The World’s Most Spectacular Science Lab

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Take a peek at stunning Svalbard, “the world’s coolest place to learn about global warming,” according to EnRoute. If the name sounds familiar, it’s likely because Svalbard–a Norwegian archipelago that stretches within 620 miles of the North Pole–is home to a certain famous Global Seed Vault. Ensuring the world’s agricultural future, however, is only one part of the science taking place at the beautiful Arctic outpost. Here are a few photos, paired with passages from EnRoute:

“After a century of wresting coal from its stratified geography, near-pristine Svalbard is seeing a new light at the end of the mineshaft,” Susan Nerberg writes for the Air Canada magazine. “Scientific sleuthing (like fossil hunts, research into CO2 capture and storage and university classes in polar ecology) accounts for an ever-larger chunk of Svalbard’s revamped economy.”

Pictured above, science station “Ny-Alesund is perhaps the world’s epicenter for environmental and climate-change research.” Ten countries have research stations at this international intellectual hub. “During the brief summer, the population swells from 35 to 180 people swishing around in Gore-Tex and fleece,” Nerberg writes. “It doesn’t hurt that Kings Bay, the state-owned company that runs this place, serves up three daily stick-to-your-ribs meals and snacks in a glass-walled mess hall.”

“Svalbard is so spectacular, it makes you feel really insignificant as a human being and even more desperate to protect such a place,” University of Sheffield plant ecologist Gareth Phoenix tells Nerberg. “Planet Earth only has one Arctic. It would be nice to keep it as it is.”

Souce: EnRoute

Images by Torjussen, Alastair Rae, Rerun van Pelt, and Biillyboy, all licensed under Creative Commons.

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