PRIDE OF SVALBARD ON SYTTENDE MAI: Annika Bengtsson wins citizen-of-year Tyfus statuette, Tine Westby Thorstad wins youth award; Barentsburg kids miss first ’post-Covid’ festivities

PRIDE OF SVALBARD ON SYTTENDE MAI: Annika Bengtsson wins citizen-of-year Tyfus statuette, Tine Westby Thorstad wins youth award; Barentsburg kids miss first ’post-Covid’ festivities

Photo by Arild Olsen / Longyearbyen Lokalstyre A day of traditional Syttende Mai festivities celebrating Norway’s independence and honoring Svalbard’s top citizens also was a day this year where national-level conflicts with More »

ROYAL COUPLE GOES TO THE DOGS IN SVALBARD: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit also tour avalanche area, focus on climate change during three-day trip

ROYAL COUPLE GOES TO THE DOGS IN SVALBARD: Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit also tour avalanche area, focus on climate change during three-day trip

Photo of Crown Prince Haakon, center, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit at Arctic Husky Travellers kennels by Sara Svanemyr, The Royal Court It’s about as royal a three-day trip as any random tourist More »

TRANSPOLAR TRASH TRAVELS: Plastic pollution in remote Arctic wilderness areas as bad as urban locations anywhere else on Earth, scientists warn

TRANSPOLAR TRASH TRAVELS: Plastic pollution in remote Arctic wilderness areas as bad as urban locations anywhere else on Earth, scientists warn

Photo of catamaran being pulled by Polarstern icebreaker during plastic pollution survey courtesy of Alfred Wegener Institute Sparsely populated areas of the Arctic shows a similar level of pollution as dense towns More »

WOMAN DIES IN SNOWMOBILE ACCIDENT ON LONGYEARBREEN: Visitor in private tour group killed Sunday afternoon after mishap at base of glacier south of Longyearbyen, officials say

WOMAN DIES IN SNOWMOBILE ACCIDENT ON LONGYEARBREEN: Visitor in private tour group killed Sunday afternoon after mishap at base of glacier south of Longyearbyen, officials say

Map by the Norwegian Polar Institute A Trondheim woman visiting Svalbard was killed Sunday afternoon in a snowmobile accident during a group trip on Longyearbreen, according to officials. More »

BARENTSBURG LEADER BLASTS ’FAKE NEWS’ ABOUT UKRAINE: Calls to expel Russia’s top diplomat in Norway after he supports ’special military operation’ against ’Nazi ideology’

BARENTSBURG LEADER BLASTS ’FAKE NEWS’ ABOUT UKRAINE: Calls to expel Russia’s top diplomat in Norway after he supports ’special military operation’ against ’Nazi ideology’

Russians, Ukrainians and Norwegians in Svalbard may be continuing their neighborly co-existence despite the invasion to the south, but the head of the Russian settlement of Barentsburg (and Russia’s top diplomat in More »

 

UNITY FOR UKRAINIANS – AND NEARLY FOR LOCAL RUSSIANS: Svalbard residents from both countries live, work and protest invasion together; but not all agree on how to show support

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Photo by Kristin Woxholth

Nazarii Khomych says her mother is making food for Ukrainian soldiers, her father is helping protect their city, and the threat of immediate danger is also present for other family members and friends. But she says a protest march and rally during a frigid Tuesday night in the world’s northernmost city still managed to bring warmth to them from afar.

RUSSIAN MISSILE TEST NEAR SVALBARD, CONCERN IN AREA’S RUSSIAN/UKRAINIAN COMMUNITIES AS INVASION UNDERWAY: Residents express hopelessness; governor plans to ’carry on’

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Photo from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov firing a test missile Saturday just east of Bjornøya from video by the Russian Defense Ministry

Among Russia’s many military maneuvers while preparing to invade Ukraine this week was testing a new hypersonic missile in waters bordering southeast Svalbard, whose residents are long-familiar with Vladimir Putin’s provocations and aggressions in trying to expand his zone of influence in the Arctic.

And similar to the rest of the world watching Russia’s rush to war in dismay, the sizeable population of Svalbard’s Russian and Ukrainian residents – many of whom have permanent homes in the Ukrainian provinces Putin is declaring “liberated” – are expressing concern mixed with a hopelessness that such feelings from afar can have any impact.

