Svalbard is an archipelago situated north of Norway. Spitsbergen is the largest and best known island in the group. There is no evidence that Svalbard was visited or inhabited by any humans prior to its discovery by the Dutch in 1596. A vast whale population was then quickly hunted to near extinction. Others visitors came later, in search of seals, walrus, polar bears or coal. Today, visitors come to see the sights, to hike, kayak and explore, and to study the fragile ecology of the far north. This high arctic environment will be one of the first major casualties of global warming as the ice sheets fail and the glaciers retreat. See preview for a depiction of all monthly images.
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