Water Odyssey

The closest university to the North Pole

Every year, almost 500 adventurous students go to study at the world’s most northerly university, a mere 1,200 km from the North Pole. Located on Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is an ultra-modern teaching and research centre in an exceptionally isolated corner of the planet. Being so far north, Longyearbyen (Svalbard’s “capital”, population: 2,000) provides students and researchers with outstanding possibilities for carrying out scientific studies in extreme locations and conditions. A major research focus is the aurora borealis, as the long winter nights in this part of the world provide ideal conditions in which to observe and analyse this magnificent solar phenomenon.
This image shows what we discover when we arrive above Svalbard, early February
This image shows what we discover when we arrive above Svalbard, early February
It is exactly 11:30
It is exactly 11:30
Longyearbyen, the world’s most northerly city of the world, Svalbard’s “capital”, population: 2,000
Longyearbyen, the world’s most northerly city of the world, Svalbard’s “capital”, population: 2,000
In February, it is the blue hours period
In February, it is the blue hours period
UNIS, the world’s most northerly university of the world
UNIS, the world’s most northerly university of the world
We catch up with 17 students, on their way to the Kjell Henriksen observatory
We catch up with 17 students, on their way to the Kjell Henriksen observatory
Inside of the  tracked machine
Inside of the  tracked machine
First course in the observatory for the study of northern lights
First course in the observatory for the study of northern lights
Lookouts are needed to warn of any approaching polar bears
Lookouts are needed to warn of any approaching polar bears
The students set up the equipment on the observatory’s roofs that will enable them to study and determine the precise location of auroras
The students set up the equipment on the observatory’s roofs that will enable them to study and determine the precise location of auroras
Aurora image realized with special equipment by Pål Ellingsen (KHO UNIS) Birkeland Center for Space Science
Aurora image realized with special equipment by Pål Ellingsen (KHO UNIS) Birkeland Center for Space Science
I return to the observatory with Mikko Syrjäsuo, during the blue hours
I return to the observatory with Mikko Syrjäsuo, during the blue hours
The KHO roof with the observation instruments
The KHO roof with the observation instruments
Near KHO, the EISCAT radar antennas, second part of the film
Near KHO, the EISCAT radar antennas, second part of the film
Nature around Longyearbyen...a weapon is necessary for walking
Nature around Longyearbyen...a weapon is necessary for walking
Ready to go on a polar exploration
Ready to go on a polar exploration
The sign speaks for itself
The sign speaks for itself
Longyearbyen's main street
Longyearbyen's main street
As spring approaches, the sun is once again peeking over the horizon: image of the first sunbeam, 16th of February.
As spring approaches, the sun is once again peeking over the horizon: image of the first sunbeam, 16th of February.
A very rare sight during my preparation trip two years ago in January, the ice crystals lights. See the latest news
A very rare sight during my preparation trip two years ago in January, the ice crystals lights. See the latest news
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