12 SNOWMOBILERS RESCUED FROM SEA ICE NEAR MOHNBUKTA: Tour group stranded on east coast due to surface water; all unharmed after rescue by governor’s helicopter

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Photo of student researchers snowmobiling at Mohnbukta prior to this weekend by Richard Hann/UNIS

A group of 10 snowmobilers plus two Longyearbyen residents trying to help them were recused by helicopter after becoming stranded on the sea ice along the east coast of Svalbard near Mohnbukta due to large amounts of surface water, The Governor of Svalbard announced Saturday.

Officials with the governor’s office noted such areas can look deceptively safe for travel, but driving on the ice should be avoided under such conditions.

A FUTURE-FOCUSED 10 FOR VALENTINE’S DAY: Svalbard seed vault gets 20,000+ samples, including new and rare species, from 10 countries to celebrate 14th birthday on Feb. 14

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Photo courtesy of the Global Crop Diversity Trust

As Valentine’s Day offerings go it was an eclectic bouquet, with the more than 20,000 seed samples ranging from rare Alpine-grown wheat from the 1920s to a “re-deposit” of the seeds a war-torn region needed when its crop facilities were destroyed.

SUN IS BACK AT LAST…SCIENTIFICALLY SPEAKING: It was behind clouds and mountains, but after nearly four months of night Longyearbyen gets 27 minutes of sunlight Tuesday

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Image from UNIS webcam

In one of those “naked underneath all those clothes” enticements, the sun revealed itself to Longyearbyen on Tuesday for the first time since late October – if 27 minutes of “exposure” behind a lot of clouds and mountains counts.

NEW COVID CASES REMAIN HIGH, BUT NEW RULES AFFECT WEEKLY COUNT: 15 cases during past week down from 31 the previous week, but fewer people now need tests

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Photo of Andreas Eriksson at Longyearbyen’s self-test station courtesy of Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A total of 15 positive cases were registered in Longyearbyen during the past week, bringing the total for the year to 87, according to the city’s weekly update released Monday. It notes no people have been hospitalized this year, but a relatively high number of new cases is likely at least in the short term.

GET MORE SMARTER ABOUT SVALBARD: Annual two-week ’The History of Svalbard’ course at UNIS offering lectures, exams (and answers!) and other materials free online

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Painting by Abraham Storck, 1690 / Courtesy of Rijksmuseum Netherlands

Now that visiting Svalbard is finally getting back to something resembling normal after two years of Covid, those wanting to arrive informed can take advantage of one of the few pluses of the pandemic as a just completed and much-acclaimed two-week university history course about the archipelago’s history is available free online.

CUTTING MOST COVID-19 TESTS FOR SVALBARD: Permanent residents, and visitors who are vaccinated or recovered from the virus are exempt for travel from mainland

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Photo courtesy of Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

Two years after the beginning of Svalbard’s peak tourism season was destroyed by declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the archipelago is beginning the season with a renewed sign of optimism as nearly all virus-related travel rules for travel from the mainland are no longer in effect, the Norwegian government announced this week.

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: A 10,000-km voyage around Svalbard reveals an ecosystem facing ’terminal decline’ – and small moments of hope from Earth’s largest creatures

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Tord Karlsen / Arctic Sense Expedition

The summary of their four-month sea voyage is suicidally depressing, in the sense of portraying an imminent future of humans hastening their widespread life-ending pattern of destruction. But they also found hope in a few moments, such as a brief encounter with ten blue whales that convinced the researchers Earth’s biggest creatures are making a slow recovery that may have larger implications.

TWICE AS ICE: Since Svalbard is warming 7X faster than the global average, scientists studying long-term patterns say – big shock – glacier melt rate speeding up and may double by 2100

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Yeah, it’s yet another climate study predicting a hellishly gloomy Svalbard by 2100. But instead of triggering heartburn by focusing on impacts such as dead polar bears this study warning about the doubling of local glacier melting invokes cool back-to-the-future concepts such as “space-for-time substitution.”

Or, as the scientists explain more simply, “they studied development patterns of hundreds of glaciers over relatively short periods of time rather than a single glacier over a very long period of time. The method is useful because the glaciers exist in a very wide variety of climates.”