Ny-Ålesund (78°55’ N, 11°56’ E), Spitzbergen Island (Svalbard)
Station manager: Mauro Mazzola and Federico Giglio
INTERACT Station reference: Luigi d'Acqui

TA/RA contacts:
Luigi D'Acqui
Mauro Mazzola


The Italian Arctic Station “Dirigibile Italia”, was so named in honour of Umberto Nobile’s airship expedition of 1928. The Station, owned by the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and opened in 1997, is a multidisciplinary research facility. The activities are coordinated and managed by the Institute of Polar Science (ISP) of the Department of Earth Sciences and Technology of the Environment of the CNR.


The Station is located in Ny-Ålesund, on the shores of Kongsfjorden, on the west coast of Spitzbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. The area around the village is geographically diverse and complex, including the fjord with several islands, a plateau, alluvial plains, mountains with large glaciers and extensive moraine systems, glacial rivers, coastal lagoons, and a small lake. The area further includes ornithological reserves and a nature reserve.


Ny-Ålesund enjoys the mildest climate at this latitude due to a distant branch of the Gulf Stream bordering the west coast of Spitzbergen. The fauna is dominated by a large variety of birds, including arctic terns, auks, kittiwakes, gulls, barnacle geese, northern fulmars, Svalbard ptarmigans, and Arctic skuas. Mammals include Svalbard reindeer, arctic foxes, and a sporadic presence of polar bears, also seals and less frequently whales, are spotted in the fjord. The permafrost is continuous and 75-450 m thick, and the active layer thickness ranges between 0.3 and 3.8 m. The whole area lies within the Dryas octopetala zone of the high-arctic fell-field vegetation.


The Station was established in 1997, focusing the research activities mainly to study the chemistry of the snow, trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere. Since 2009 with three new infrastructures belonging to the Station, the research has considerably improved. The Station can provide accommodation for seven persons, access to the laboratory, basic equipment for aerosol treatment, oven, milliq pure water, freezer refrigerator and laminar flow hood. Other facilities belonging to the Station consist of a 35m high tower, named ‘Admundsen-Nobile Climate Change Tower (CCT) and the Gruvebadet Aerosol Laboratory (GAL). CCT is equipped with instruments investigating energy budget and flux exchanges at the atmosphere land interface, while GAL is equipped with instrument for sampling aerial pollutants and particles and gases Another facility belonging to Dirigibile Italia is the Metrology Laboratory, where calibration of temperature sensors and gas analyzer are provide. Scientist belonging to Dirigibile Italia can also access at the Ny-Ålesund Marine Laboratory, managed by King Bay AS, for research in marine ecology, physiology, and biochemistry.


Research is coordinated by the Ny-Ålesund Science Managers Committee (NySMAC) and the Svalbard Science Forum (SSF). Scientific programmes currently developed at the Station deals with physic and chemistry of the atmosphere and snow, microbial ecology and evolution, nutrients and ecosystems, biogeochemistry and energy fluxes, clouds, aerosols, gases, contaminants and pollutant, airborne spores of fungi and pollen and bacteria, soil, soil vegetation and permafrost, oceanography, marine biomarkers, remote sensing of the environment, sun-earth relations and space weather, human biology and medicine. Information on data collected are managed by the Italian Arctic Data Center (IADC) that allows the access to the metadata recorded by the Italian research group. Continuous automatically recorded data (i.e. at CCT) can be visualized and downloaded at IADC (http://iadc.cnr.it). As CNR is also partner of the Research infrastructure SIOS, data will be accessible also by SDMS (https://sios-svalbard.org/metadata_search).


Ny-Ålesund was a mining village until 1963 with more than 100 inhabitants. Due to accident the mining activity was closed and during the 90’s the village was transformed into a multidisciplinary science settlement. Today 14 research Stations are established from 12 different nations. The population range from 35 people, involved in the maintenance activities during dark season, to more than 150 for scientific fieldwork in summer time. The entire settlement is owned and operated under the Norwegian law by the company of King’s Bay AS.


Regular flights between Ny-Ålesund and Longyearbyen take place four times per week in summer and twice per week in winter. There is an international airport in Longyearbyen with scheduled connections to mainland Norway. Ny-Ålesund can be reached also by boat. Sailing in the fjord is possible for people at the station through agreements with the Sverdrup Station of the Norwegian Polar Institute and with King’s Bay AS. In winter and spring snowmobiles are available for field trips. In summer, hiking is the only mean of transport in the field outside the village.


This service is provided by INTERACT partner MAPILLARY

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