Next week a Finnish-Swedish-Norwegian group will head for Svalbard to see if it is possible to re-open the old Kinnvika research station. It was built within the framework of a Swedish-Norwegian-Swiss collaborative project in 1957.
– The idea is to get it functioning again during the coming International Polar Year, exactly 50 years after it was set up, says Veijo Pohjola, associate professor at the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University, and one of the participants in the expedition.
Kinnvika is in the very northernmost region of the European continent, a mere 1,000 km from the North Pole. This remote, arctic desert region is home to a large number of polar bears and is of great scientific interest in terms of the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Since 1958 there has been no funding to run the station, built of timber for about 15 people, so it has been more or less forgotten.
– But the few people who have been there say that the dry climate has preserved the station well, says Veijo Pohjola.
The expedition will use the Norwegian vessel M/S Farm and will depart from Longyearbyen in central Svalbard on Monday, September 5. Once there, the scientists will carry out a preliminary study and assess the cost of renovating the station. Its proximity to the modern station in Ny Ålesund on western Svalbard makes it easier to pursue new projects at Kinnvika, which is situated in the considerably more extreme northeastern climate zone.
The project aims to strengthen arctic research and enhance cooperation between the Nordic countries. The steering committee has members from universities and research institutes from all of the Nordic countries. But the project has also attracted great interest around the world, with a total of 77 scientists from 15 countries. The expedition is being funded by the Nordic Research Council.