Øvelse Svalbard 2014. Helikopter, personer, fjord, fjell.
Helicopter rescue during an emergency exercise in November 2014. Photo: Stefan Claes/UNIS

Development of Arctic Safety Centre 2016–2020

Sponsored by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Project Number: 990020
Project Period: 08.201608.2019
Funding: 13 815 000 NOK
Task Owner: University Centre in Svalbard
Project Manager and contact person: Ann Christin Auestad

We work in close cooperation with our partners.

Short project summary

The natural environment in the high north is undergoing rapid change while at the same time the interest in presence and economic development in the region has never been greater. As a consequence, the need for increased competence and sharing of experience in how to operate in a safe and environmental manner in the high Arctic is acute and extremely relevant. Both the location of UNIS and years of experience collection related to Arctic safety make Svalbard an excellent location for an Arctic safety competence center. There is already a demand from several national and international partners for an Arctic safety center.

The purpose is to contribute to as safe and sustainable human activity in the high Arctic as possible and the deliverables are as follows:

  • A Master programme in Arctic Safety
  • Practical safety courses for industry, academia, residents of Longyearbyen
  • New knowledge, theory, and models



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Read Newsletter no. 1, December 2016 (PDF)




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5 January 2017
Gemini has written a news article (in Norwegian) about the Arctic Safety Centre, you may read it here.

17–19 November 2016
Arctic Safety Centre Workshop at UNIS, Longyearbyen
The 17–19th of November a workshop for the project Arctic Safety Centre was performed. The purpose for the workshop was to draft an outline for a pilot subject that shall run at UNIS in 2018. The target group for this pilot subject is natural science master students. Our ambition is that the subject shall be included as a part of the Arctic safety Centre subject portfolio within “Arctic safety” when the Centre is established. The workshop started with short presentations from partners and stakeholders regarding possible areas that should be part of a pilot subject. We were also given time to discuss the different natural science areas and how they in a best possible way should be utilized in an Arctic safety context.

Workshop participants

Workshop participants: Jim Parsons, Academic Director Master of Maritime Management, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Aleksey Marchenko, Professor in Ice Mechanics, UNIS, Sara Cohen, Staff Engineer Arctic Geology, UNIS, Chris Borstad, Associate Professor of Snow and Ice Physics, UNIS, Marius Jonassen, Associate Professor Meteorology, UNIS, Nataly Marchenko, Researcher Arctic Technology, UNIS, Ann Christin Auestad, Project Manager ASC, UNIS, Sarah Strand, International Permafrost Association Secretariat, UNIS, Lena Rubensdotter, Adjunct Professor of Quaternary Geology, UNIS, Hanne Christiansen, Professor of Physical Geography, Department Leader Arctic Geology, UNIS, Holt Hancock, PhD Candidate Snow Science, UNIS, Dominik Lang, Head of Department of Earthquake and Hazard Risk, NORSAR, Graham Gilbert, PhD Candidate Permafrost, UNIS, Markus Eckerstorfer, Research Scientist, NORUT, Mike Retelle, Adjunct Professor of Geology, UNIS, (seated:) Mads Forchhammer, Professor of Terrestrial Zoology, UNIS, Abbas Barabadi, Associate in Engineering and Safety, University of Tromsø, and Frede Lamo, Head Engineer in Materials/Field, UNIS.


7–8 November 2016
The second steering committee meeting for Arctic Safety Centre, UNIS, Longyearbyen

All partners of the project were presented during the two days session. During the session the group discussed progress and development of the project and especially progress from working groups. Plans for future work were also discussed. The engagement from the participants was good.

Arctic Safety Centre meeting, November 2016. From left: Hanne H. Christiansen (UNIS), Ann Christin Auestad (UNIS), Fred Skancke Hansen (UNIS), Harald Ellingsen (UNIS), John Guldahl (NPI), Morten Rasch (University of Copenhagen), Lard Kullerud (UArctic), Thor Bjørn Arlov (NTNU).

In the photo, from left: Departmental leader Hanne H. Christiansen (UNIS), Project manager Ann Christin Auestad (UNIS), Director of HSE and Infrastructure Fred S. Hansen (UNIS), Managing Director Harald Ellingsen (UNIS), Head of Operations and logistics department John Guldahl (NPI), Senior Executive Consultant Morten Rasch (University of Copenhagen), President Lars Kullerud (UArctic) and Senior Advisor Thor Bjørn Arlov (NTNU). Photo: Inger Lise Næss/UNIS



26–28 October 2016
A collaboration meeting has been performed between NTNU, the University of Stavanger and UiT the Arctic University of Norway. The ambition was to establish the academic content for the risk and safety theory master/bachelor programme. The meeting was a success and good progress was made.

20 October 2016
Work group four has performed a workshop to continue the work regarding the GAP analyses and to prepare an action plan for further progress. The engagement was good and several good initiatives were identified.
The partners in the group are: The Norwegian Polar Institute, Longyearbyen Red Cross, Longyearbyen Community Council, Spitsbergen Travel, Telenor, Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions and UNIS.

September 2016
The Arctic Safety Centre is pleased to welcome the University of Stavanger and UiT the Arctic University of Norway as new partners in the project.

7–8 September 2016
Work group one has performed its first workshop regarding identifying the risk and safety theory to be included as a 60 credit master/bachelor programme at UNIS. The objective for this workshop was to complete the GAP analyses and to establish an action plan for identification of activities for further progress. The group completed the action plan and was pleased with the collaboration within the group.
The partners in the group are: The Norwegian Polar Institute, UArctic, Memorial University of Newfoundland, NTNU and UNIS.