History and background of the Kinnvika

The background of IPY-Kinnvika is rooted in the expeditions to Nordaustlandet led by A.F. Nordenskiöld and H.W. Ahlmann during the early years of polar exploring. A large station was erected at Kinnvika in Murchison Bay as a part of the International Geophysical Year (IPY3) by Swedish-Finnish-Swiss expeditions. The station was manned from 1957 to 1959, and monitored meteorological and upper atmospheric physical parameters with an aim to improve knowledge of the Arctic atmosphere.

An extensive glaciological campaign was also undertaken during IPY3. The station was built to the highest modern standards at that time with electrical power and warm water radiators, and comprised eight separate wooden buildings and laboratories

During the 1960s and the 1980s Swedish glaciological and geological expeditions used the station as a platform for spring and summer campaigns around Murchison Bay and the ice cap Vestfonna. Occasional small groups have temporarily used its facilities, but the station remains remote and logistically challenging even today and has been dormant and in decay, despite the Governor of Svalbard’s aim to preserve the station.

Open call for scientists to join the project

The preparatory phase of IPY-Kinnvika started with writing up an itinerary for a science plan and identifying work packages where individual scientists or groups of scientists could contribute according to their interests. Via an open call, we managed to solicit about 100 scientists interested in the project. With this foundation of ideas we filed an expression of intent to the IPY-joint commission, and submitted a proposal to the Nordic Council of Ministers for financial aid to cover logistical scouting of the Kinnvika station, and its environment. Both proposals were granted in 2004, with the support of the Finnish and the Swedish Arctic Council representatives.

In 2005 we negotiated the Environmental Office of the Governor of Svalbard to visit Kinnvika, and to use the station from 2007 to 2010. The Governor was very supportive and offered assistance to refurbish any parts of the station. In September 2005 we sailed up for an inspection, and found that the station buildings were still proudly standing but their interiors were in worse shape than expected, and our plan was revised to make more modest usage of the houses.

Later in 2005 the second and more elaborate expression of intent was approved by the IPY-committee. With this seal, and with the goodwill of the Governor of Svalbard to pursue expeditions to the environmentally restricted natural reserve of Nordaustlandet, the scientists were ready to submit grant proposals to their respective research councils.

Second proposal to the Nordic Council of Ministers was filled to cover expenditure for the coming expeditions. The Swedish Polar Research Secreteriate (SPRS) allocated technical personnel and equipment for expeditions. Further, a private company, Metsä- Tissue Serla OY/AB/AS, gave a financial support for expeditions. With the logistical support from SPRS and the support in for cruises up to Kinnvika with the Polish research vessel RV Horyzont II, managed by our Polish colleges at the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, IPY-Kinnvika became afloat.


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Arriving to the Kinnvika station on 2005. Photo Paula Kankaanpää.

Farm-boat-Kinnvika.jpg Transportation M/S Farm in the 2005 expedition. Photo: Paula Kankaanpää.

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Location of the Kinnvika station.