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Arctic Literature

Arctic Literature
Below you will find the following subdivisions: General, Arctic, Svalbard/Spitsbergen, Greenland, Franz Josef Land, Jan Mayen


  • Houghton, John (3rd edition 2004): Global warming. The complete briefing. Everything concerning climate change: background, climate of the past, processes, modelling and prognosis, impacts, strategies. By the former chairman of the IPCC (Intergovernmental panel to Climate Change, scientific advisory comittee to the UN on the subject). ISBN-13 978-0-521-52870-0. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


  • ACIA (2004): Impacts of Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (Cambridge University Press).
  • Douglas & McIntyre (2003): Historical Atlas of the Arctic. – Derek Hayes, Vancouver and Toronto. 208 pp, ISBN 0-295-98358-2.


  • Aga, Ole J. (Ed., 1986): The Geological History of Svalbard. Evolution of an arctic archipelago (Editor: Ole J. Aga, main author: David Worsley. Published in Stavanger by Statoil. 121 pages. ISBN 82-991255-0-2). Very nice introduction into Svalbard’s earth history with many colour fotographs and drawings.
  • Amundsen, Birger (1993): Isbjørnlandet. – Cappelen Forlag. 128 pp (ISBN 82-0214260-1). Nice reading. Stories from all over Svalbard, mostly from Edgeøya, around polar bears and bear hunters. Lots of images, obviously rather old style: heroic men and bears, which are usually the prey of proud Norwegian hunters. Nevertheless, nice to read and quite informative. Who would not like to spend some winter weeks in Kong Karls Land or at Andréetangen…? (Norwegian)
  • Anker-Nilssen, T., Bakken, V., Strøm, H, Golovkin, A.N., Bianki, V.V., Tatarinkova, I.P. (Scientific eds., 2000): The Status of marine birds breeding in the Barents Sea region. – Rapport Nr 113,Norwegian Polar Institute. 213 pages (ISBN 82-7666-176-9). A wealth of information regarding distribution, migration patterns etc of seabirds breeding in the Barents Sea, including Svalbard (less informative regarding breeding biology and identification).
  • Arlov, Thor Bjørn & Reymert, Per Kyrre (2001): Svalbard – en ferd i fortidens farvann. – Tapir Akademisk Forlag, Trondheim. 275 pp, ISBN 82-519-1715-8. Narration of a boat journey to Bellsund and Krossfjord with historical background, Norwegian.
  • Born, E.W., Gjertz, I., Reeves, R.R. (1995): Population Assessment of Atlantic Walrus. -Meddelelser Nr. 138, Norwegian Polar Institute, Oslo.
  • Dallmann, W. (Ed., 1999): Lithostratigraphic Lexicon of Svalbard. Review and recommendations for nomenclature use. Upper Palaeozoic to Quaternary Bedrock. –Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø. 318 pp, ISBN 82-7666-166-1. Technical literature, but a treasure for everybody who has interest in geology and some relevant background. Richly illustrated with photographs, drawings and geological maps. 
  • Ellingsve, Eli Johanne (2005): Stedsnavn på Svalbard/Names on Svalbard. – Tapir akademisk forlag, Trondheim. 186 pp (ISBN 82-519-2011-6). Short Norwegian/English explanations of the major placenames in Svalbard. Not comprehensive, but smaller and more handy than the bigger ‘Placenames of Svalbard’.
  • Elvebakk & Prestrud (Eds., 1996): A catalogue of Svalbard plants, fungi, algae and cyanobacteria. Published as Skrifter 198 by the Norwegian Polar Institute, Oslo. »Official« catalogue of Svalbards vegeatation.
  • Gjærevoll, Olav/Rønning, Olaf I.: Svalbard Flowers (Tapir Forlag, Trondheim 1999. 121 pages. ISBN (of the Norwegian edition!) 82-519-1528-7). This little but for the beginner very useful book contains brief descriptions and colour fotographs of the most important higher plants of Svalbard’s flora. Available in English, German and Norwegian.
  • Goldberg, Fred (2003): Drama in the Arctic. S.O.S Italia. The Search for Nobile and AMundsen. A diary and postal history. – 144 pp, ISBN 91-631-3971-5. Excellent overview of Nobile’s expedition from Ny Ålesund to the North Pole and the subsequent search and rescue expeditions, during which amongst others Roald Amundsen disappeared. 
  • Hjelle, Audun: Geology of Svalbard (Published 1993 by the Norwegian Polar Institute as No 7 in the series ‘Polar Handbooks’. 162 pages, includes a small scale geological map of Svalbard. ISBN 82-7666-057-6). Written for the interested public, but I would rather recommen d it for those who bring some basic knowledge in geology.
  • Isaksen, Kjell & Bakken, Vidar (Eds., 1995): Seabird populations in the northern Barents Sea. Source data for the impact assessment of the effects of oil drilling activity. (Published by the Norwegian Polar Institute as Meddelelser Nr. 135, Oslo. ISBN 82-7666-087-8). Overview of breeding populations including little maps and several specialised chapters such as: ‘Estimation of the breeding density of Little Auks (Alle alle)’, ‘The breeding population of Little Auk (Alle alle) in colonies in Hornsund and northwestern Spitsbergen’, ‘Important moulting areas for seabirds in Svalbard’, ‘Distribution of seabirds at sea in the northern Barents Sea’, ‘The predictability of the spatial distribution of guillemots (Uria spp.) in the Barents Sea’, ‘The effect of sea ice on the distrubution of seabirds in the northern Barents Sea’. 
  • Kovacs, K., Gjertz, J., Lydersen, C. (2004): Marine Mammals of Svalbard. (Published by the Norwegian Polar Institute, Oslo. ISBN 82-7666-208-0. 64 pp. Very nice, little book about marine mammals which can be seen in Svalbard: polar bears, seals, whales. 
  • Kovacs, Kit (Ed., 2005): Birds And Mammals Of Svalbard (Published by the Norwegian Polar Institute as No 13 in the series ‘Polar Handbooks’. 203 pages. ISBN (10) 82-7666-221-8 oder ISBN (13) 978-82-7666-221-4). Slightly larger (and thus heavier), but mostly more comprehensive and better illustrated than the old edition of ‘Birds and mammals’ (see Mehlum, 1990), which it has replaced.
  • Mehlum, Fridtjov (1990): Birds And Mammals Of Svalbard (Published by the Norwegian Polar Institute as No 5 in the series ‘Polar Handbooks’. 139 pages. ISBN 82-90307-67-5). Overview over the important bird and mammal species breeding in the Svalbard area with many colour fotographs and a chapter about general ecology of the area. While being in Svalbard, I hardly go anywhere without this book in my pocket. Out of print and replaced by Kovacs (Ed., 2005)
  • Norwegian Polar Institute: The Placenames of Svalbard. -Rapportserie Nr. 122 (Reprint of older edition from 1991). The title sounds boring, but this book is a treasure for anybody with some interest for the history of Svalbard. 
  • Rønning, Olaf I.: The Flora of Svalbard (Published 1996 by the Norwegian Polar Institute as No 10 in the series ‘Polar Handbooks’. 184 pages. ISBN 82-7666-100-9). About… guess what! Yes: the Flora of Svalbard. The book uses a botanical key system and is good for you if you have some background in botany.
  • Soper, Tony: The Arctic. A Guide To Coastal Wildlife (Bradt Travel Guides (UK)/The Globe Pequot Press Inc (USA). 143 pages. ISBN 1 84162 020 3). Overview of arctic birds and mammals.
  • Søreide, Oddmund (1994): Hopen. Ishavsøy og meteorologisk stasjon. Friske Tankar A/S, Øystese. 158 pp, ISBN 82-91386-05-6. Very detailed information about the island Hopen. Norwegian.


