Jan Mayen

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Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen with the Beerenberg
Jan Mayen with the Beerenberg
Waters Arctic Ocean
Geographical location 71 ° 3 ′  N , 8 ° 14 ′  W Coordinates: 71 ° 3 ′  N , 8 ° 14 ′  W
Jan Mayen (Arctic)
Jan Mayen
length 54 km
width 15 km
surface 373 km²
Highest elevation Haakon VII Topp,
2277  m
Residents 18 researchers
<1 inh / km²
main place Olonkinbyen
Topographic map by Jan Mayen
Topographic map by Jan Mayen

Jan Mayen is a 373 km² island about 550 km northeast of Iceland and about 500 km east of Greenland on the border between the Greenland Sea and the European Arctic Ocean . It belongs politically to Norway , but is not assigned to any of the Norwegian provinces . The island is administered from the province of Nordland , the responsible administrative seat is Bodø . It is named after the Dutch whaling captain Jan Jacobs May van Schellinkhout .


The Weyprecht Glacier
Brielleturm ( Brielletårnet ) and Walrus Mountain ( Kvalrossen )

Jan Mayen is part of the North Atlantic Ridge . The island is located on the southern edge of the Jan Mayen fracture zone between the two splitting zones of the North Atlantic, the Kolbeinseyrücken and the Poppy Ridge . It represents the northernmost point of the Jan Mayen Ridge , a microcontinent that was previously part of the Greenland continental shelf , but has belonged to the Eurasian Plate since the activation of the Kolbeinsey Ridge in the west and the deactivation of the Aegir Ridge in the east . Unlike the geologically old and seismically inactive Jan Mayen Ridge, the island itself is of volcanic origin, frequently shaken by earthquakes and less than 500,000 years old.

The island is divided into the southern part Sør-Jan and the northern part Nord-Jan . 114.2 km² of Jan Mayen's area, almost a third, is glaciated . This is exclusively the ice cap of the 2277 m high Beerenberg on Nord-Jan, whose glacier streams pour in all directions and reach the sea in five places. The Weyprecht glacier leads directly from the main crater to the north-west coast of the island. Jan Mayen's coast is about 124 km long. The Sør-Jan group in the southwest of the island with its ash cones and lava domes , which reaches its highest point in Rudolftoppen (769 m), has probably been extinct for about 10,000 years, while the last eruptions on the northeast tip of the island did not occur until 1970 / 71, 1973 and 1985. The entire region is classified as hot-spot volcanism.


Kármán's Eddy Street near Jan Mayen

The island has a predominantly polar tundra climate - somewhat moderated by the Gulf Stream ( Köppen : ET). Fog as well as strong winds and storms can be observed throughout the year, which, due to the massive glaciation of the Beerenberg, are often local, sometimes strong, katabatic gusts . Under certain weather conditions, the Beerenberg also induces lee waves called " Kármán Wind " , which can be felt at a wavelength of up to 15 kilometers on the lee side up to a distance of several hundred kilometers. From February to April, Jan Mayen is surrounded by pack ice and drift ice. The coldest month of February has an average temperature of −6 ° C, the mildest month is August with an average temperature of 5 ° C. The annual mean temperature is close to −1 ° C. The observed temperature extremes are -28 ° C and 18 ° C. The annual total of precipitation is 693 mm on a long-term average. More than 0.1 mm of precipitation falls on around 230 days.

Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Jan Mayen
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) −2.7 −3.3 −3.1 −1.3 1.3 4.2 6.5 7.0 4.9 2.4 −0.5 −1.9 O 1.2
Min. Temperature (° C) −8.0 −9.0 −8.5 −6.0 −2.3 0.4 2.6 3.5 1.5 −1.5 −4.9 −6.6 O −3.2
Precipitation ( mm ) 61 53 55 40 40 35 47 61 82 82 66 65 Σ 687
Rainy days ( d ) 13 11 12 9 8th 8th 9 11 13 15th 13 13 Σ 135
Humidity ( % ) 83 83 84 83 85 87 89 87 83 83 81 82 O 84.2
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Jan Mayen is north of the Arctic Circle. The polar night lasts from November 20th to January 20th. However, the sun is only slightly below the horizon around noon. Even at the winter solstice on December 21st, it doesn't stay completely dark at this time of day. The midnight sun can be observed between May 13th and July 31st, the sun does not set on these days. The time of the white nights , i.e. the days with twilight nights on which the sun only sets for a short time, is between April 8th and September 4th.

