14 July, 2023

The UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage CBE has travelled to the UK Arctic Research Station, where he will create new works inspired by the visit.

While hosted at the UK Arctic Research Station, which is managed and operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Simon will be immersed in the international research community at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. Reputedly the world’s northern-most community of up to 150 people, the research village at Ny-Ålesund has a unique atmosphere kindled by scientists of various disciplines and nationalities living, working and cooperating in this beautiful but fast-changing environment.

An interest in the polar regions

Simon previously worked with BAS on a new commission to commemorate naming of the new Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough in September 2019. The poem, Ark, illustrated the impact of pollution and climate change on the natural environment, and called for polar science to help humans understand and reverse this damage.

Simon joins the Arctic research community at a crucial time for science, where investigations into the impacts of global warming like the BIOPOLE programme are in full flow.

A timely visit

The dramatic changes in the Arctic are the fastest currently occurring worldwide. Beyond the more visible changes to sea ice and glaciers, scientists are now concerned that potential tipping points are being reached in the Arctic, making environmental changes irreversible. Previously dormant or unconsidered feedback processes are kicking in and contributing to the acceleration of global climate change, such as the release of carbon trapped in permafrost, and nutrient and freshwater movement driving the deoxygenation and acidification of the ocean.

The visit will be part of a series of radio documentaries about Simon Armitage to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October.

Take a tour of Ny-Alesund

A new virtual tour is now available for anyone to get a taste of life at the research village at Ny-Ålesund, and the NERC Arctic Research Station. Launch the portal here.