Unfrozen North

March 2017

Series: Costing the Earth 

What happens in the world’s most northerly town when the permafrost de-frosts? Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough visits Svalbard to find out. Longyearbyen, a three hour flight north of Oslo, is a mining town of just 2000 people, but a pretty high proportion of them are research scientists. They cluster in this relatively sheltered corner of the enormous Svalbard archipelago to study the geology and wildlife. As the Arctic rapidly warms nature is changing with it and there’s nowhere better to study the impacts. Can Arctic plant species survive a warmer, wetter climate? Can reindeer, fox and polar bear adapt to the new conditions? And how are the people enjoying the relatively balmy new climate? Nordic scholar, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets the stoical residents and experiences the 24 hour darkness of the Arctic winter for herself.