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Monthly Archives: February 2015 − News & Stories


Night flight across Longyearbyen

A virtual Spitsbergen experience of a special kind can be enjoyed in a video recently published by Heinrich Eggenfellner:

Night flight across Longyearbyen

Equipped with a camera he sends his remote-controlled quadrocopter on a midnight flight across the icy center of Longyearbyen. The journey starts in upper Longyeardalen at the connecting road between Nybyen and Huset and takes us across the town, to the coast of Adventfjorden. On the other side of the fjord the full moon is standing above the mountains of Hiortfjellet. In front of the university building of UNIS the aerial drone stops and turns to the left, catching the view to the airport and to Isfjorden. Then it returns to its starting point on the same route. On our way back we can see a group of snowmobiles coming down the Longyearbreen glacier.
Very impressive images!

The ‘cameraman’ Heinrich Eggenfellner lives in Longyearbyen and some of the Spitsbergen travelers might know him as skipper/owner of the Arctica II, a boat which Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com uses for sailing tours since 2014.

Spitsbergen’s fjords are freezing over

In recent years, the fjords in Spitsbergen did not have as much of a reliable ice cover as they used to have earlier on. But the current season is developing well: Tempelfjord is frozen and the sailing boat Noorderlicht has taken her position as the “boat in the ice”, already welcoming visitors. Already now, the fast ice in Tempelfjord is wider than in previous years: should it get strong enough, then it would be possible to take a fast and direct route from De Geerdalen to the boat in the ice or even into Billefjord or at least to Gipsdalen, making the winter route to Pyramiden much faster. We will see if this actually happens, but anyway: it is looking good.

After a disappointing fjord ice situation in 2014, which did not even allow Noorderlicht to become frozen in, both locals and tourists are now looking forward to a good winter touring season. Only a few days ago, a heavy storm broke a lot of ice up, but both water and air are cold enough now to turn the broken floes into a continuous ice cover again quite quickly.

Also Grønfjord near Barentsburg and the fjords on the northern side of Isfjord are to a good degree frozen over now. It remains to be seen if Adventfjord near Longyearbyen will freeze over, as it used to in the past. A thin, young ice cover was driven out by the storm on Sunday.

Ice chart from Wednesday (25th February), © Norwegian Ice Service.

Ice chart

Why not 2 pictures for one entry?

The Noorderlicht as “boat in the ice” with some local visitors.”

Noorderlicht as boat in the ice, Tempelfjord, with polar bears

Solar eclipse in March attracts visitors to Spitsbergen

Those who stay in Spitsbergen on March 20th will have the rare opportunity to enjoy the event of a total solar eclipse. At 10:11 a.m. and 51 seconds in the sky above Longyearbyen the moon starts to move in a position between sun and earth. Almost one hour later the sky will turn dark for 2 minutes and 27 seconds as the moon obscures the image of the sun completely. All in all the event lasts a little longer than 2 hours. On March 20th the moon´s shadow will move over the North Atlantic in a curve between Iceland and Norway over the Faroe Islands to Spitsbergen and further towards the North Pole.

A total eclipse of the sun is an extremely rare natural phenomenon. In 2008 it occurred above the remote island of Kvitøya, north-east of Spitsbergen and the next one above Spitsbergen will be in 2061.

Meanwhile Longyearbyen prepares for a particularly high number of visitors, wishing to witness the spectacle in March. Spitsbergen Travel, the biggest hotel operator in Longyearbyen, did already in 2006 make reservations for their whole contingent of 528 beds with only a single tour operator. Altogether 820 beds at hotels and guesthouses are available. In addition there are apartments and cabins which are rented privately – and then there will still be the camping ground…

Due to the high demand there are by now private apartments offered for extraordinary high prices up to 100.000 kroner (ca. 11.560 Euro) for 5 days. Another bottleneck is the number of flights. On the days before the solar eclipse 6 additional flights to Longyearbyen were established.

Solar eclipse in Spitzbergen in 2008.

Solar eclipse Spitsbergen

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