Ny-Ålesund was founded as a coal mining town in 1916. The Norwegian Polar Institute opened the first research base here in 1968.(Photo: Arcticstation.nl)
Several countries are stepping up their research activities in Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard. The Czech Republic is the eleventh country to open a research station, while Germany and France are the most active countries. Norway, on the other hand, is downsizing its activity in the research village on 79 degrees north.
The Czech Republic wants to establish a research station in Ny-Ålesund for glacial research and marine biological research. The station is planned to be operational from 2015, Director of Kings Bay AS Ole Øiseth says to NRK.
Germany, France, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Norway already have stations in Ny-Ålesund, which is the world’s northernmost functional public settlement.
Germany and France most active Germany established a station in 1991, France ten years later. Since 2003 the two countries have had a common research station. “The French-German station is definitely the most active here”, Øiseth says. Last year the two countries jointly opened an underwater observatory which brought considerable activity to the village.
According to Head of the station Rudolf Denkmann several other nations are interested in placing their measuring instruments on their station. “Ny-Ålesund is a popular place because everything here is so well arranged for research. The place is also easy to reach by plane, even though it is so far north”.
Norway downsizing research in Ny-Ålesund While other countries are stepping up scientific research in the remote village, Norwegian scientists have started to move to other areas of the Svalbard archipelago. Because of the climate changes the researchers are now moving further to the north and east. “Changes in eco systems and ice conditions make it more interesting to conduct research in the northernmost parts of Svalbard”, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute Jan-Gunnar Winther says to NRK. “But the total level of Norwegian research on Svalbard stays the same”, he adds.