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Polar Climate and Cultural Heritage – Preservation and Restoration Management


Cable way timber trestles in Longyearbyen
Cable way timber trestles in Longyearbyen. Photo: Anatoly Sinitsyn

PCCH-Arctic aims to create a knowledge base for sustainable safeguarding and future use of cultural heritage in the Arctic under changing demographic and climatic conditions.

A guideline will be developed to provide objective decision-support management methodology. The methodology will be elaborated by adaptation of standard engineering risk-based decision-making approaches for permafrost.  The guideline will be implemented for the design of management and new use of selected cultural heritage objects which the user partners are responsible for in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund. 

PCCH-Arctic includes the research and educational organizations SINTEF, University of Oslo, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, UNIS and University of Vienna.

The user partners are Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS, Kings Bay AS and Svalbard Museum.

PCCH-Arctic is a Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project (KSP) with funding from the Research Council of Norway (Project number: 320769) and the project partners. 

Project summary 

PCCH-Arctic will study the cultural heritage of Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund, both representing coal mining community sites and objects regarded as international heritage and irreplaceable sources of historical information.  

The cultural heritage at Svalbard is fragile, and exposed to impacts of a harsh arctic climate, climate change and tourism traffic. A significant reduction in the distribution and thickness of permafrost is experienced, having a major impact on durability, stability and foundations of many objects.  

Caretaking is sought to be based on value-based management, with authenticity and integrity as the most distinct heritage values, but where the resilience of a cultural heritage site constitutes its tolerance limits, and to exceed such limits will challenge the value of the site, and thus its resilience.

Thus, the PCCH-Arctic research project will focus the research both on future climate change and technical consequences and solutions for the cultural heritage on Svalbard, and on the ethical aspects regarding to what extent measures to preserve such structures are to be authentically reconstructing the original performance, to deviate from this in order to preserve the structures within limits of economy, or to let the cultural heritage structures slowly dissolve and disappear.  

PCCH-Arctic will aim to fulfil the following main objectives: 

  • Give input regarding cultural heritage ethics, strategies, policy instruments, and guidelines for cultural heritage management and preservation.
  • Gain a deeper knowledge and develop improved methods for local climate projections and permafrost degradation in the Arctic.
  • Provide a methodology and technological solution framework for the sustainable management of cultural heritage in Svalbard and in polar climate. 


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2021 - 2024