Climate change is having more visible effects on Spitsbergen

Roel Burglar

NOS . News

  • Helen Aker

    Climate & Energy Editor

  • Helen Aker

    Climate & Energy Editor

There are increasingly clear signs of climate change in Spitsbergen, near the North Pole. science day Mission By ship from Longyearbyen, the largest city in Spitsbergen, to conduct research on the eastern side of the archipelago. But the consequences of warming are already evident in Longyearbyen itself, which has a population of about two thousand.

Take the so-called World Seed Bank, which is located here. The seeds of as many plants as possible in the interior of a frozen mountain are strictly stored. With the idea that whatever happens to the world or to humanity, there will always be seeds for all possible food crops, such as tomatoes or potatoes.

But when the seed bank was created, it did not take into account the amount of rain that could fall in the winter today, with temperatures well above average at times.

Martin Lunin, the initiator of the expedition, explains the consequences of this:

The visible effects of climate change: is the global seed bank at risk?

There are also clear signs of climate change at other locations in Longyearbyen. For example, a large stone wall is being erected to protect homes from avalanches. A few years ago, houses were buried under an avalanche, something that had never happened before in this village.

Lunin explains exactly what happened during that avalanche:

The main problem for the entire Arctic region is thawing permafrost, the permanently frozen subsoil. A large building in Longyearbyen that was initially a hospital, and later people lived in, had to be evacuated suddenly because the subway had become unstable.

The authorities allowed it, and no one was allowed in anymore. Through the windows you can see that there is still furniture inside:

The Visual Effects of Climate Change: How Homes Are Sinking in Longyearbyen

The expedition departing from Longyearbyen today has the destination Edgeøya, located on the eastern side of the Spitsbergen Archipelago. No place in the world is warming faster than there.

While the Earth is now warmer by an average of 1.2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, the temperature in Igoya has been six degrees over the past 60 years (since the temperature was measured).

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