Voices from Russia

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Always Darkest Before the Dawn: Polar Night Ends on Frants Iosif Land (Russia’s Northernmost Archipelago)

Border marker at Severnaya Bay on Alexandra Land in the Frants Iosif Land Archipelago


On Thursday, the Sun rose over the horizon on Frants Iosif Land, the northernmost Arctic archipelago in Russia and Eurasia, signalling an end to the four-month-long pitch-dark polar night. Aleksei Barakov, a deputy director of the Russian Arctic National Park, told us:

The Sun rose over Alexandra Land Island where the Omega permanent field base is located.

The polar night began on Frants Iosif Land, an archipelago lying only 1,100 kilometres (684 miles) away from the North Pole, on 18 October. Vadim Zakharyin, the chief of the national park’s expedition centre, noted:

The night is very cold, windy, and dark there. The Northern Lights rarely occur on the archipelago because the cloud cover is rather thick and low. The temperatures usually hover at around -30 degrees (-22 Fahrenheit), with high humidity that’s difficult to bear. Besides that, winds reach hurricane-like speeds of 36 metres per second (80.5 miles per hour). You have to be especially careful in that darkness because you can run into polar bears there.

On Thursday, the weather on Alexandra Island was frigid and calm. Two park staff-members are always present at the Omega field base of the Russian Arctic National Park. Only two of the 192 islands making up Frants Iosif Land are habitable during the winter. Alexandra Land, the westernmost island of the archipelago, is home to the Nagurskoye border outpost and a Northern Fleet base, in addition to the national park’s field base. A weather monitoring station, also known as “the observatory”, is on Kheysa Island in the very centre of the archipelago. A source at the Northern Department for Meteorology and Environment Monitoring said:

Currently, there are six workers at the Ernst Krenkel Observatory.

22 February 2018




Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.