Vyacheslav Korotki is a man of extreme solitude. He is a trained polyarnik, a specialist in the polar north, a meteorologist. In the past thirty years, he has lived on Russian ships and more recently, in Khodovarikha, an Arctic outpost, where he was sent by the state to measure the temperatures, the snowfall, the winds.

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The outpost lies on a fingernail of a peninsula that juts into the Barents Sea. The closest town, by any definition, is an hour away by helicopter. He has a wife, but she lives far away, in Arkhangelsk. They have no children. On his rare visits to Arkhangelsk, he has trouble negotiating the traffic and the noise. Arkhangelsk is not Hong Kong. Korotki is sixty-three, and when he began his career he was an enthusiast, a romantic about the open spaces and the conditions of the Arctic. He watches the news on TV but doesn’t fully believe it.

Slava walks to the old lighthouse near Hodovarikha meteorological station to take (dismantle) some fire wood from it’s walls. Full moon.

Slava walks to the old lighthouse near Khodovarikha meteorological station to take (dismantle) some firewood from its walls. Full moon.

Polyarnik were like cosmonauts, explorers for the Soviet state. There are fewer now. Who wants to live like this anymore? Evgenia Arbugaeva, a photographer who grew up in the Arctic town of Tiksi, spent two extended stays with Korotki. “The world of cities is foreign to him—he doesn’t accept it,” she says. “I came with the idea of a lonely hermit who ran away from the world because of some heavy drama, but it wasn’t true. He doesn’t get lonely at all. He kind of disappears into tundra, into the snowstorms. He doesn’t have a sense of self the way most people do. It’s as if he were the wind, or the weather itself.

Slava’s desk with meteorological journals, psychometric table, atlas of clouds and other books. Photograph of Yuriy Gagarin cut out form newspaper that announced his death in 1968.

Slava’s desk with meteorological journals, psychometric table, atlas of clouds and other books. Photograph of Yuriy Gagarin cut out form newspaper that announced his death in 1968.

Slava in his office writes down the collected data in the journal after his observations on the meteorological field outside.

Slava in his office writes down the collected data in the journal after his observations on the meteorological field outside.

The match house. From time to time during long polar nights Slava makes structres made of matches to kill time.

The match house. From time to time during long polar nights Slava makes structres made of matches to kill time.

Slava measures the sea level. “tallow” (meteorological term) ice covers the water surface.

Slava measures the sea level. “tallow” (meteorological term) ice covers the water surface.

View of the Barents Sea from the berth window of ship Mikhail Somov as it approaches the Peninsula of Russkiy Zavorot.

View of the Barents Sea from the berth window of ship Mikhail Somov as it approaches the Peninsula of Russkiy Zavorot.

Slava in his handmade boat on the bay of Barents Sea near meteorological station.

Slava in his handmade boat on the bay of Barents Sea near meteorological station.

Cloudiness of 10 points, lower tier 0, Altocumulus. Moderate blowing snow, visibility of 4 km. Air temperature -20 C. Relative humidity 83%. Wind North East 12 meters per second with gusts up to 14 meters per second, without precipitation. Northern Lights intensity from mild to moderate, yellow-green color.

Cloudiness of 10 points, lower tier 0, Altocumulus. Moderate blowing snow, visibility of 4 km. Air temperature -20 C. Relative humidity 83%. Wind North East 12 meters per second with gusts up to 14 meters per second, without precipitation. Northern Lights intensity from mild to moderate, yellow-green color.

Radio station which Slava uses to report the data to the meteorological center. Very often the information doesn’t go through for days due to the bad connection during strong winds and snowstorms.

Radio station which Slava uses to report the data to the meteorological center. Very often the information doesn’t go through for days due to the bad connection during strong winds and snowstorms.

From the window of his house Slava observes the landscape covered with fresh snow, after the night of strong storm.

From the window of his house Slava observes the landscape covered with fresh snow, after the night of strong storm.

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Photographs by Evgenia Arbugaeva