Climate change has major consequences for settlements in Svalbard

SvalbardSvalbard.Photo: Tore Meek / NTB scanpix

Permafrost under construction on Svalbard is melting and has caused the world’s seed store to be changed. Cabins have had to be moved,and 250 homes are being demolished because the land is failing.


Traditionally, the Svalbard building stock has been on wood piles thrown into the permafrost, but with climate change, more and more of the top soil layers are thawing.This means that both the wooden pegs are at risk of rot and the surface becomes unstable so the houses are damaged wrote Aftenposten newspaper. Climate change also increases the risk of landslides.

Experts estimate that around 250 homes, including 100 student homes,will probably have to be relocated because they are at risk.

It was already clear in May that climate change would lead to the government’s first climate bill, and now the newspaper reports that the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization will issue 220 million kroner for remediation and renewal measures.

There are 60 specially-built state-owned housing units that will replace houses destroyed by two avalanches that hit Longyearbyen in 2015 and 2016 when two people died. The foundations are now made of steel, not wood, and fastened in mountains, not in the failing permafrost.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today