Photo: Maarten Loonen

The Netherlands Arctic Station

STATION NAME AND OWNER

The Netherlands Arctic Station is owned and run by the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen.

LOCATION

The Netherlands Arctic Station is situated in Kongsfjorden on the island of Spitsbergen and is part of an international research community in the former mining town of Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. In this town, more than 10 nations have their own station while using shared facilities for meals and recreation. The whole local community is focussed on science and maintenance of infrastructure. Several stations have independent terrestrial research programmes and the Netherlands Arctic Station is the smallest of all.

BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Kongsfjorden is a beautiful high arctic environment with several glaciers terminating in the fjord. The raised beach terraces are sparsely vegetated with dense moss cover around small tundra lakes and below bird cliff s. Locally there are clear traces of former human activity by trappers and from coal mining. At present, the whole area is well-protected and a special permission is needed to enter the islands during the bird breeding season. In 1978, reindeer was re-introduced and since 1982 barnacle geese have established a colony and are regularly feeding between the houses. Both herbivores have a clear impact on the vegetation.

HISTORY AND FACILITIES

From 1916 to 1968, the village of Ny-Ålesund was a coal mining settlement. This village has now developed into a unique mix of stations, laboratories, and research infrastructure. There is a small international community of 25 to 110 people – all temporal residents. Tourists are discouraged to stay overnight. In 1990, the University of Groningen initiated a project on barnacle geese and later joined the shared facilities with the establishment of Nether lands Arctic Station. The station consists of two small buildings for lodging with electricity but no plumbing. Shared facilities in town offer unique high-standard science and logistic support.

GENERAL RESEARCH AND DATABASES

Research focusses on the role of barnacle geese in the arctic ecosystem. Nutrient cycles, plant productivity, and vegetation patterns are studied to understand plant-herbivore interactions. Data on behaviour, timing, and breeding success of individually ringed geese are collected over their lifetime, and the effect of predators is studied as a dynamic interaction. Population trends of plants, herbivores, and predators are monitored in a warming environment. Long term experiments include grazing exclosures and greenhouses on paired vegetation plots. Timing of migration in geese and arctic terns is monitored with geolocators. Other projects involve insect abundance, lake biodiversity, marine fytoplankton, the history of human exploitation, the effect of tourism on cultural heritage, archaeology and pollution.

HUMAN DIMENSION

The local community in Ny-Ålesund is a mixture of nationalities from the various stations. The area is owned by a company called Kings Bay, taking care of the logistics for the entire village. Ny-Ålesund has no permanent residents and all activity is linked to science. The closest town is the Norwegian village of Longyearbyen, which is the main hub of Svalbard. In Longyearbyen, permanent residents are few (ca 2000). There are no indigenous people and most inhabitants originate from the Norwegian mainland and live on Svalbard only because of their temporal job assignment. Tourism, local administration and science are the most important sources of income.

ACCESS

Throughout the year, Kings Bay organises two flights per week with a small plane (14 passengers) between Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund. In summer, there are about 30000 tourists landing by boat for just a few hours. There is only a limited amount of roads near the village. Local transportation is possible by car, bicycle, snowmobile, or foot. Small boats are used for transportation inside the fjord.

Field site information table pdf. Downloadable

Photo: Elise Biersma

Contact Details

Netherlands Arctic Station,
P.O Box 1,
N-9173 Ny-Ålesund, Norway.

Station manager: Maarten Loonen

Email: m.j.j.e.loonen@rug.nl
Tel: 0031-50 7200 449
Website: www.arcticstation.nl

Blog

Photo: Japer Doest
Photo: Maarten Loonen
Photo: Maarten Loonen
Photo: Maarten Loonen
Photo: Vincent Munster
Shortlist from Station Catalogue over facilities and science disciplines