The inevitable and inexhaustible ‘best of 2017’ listicles are out. Here’s the ones that saw fit to include Svalbard


The lists include local beer, data, mining of coal and sugar, horror podcasts, and science. And lots of dramatic photos.

Svalbard frequently appears on all kinds of “best of” compilations, often about subjects that repeat themselves endlessly (best Northern Lights, strangest laws, most fearsome airports, easiest places to emigrate, etc.). But the inevitable barrage of year-end lists – or listicles as they’re known as in the clickbait era – offer a chance to see where the archipelago stood out (for better or worse) in the trends and happenings of the moment.

While we’re certain this isn’t everything anyone might find online, here’s a reasonably diligent attempt to compile the ways Svalbard ranked in 2017:

GlacierHub’s Top Stories of 2017

Polar Bears and Ringed Seals: A Relationship in Transition: “Along the tidal glacier fronts of Svalbard, an archipelago halfway between Norway and the North Pole, polar bears have changed their hunting practices. A recent study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology indicates the new behavior is a response to rapidly disappearing sea ice. Charmain Hamilton and other researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute mapped changes in the spatial overlap between coastal polar bears and their primary prey, ringed seals, to better understand how the bears are responding to climate change. The results don’t bode well for the long-term survival of polar bear populations: as sea ice continues to shrink in area, ringed seals—calorie-rich prey that are high in fat— have become increasingly difficult to catch during the summer and autumn. The bear are now finding sources of sustenance elsewhere: in the archipelago’s thriving bird colonies.”

Mother Nature Network: Winning photos capture awe-inspiring moments of science


Usually it’s the out-in-the wild shots of animals and landscapes in Svalbard that win awards, so this photo in Longyearbyen is a novel and creative moment.

“Breeding” by David Costantini. Runner up in the Behaviour category for the Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition. “Arctic terns mate for life, and they have a preference for making their homes on the ground, says photographer David Costantini. While on a research trip to Svalbard, between Norway and the North Pole, he discovered these resourceful birds. ‘I came across this couple of Arctic terns that found a clever solution to solve the difficult task of finding a good place to breed in human-modified landscapes: they made their own house on an abandoned shovel,’ he says. ‘This photo also shows how vocal communication between mates is very important in terns to coordinate parental efforts in order to achieve a successful reproduction.'”

National Geographic: Best adventure photos of 2017


Talk about giving new meaning to “topsail.”

#3 of 22: Gabe Rogel/Aurora: A sailboat floats through the ice in Svalbard, Norway.

Godt Drikke: The best microbrewery beers in 2017 

Svalbard Bryggeri Spitsbergen Stout (high on the list of of about 20 mostly Norwegian beers): “A dull brown-black color with a high beige foam. Good scent of roasted malt, chocolate and a little coffee. A beautiful scent in my opinion. The taste is a bit on the sweet side, with a soft sense of mouth. Feel nice to the smell with its roasted malt, chocolate and hint of coffee. Good balance between sweetness and bitterness. Lovely aftertaste. Fits well with food and dark chocolate. Very good buy.”

Nature: 2017 in pictures: The best science images of the year


This is unlikely to dispel the rumors of suspicious happenings (or perhaps UFO activity) at SvalSat.

GROUND CONTROL (by Reuben Wu): “On the Norwegian island of Svalbard, low sun backlights an antenna that downloads data from the Joint Polar Satellite System-1. The craft launched in November as the first of a new set of US weather satellites.”

Data Center News: The world’s most extreme data centers

1. The Arctic World Archive: 300 meters below the ground: “This data center is built in a converted mineshaft in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The Arctic World Archive aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples: provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disasters and global conflicts.”

High North News: Most read commentaries of 2017

#4: Do not listen to the people!: “When the editor of High North News asks Norwegian authorities not to listen to grass roots, there is reason to listen. It was the Longyearbyen local government’s treatment of his own statement on the future of Great Norske Spitsbergen Coal Company that made Arne O. Holm sharpen his pen midsummer. ‘They are, in addition to being historically, almost chemically cleansed for understanding of the Longyearbyen and Svalbard’s geopolitical role in Norwegian international politics.'”

Sugar or coal – an important 8th place: “Perhaps the Norwegian media took it seriously whether sugar or chocolate was produced in the mines in Svalbard? Arne O. Holm asked the question in connection with the state budget on Dec. 1. ‘I hardly have enough figures on how many times NRK has been debating the increase in sugar tax in next year’s state budget, an increase which might threaten Norwegian jobs in turn. On the other hand, it is easy to keep track of the discussions about Norwegian Svalbard policy. It’s almost nonexistent.'”

High North News: The best-liked articles of 2017

4. Coal optimism:  “As late as Jan. 24, less than a year ago, the board of Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani believed that there were good opportunities for resuming coal mining operations: ‘There are significantly better prospects now than a year ago, but it is also obvious that we need to see a stability in the price before it is possible to start again with coal operations from Svea and Lunckefjell,’ Store Norske Administrative Director Wenche Ravlo told HNN at the time. Now we know better.”

The Comeback: The 10 best new audio drama podcasts of 2017

4. The White Vault: “The White Vault is not messing around. The production value is high and the lengths they’ve gone to create an atmosphere, as well as a good story, are impressive. Fans of The Thing or The Terror will appreciate the plot, which is the collected recordings from a repair team sent to a frigid outpost in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard close to the North Pole. As you might imagine, something very bad happened and over the course of the season, we get bits and pieces that start to add up to something rather frightening.”

The Guardian: My best winter photograph


This car actually was for sale fairly cheap a few years back. The coming year might be rather lucrative for its owner after the exposure this picture has gotten during the past year.

“You don’t leave town without a gun” (by Julia de Cooker): “The limo belonged to a Danish miner, who never really explained why he bought it. In the town there are some roads, but there are too many cars for the number of people living there. At the end of October, there’s a blues festival to mark the beginning of the polar night, and the guy had loaned his limo to a visiting band, which is how I came to see it. Usually it’s hidden under snow.”

Norwegian Space Center: The year in space 2017

September: “In Svalbard, 51 students from all over Europe were at a summer school studying, among other things, polar bears and sunstorms. The theme for this year’s space school was satellite navigation and its importance to society, industry and innovation.”