Since the 1960s, the former mining village of Ny-Ålesund, on the Svalbard Islands, has been transformed into an important research centre dedicated to the Arctic environment and its components (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere). In Ny-Ålesund, international cooperation allows for and enhances the study of the complex interconnections between biological phenomena and physical, chemical, dynamic and radiation processes. Eleven countries, including Italy, currently maintain research stations in Ny-Ålesund, where research projects and continuous monitoring activities take place all year round. Science-related activity in Ny-Ålesund is coordinated by NySMAC (Ny-Ålesund Science Manager Committee), a scientific and technical committee bringing together the eleven station managers.
"Dirigibile Italia", whose name recalls the 1928 expedition by Umberto Nobile, was opened in 1997 as a multidisciplinary research station. It is managed by the Italian National Research Council; its research activities are coordinated by the CNR Department for Earth-System Sciences and Environmental Technologies.
Of a surface of 330 square metres, 170 are office and lab space. The base is open all year round, though it is manned only while research activities are taking place. It can host up to seven researchers, working on: atmospheric chemistry and physics; marine biology; physics of the high atmosphere; technological research, geology and geophysics; glaciology and permafrost; paleoclimate; oceanography and limnology; terrestrial ecosystems; environmental studies; human biology and medicine. Starting in 2009, three important multidisciplinary observation platforms have been added to the station: the Amundsen-Nobile Climate Change Tower (CCT), the aerosol and Gruvebadet interface processes lab (GVB) and a mooring (MD1) in the Kongsfjiorden.