Adventure in Svalbard: from Ny-Alesund to the North Pole
Adventure in Svalbard :From Ny Ålesund to the North PoleNy Ålesund is situated on the northwest coast of the Svalbard islandSpitzberg, on the Arctic ocean.The settlement is the northernmost permanently inhabitated place onEarth.
The Svalbard archipelago lies only 900km south of the North Pole.Due to the circulation of warm wet airfrom Western Europe and the NorthernAtlantic, its winter temperatures are notmuch different from those encounteredin the French Alps. This explains therelatively wet, mild climate.
Ny Ålesund is locatedalmost at 79º N, inside abeautiful and shelteredfiord called Kongsfjord(Kings fiord) .
The settlement stands on thesouth shore of the fjord, in atundra plane between mountainand sea.The bay is 26 km long and 14km maximum wide. Twoglaciers, Kronebreen andKongsvegen, head the fjord.
The beautiful and sheltered Kongsfjord is fed by some major glaciers. .
Mountains, glaciers, fiord and tundra: the environment of Ny Ålesund.
Ny Ålesund stands on the tundra area on the right.
Ny Ålesund, Kongsfjord, NW SpitzbergPopulation 30-35 , up to 120 in summerCoordinates 78º 56‟ N, 11º 56‟ E
View from the pier.The front buildings: the red Museum and the orange „London Houses’
The shore where the setllement stands provides 50 km of tundra and alluvialplain.
The town started as a coalmining site and lasted until1962, reaching some 400residents.After a tragic miningaccident, coal mines whereshut and some years later NyÅlesund became a researchstation.
Old wooden buildings contrast with the distant radio telescope.
A young researcher reading in the sun, outside his dormitory.Presently, 30 to 35 permanent residents live there, mostly research scientistsfrom several countries and administrative / logistic stuff from King’s Bayenterprise.
Ny-Ålesund is an importantcultural heritage site, with 30listed buildings (out of 60 intotal) as of historic relevance.1 – Mellageret café3 – London Houses4 – Harland house (NERC)5 – Museum9 – Green harbour house10 – Post office11 – North Pole Hotel12 – Amundsen statue16 – Amundsen villa17 – Kings Bay Center, Messa23 – Blue House (AWI)43 – Power station49 – Artic Marine labThe tundra areas surrounding thevillage are stricktely protected birdsanctuaries.
Again the town center with the main buidings – Hotel, Post Office, the AWI bluehouse, and far back the Museum, the „London Houses‟, the café and the powerunity.
The old telegraph station, during themining periodGreen Harbour house, the oldesthouse in Ny ÅlesundThe bath house in the mining years Old mining days school
Being so northern, some absolute records are expected, like having themost northern train, hotel and post office. There is also a souvenirstore, a café/pub and a museum, also records themselves, as well asthe northernmost statue - of Roald Amundsen, the norwegian explorer .
The northernmost hotel, Nordpol Hotellet.Built in 1920, it was from 1936 used to house fishermen.
A norwegian explorer ofthe Arctic and Antarcticregions, Amundsen wasthe first person to reachboth the North and SouthPoles.He is known as the first totraverse the NorthwestPassage. He disappearedin June 1928 while takingpart in a rescue mission.
Amundsen villa (1918)This is where Roald Amundsenstayed when he was in Ny-Ålesundwhile the airship "Norge" was moored.
http://www.svalbardmuseum.nohttp://www.kingsbay.noIn the center of the village thereis a museum and memorial forRoald Amundsen.The museum “Ny-Ålesund By-og Gruvemuseum” shows thehistory of the settlement and itscoal.Space is also given to RoaldAmundsens use of Ny Ålesundas the starting point of his flyingexpeditions to the North Pole in1925 and 1926.
The AWI Blue House, German research station „Koldewey‟ (1991), is part ofthe French - German Base. It provides research facilities for scientists such asbiology, chemistry, geology and atmospheric physics labs. The Blue House hasoffices, bedrooms and living space for eight people.
Installed in the bluehouse are- spectrometer- photometer- laser-„radar‟- balloon-borne ssensors
Clearly visible here are the runway and the telescope antenna.
Flights are offered two to three days a week to SvalbardAirport, Longyearbyen, by Lufttransport with Dornier 228 aircrafts.
FaunaPolar bears, wild reindeer, arctic foxes, walrus, whales, seals and manyspecies of migratory birds - plenty of wildlife lives in or around the settlement.The popular name for theAtlantic puffin is rightfully„sea parrot‟.
Arctic foxArctic foxes live literally inthe village and are a delightto watch.
Some 5 000 polar bears live in Svalbard , and largely outnumber the lessthan 3 000 habitants. They are a danger for careless visitors, so rules mustbe strictly obeyed.
Bear footpathReal danger –no adventure in wildnature without guns.
The tundra areas surrounding Ny-Ålesund are bird reserves, in order toprotect bird nesting.
Black-legged kittiwakes flock on iceberg beside glacier in Kongsfjorden.
flock on iceberg beside glacier in Kongsfjordenflock on iceberg beside glacier in KongsfjordenThe elegant arcticterns perform thelongest regular migrationby any known animal:40 000 km in one year.The arctic tern
FloraSvalbard Poppy, in yellow andwhite, considered the nationalflower.
These flowers are perched high enough to grab every bit of sunlight availablein their short seasons.