fauna and Flora

Jan Mayen in relation to the North Atlantic Ridge
Vegetation between whale bones and tree trunks washed up from Siberia



The fauna is characterized by around 100 species of birds, 27 of which breed on the island. The common fulmar , the common beak , the eider , the kittiwake , the puffin , the crab grebe , the black guillemot and the arctic tern are particularly common . The island is designated as an Important Bird Area (SJ014) by BirdLife International .


On mammals you can find folding hats and harp seals . The arctic fox probably became extinct at the end of the 20th century due to the heavy hunted first by professional trappers and finally by the crew of the meteorological station. There was a population of the rare blue fox (subspecies of the arctic fox). Polar bears are occasionally encountered.


In freshwater North Laguna there is a population of Arctic char . Furthermore, the greenland shark (ice shark) is represented as another fish species in the sea area around the island .


Lichens and mosses

The very sparse tundra vegetation consists mainly of individual lichens and mosses .

Vascular plants

Vascular plants are rare and depend on fertilization from the droppings of sea ​​birds . The vegetation is therefore richest in the vicinity of their nesting sites. The most common vascular plants are various saxifrage plants , horn herbs , Greenland spoonbill , glacier buttercup , stemless ciliate , knotweed knotweed , alpine sardines , herb willow and alpine bluegrass . But you can also find some types of dandelion .


Map of the island by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650–1718) from 1692
Whaling off Jan Mayen, illustration from the 18th century
The former Austro-Hungarian research station on Jan Mayen Island (1883)
Map with previous settlements
“Signpost” near the station in Olonkinbyen
Eggøya , layers of volcanic ash; in the foreground driftwood from Siberia
Road on the northwest coast of the island near the only settlement

The exact year of Jan Mayen's discovery is not known. It is generally accepted that the English whaling captain John Clarke sighted the island on June 28, 1614 and that Dutch ships reached the island that same summer. It is possible that Henry Hudson discovered the island as early as 1608 on the second of his four voyages in search of a shorter sea connection to China ( Northwest Passage ), perhaps also Thomas Marmaduke in 1612. The island initially had different names, but from 1620 it sat down the name Jan Mayen after the Dutch whaling captain Jan Jacobs May van Schellinkhout.

Until 1640 the island was regularly visited by Dutch whalers. After an attack by the Basque whalers competing with them in 1632, Outgert Jakobsz wintered here with six other men in 1633/34 to protect the whaling station. When the Dutch ships reached the island again in the spring, all seven had died of scurvy . Around 1650, whaling came to a standstill in the waters around Jan Mayen. In the centuries that followed, the island was only occasionally visited by seal hunters. In 1817 the English whaler and explorer William Scoresby landed on Jan Mayen and climbed the Eskkrater, which he named among other geographical objects . When he returned the following year, he observed the volcanic eruption of April 29, 1818. A Swiss-German polar voyage under Georg Berna , Carl Vogt , Heinrich Hasselhorst and Amanz Gressly visited Jan Mayen in 1861. The participants managed to get to the south coast twice land. The name Turnbucht (Turnbukta) reminds of the daring venture. With their analysis of the collected basaltic rocks, the scientific exploration of the island began. An oil painting of the south coast of Hasselhorst is in the Historical Museum in Frankfurt am Main .

In the summer of 1877, the Norwegian North Sea Expedition , led by Henrik Mohn and Georg Ossian Sars, landed on the island and carried out botanical, zoological and geological studies. An improved Jan Mayen map was also made and the position of the island corrected, which was found nine miles to the west than what was indicated on William Scoresby's 1820 map, still in use.

At the suggestion of Carl Weyprecht and financed by Count Hans Wilczek , an Austro-Hungarian research station was set up during the First International Polar Year 1882/83. At the Maria Muschbukta, named after Maria Musch , at the foot of the Fugleberget (Vogelberg) , meteorological, magnetic and astronomical observations were made for thirteen months under the direction of Emil von Wohlgemuth .

