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AWIPEV: Franco-German Arctic Station, Svalbard

Position (79°N – 12°E)

Average temperatures in summer:+ 4°C
Average temperatures in winter: – 12°C

At Ny-Ålesund, an international science village, in the north-west of Svalbard, IPEV has facilities that enable scientists to accomplish research programmes. The German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the French Polar Institute Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) operate their research stations at Ny-Ålesund as a joint Franco-German research station entitled Arctic base AWIPEV. This joint station offers great potential in terms of hosting capacities, services and scientific facilities. These advantages allow research in different fields, especially life sciences and atmospheric sciences.

Arc-Corbel-GoulvenLARGOUET-2010-IPEV-6In the village of Ny-Ålesund, AWIPEV can accommodate up to 16 scientists. Facilities available are offices, workshops, a modern laboratory equipped for geophysical observations, work in biology or chemistry. Garage and storage space is allocated for snowmobiles, skis, watercraft and so on.

  • The Jean Corbel station, 5 km south-east of Ny-Ålesund has a surface area of 150 m² and can host up to 8 persons in summer. It has clean-energy autonomy and isolated from all local anthropogenic pollution; measurements can be taken for several fields, including physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, glaciology and geology.

3 winterers occupy the station throughout the year. A station director, an engineer and a logistics specialist are responsible for the operational management of AWIPEV. During the Polar night, lasting from the end of October to the end of February, priority is given to optical measurements on the atmosphere using especially laser systems and astronomical photometry.

In winter and spring the station is often visited by polar bears which are protected species. Training on the behaviour to adopt in case of an encounter with a bear are compulsory for all persons who may work outside the village.

As soon as sunlight reappears, at the beginning of March, outdoor scientific activities can resume. The end of March sees the fjord freed of its ice packs and navigation is possible again. In early April, 24h/24 daylight gives the scientists great freedom of action.

Ny-Ålesund is quickly and easily accessible by plane from Oslo or Tromsø. At Ny-Ålesund, the summer maximum of 150 staff goes down to about 30 in winter.

Arc-Science-MyrtilleMOREAU-2009-IPEV-20A Norwegian territory, Svalbard is a particular case in the Arctic zone. It is governed by an international Treaty dating back to 1920 (Treaty of Paris) which permits any person or company originating from a signatory country to set up there. Several countries run a regular scientific activity there based at the science village of Ny-Ålesund which accommodates up to 20 teams of different nationalities. With the support of the French-Norwegian Foundation the IPEV has developed the French installation that already existed: the Jean Corbel station located 5km from Ny-Ålesund and in the village itself, the Charles Rabot station.

In 2003, the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German Friendship treaty, the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and IPEV decided to pool their resources at Svalbard to create a research station.

Ecology, population biology

  • Energy-related and hormonal mechanisms involved in the regulation of reproductive effort of Arctic marine birds, capabilities for adaptation to climate changes.
  • Long-distance orientation processes of marine birds (case of the Northern fulmar).
  • Functioning and adaptation of populations of endemic and introduced aphids in the Arctic environment.
  • Life-cycle modifications in planktonic predators in response to climate variations.

Internal Geophysics

  • Measurement of absolute gravity: long-term temporal variations in gravity, relationship with ancient and present-day deglaciation.

Atmospheric Sciences

  • Dynamics and thermal structure of the thermosphere from optical-sensor measurements of wind speed and temperature.
  • Different forms of mercury in the atmosphere and snow, assessment of annual deposit fluxes and mercury emission on the Arctic snow mantle and of transfer of this mercury to ecosystems during melting.
  • Direct and indirect effects of aerosols and clouds in the Arctic region.


  • Reactivity of glaciers to contemporary climate fluctuations. Multi-year study of the spatio-temporal dynamics of a polar hydrological system.


  • Impact of brackish waters resulting from the formation of sea ice on the hydrodynamic regime of fjords, flow of dense waters at depth.
  • Fate of sediment inputs originating from the erosion of glaciers in the coastal environment. Continuous high-resolution high-frequency measurement.

79°N - 12°E