The UK Arctic Research Station operates a PolarCirkel workboat. It is 5.6m in length with 100hp outboard engine, plus 9hp auxiliary outboard engine. It includes a fitted GPS suite and …
UK Arctic Research Station, Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard archipelago
- Lat. 78°55'0"N, Long. 11°55'59"E
- 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.
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 NERC Arctic Office website.
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.
Field training and field support are provided on the base. Rifle training is a requirement and can be organised by the Station Manager. Further information on what to plan for when visiting the station can be found on the ‘Planning your fieldwork‘ pages.
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.
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. If you wish to apply, please visit the Arctic Station pages on the Arctic Office website.
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 40-50 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.
Priority use of the Station is given to researchers funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Station also welcomes those supported directly by universities and research centres or funded from other routes, such as the Leverhulme Trust, the European Union and similar sources.
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