Svalbard is a group of islands belonging to Norway, and lying between 76° and 81°N in the Arctic Ocean. The islands are commonly known as Spitsbergen in English-speaking countries, but the Norwegians use that name only for the main island.
Svalbard has been extensively mapped by the Norsk Polarinstitutt (NPI) (formerly Svalbard- og Ishavs-Undersøkelse) since 1947, and there is a continuing program. Triangulation and field survey began in 1911, continuing into the 1920s and provided the original control for the maps, which are compiled photogrammetrically from air photos flown in 1936 and subsequently. Early photographs were oblique, but since 1960 only vertical photographs have been used in map compilation. New photography at 1:50,000 scale was flown in 1990. The main topographic series is at 1:100,000. Twenty-three sheets are litho printed in color; the remainder are preliminary editions and are available as diazo prints, some with and some without toponyms. The contour interval is 50 m or 25 m in low-lying areas, the projection is UTM and the more recent sheets have a UTM grid. Horizontal datum is ED 50, but from 1997, sheets are being adjusted to WGS 84 datum. Sheets normally cover 20′ in latitude and 2° 30′ longitude.
A number of larger scale maps of specific areas have been published by NPI in recent years. These include a set of eight 1:10,000 scale sheets which cover the Brøgger Peninsula (including a digital edition of the Ny-Ålesund sheet), and four digitally-produced sheets of Longyearbyen and its surroundings at 1:5,000 scale.
Small-scale cover of the archipelago is provided in four sheets at 1:500,000 scale on a Lambert conformal conic projection. These have 100 m contours with glaciers shown in white and unglacierized areas in yellow. In 1998 a 1:250,000 scale map in three sheets was published in aeronautical and topographic editions. General maps of the archipelago are also available at scales of 1:1,000,000 and 1:2,000,000.
Bear Island (Bjørnøya) was originally surveyed in 1922-31. The 1:25,000 scale map of the island were last published in 1955, but a new map at 1:50,000 scale was published in 1992. This is on a UTM projection, and has 20 m interval contours.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Svalbard is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1983); 1:500,000 (8 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1981) and 1:200,000 (44 sheets, complete coverage, published 1978-1979). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
A series of 1:200,000 scale coastal maps of Svalbard has been in progress since 1992. Hydrographic charts are published by Statens Kartverk – Sjøkartverket, Stavanger.
In 1988 a 1:100,000 scale geological series was started and sheets are currently available. Included in this series is a 1:50,000 scale geological sheet of Bjørnøya, published in 1995.
A 1:2,000,000 scale geological map was published by NPI as part of Geology of Svalbard by A. Hjelle, available in Norwegian Polarhåndbok 6 or English Polarhåndbok 7. Recently several small-scale earth science and environmental maps have been published as part of the National atlas of Norway.
Surveys and radio-echo sounding of Svalbard glaciers have been carried out by Swedish, Soviet, Polish, German and British research institutes as well as by NPI. Geomorphological maps of Reindalen, Gipsdalen and Kvadehukssletta have been published, and a number of large scale vegetation maps are also available. An atlas of marine and terrestrial fauna in Southern Spitsbergen has been published by the Department of Marine Ecology in the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (Zaklad Ekologii Instytutu Oceanologii PAN).