All images on this site are © Mel Thompson
and are taken on a Nikon D700.
Of course, I feel just a bit guilty about having visited Spitsbergen, because I did so on a cruise with P & O, and there is something rather intrusive and carbon wasteful about travelling in a huge liner to that part of the world.
But I have to say that it is an experience that I shall never forget or repeat. Just to be there, experiencing the chill wind and the gentle warming of the sun in the arctic, is to be humbled by the sense of its awesome remoteness.
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After two days sailing north from Norway between the Barents Sea a nd the Sea of Greenland, deep into the Artic, this was our first glance of Spitsbergen - one of the most desolate and beautiful places on earth.
Glaciers snake down to the sea, shedding tiny icebergs from the constantly changing cliffs of ice.
With the sun high in the northern sky, this is what it's like at 40 minutes past midnight. This, of course, is the middle of the arctic summer, with the temperature rising to a balmy 4 degrees!
It's difficult to convey the sense of wonder, as your feet touch the spongy tundra, with tiny plants making the most of the few months of warmth and sunshine. And always, the sense of distance and the vaste snowfields behind the glaciers.r
The is the most northerly cafe in the world - in the tiny settlement of Ny Aylesund.
Ny Aylesund is the most northerly permanent human settlement, with a population of 57, most of them scientists manning the many monitoring instruments that are dotted around the tiny cluster of buildings.
Looking north from Ny Aylesund! Beyond this point it's just snow and ice all the way to the North Pole.
And always the small icebergs, floating away from their glaciers, are a reminder - if one were needed - that this is the place where global warming becomes an experienced reality.