The sun and cold weather have returned to Longyearbyen in recent days, after a period of heavy snow and mild weather.
But while temperatures are likely to remain stable and low throughout week 12, they probably will not stay that way very long, said Rafael Kühnel, a duty meteorologist for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute's forecasting office in Tromsø.
– It seems it be warmer again in late March, he said.
– Temperatures will also remain above normal, according to our forecasts.
Are there signs there will be any more ice in the fjords?
– No. There is very little ice this year, said Trond Robertsen, a consultant for the institute's sea and ice research division.
He said the ice edge north of Svalbard is currently at a latitude of 82 degrees north, which he has not observed as early as March before.
Ice charts from March 11 show there is solid ice at the innermost point of Tempelfjorden. In Billefjorden only the bays are filled with ice. There is solid ice in Petuniabukta and dense pack ice in Adolfbukta.
Only innermost in the fjords
In February the average temperature was nearly 15 degrees above normal, which meant there was little ice in the fjords. This has caused problems for the tourism industry.
Spitsbergen Travel officials are unsure how they will get tours to Pyramiden and Basecamp Spitsbergen officials are discussing with Svalbard's governor possible solutions for the Noorderlicht. The tourism operators depend foremost on the existence of sufficient ice in Billefjorden and Tempelfjorden, respectively.
Stein Tore Pedersen, Basecamp's expedition leader, was standing looking across the ice edge in Tempelfjorden when we called him.
– There are still three kilometers of solid ice outwards, the same as there was a few weeks ago, he said.
Dialogue with the governor
Basecamp Spitsbergen is seeking the governor's permission to change the Noorderlicht's position from previous years, to the very inner edge of the ice so the ship can then be moved onto the ice. The proposal has been refused by the governor.
Another option mentioned in a letter from the travel operator to the governor is moving the ship to Barentsburg, and providing accommodation and dining there.
Seeing light in the future
In the meantime, the Noorderlicht is docked in Longyearbyen and Basecamp Spitsbergen officials aren't saying more about what plans they have for the vessel before their dialogue with the governor concludes next week.
– For the moment we are giving tourists that should be bound for the Noorderlicht offers on trips to Isfjord Radio, Pedersen said.
Previously, "the boat in the ice" has never been out later than March 3.
– Even now we still see light in the future and are hoping there is ice through the month, he said.