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Home* News and Stories → Extre­me wea­ther in Spits­ber­gen: ava­lan­ches in Nor­dens­ki­öld Land

Extre­me wea­ther in Spits­ber­gen: ava­lan­ches in Nor­dens­ki­öld Land

The extre­me wea­ther with strong pre­ci­pi­ta­ti­on last week has trig­ge­red more than “just” a few lands­li­des near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Dama­ge was limi­t­ed to minor mate­ri­al loss at a dog yard near Lon­gye­ar­by­en (the first one at the road into Advent­da­len). More than 200 peo­p­le had been evacua­ted from their homes for seve­ral days in case of a major event.

Satel­li­te images have now shown that more than 50 lands­li­des were trig­ge­red by the rain­falls just in Nor­dens­ki­öld Land bet­ween Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Barents­burg. This shows the lack of sta­bi­li­ty of the ter­rain during peri­ods with strong rain.

Sci­en­tists expect extre­me wea­ther events like last week’s with very strong pre­ci­pi­ta­ti­on to increase in fre­quen­cy and magni­tu­de. Rain­falls of 50 mm within 24 hours or even more are, so far, unty­pi­cal for the high arc­tic (“polar desert”). This means that geo­mor­pho­lo­gi­cal slo­pe dyna­mics inclu­ding lands­li­des, snow- and slush ava­lan­ches and rock­falls.

This will be important know­ledge both for arc­tic out­door enthu­si­asts and city plan­ners. Last year, 2 per­sons died in their homes in a snow ava­lan­che that des­troy­ed seve­ral resi­den­ti­al hou­ses in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Recent satel­li­te image of Nor­dens­ki­öld Land in Spits­ber­gen show­ing Lands­li­des trig­ge­red by last week’s rain­falls. Image: Copernicus/ESA.

Extreme weather: recent avalanches landslides in Spitsbergen

Sources: bygg.no, UiO



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last modification: 2016-11-18 · copyright: Rolf Stange