Deep tunnels beneath the mountain exit at the base of the glacier, with 656-feet-thick ice overhead. Svartisen, Norway’s second largest glacier, is the site of an independent glaciological research laboratory built in 1995 for researchers around the world.
For passengers on the Hurtigruten sailing between Nesna and Ørnes, the sight of Svartisen is so spectacular that the image is instantly frozen into their memories.
At approximately 230 square miles, Svartisen is Norway’s second largest glacier after the Jostedal Glacier. It stretches across the municipalities of Meløy, Rødøy, Beiarn and Rana, between the Holandsfjord, Glomfjord and Melfjord to the west, and Blakkadalen to the east.
Despite being the lowest-lying glacier on the European continent before the last Ice Age retreat, Svartisen is home to several mountains over 4,900-feet high. Snøtinden to the west rises to 5,233-feet above sea level, while the peaks of Sniptinden and Istinden to the east are 5,203-feet and 5,157-feet above sea level, respectively.
Centuries ago, the glaciers in this region stretched their ‘fingers’ all the way to the seashore. Engabreen, a glacial arm of Svartisen, currently stretches almost to the Holandsfjord. Climate changes during the past century caused the glacier to retreat over one mile until the 1960s, when it began expanding again. However, in recent years the glacier has started to retreat.
SIGNIFICANT INDUSTRIAL AREA
The glacier generates valuable resources while striving to preserve the natural environment as much as possible. Melted glacial ice has provided inexpensive hydroelectric power at Norsk Hydro’s giant plant at Glomfjord to produce fertilizer.
This power is created by the accumulated melted glacial ice that flows through 45 tunnels underneath it and collects at the power station. Every foot of descent is utilized to create hydroelectric power. Recently, a new industrial park has also been developed to take further advantage of the power resources generated in this region.
GLACIER AND MOUNTAIN ACTIVITIES
Our ships sail into Holandsfjord for a view of Engabreen. Once at port, an excursion to Svartisen Glacier provides the chance for an even closer look at this frozen beauty. Hikers will also find large caves to explore in the limestone mountains to the east of this area.