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

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 More »

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

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 More »

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

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 More »

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

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 More »

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

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 More »

 

TOURISM AGENCIES PROTEST ‘INVASIVE REGULATION PROPOSALS’: Svalbard business leaders ask government to nix ‘rushed’ changes tightening access and increasing mandates

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Tourism and business leaders are asking Norway’s government to withdraw “invasive regulation proposals”  imposing stricter environmental restrictions in Svalbard, arguing they are the result of a rushed and flawed process that will result in serious adverse consequences for local residents.

LESS IS MORE IS LESS FOR FINAL SVEA SHUTDOWN CONTRACT: Early estimate of 684M kr. to dismantle mines ballooned to 2.5B kr., but now ‘only’ 1.7B kr. for cleanup expected by 2023

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Depending on the spin, the final dismantling of the Svea and Lunckefjell mining communities will 1) cost 1 billion kroner more or 800 million kroner less than projected and 2) be completed three years later or two years earlier than expected.

‘TIGHTENING THE REINS IN SVALBARD’: Multitude of new rules, restrictions by government to make archipelago more ‘Norwegian’ cause controversy and worry among locals

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Photo by The Governor of Svalbard

National authorities are considering revoking voting rights from foreign citizens in Svalbard, increasing environmental protection and introducing stronger requirements for safety in the field, causing many locals to worry about the consequences, according to High North News.

GIVE PEAS A CHANCE: Rare grey peas from Latvia among 14,000 seed samples placed in Svalbard Global Seed Vault during last deposit in 2021; Serbia also makes first deposits

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Eesentials of Latvian cuisine including grey peas, dill and caraway are among the more than 14,000 seed samples deposited this week in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as genebanks in that country and Serbia joined the 87 other depositors who have placed 1,125,416 samples in the vault.

REINDEER FINDING PURSUING POLAR BEARS A DRAG: Researchers captures first known video of bear hunting down reindeer as need for alternative prey grows due to climate

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Photo by P. Nowosa/P. Ulandowska-Monarcha

Polar bears in Svalbard are continuing to expand the diversity of their diet as climate change diminishes their traditional hunting prospects, according to a team of Polish researchers who captured what they say is the first video of a bear stalking and killing an adult reindeer.

FISH PROCESSING PLANS ON HOLD: Proposed facility in Barentsburg delayed due to cost concerns; Norwegian scientists studying future potential for industry

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Illustration of proposed fish processing plant in Barentsburg by Arctic Resource Norway

Hopes the fish processing industry can replace some of the lost coal mining jobs in Svalbard are on hold as a Russian company who has spent nearly a decade trying to establish a processing plant in Barentsburg says the costs are higher than anticipated, according to High North News.

DARK SEASON IS NO TIME FOR ‘BLACKOUT’: Governor says local youths reportedly attempting dangerous TikTok suffocation challenge; parents and school warned

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The light may be vanishing from Svalbard this week, but the governor would prefer it not be forever for local youths who’ve discovered a new form of “blackout” involving self-suffocation.

SVALBARD’S FIRST ‘REAL’ COVID-19 CASE CONFIRMED: Longyearbyen resident in isolation after likely being infected on mainland; case is second in Svalbard, first involving a resident

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Photo by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

The first Svalbard resident diagnosed with COVID-19 in the archipelago was confirmed Tuesday by Longyearbyen Hospital, with a doctor stating the patient was likely infected on the mainland and is now isolated after being tested during an early stage of the disease.

BOURNE AGAIN: New Svalbard Spitsbergen Kunstnersenteret/ Artists Center debuts opening event Monday as artist Elizabeth Bourne takes over former Galleri Svalbard building

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“Running an art gallery in the high Arctic is not a job for most people,” Elizabeth Bourne wrote three years ago in a lengthy feature about Galleri Svalbard when she traveled from her hometown of Seattle to Longyearbyen for the debut of her exhibit at the gallery – or, more precisely, her first exhibit.

She’s had two more since moving to Svalbard a few months after publishing that feature and on Monday she’ll officially preside over the first exhibit as the curator of the gallery building, taking control of from the city which has managed it as a gallery since 1995.

DISASTER EXERCISE SHOWS SVALBARD STILL NOT ENTIRELY SHIP-SHAPE: Area’s second-largest simulated cruise ship rescue shows lessons learned and persisting shortcomings

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Photo by Anders Røegge / Barentswatch

Simulated News Service – At least four people were killed and dozens injured by a fire aboard a cruise ship about 60 kilometers northwest of Longyearbyen on Friday morning, triggering a massive rescue operation to airlift the roughly 200 people aboard by helicopter to temporary emergency facilities hastily built in -10C conditions on a nearby snow-covered shore.

Officials said favorable conditions prevented a worse disaster due to shortcomings exposed during the remote Arctic rescue, which “would not have gone well” if a larger ship with thousands of passengers was involved…

Such was “reality” for about 500 rescuers, volunteers role-playing as victims and others participating in a day-long exercise to test and evaluate Svalbard’s emergency preparedness for a scenario officials see as increasingly likely as ship traffic to the archipelago continues to increase over the long term. While numerous upgrades in equipment and technology have occurred in recent years, as with other large-scale drills deficiencies continue to be revealed.