Arctic Winter

This image goes back a long way, to the winter of 1986 when I was working for a seismic survey company in Svalbard. I was one of a team of polar safety advisers, mostly with British Antarctic Survey experience, and our job was to assist the surveyors during the Arctic winter at 78 degrees North, and ensure their safety in the face of severe low temperatures (as low as minus 48 degrees C), crevasses, and polar bears. The job started in early February, before the return of the sun. This image was taken sometime after mid February when the sun rose above the horizon for the first time in four months after the ‘polar night’, and the low angled sunlight is catching the particles of blowing snow or ‘drift’, caused by the wind. There are two figures standing in the distance. The image was used as the front cover of New Scientist magazine in 1989. Despite the cold, the Arctic winter is a very beautiful season, with wonderful light effects by day, as well as the Northern Lights or aurora borealis at night.