Site details

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2 stars - De facto protected because of geographical conditions and location
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Kong Karls Land, West Svalbard. Photo: Jos K÷geler

Synoptic description of site:

A selection of Atlantic/Arctic fjords along the west coast of Svalbard (Spitsbergen), from Hornsund in the south to Widjefjorden in the North.

Extensive description of site:

Most fjords around the Svalbard archipelago have actively calving or retreating glaciers, causing strong environmental gradients in salinity, temperature and sedimentation. Arctic water influence is greatest in northern and eastern areas; Atlantic water dominates western fjords.

Habitats present:
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

Svalbard fauna and flora are well documented from some fjords, but for others little or no data are available.

Human impact:

Generally, there is little human impact on Svalbard. Five coal mining settlements exist and fisheries are carried out around the archipelago. Ship traffic is mainly for coal export, provisions and tourist cruises.


Research facilities and accommodation are available in Longyearbyen and Kongsfjorden. Working vessels can be chartered locally and a research boat from the University of Troms°.

Available database and website:

A database of Svalbard fauna and flora is maintained in cooperation between UNIS, the University of Troms° and Akvaplan-niva.

Datasets covering this area:


Commitment and ongoing research:

The University Courses on Svalbard (UNIS) and the University of Troms° have an established and on-going marine research and monitoring programme around the Svalbard archipelago (including plankton, benthos and fish). On-going research on marine mammals and birds is carried out by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), respectively.

Additional Information:

See covering letter for comments on interesting research oppurtunities in high-latitude Atlantic fjords exposed to Arctic surface conditions.