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Svalbard is an archipelago lying in the Arctic Ocean about midway between Norway and the North Pole. It consists of a group of islands ranging from 76° to 81° North, and 10° to 35° East. The archipelago is the northern most part of the Kingdom of Norway and the northern-most lands of Europe. Three islands are populated: Spitsbergen, Bjørnøya and Hopen. The largest settlement is Longyearbyen, the start of the expedition. The archipelago covers an area of 61,022 km², of which about 60% (36,502 km²) is covered by glaciation.

The North Atlantic Current moderates Svalbard\'s Arctic climate, keeping the surrounding waters open and navigable most of the year a bonus for people circumnavigating them in sea kayaks. The average Summer temperature is a warm 5 degrees Celsius(°C), or 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and in winter a brisk, -12°C (10° F). The Western coast is considerably warmer than the east, due to the North Atlantic Drift. Due to its far north position Svalbard experiences the midnight sun which lasts from April 20 to August 26, and the polar night which lasts from October 26 to February 15. There is an astonishing variety of flowering plants on Svalbard and although they are very small, these plants use the short period of 24-hour daylight to produce colourful blossoms.

In addition to humans, four predominnantly terrestrial mammalian species inhabit the archipelago, the Svalbard field mouse, the Arctic fox, the Svalbard reindeer (a distinct sub-species), and polar bears (as polar bears are predominantly found on the ices floes they are sometimes considered to be ocean mammals). A large number of aquatic mammalian species also inhabit the archipelago, including whales, dolphins, seals and walruses. The nature of Svalbard\'s coastline lends itself to being a prime breeding ground for large numbers of seabirds including puffins, auks, arctic terns and countless others.

The weather in Svalbard is very unstable, this is due to the encounter between significant amounts of water and warm air transported from the south and the cold water and air from the Polar regions. Stark temperature contrasts and lots of wind are the result. However, annual rainfall does not exceed an average of 190 mm. Hence Svalbard is commonly characterized as an Arctic desert. Svalbard is also home to some of Europes largest glaciers has beautiful mountain ranges and stunning fjords.

Links:
weather & sea:marine weather
 General weather
 ice predictions
 more ice predictions
 norway tide data
 IHMIC - not in english, but informative
general:the governor of svalbard
 svalbard in wikipedia
 The Svalbard Pages
 Svalbard useful information


last updated April 2009