by Visit Svalbard

An average of 226 overnight visitors are expected this week in Svalbard which, while scant in comparison to the 537 visitors in 2019 and 486 in 2020, is nonetheless the highest average since last September, according to Visit Svalbard.