Ny Ålesund is becoming increasingly popular as a base for polar research.The relatively mild climate, easy accessibility by plane and boat, along with thewell-developed infrastructure, and highly specialised research facilities - thoseare the arguments of Ny-Ålesund as a central European platform for arcticresearch.Presently there are 11 participating countries in several projects.Science and Research in Ny Ålesund
The Geophysics and Astronomy stationThe 20 m radio telescope of the space-geodetic observatory at Ny-Ålesund, close to the runway and control tower.
Tethered ballon - a captive balloon system- for atmospheric measurements.
Studies on the lowatmospheres physics.The National ResearchCouncil of Italy (CNR)“Dirigible Italia” house
The (UK) Natural Environment Research CouncilsArctic Research Station (NERC) – Harland House- Laboratory, workshop and storage space plus bedrooms
King’s Bay MarineLaboratoryOpened in June 1st 2005, it is thenorthernmost laboratory of itskind. It is dedicated to research inmarineecology, physiology, biochemistry, aswell as some physical sciences likeoceanography, marine geology andice physics.The lab is largely financedby a consorium includingNorway, Italy, France andJapan, USA and the UK.
A wooden sculpture outside the marine lab, overlooking the sea.
The following institutions/countries are based in Ny-Ålesund:• Norwegian Polar Institute and Zeppelin Station for Atmospheric Monitoring andResearch in cooperation with the Norwegian Institute for Air Research,• The Norwegian Mapping Authority – station for satellite geodesy and geo-dynamicstudies.• University of Tromsø – climate facility for experimental plant biology. University ofOslo – station for research and education.• Norwegian Space Centre – launching facility for scientific rockets, SVALRAK,• China – Yellow River Station. Research in the fields of atmosphere, northernlights, biology, glaciology, geology and marine biology.• France - Rabot-station in Kongsfjorden.• Germany – Koldewey Station, biological and atmospheric research, run by theAlfred Wegener Institute.• Great Britain – station for biological research, run by the National EnvironmentalResearch Council.• India – Himadri research station, managed by The National Centre for Antarcticand Ocean Research.• Italy – Dirigibile Italia Station, run by the Italian Research Council CNR andInstitute for Atmospheric Investigations.• Japan – station for glaciology and climate research, run by the National Institutefor Polar Research.• Kings Bay – Marine Laboratory.• South Korea – Dasan Station. Research in the fields of marine biology, geology andphysics of the atmosphere.
The main historic event connected with Ny Ålesund is the flight of theairship "Norge", the first expedition to reach the North Pole.Here was the starting point of Roald Amundsen‟s expeditions to reachthe North Pole in 1925 onboard an airship.
The Norge was specially designed by UmbertoNobile for Arctic conditions: reinforced by metalframes at the nose and tail, connected by aflexible tubular metal keel connecting thetwo, driven by three engine gondolas, these werethe main characteristics:
- Lifting gas: hydrogen- Length: 106 m- Gas capacity: 19,000 m³- Performance: 115 km/h- Payload: 9,500 kg- Engines: 3 Maybach total power of 780 Hp/582 kW
The flight started off from Rome on 29 March 1926, then went via Osloand Leningrad to Vadsø in northern Norway, where the airship mastis still standing today. The expedition then crossed the Barents Seato reach the Svalbard islands. On the 7th of May the dirigiblemoored in Kings Bay, Ny Ålesund, to make its final preparations.
• Norge at Ny Alesund “garage”The Norge enters the hangar at King’s Bay. This massive structure was built in1926. The top was left open intentionally since the hangar was intended to provideprotection from side winds only.
Departure from King’s Bay of dirigible "Norge“.11th May 1926
The airship left Ny-Ålesund for the final stretch across the polar ice onMay 11 at 9:55. The 16 man expedition included Amundsen, theairships designer and pilot Umberto Nobile, and polar explorer andexpedition sponsor Lincoln Ellsworth.On May 12 they reached the North Pole, at which point theNorwegian, American and Italian flags were dropped from the airshiponto the ice. Amundsen wrote in his notebook that, at 02:20 in themorning, they were at the North Pole, 200 metres high with a
In the end, the crew made it as far as a frozen lake at Teller, 56 milesnorth of Nome, Alaska, when Amundsen insisted on a landing. Theymanaged a smooth touchdown, and pulled the gas-release cords todeflate the airship.
A monument to the successful crossing over the North Pole in 1926 by theairship Norge.
The airship mooring mast inNy-Ålesund.Now there is a free campingground located nearby.
Italian Umberto Nobile returned to Ny Ålesund in 1928 for another north polarflight. However, his redesigned airship Italia crashed on the ice some 60 milesnorth of Svalbard on the return from a claimed attainment of the NorthPole, killing half the crew. Nobile and several others were in the gondola whenit hit the ice pack and they were thrown out onto the ice.A Swedish pilot, Lundborg, eventually reached the crash site by air andremoved Nobile to Kings Bay. However, Lundborg damaged his plane on thereturn trip to save more survivors and had to be rescued himself. Eventually aRussian icebreaker reached the crash site and rescued the remainingsurvivors.As a further tragedy, Roald Amundsen lost his life after take-off from Tromsøin a crash with his seaplane Latham searching for Italia survivors, The Italiacrash sparked the first massive, international air-sea rescue in the far north.
The crash of the Italia was adramatic event followedanxiously by strong presscoverage.