Category Archives: Svalbard

Disaster diplomacy: Oil spill, radiation leak and epidemic will be simulated by researchers to test Russia-Norway relations


Guest contributor
A two-year investigation into disasters around Svalbard kicked off Jan. 19-20 with a planning meeting at The University Centre in Svalbard. This project’s focus is whether or not dealing with disasters – before, during and after – can be used more in the Arctic to foster peaceful links between Norway and Russia. Conducting the study in Svalbard aims to make the research useful for those living in the archipelago.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Feb. 5, 2019


Dwellings at Vei 226 to be first avalanche-area homes of 142 demolished
Residences at the addresses Vei 226 Nos. 23, 25, 27 and 29 are scheduled to be the first four of 142 dwellings in avalanche-prone areas to be demolished beginning in late spring, according to city officials.

Svalbard warms 4°C during past 50 years, may warm a total of 10°C by 2100, states ‘devastating’ landmark climate study


Svalbard is already 4°C warmer (7.3°C during winter) than 50 years ago with devastating and fatal consequences, and will be a total of 7°C to 10°C warmer by 2100 without drastic action.

Winter is two months shorter than 50 years and will be two months shorter by 2100.  Precipitation (mostly rain, obviously) will increase 45 percent to 65 percent, and the number of already extreme storms of late will increase significantly and magnitude.

That drastic new Svalbard climate change report is drastically changing people’s opinions (just kidding – it’s so totally not)


It’s nonsense because so-called experts have also said eggs and lard are bad for you. If people take the report seriously they should just move so there’s fewer impacts. And if the propaganda actually comes true, folks ought to embrace the warm feelings of great gardening and balmy summer holiday weather without leaving home.

Did you really think yet another climate change report warning of devastating impacts was going to change anybody’s mind?

LIVEBLOGGING POLARJAZZ 2019 (DAY 5): Svalbard’s version of ‘Footprints’ takes on a totally new blue hue in Mine 3


4:58 p.m.: I’m wrong about a lot of things. At the moment that includes the advice that folks coming up here should get a great twilight view before heading into Mine 3 for the finale of Polarjazz. It’s pitch black out, so any tourists feeling cheated out of photos should make their displeasure loud and clear to…well, I’d rather not have it be me. Maybe yell at you dog – I’m sure it’s done something to deserve it.

Hopefully I’m not wrong about my hopes this will be the most intriguing concert of the festival, due to the rustic location and the performance of a Svalbard-specific suite composed just for Polarjazz. Titled “SPOR” (“footprints”), it featured Norwegian actress Juni Dahr reciting verse, acclaimed Norwegian musicians Tore Brunborg and Per Oddvar Johansen on a variety of instruments, and the Store Norske Men’s Choir as accompaniment.

LIVEBLOGGING POLARJAZZ 2019 (DAY FOUR): From kids and koffee at noon to crashing during a circus past midnight


Noon: Marathon day at Polarjazz, with stuff happening in various parts of town now, at 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight Sunday into the wee hours. Just the thing when you’re reaching that state of being fried that comes after three days of getting a few hours a sleep a night at most covering music and other things in real life. But since next year’s festival may not be long enough to induce burnout, I’m making sure I get the full experience (OK, be warned now I may cut out early on the midnight show because I almost always do).

12:11 p.m.: Even the kids’ concert starts fashionably late – and like the grown-ups there seems to be something of a sparse crowd here compared to previous festivals. As with so much else, the loss of families lately due to mining layoffs is having a huge community impact – and reverses one of the main goals the government’s supposedly had for Svalbard for a few decades.

LIVEBLOGGING POLARJAZZ 2019 (DAY THREE): Boyz and Gurls embrace lounge lizards, teen spirit and catz with horseskins


5:12 p.m.: It’s the second of two free early-evening Polarjazz concerts by local musicians at Svalbard Hotell and, just to make one thing clear after the “it’s not jazz” ramblings I’ve voiced this week and over the years, longtime coal miner and resident J.G. Hansen is doing a solo acoustic folk set and he’s kicking ass. So I have no problems venturing outside the genre, especially when what’s being played captures the best elements of what jazz has to offer.

LIVEBLOGGING POLARJAZZ 2019 (DAY TWO): A rare mostly-jazz night w/ a local’s slinky red dress, a returning visitor stripped down and an icon all steamed up


5:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 31): Tonight’s rant opens at the close – although nobody’s about to die since it’s just the end of the first set for the first gig. Real life meant arriving a bit late to the free concert by SvaJazz at Svalbard Hotell, the first of two early evening shows by local musicians today and Friday. While passes for local festivals can be pricy for those on a budget (1,650 kroner for this year’s Polarjazz), there’s almost always an effort to include free events letting anyone get a taste of the action. For this gig, it’s a truly priceless opportunity to hear one of the very few pure straighthead jazz performances heard in Svalbard during the year.

LIVEBLOGGING POLARJAZZ 2019 (OPENING NIGHT): A bonanza of locals gets things started with a buffet of music at the ‘Vorspiel’ at Kulturhuset


8 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 30): I was first attracted to Svalbard 11 years ago by Polarjazz and, if this is to be the final year of the world’s northernmost jazz festival in its current form, that I’m hoping to capture as much of it here as possible during the next five days with these liveblogs. I’ll be offering my impressions from this and other festivals over the years, how what’s happening reflects what happened in Svalbard during that time, and of course my thoughts about the music as a longtime jazz journalist.

Random weirdness for the week of Jan. 29, 2019


For those who think the size of cruise ships coming here is getting out of hand, you ain’t seen nothing yet compared to the “floating city” a developer in Singapore thinks Asian tourists are totally craving (and just to get an extra-great bit of weirdness out of the way quickly, one of the promised benefits is it “minimizes the impact on the fragile Arctic”).