Category Archives: Svalbard

CHRISTMAS ‘COUPLE’ CHEERS UP COLD: Few outside Svalbard know Santa’s real home is here; fewer still the ‘occupant’ whose arrival locals celebrated with Sunday’s tree lighting


Photo by Arild Olsen / Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A secret known to few outside Svalbard is Santa’s real home is in the abandoned Mine 2B, located above his special mailbox that many of Longyearbyen’s children placed their letters in Sunday.

But a possibly even more secret citizen of the season was shared on his namesake day by a well wisher as the town celebrated the beginning of Advent in 12C cold and winds gusting to 54 km/h with the lighting of the town Christmas tree and other traditional activities.

COVID-19 self-test distribution station opens Monday at Longyear 78°; free kits provided to vaccinated people with respitory symptoms and targeted unvaccinated groups

Photo by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A COVID-19 self-test distribution station in the parking lot of Longyear 78° is scheduled to be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

SEAL OF DISAPPROVAL: Man fined 20,000 kroner, but avoids prison, for ‘incorrect’ explanation to police about shooting of a seal by another person at Svea


Photo courtesy of The Research Council of Norway

A man in his mid-20s has been sentenced to 14 days probation and fined 20,000 kroner for an “incorrect explanation to the police in connection with the illegal hunting of a bearded seal in Svea in June this year,” The Governor of Svalbard announced Friday.

WALLOPING WIND ON WEDNESDAY: Hurricane-force winds of 126 km/h, blowing snow in Longyearbyen prompt warning to secure objects, avoid travel in exposed areas

A blizzard with hurricane-force winds up to 126 kilometers an hour is expected to hit Longyearbyen and Nordenskiöld Land on Wednesday, with officials urging residents to secure loose objects, avoid unnecessay travel in exposed areas and exercise extreme caution if navigating at sea.

CHILLY CLIMATE CONFERENCE CONCLUSION: An amazingly astute 700-word analysis of the UN’s COP 26 agreement, courtesy of our alt-weekly brethren in Boston


COP 26 fire collage by Jason Pramas. All images used are in the public domain

The following “wish this was satire” analysis is an Association of Alternative Media contribution by DigBoston Executive Editor Jason Pramas (original link):

LONGYEARBYEN TO SHUT COAL POWER PLANT IN 2023: Council unanimously OKs plan to temporarily switch to diesel, implement all-renewable energy supply by 2030


Wow, that happened fast.

Shutting down Longyearbyen’s coal power plant in 2023 was unanimously approved at the most recent meeting of the municipal council, drastically accelerating a timeline that just a few years ago envisioned operating the plant for much of its remaining lifespan (possibly into the next decade). That shrunk last year to a gradual phaseout within five years and local leaders hastened plans again in February with the proposal to shut the plant in two years.

The council approved switching to diesel temporarily when the coal plant closes, and implementing an all-renewable energy supply by 2030 – a plan many residents are questioning the economic, logistical and environmental wisdom of.

TAKING UP TORCHES FOR TOURISM: Locals upset about proposed environmental access restrictions planning fiery greeting for officials hosting Q&A on Tuesday


Folks fired up about proposed changes to Svalbard’s environmental regulations are planning to greet visiting agency officials with a torchlight protest that will end outside a public Q&A meeting about the changes scheduled Tuesday evening at Kulturhuset.

RUSSIA ACCUSES NORWAY OF ‘HIDDEN MILITARIZATION’ OF SVALBARD: Recent visit by Navy ship to archipelago part of provocative ongoing military development, ministry alleges


Photo of the KNM Thor Heyerdahl docked in Longyearbyen in late October by the Norwegian Navy

Norwegian military ships visiting Svalbard are a regular, if not frequent, occurrence and legal as long as it’s for “non-war” purposes. But Russia is calling a voyage by a Navy vessel in October part of Norway’s ongoing efforts to develop military infrastructure in the archipelago in violation of the Svalbard Treaty’s intent.

Norway maintains the voyage is just business as usual – and Russia has faced plenty of accusations of illegal and/or provocative military activities in Svalbard and elsewhere in the Arctic.

MULTIPLE COVID-19 CASES IN LONGYEARBYEN PROMPT EMERGENCY MEETING: Several measures including free self-tests implemented, but ‘no need to impose strict measures’


Multiple cases of COVID-19 in Longyearbyen among residents and visitors prompted a meeting of the local emergency council Thursday and the implementation of several measures, but officials said there is no need yet to impose strict infection-control measures.

RUSSIA NOW ALSO SEEKS TO CURB COAL CO2: Plan for reconstruction of Barentsburg power plant to reduce emissions comes as Longyearbyen votes to shut its plant by 2023


Barentsburg isn’t joining Longyearbyen’s just-announced decision to shutting down its coal power plant by 2023, but a reconstruction of the plant in the Russian settlement to reduce emissions in part of a new five-year plan in Svalbard, according to Russia’s government.

The plan also seeks a reduction in coal mining activities – notable because Russia has openly stated it plans to continue operations as long as practically feasible as part of its effort to maintain a strong presence in the archipelago as part of its broader quest for Arctic influence.