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Home → February, 2023

Monthly Archives: February 2023 − News & Stories


Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault: 15th anni­ver­sa­ry

The famous “Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault” cele­bra­tes its 15th anni­ver­sa­ry the­se days. It was ope­ned in Febru­ary 2008 – that was one of the very first news on this site – and the anni­ver­sa­ry was now cele­bra­ted on Sun­day in Sval­bard­mu­se­um.

Svalbard global seed vault

Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault: 15th anni­ver­sa­ry cele­bra­ti­ons the­se days.
This is the tun­nel that leads to the actu­al vault in the moun­tain behind Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port.

The anni­ver­sa­ry has attrac­ted inter­na­tio­nal media atten­ti­on. Secre­ta­ry of agri­cul­tu­re San­dra Borch should have joi­n­ed the cele­bra­ti­ons on Sun­day, but she was not able to board her flight from Trom­sø to Lon­gye­ar­by­en becau­se she had for­got­ten her pass­port.

During the initi­al years of its exis­tence, the Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault (SGSV) had to deal with various tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties that requi­red expen­si­ve tech­ni­cal upgrades. By now, appro­xi­m­ate­ly 1.2 mil­li­on seed samples are stored in the vault. The­re is enough space for up to 4.5 mil­li­on samples. All of the­se are from crop plants around the world, the Seed Vault does not store seeds of natu­ral plants.

Svalbard global seed vault

One of three cham­bers of the Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault.

The Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault is not acces­si­ble to the public. The ope­ra­tor orga­ni­sa­ti­on has announ­ced a vir­tu­al tour to make the Seed Vault acces­si­ble at least online.

Some­thing that has been avai­la­bel on this web­site alre­a­dy for years 🙂 Click here for a vir­tu­al tour of the famous Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault.

Housing mar­ket still tight in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The housing mar­ket is still dif­fi­cult in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. This was less appa­rent during the years with coro­na rest­ric­tions, but it is get­ting more of a pro­blem again curr­ent­ly as the important win­ter tou­rist sea­son starts.

Accom­mo­da­ti­on has always had a hea­vy pri­ce tag in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but the situa­ti­on beca­me real­ly dif­fi­cult after a num­ber of hou­ses was lost during a snow ava­lan­che in Decem­ber 2015, which also took the live of two peo­p­le, inclu­ding one child. A num­ber of hou­ses with more than 100 units were aban­do­ned after ava­lan­che risk assess­ments. Ava­lan­che fen­ces and walls have sin­ce been built to secu­re remai­ning are­as, but cer­tain addres­ses still have to expect tem­po­ra­ry evacua­ti­on in dan­ge­rous wea­ther situa­tions, as recent­ly in Nyby­en.

avalanche wall, Longyearbyen

Ava­lan­che wall near the moun­tain Suk­ker­top­pen next to a resi­den­ti­al area
in cen­tral loca­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

On top of that, the fire in Sep­tem­ber des­troy­ed seve­ral hou­ses with a num­ber of flats. Nobo­dy was inju­red, at least, alt­hough it was a nar­row escape for some, who lost all their belon­gings in the fire.

Fire in Longyearbyen

Seve­ral hou­ses in cen­tral Lon­gye­ar­by­en were lost during a fire in Sep­tem­ber 2022.

New dwel­ling hou­ses are under con­s­truc­tion in seve­ral loca­ti­ons in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, main­ly at Elves­let­ta, bet­ween the cent­re and the river Lon­gye­a­rel­va. This may give visi­tors the impres­si­on that Lon­gye­ar­by­en is gro­wing, but it is actual­ly still a race to catch up with the los­ses.

Construction site Longyearbyen

Con­s­truc­tion site in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: the place appears to grow,
but it is actual­ly a mat­ter of cat­ching up with the los­ses.

The pro­blem was less appa­rent in 2020 and 2021 due to coro­na, but now the win­ter sea­son is under full steam. Just as the fishing indus­try on the main­land, the tou­rism indus­try depends on sea­so­nal staff to run the busi­ness. But now the indus­try is facing big­ger pro­blems than ever befo­re to find housing for their work force. The­re is no detail­ed data, but NRK assu­mes that the­re is a lack of housing for a three-digit num­ber of peo­p­le for sea­so­nal jobs in tou­rism.

Main housing space owners in Lon­gye­ar­by­en include the sta­te-owned com­pa­nies Stats­bygg and Store Nor­ske. Statsbygg’s main task is to sup­p­ly employees of the public sec­tors with accom­mo­da­ti­on, and they don’t con­sider it their job to help the tou­rism indus­try. Store Nor­ske says they are wil­ling to help, but this would obvious­ly requi­re available capa­ci­ties.

Con­s­truc­tion is going on, and many are hoping for an easier housing mar­ket in the future. But this will take years – and tho­se out for housing will have to pay hea­vy pri­ces if they find any­thing at all.

Buil­dings in Nyby­en acces­si­ble again

The Sys­sel­mes­ter has can­cel­led the evacua­ti­on of the buil­dings on the east side of the road in Nyby­en. The area behind buil­dings remains, howe­ver, clo­sed due to the ava­lan­che risk.

Avalanche risk in Nybyen and at Vei 300 in Longyearbyen

At least the buil­dings are acces­si­ble again in Longyearbyen’s upper part Nyby­en. Way 300 (vei 300) is curr­ent­ly clo­sed becau­se of the ava­lan­che risk.

The Nor­we­gi­an meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal insti­tu­te pre­dicts more wind and snow­fall and still a signi­fi­cant ava­lan­che risk (oran­ge level), but the focus of poten­ti­al ava­lan­che acti­vi­ty has moved to the other side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: Vei 300 clo­se to Pla­tå­ber­get is now clo­sed from Sver­drup­by­en via Huset to the cos­sing clo­se to the old muse­um.

Ava­lan­che risk: parts of Nyby­en evacua­ted

Parts of Nyby­en, the upper part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, were evacua­ted today becau­se of a risk of ava­lan­ches. The part of Nyby­en east of the road, the side towards the moun­tain Gru­vef­jel­let, may not be ente­red. This con­cerns both the buil­dings and the area around them. This was deci­ded today by the Sys­sel­mes­ter after con­sul­ta­ti­ons with rele­vant tech­ni­cal aut­ho­ri­ties.

Avalanche risk, evacuation of Nybyen in Longyearbyen

Lon­gye­ar­by­ens upper part Nyby­en: the buil­dings and area east of the road (right side of the pic­tu­re) are curr­ent­ly evacua­ted and may not be ente­red.

Some of the buil­dings are used as stu­dent homes. Accom­mo­da­ti­on for the­se stu­dents was found in Elves­let­ta, a part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en near the cent­re.

It is curr­ent­ly not known how long the evacua­ti­on will be in force. The Sys­sel­mes­ter wro­te that the ava­lan­che risk will be eva­lua­ted con­ti­nuous­ly and updated infor­ma­ti­on will fol­low until tomor­row (Tues­day) 1300.

The Nor­we­gi­an wea­ther ser­vice pre­dicts wind and snow for the next days.

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