The Norwegian Government has allocated NOK 219 million (app €29.5 million) to building of the new observatory, which will be located in Ny-Ålesund, the world’s northernmost public settlement, the Norwegian Mapping Authority reports. The Governor of Svalbard has approved the plans.
The earth observatory will be part of a global network of around 25 observatories that is crucial for society’s satellite-based infrastructure and for accurate climate monitoring in the Arctic. The observatory will contribute to measurements of climate, sea levels, floods, landslides, earthquakes and ice melt.
Construction of the new observatory starts in spring 2013 and will be operational from 2018.
Ny-Ålesund had a permanent population of approximately 30-35 persons. All of them work for one of the research stations in the area. In the summer the activity in Ny-Ålesund is greatly increased with up to 120 researchers, technicians, and field assistants. At present, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and China all maintain research stations at Ny-Ålesund, although not all are inhabited year-round.