Human impact on tundra environment at the Ny-Ă…lesund Station, Svalbard

Jadwiga Krzyszowska, Anna (1989)
Co-Action Publishing
Studies were performed in Ny-Alesund, Spitsbergen, in June and July 1986 in order to gain an insight into the effect of activities of the polar research station on the nearby environment. It was found that chemical and mechanical factors were the most detrimental to the tundra environment. Fuel oil spills (110 m3 in 1986), which spread via surface and ground waters, were the most damaging of the chemical factors. Domestic sewage polluted the waters of Kolhamna Bay within an area of only 0.5 ha around its outlet in the sea. Vehicles and trampling caused mechanical damage inducing destruction of plant cover and changes in the ground structure; it modified ground moisture, bulk density and depth to the permafrost. The area degraded by human activity in the vicinity of the Ny-Alesund Research Station comprised 45 ha. The human impact around the polar station could be lessened by providing an alarm system to detect leaks and safety embankments around the oil tanks and pipelines, utilizing a settling tank for sewage, providing a simple incinerator for solid wastes, and instructing the inhabitants how to minimise impact on the environment.

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