Filmmakers Abraham Joffe and Dom West describe Ghosts of the Arctic, their film of Svalbard in winter, as a "passion project". The pair endured frostbite and two of their prized cameras died of exposure in trying to realise their dream. Watch the stunning results of their efforts above, and learn more about the process behind the shoot in this article on No Film School.
Jane Rushton's northern landscapes provoke big questions on the future of our world, writes Nancy Campbell.Read more
Julian Hanna finds promise in the periphery during a trip to Svalbard.Read more
Retreating ice in the The Barents Sea is causing fish and fishermen to travel further north. On their tails are climate researchers seeking to understand what's going on in the delicate ocean ecosystem. One such trip in and around the Svalbard archipelago was recently documented by a photographer attached to the Marine Stewardship Council. See more in the Guardian.
Artist Ellis O'Connor reflects on a recent expedition to the Svalbard archipelago in the high north.Read more
The Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi is best known for composing the themes to the film Black Swan and television serial Doctor Zhivago. Last month he travelled with the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise on the eve of an OSPAR Commission meeting which was to consider whether to grant the first protected area status for the Arctic in international waters.
Einaudi performed his own composition, Elegy for the Arctic, on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, against the backdrop of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier in the Svalbard archipelago. Somewhat ironically, the performance was made possible by the massive early retreat of sea ice due to the effects of climate change. This allowed for the construction of a 2.6 x 10 metre artificial iceberg, made from more than 300 triangles of wood and weighing nearly two tonnes. A grand piano was then placed on the platform.
Einaudi said “being here has been a great experience. I could see the purity and fragility of this area with my own eyes and interpret a song I wrote to be played upon the best stage in the world. It is important that we understand the importance of the Arctic, stop the process of destruction and protect it."
The OSPAR meeting saw the decision taken to establish a protected area in the Arctic Ocean equivalent in size to the United Kingdom, which should offer protection from oil drilling and overfishing. As one of the least protected areas on the planet, the Arctic Ocean is experiencing a continual loss of sea ice volume due to rising temperatures. Not only is its rich biodiversity at risk, the effects are harming the rest of the planet, having been linked to increasingly frequent extreme weather events in the Northern hemisphere, such as flooding, superstorms and droughts.
Amid the rare icy beauty of the Svalbard archipelago exists an extraordinary species of plant that has evolved its own internal central heating system to survive the long Arctic winters.
With it’s cushion-like shape, the compass plant (Silene actualise) soaks up as much of the circling sun as it can, most of which lands on its south facing side. This causes its diminutive pink flowers to bloom over the course of a month, beginning at first on its south side, then moving to its north side.
According to the BBC's Christina Holvey, this unusual patterning caught the eye of ancient explorers who used the plant like a compass to find their way, hence its name.
Read more and watch the incredible compass plant in bloom on the BBC Earth website.
The third annual Arctic Circle conference begins today in Reykjavik. Representatives from over 50 countries have gathered to discuss a range of issues, chief amongst which will be climate change and fossil fuel extraction. In a short film entitled 'North', artist and filmmaker Temujin Doran (aka Studiocanoe) has explored some of the history behind why competing interests have sought to lay claim to the Arctic and its resources.
Focusing on Spitsbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway, Doran has produced both an extraordinarily beautiful and highly thought-provoking work.
Photograph by Studiocanoe.
An article about the history of Svalbard and of scurvy.Read more
Musician and photographer Reuben Wu explains the strange appeal of Svalbard, the inhospitable archipelago between Norway and the North Pole.Read more