  • Born, Erik W./ Böcher, Jens (editors): The Ecology of Greenland (. Edited 2001 by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in Nuuk, Greenland. 429 pages. ISBN 87-558-1514-6). After some basic ecological concepts follow the chapters: Floral and Faunal History (Greenland before, during and after The Ice Ages), The Climate, Adaptations to Arctic Conditions, The Ocean (The Ocean Environment, The Marine Ecosystem, Lower trophic levels, Fish, Sea Birds, Marine Mammals), Land and Fresh Water (The Terrestrial Environment, The Soil, The Fresh Water Environment, Vascular Plants, Mosses, Fungi, Lichens, Small Terrestrial and Fresh Water Animals, Birds Associated with Land and Fresh Water, Terrestrial Mammals), Man and Nature (Historical Ecology, Population Growth and Patterns of Resource Exploitation, Modern Fishery-and Research, Modern Hunting-and Research, Pollution).
  • Det Kongelige Danske Geografiske Selskab (publisher): Topografisk Atlas Grønland is not just a collection of maps, but consists rather of 83 short chapters about virtually everything which might be of interest within an Greenlandic context. If you have a serious interest in Greenland and you can read Danish, then there’s hardly a way around this book (278 pages, published as Atlas over Danmmark Serie II Bind 6, ISBN 87-87945-44-4).
  • Escher, Arthur/ Watt, W. Stuart (editors): Geology of Greenland ( Published 1976 by The Geological Survey of Greenland (today: Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland: GEUS). 603 pages, ISBN 87-980404-0-5). Despite of its age of soon 30 years it gives a good and quite detailed overview over the geology of Greenland and its various regions – provided you have some basic knowledge. An up-to-date book with a similar content has been published in 2008 by Henriksen (see below).
  • Haller, John: Geology of the East Greenland Caledonides (Interscience Publishers 1971. 413 pages. ISBN 0 471 34420 6). Despite of its age of more than 30 years this book provides a very useful and quite detailed introduction into the geology of central and northern East Greenland. In some details certainly out of date, but still a very good start. Basic knowledge required.
  • Henriksen, Niels/Higgins, A.K./ Kalsbeek, Feiko/ Pulvertaft, T. Christopher R. : Greenland from Archaean to Quaternary. Descriptive text to the Geological map of Greenland 1:2 500 000 (Published by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) as Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin No 185. 93 pages, includes a geological map of Greenland. ISBN 87-7871-069-3, ISSN 1397-1905). Provided you have some basic knowledge in geology, it gives a very good overview over the geology of Greenland. The concept of the included map is interesting and combines information on both age and lithology.
  • Henriksen, Niels: Geological History of Greenland – Four billion years of earth evolution. Size: 25 x 29.7 cm, Printed: June 2008, 1 English edition, number printed 4000, ISBN: 978-87-7871-211-0, published by and obtainable from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). This is the definite, up-to-date book for you if are interested in the subject.
  • Mikkelsen, Peter Schmidt: Nordøst-Grønland 1908-1960. Fangstmandsperioden (Aschehoug, second edition 2001, ISBN 87-11-11538-6, in Danish). About the history of East Greenland north of the Scoresbysund, especially the Danish and Norwegian trappers.
  • Mikkelsen, Peter Schmidt: One Thousand Days with Sirius. The Greenland Sledge Patrol contains a wealth of history, stories and further information about the famous Sirius patrol and beyond. (ISBN 0-9950773-0-3, translated and published in English by The Steading Workshop).
  • Silis, Ivars: Frozen Horizons. The world’s largest national park (Nuuk, 1995. ISBN 87-558-1143-4) describes the nature of the National Park nicely illustrated in English.

