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LOCATION

The Eternal Access Project's secure vault is physically located in the Arctic in Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. 

On Svalbard, the Eternal Access Project is located in Longyearbyen, which is the northmost city in the world. Longyearbyen is located at latitude 78˚ North – just 817 miles (1,316 km) from the North Pole. This remote location reduces vulnerability to physical threats such as natural disasters, theft, or vandalism, ensuring the security of the data. 

From a security standpoint, Svalbard is well-situated and benefits from desolate and barren terrain, with large open landscapes, sparse vegetation and endless glaciers. There are more than 2,100 glaciers of various sizes in Svalbard, and almost 60% of the total area is covered by ice. After the vast ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, Svalbard contains the third largest ice cap in the world.

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Permafrost covers the entire landmass of Svalbard, and only the top meter of earth thaws during the summer. Permafrost is a permanently frozen layer below Earth’s surface. It consists of soil, gravel, and sand, usually bound together by ice. Longyearbyen is situated in a valley on the shores of the Adventfjord, surrounded by steep mountains and several glaciers. There are only around 25 miles (40 km) of roads in Longyearbyen. Although it is considered a "city", Longyearbyen has a total population of only about 2,400 residents. 

The Arctic World Archive’s location in the remote Svalbard wilderness, surrounded by polar bear habitats, provides an additional layer of security that deters unauthorized human contact with the AWA’s secure facility. Polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivores and for many people they have become a symbol of the arctic wilderness. The size of a grown- up bear varies from 440 to 1,760 pounds (200 to 800 kg). Humans are considered an alien element in polar bear habitat. The polar bear is incredibly strong and even young bears can be very aggressive and dangerous. The polar bear has been protected since 1973, and it is considered a criminal act to pursuit, allure, disturb or feed a polar bear. Svalbard has roughly as many polar bears as is does residents.

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The Eternal Access Project's collections are domiciled in the Arctic World Archive's data storage facility. The Arctic World Archive is an ultra-secure data vault located in decommissioned mine number 3, a former coal mine. This mine is located deep inside hundreds of meters of permafrost, which helps storing the collection at a constant temperature between 19ºF and 23ºF (-5ºC and -7ºC). Because the permafrost provides naturally-refrigerated conditions for eternal data storage, the facility is carbon-neutral and does not require electricity or other energy sources to maintain the constant, frigid storage temperatures, which provides additional protection against power outages, energy disruptions, and other threats to ultra-long term storage.

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Mine no. 3 ("Gruve 3" in Norwegian) is owned by Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani (SNSK). SNSK has more than 100 years’ experience developing and operating mines and infrastructure on Svalbard and is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. SNSK is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the vault, including security and access control for the Arctic World Archive. The vault is protected according to best practice media vault security standards and is under continual alarm protection and video surveillance.

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