From 1906 Norwegian fur hunters overwintered on the island. Up to the last hunting season 1928/1929 1091 arctic foxes had been caught, 992 of which were particularly valuable blue foxes. The polar bear playing - unlike in Svalbard - as prey hardly matters. Only five animals were shot between 1906 and 1929.

Jan Mayen became part of the Kingdom of Norway on February 27, 1930. The island was administered by Sysselmann on the Spitzbergen archipelago further north-east until December 31, 1994 , and then by Fylkesmann von Nordland.

Since 1921 there have been various permanently manned meteorological stations and coastal radio stations one after the other, with short interruptions . The first was Eldstemetten . It was made unusable by the Norwegians in 1940 and abandoned, rebuilt in April 1941 at another location (Gamle Metten) and moved to Olonkinbyen in 1962 . It still exists today.

As part of the Second International Polar Year 1932/33, an Austrian polar station worked on the island for a period of 14 months. Its scientific director was Hanns Tollner (1903–1986), a meteorologist from the University of Vienna . The scientists lived in an outbuilding of the Norwegian weather station, which they called "Hotel Austria".

During the Second World War , Jan Mayen was flown over several times by German aircraft belonging to the weather exploration squadron (WEKUSTA), with two machines colliding with the hills on the island in bad weather and fog and crashing. A German attempt on 28./29. Establishing a base in October 1940 with the trawlers Fritz Homann (WBS 3) and Hinrich Freese (WBS 4 ), which were converted into weather observation ships (WBS), as well as two Heinkel He 115 float planes , struck due to insufficient preparation and equipment as well as due to the time of the year very unfavorable weather and sea conditions fail. Both planes were lost, the crews were rescued and brought back to Trondheim . Jan Mayen himself was not taken into possession and remained under Norwegian suzerainty. The station was partially destroyed by the Norwegian occupation in 1940 and abandoned at British instigation. In April 1941, with the help of soldiers, the station was rebuilt in order to have it ready for use during the war. After the end of the war, the Norwegians used the American radio and direction finding station Atlantic City on the North Lagoon, built in 1943 .

In 1960 the Jan Mayensfield airfield was created with what is now a 1.6 km long unpaved runway . A weather station and the manned "Long Range Navigation" (Loran ‑ C) base in Olonkinbyen were set up nearby. Today it is the only inhabited settlement on Jan Mayen. The 18-person team is replaced every six months. Except for the area of ​​the settlement, the entire island and the coastal waters have formed the strictly protected nature reserve "Jan Mayen" ( WPDA-ID 393044) since 2010 .


Tourism is only carried out as part of so-called expedition cruises , which pass the island two to three times a year. Landings are often attempted, but are extremely rare due to poor weather conditions. Landing near Olonkinbyen is the most common, if anything, and hike with a guide or two on the road leading towards Olonkinbyen.


The country-specific top-level domain (ccTLD) .sj exists for Jan Mayen and Spitzbergen, but is currently unused. It is administered by the company UNINETT Norid AS , which is also responsible for the Norwegian ccTLD .no . Like the ccTLD of Bouvetinsel .bv , the top-level domain of Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen is reserved for potential future use.


  • Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Bente Brekke, Inger Greve Alsos, John Richard Hansen: Nature and culture miljøet on Jan Mayen: med en vurdering av verneverdier, kunnskapsbehov and forvaltning . Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo 1997 (= Meddelelser No. 144). ISBN 82-7666-126-2 ( PDF; 10.5 MB , Norwegian).
  • Rolf Stange: Jan Mayen. Nature and history of the outpost in the North Atlantic. Self-published by Rolf Stange, ISBN 3-937903-04-6 .
  • Andreas Umbreit: Spitzbergen with Franz-Joseph-Land and Jan Mayen. Conrad Stein Verlag, 7th edition 2004, ISBN 3-89392-282-2 .
  • John Green, Thomas Astley: Description of Jean Mayen Island or Trinity Island (with a map) . In: General history of trips on water and on land or collection of all travel descriptions ... 19th Bd. Verlag Arkstee and Merkus, Leipzig 1769, p. 64-65 . Digitized
  • Josef Chavanne : Jan Mayen and the Austrian Arctic Observation Station: history and preliminary results of the same. According to the notes and reports of the chief lieutenant of the line, E. von Wohlgemuth . 66 p. With 6 illustrations. and a card. A. Hartleben, Vienna 1884.
  • International polar research 1882–1883: The Austrian polar station Jan Mayen equipped by his Excellency Count Hanns Wilczek, led by KK Corvette Captain Emil Edlen von Wohlgemuth . Observation results published by the Imperial Academy of Sciences , Karl Gerold's Sohn, Vienna 1886, I. Bd. , II. Bd., I. Dept. , II. Bd., II. Dept. , III. Vol.

