The Science Station at the End of the World
The town of Ny-Ålesund is situated on the 79th parallel north on the Svalbard archipelago, which makes it the most northerly permanent civilian settlement in the world. Once a mining town, it now houses the largest laboratory for modern Arctic research in existence. Focused primarily on atmospheric and CO2 studies, access to the area is extremely limited to avoid pollution, only scientists and employees of the station are allowed. Photographer Anna Filipova, who has worked for years in the arctic, was granted access and returned with a collection of images highlighting the beautiful and barren research station.
Photo: Kathrin Lang, the station leader of the French and German AWIPEV Base, prepares tools for gathering weather data.
Ny-Ålesund settlement, Svalbard. The research center staff represents 11 countries including the UK, France, Germany, Norway, India, South Korea, and several others primarily focused on climate research.
An observatory for atmospheric research is located on top of Zeppelin Mountain close to Ny-Ålesund and is operated by the Norwegian Polar Institute. The station was built to be in an undisturbed arctic environment, away from major pollution sources and more than 1,500 feet above the small settlement. It has the lowest CO2 reading of anywhere in the northern hemisphere. The Zeppelin station is part of a larger network of stations around the world that are measuring atmospheric change and pollution transport.
Ny-Ålesund from atop Zeppelin Mountain.
Kathrin Lang preparing a weather balloon for collecting climate data.
A view of the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard. Ny-Ålesund was founded in 1917 for mining, which continued off and on until 1962, when the area was designated solely for scientific research after several fatal mining accidents.
In the late 1920’s, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who was the first man to reach both poles, led the first successful mission to the North Pole using Ny-Ålesund as the launching point.
A brightly colored observatory station situated about a mile from Ny-Ålesund.
A senior scientist for the Norwegian Institute for Air Research works in a small research cabin monitoring CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
A Norwegian researcher carries a gun for self-defense against polar bears, which are well-known inhabitants of Svalbard.