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Always darkest before the dawn: Polar night ends on Russia’s northernmost archipelago

The Sun rose on February 22 over the horizon on Franz Josef Land, the northernmost Arctic archipelago in Russia and Eurasia

ARKHANGELSK, February 22. /TASS/. The Sun rose on Thursday over the horizon on Franz Josef Land, the northernmost Arctic archipelago in Russia and Eurasia, thus signaling an end to the four-month-long pitch-dark polar night, Alexei Barakov, a deputy director of the Russian Arctic National Park told TASS.

"The Sun rose over Alexandra Land Island where the Omega permanent field base is located," he said.

Polar night began on Franz Josef Land, an archipelago lying only 1,100 km away from the North Pole, on October 18.

"The night is very cold, windy and dark there," Vadim Zakharyin, the chief of the national park’s expedition center told TASS.

"The Northern Lights rarely occur on the archipelago because the cloud cover is rather thick and low. The temperatures usually hover at around minus 30 C, with high humidity that is difficult to bear. Besides that winds reach hurricane-like speeds of 36 meters per second," he explained.

"You have to be especially careful in that darkness because you can run into polar bears there," Zakharyin said.

On Thursday, the weather on Alexandra Island was frigid and calm. Staying permanently on the Omega field base of the Russian Arctic National Park are two members of the park’s staff.

Only two of the 192 islands making up Franz Josef Land are habitable during the winter.

Alexandra Land, the westernmost island of the archipelago, is home to the Nagurskoye border outpost and a base of Russia’s North Fleet, in addition to the field base of the national park.

A weather monitoring station, also known as the observatory, is located on Heiss Island in the very center of the archipelago.

"Currently, there are six workers at the Ernst Krenkel Observatory," a spokesperson for the press section of the Northern Department for Meteorology and Environment Monitoring told TASS.