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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

The New North

The New North

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, July 1, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, video, birds, marine life, sustainability, environment, adventure , climate change

                  Svalbard Archipelago in Europe (credit: Spitsbergen National Park, Norway)

Svalbard (originally called Spitsbergen) is an island archipelago in far Arctic north of Norway. The mountainous islands were originally settled by Norse sailors in the 12th Century, had a whaling industry in the 18th, and underground coal mines were established by the 20th. Svalbard used to be covered by glaciers but is now considered by scientists and reported by the Guardian to be the fastest warming place on Earth. Temperatures have risen 4C (7.2 °F) in the last 30 years alone and are accelerating. The archipelago is changing almost by the month: where Arctic sea ice used to surround the islands during the 24 hour winter this no longer happens; where it used to snow heavily it now rains. Svalbard has become the 'poster child' on the frontier of Arctic climate change.

Out of necessity, efforts to adapt the local towns to the rising temperatures, declining ice and melting permafrost, and the impacts to the iconic wildlife are underway. A report from in 2016 explains the status then which has only accelerated since.

If the Norwegian engineers and inhabitants of Svalbard meet their goals to become completely 'carbon neutral' in making their islands resilient to climate change impacts, the new north will have shown others that may be able to do likewise.



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