UK Arctic Research Station

Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago

Lat. 78°55'0"N, Long. 11°55'59"E
Occupied from
1991 to present


The UK Arctic Research Station is funded by NERC and managed and operated by British Antarctic Survey, and situated in the international research community at Ny-Ålesund on the high Arctic island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago.

Ny-Ålesund International Science Village on Svalbard in the high Arctic
Ny-Ålesund international research community, Svalbard in the high Arctic.

Reputedly the world’s northern-most community of up to 150 people, it has a unique atmosphere kindled by scientists of various disciplines and nationalities living, working and cooperating in a beautiful, though sometimes harsh, environment.

Travelling to Ny-Ålesund

The Ny-Ålesund science village is a short flight from the nearest town, Longyearbyen. Flights operate on Mondays and Thursdays. In order to meet the Lufttransport flight connections from Longyearbyen to Ny-Ålesund (and on the return), an overnight stay en-route (in Oslo or Longyearbyen) is usually required. For all the information you need to make travel arrangements to the UK Arctic Research Station please visit the Travel and Accommodation pages of the Arctic Office website.

The Airport and arival point for scientists at the Science Village of Ny-Alesund on Svalbard. Ny-Ålesund is one of the world's northernmost settlements at 78°55′N 11°56′E, and is the world's northernmost functional public settlement. Ny-Ålesund is located on Brøggerhalvøya and Kongsfjorden on the Svalbard archipelago. Today, it is inhabited by a permanent population of approximately 30–35 people. who either work for one of the research stations (e.g. the NERC UK Station, run by the British Antarctic Survey) or the logistics and supply company Kings Bay AS, which 'owns' and runs the research village. In the summer the activity in Ny-Ålesund is greatly increased with up to 120 researchers, technicians, and field assistants.
The Airport and arrival point for scientists at the international research community of Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard.

Administration and status

Ny-Ålesund is owned by the Kings Bay Company who provide the community infrastructure including power and water supply, harbour facilities, air links to and from Longyearbyen and a shared dining facility.



The last remnant of the North Atlantic Drift produces a climate on Spitsbergen’s west coast milder than normal at that latitude; summer conditions compare with a British winter. The sun is down October to March and mid-night sun lasts April to August.


There are only three species of large mammal on Spitsbergen – polar bear, reindeer and Arctic fox. The chance of a sighting of any of these species is good but can never be guaranteed. However, marine species are more plentiful and include walrus, ring and bearded seal, white-nose dolphin, narwhal and orca. Belugas, fin and other whale species are also commonly sighted in the waters around Svalbard. In addition, over 100 types of birds, such as guillemots, kittiwakes and little auks thrive here, despite the high latitude.

Polar bear on the sea ice North of Nordaustlandet, Svalbard.

Station life

UK Arctic Station Leader Nick Cox in the office at Ny-Ålesund
UK Arctic Research Station Leader Nick Cox in the office in Ny-Ålesund.


Relaxing at the end of a long day in the UK Station, Ny Alesund
Relaxing at the end of a long day in the UK Arctic Research Station, Ny-Ålesund.


Field training and field support are provided on the base. Rifle training is a requirement and can be organised by the Station Leader.

All who visit the research station must also adhere to the BAS/NERC “Code of Conduct and Safety Policy”. A general safety briefing is provided at Ny-Ålesund on arrival at the Station. Please visit the Health and Safety pages of the Arctic Office website for more information.

Rifle training is part of the Polar Bear Awareness training undertaken by all staff working at Ny Alesund
Rifle training is part of the Polar Bear Awareness training undertaken by all staff working in Ny-Ålesund.

The UK Arctic Research Station is open for approximately four months each year from June to September although it can operate earlier (March/April) if required.


First sighted by the Dutch explorer Willem Barentz in 1596 the area was, by the early 1600s, a rich hunting ground for the bow head whale. Scientific exploration began in the 18th century.  Post World War Two research, funded largely by oil companies, concentrated on the geology of the area.

The Svalbard Archipelago was a “No Man’s Land” until 1920 when a Treaty was signed (ratified in 1925) recognising the sovereignty of Norway. Original signatories included the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy and the USA. There are now more than 40 members. The terms of the Treaty exclude military activity and give equal rights to engage in commercial activity.

The UK has maintained a station in Ny-Ålesund annually since 1972. In 1991 the UK Arctic Research Station was established by the Natural Environment Research Council in 1991, when Ny-Ålesund became the focus of an international research community.


Ny-Ålesund provides a unique polar research environment that promotes cross-discipline research and international collaboration that advances understanding of global environmental issues. The international research community supports four flagship science programmes: marine, atmospheric, terrestrial ecology and glaciology. It provides facilities and accommodation for researchers from UK universities, research institutes and other recognised organisations (and their international collaborators) wanting to carry out environmental research relevant to the NERC science remit.


The total number of scientist days per year in Ny-Ålesund is approximately 14,000. The UK Arctic Research Station supports 10-15 research projects per year involving a total of 30-40 scientists.The station is an ideal place for PhD students to gain skills in polar fieldwork techniques, and we particularly encourage applications from accompanied students.

Limited international research is also carried out in Longyearbyen, primarily focussing on space physics.

NERC offers several types of awards to those preparing proposals for working in the Arctic. These include the Responsive Research Grants such as the Standard Grants and Large Grants – for all the information you need about research opportunities in the Arctic please visit the Arctic Office website.

Workboat in operation in waters around Northern Svalbard

Arctic boating

The UK Arctic Research Station operates a PolarCirkel workboat. It is 5.6m in length and can carry a max load of 1000kg, and up to 10 people. It can safely access …

Skidoos being used to travel from Ny Alesund to the English Coast on Svalbard


The motorised toboggan – skidoo – is an efficient way to travel to study sites on the ice.

Snow analysis at the UK Station Laboratory on Svalbard


Stand First text here   Description of the facility to go here   A full list of Station Laboratory equipment can be found on the Arctic Office website.

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