Svalbard

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Svalbard
Flag Coat of arms
Capital
and largest city
Longyearbyen
Official languages Norwegian
Ethnic groups
Government Region of Norway
 -  Governor Odd Olsen Ingerø (2009–)
Area
 -  Total 61,022 km2
23,561 sq mi
Population
 -  2012[1] estimate 2,642
Currency Norwegian krone (NOK)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Calling code +47
Internet TLD .no a
a. .sj allocated but not used.[2]

Svalbard is a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean. It is the most northern part of Norway. It is about halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Spitsbergen is the largest island, followed by Nordaustlandet and Edgeøya. The islands are governed by the Governor of Svalbard. The government is located at Longyearbyen. Other settlements include research outposts, the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the research community of Ny-Ålesund and the mining outpost of Sveagruva.

The islands were first used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries. After this, they were abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent villages were built. The Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 states that Norway is in control of Svalbard. The 1925 Svalbard Act made Svalbard part of Norway. These treaties also set out rules that economic activities could be done freely and that no military activities can take place. There are only two mining companies, one Norwegian and one Russian. Research and tourism are important industries. There are no roads to connect the settlements. Instead, snowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve as transport. Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen is the main airport.

In summer, the plants grow quickly during the midnight sun. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds. There are also polar bears, reindeer, and mammals that live in the sea. Seven national parks and 23 nature reserves cover two-thirds of Svalbard. This protects the fragile natural environment. Sixty percent of land is covered by glaciers, and the islands have many mountains and fjords.

Climate[change | change source]

Svalbard's climate is a combination of an Arctic climate (Köppen: ET) tempered by the North Atlantic Current. Nordenskiöld Land is the warmest and wettest part of the archipelago, caused by the convergence of mild and humid air from the south and cold air from the north. Average summer highs are typically 3 to 7 °C (37 to 45 °F) while average winter highs are −11 to −13 °C (12 to 9 °F).[3] Svalbard experiences midnight sun from 19 April through 23 August, polar night from 27 October through 14 February and civil polar night from 14 November through 29 January. However, due to shading from mountains, the sun is not visible in Svalbard until around 8 March.[4] Snow typically covers the town from November through March. The warmest temperature ever record in Svalbard was an extraordinary 25.0 °C (77.0 °F) in July 1977 and the coldest was a frigid −46.3 °C (−51.3 °F) in March 1986.[5]

Despite its extreme northerly location, Svalbard has recorded a temperature above freezing in all months. One example was in February 2012, when the mild temperatures had an affect on both people and wildlife. The climate is known to be warming very rapidly. Svalbard has also not recorded a temperature below freezing in July.[6]

Warm temperatures can occasionally occur in Summer. The most recent warm spell was at the end of July to the beginning of August in 2015, when the mercury hit 18.0 °C (64.4 °F).[7]

Bjornoya (Bear Island) holds the record for the lowest average annual sunshine total in Europe, at just 595 hours, sunnier than some parts of Scotland.[8] Conversely, Longyearbyen, further to the north-west, receives almost twice as much sunshine as Bjornoya.[9]

Climate data for Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 7.7
(45.9)
7.0
(44.6)
6.3
(43.3)
7.5
(45.5)
10.6
(51.1)
15.7
(60.3)
25.0
(77)
18.1
(64.6)
15.2
(59.4)
8.9
(48)
7.5
(45.5)
7.2
(45)
25.0
(77)
Average high °C (°F) -13.0
(8.6)
-13.0
(8.6)
-13.0
(8.6)
-9.0
(15.8)
-3.0
(26.6)
3.0
(37.4)
7.0
(44.6)
6.0
(42.8)
1.0
(33.8)
-4.0
(24.8)
-8.0
(17.6)
-11.0
(12.2)
-4.75
(23.45)
Daily mean °C (°F) -16.5
(2.3)
-17.0
(1.4)
-16.5
(2.3)
-12.5
(9.5)
-5.0
(23)
1.0
(33.8)
5.0
(41)
4.0
(39.2)
-1.0
(30.2)
-6.5
(20.3)
-11.0
(12.2)
-14.5
(5.9)
-7.54
(18.43)
Average low °C (°F) -20.0
(-4)
-21.0
(-5.8)
-20.0
(-4)
-16.0
(3.2)
-7.0
(19.4)
-1.0
(30.2)
3.0
(37.4)
2.0
(35.6)
-3.0
(26.6)
-9.0
(15.8)
-14.0
(6.8)
-18.0
(-0.4)
-10.33
(13.4)
Record low °C (°F) -38.8
(-37.8)
-43.7
(-46.7)
-46.3
(-51.3)
-39.1
(-38.4)
-21.7
(-7.1)
-8.4
(16.9)
0.2
(32.4)
-3.9
(25)
-12.6
(9.3)
-20.8
(-5.4)
-33.2
(-27.8)
-35.6
(-32.1)
-46.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 22
(0.87)
28
(1.1)
29
(1.14)
16
(0.63)
13
(0.51)
18
(0.71)
24
(0.94)
30
(1.18)
25
(0.98)
19
(0.75)
22
(0.87)
25
(0.98)
271
(10.67)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 2 2 2 3 4 13 17 18 14 5 3 3 86
Avg. snowy days (≥ 1 cm) 21 17 19 17 16 7 1 2 11 21 22 22 176
Sunshine hours 0.0 0.0 77.5 228.0 254.2 165.0 155.0 133.3 75.0 12.4 0.0 0.0 1,100.4
Source #1: Climate and daylight in Svalbard (Longyearbyen)[3]
Source #2: (extremes only),[10] (rain days & snow only)[11] (sun only)[12]

References[change | change source]

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]