Franz Josef Land

  • Barr, Susan (editor): Franz Josef Land (Published 1995 by the Norwegian Polar Institute as No 8 in the series ‘Polar Handbooks’. 139 pages. ISBN 82-7666-095-9). This book is what you need if you are interested in Franz Josef Land. Short chapters on Geographical position and general characteristics of the FJL archipelago, Climate, Glaciers, Geology, Freshwater Systems, Soil, Vegetation, Marine environment and wildlife and several chapters on history. Includes further literature and summaries in Norwegian, German, Polish, Russian and French. Very useful, considering the scarsity of other recent literature about Franz Josef Land.
  • Dibner, V.D. (editor): Geology of Franz Josef Land (Published 1998 by the Norwegian Polar Institute(Oslo) as No 146 in the series Meddelelser. 190 pages. ISBN 82-7666-107-6). For specialists.

Jan Mayen

  • Barr, Susan: Jan Mayen. Norges utpost i vest. Øyas historie gjennom 1500 år (Oslo 2003, ISBN 82-300-0029-8. May be obtained at the station on Jan Mayen or directly from the author). If you can read Norwegian and have an interest for the history of this arctic island, then this is the book for you.
  • Haquebord, Louwrens (main author, together with several other contributors): Jan Mayen. Vulcanic Island in the North Atlantic Ocean (Published 1998 as Volume 13 of the Circumpolar Journal by the Arctic Centre in Groningen/The Netherlands. 111 pages. ISSN 0925-2177). Overview over natural history including geology, vegetation and birds. The main focus is history which is dealt with in 4 chapters. Very useful, especially as literature about Jan Mayen is scarse otherwise.
  • Norwegian Polar Institute (publisher): Natur- og Kulturmiljøet på Jan Mayen – med en vurdering av verneverdier, kunnskapsbehov og forvaltning (published 1997 as No 144 in the series Meddelelser. 127 pages. ISBN 82-7666-126-2). Provided you can read Norwegian, this book gives a good and somewhat more detailed introduction especially in terms of natural history and ecology.


last modification: 2013-10-12 · copyright: Rolf Stange