Our Svalbard

The last two decades have changed Svalbard in our world from once being considered a stable enough place to house the International Seed Vault to one affected dramatically by global climate change, including the loss of polar bear and reindeer habitat, and the growth of tourism with the stress that the introduction of transient humans put on a place.

There has been a human population on the island archipelago for some time now; the first big thrust were Soviet mining operations, long abandoned.

It is home to the University Centre in Svalbard, the most northernly of universities and the Norwegian Polar Institute

Life as as a student on Svalbard sounds fascinating; no one is allowed beyond the school’s fenced parameters without a rifle or being in the company of someone trained in firearms. The threat of bear attacks is taken quite seriously. I recommend browsing the student life handbook for its worst case scenarios before submitting an application.

The Norwegian Polar Institute has extensive resources on problems facing the islands. Good maps are found here. There’s a concise summary of Svalbard essentials at Cittagazze

For more information on the unarmored bears of Svalbard, go here.

When I first started on The Definitive Guide, close to 20 years ago, I had a window open to a real time webcam. It was black and white and trained on a parking lot. Through the winter, I saw no signs of life but the occasional change of car or truck in its place. It was strangely peaceful to tune in throughout the day and night and see nothing happen.

Now there are lots of webcams to choose from.

One thought on “Our Svalbard

  1. David Arkin

    Interesting. Never been there, don’t know anyone who has, but I do know quite a few people who’ve been back & forth to different parts of Alaska. & the situation is very comparable:


    While some of the polar bears are migrating away from their normal habitats, the ones who stay are in even more danger now, thanks to the Alaskan wilderness being opened up for oil & natural gas exploration:


    Worse than the Magisterium!


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