Harmonising Environmental Research and Monitoring of Priority Pollutants and Impurities in the Svalbard Atmosphere


Many characteristics of atmospheric air are measured in Svalbard, including levels of chemical pollution, dark dust connected to soot, and living organisms, but most of these studies happen in Ny-Ålesund. Air monitoring was initiated as early as the 1970s, and multiple atmospheric components have been added to the monitoring over time (especially since 2010; in the early 2000s a few parameters measured at Hornsund joined the regular programme). New types of contaminants are being discovered and measured in Svalbard. Methods for detecting simpler substances and particles have been established for a long time, while certain complex chemicals and small living organisms are more difficult to capture and study. Laboratory and field equipment upgrades help improve understanding of the Svalbard environment. In this chapter, we find that collecting information on many characteristics of the air at the same time helps solve long-standing scientific questions in Svalbard, such as the origins of pollution in the Arctic air and the future of the Arctic atmosphere in a changing world. This is especially important since the Arctic is changing fast, both due to global warming and to the shift in local people’s activity from mining to services, e.g. tourism.
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