It’s a matter of latitude. 78° 13′ N; approximately twelve degrees, or 1,334 kilometers north of the Arctic circle. This is the realm of twenty four hour nights and days, of the Aurora Borealis, of polar bears, of windswept landscapes of snow, sea ice, mountains, and glaciers. It’s a part of the world I’ve wanted to experience since I was a kid, and it’s the place I’m going to for the next six weeks.
My destination is Svalbard; an archipelago of islands in the Arctic Ocean. I’m taking part in a glaciology program run by the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), which is located in the regional capital of Longyearbyen. Sixty percent of Svalbard’s surface is covered by glaciers, making it an ideal location to study their processes.
The first leg of my journey takes me from Vancouver to Oslo, where I have an overnight stay before my flight to Longyearbyen. The stopover gives me a chance to join up with a friend who is also taking part in the glaciology program. I met the aptly named Aurora last summer in Alaska (see North to Alaska), and catching up over some much need food that night, we’re both equally excited about the trip ahead. The next morning, we soak up the last sunrise we’ll see for a few weeks, and board our flight to the Arctic.
Arriving in Longyearbyen just after 1pm, the usual bustle for hand luggage when the plane stops takes on a more practical air. Down jackets, balaclavas, and mittens are being pulled on before the exit door is opened. Stepping out into the blue semi-darkness, we are greeted by a biting wind that draws streams of fine snow across the tarmac. It’s already below -20°C, and I couldn’t be happier.
The following are just some initial shots from my first few days here, including some from the training we underwent. As always, images can be clicked on to view in full size. More updates coming soon.
18 thoughts on “Svalbard Part 1: Arrival in the Arctic”
Many thanks for the great photos and the pen picture of Svalbard.
The gentle winds and rain that we get in Sligo, will feel like heaven after this. Continued success to you and your adventure !
The folks back home.
Thanks for reading it. Sligo always feels like heaven!
Unreal Noel! That looks epic, looks like you’re getting the full Arctic experience with all those photos of your training. Very cool stuff.
Thanks for reading, Ronan. It’s been pretty epic so far. Hopefully won’t have to put too much of the training to use, but always good to know!
AMAZING! I’m so jealous 🙂
Thanks Erika! A climate scientist like yourself would be very welcome here!
Properly the man on ice now! I can tell you’re enjoying every minute :). Hope all goes well, speak soon. J
Cheers John; it’s been great so far. Looking forward to catching up.
Wow Noel what an adventure!!!
Really enjoying it so far. Thanks for reading, Thérèse!
Wow that looks and sounds amazing!
Thanks Laura, it’s quite an amazing place!
Fantastic Noel!! Enjoy the snow bro!
Cheers Arran, thanks for reading!