Web links

Commons : Jan Mayen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Jan Mayen  - geographical and historical maps

Individual evidence

  1. a b Geir Wing Gabrielsen et al., 1997, p. 9.
  2. a b Mathilde Bottger Sørensen, Lars Ottemöller, Jens Havskov, Kuvvet Atakan, Bjarte Light Evang, Rolf Birger Pedersen: Tectonic Processes in the Jan Mayen Fracture Zone Based on Earthquake Occurrence and bathymetry (PDF, 3.1 MB). In: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 97, No. 3, 2007, pp. 772-779 (English). doi : 10.1785 / 0120060025
  3. ^ Jon Mosar, Gavin Lewis, Trond H. Torsvik: North Atlantic sea-floor spreading rates: implications for the Tertiary development of inversion structures of the Norwegian – Greenland Sea (PDF; 1.26 MB). In: Journal of the Geological Society, London 159, 2002, pp. 503-515.
  4. Geir Wing Gabrielsen et al., 1997, p. 21.
  5. ^ Climate - Jan Mayen. Retrieved January 7, 2019 .
  6. ^ Jan Andries van Franeker, Cornelis Jan Camphuysen, Fridtjof Mehlum: The birds of Jan Mayen . In: Circumpolar Journal 13, 1998, pp. 28-43.
  7. a b Jan Mayen on the website of the Norwegian Polar Institute, accessed on May 16, 2013 (English)
  8. Jan Mayen on the BirdLife International website, accessed on May 16, 2013 (English)
  9. a b c Stig Skreslet: Jan Mayen Island Ecology. Its Relation to the Arctic Mediterranean Ecosystem . In: Stig Skreslet (Ed.): Jan Mayen Island in Scientific Focus . NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Oslo, November 11-15, 2003. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004, ISBN 978-1-4020-2956-1 , pp. 101–112 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  10. ^ Johannes Lid: The Flora of Jan Mayen . Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo 1964 (= Norsk Polarinstitutt Skrifter No. 130), p. 13 ( PDF; 7.97 MB , Norwegian).
  11. Geir Wing Gabrielsen et al., 1997, pp. 15f.
  12. A diary kept by seven sailors who wintered on the island of St. Maurice (Jan Mayen) near Greenland from 1633 to 1634 and all of them died on this island . Annex II in The Austrian Arctic Observation Station on Jan Mayen 1882–1883 , published by Gerold & Co., Vienna 1882
  13. Susan Barr: Historical remains on Jan Mayen , Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo 1985 (= Meddelelser No. 108). ISBN 82-90307-34-9 ( PDF ; 6.5 MB, Norwegian / English), p. 49.
  14. ^ William Scoresby: An Account of the Arctic Regions, with a History and Description of the Northern Whale-Fishery . Vol. 1, Archibald Constable and Co., Edinburgh 1820, pp. 154-169
  15. ^ Henrik Mohn: Contributions to the Geography and Natural History of the Northern Regions of Europe, derived from observations made on the Norwegian North-Atlantic Expedition (1876–1878) . Grøndahl, Christiania 1882.
  16. Odd Lønø: Norske fangstmenns overvintringer , part 2: Jan Mayen (PDF; 2.2 MB), Norsk Polarinstitutt Meddelser No. 103, Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo 1974, p. 94ff. (Norwegian)
  17. Sailing Directions Svalbard and Jan Mayen (PDF; 57.2 MB). Norwegian Hydrographic Service, Stavanger 2012, ISBN 978-82-90653-30-4 , p. 357.
  18. ^ Jan Mayen in Svalbard and Jan Mayen . In: protectedplanet.net, accessed December 7, 2018.
  19. About Norid , UNINETT Norid AS, accessed on June 29, 2016 (English)