Svalbard's Hot (Winter) Nights


Photo courtesy of UNIS Anje Fleig

The "normal" early January temperature for the Norwegian Arctic Ocean island of Svalbard is around -14 degrees Celsius. But last Wednesday, Svalbard was the warmest place in all of Norway, with temperatures at the airport a relatively balmy +5.8 degrees. December 2007 was the warmest month on record for all of the region of northern Norway, and in Svalbard 2007's warm temperatures were topped only by...2006.

Perhaps the ominous warmth is one of the reasons Svalbard is pushing itself hard to be CO2-free by 2025. Svalbard has a rich coal industry and is dependent on coal-fired energy, making local scientists eager to test out creation of an underground CO2 storage facility in the town of Longyearbyen. Researchers have already drilled down below the area and found a thick layer of slate and underneath that, porous sand - ideal conditions, some say, for long-term mothballing of CO2. Now government research institute SINTEF wants to take captured CO2 from Norway's controversial gas-fired plant, Melk√łya, and try burying it at Longyearbyen. While carbon capture is still a young and iffy technology, Norway still believes that 20 to 28 percent of the world's carbon load can be managed through its use (see treehugger viewpoint here and here) and hopes a Norwegian site (at Mongstad) will be chosen for an EU pilot project. Via (English)