The Wahlenberg glacier in Norway's Svalbard archipelago is calving icebergs at an increasing rate because of warming ocean waters, according to the international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Kim Holmén, who has lived in Svalbard for three decades, describes the changes he has seen as "profound, large and rapid".

"The winter air temperature has risen by almost 10 degrees across the last 30 years; the ocean is warmer," he says.

"We are losing the Svalbard we know. We are losing the Arctic as we know it because of climate change. This is a forewarning of all the hardship and problems that will spread around the planet."

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The Wahlenberg glacier and others in the archipelago have become known for their "surges" - as glaciers recede, they can suddenly move at a pace of several metres per day for a few years, destroying everything in their path.

Since 1970, average annual temperatures have risen by 4C in Svalbard, with winter temperatures rising more than 7C, according to a report released by the Norwegian Centre for Climate Services in February.

The "Climate in Svalbard 2100" report also warns that the annual mean air temperature in Svalbard is projected to increase by 7-10C Celsius by the end of this century.

Since 1979, the Arctic sea ice extent has declined by nearly 12% per decade, with the most pronounced winter reduction in the Svalbard and Barents Sea area.

Sea ice helps to insulate the Earth's atmosphere to stop as much heat emitting from oceans in the winter. In summer more solar radiation is absorbed in the sea, without a layer of ice to protect it.

Warming water brought from the North Atlantic ocean to the Arctic via the Gulf stream is causing the sea ice to melt even faster, removing an extra layer of protection for the atmosphere and exacerbating the climate crisis.

"We expected climate to change first and fastest in the Arctic and in particular here in Svalbard because the sea ice would recede as the ocean is warming," Holmen says.