The polar regions are under mounting pressure from climate impacts, pollution, wider accessibility, and economic activity. Conditions in the Arctic are changing rapidly, while interest in the polar regions is steadily growing both in Norway and abroad.
Norway’s interests in the Arctic and Antarctic and its national as well as international commitments carry with them an added responsibility to develop the knowledge needed to ensure sound management and responsible economic activity in the polar regions. Such knowledge is also crucial for Norway’s ability to play a leading role in international negotiations involving issues related to climate, natural resources and the environment.
An important element in this context will be to maintain and enhance the knowledge generated during the International Polar Year (IPY 2007-2009). The Policy for Norwegian polar research 2010-2013 Vedlegg (PDF-7 654.2 KB) was formulated on the basis of key challenges and opportunities for Norwegian polar research, new trends in the polar regions, and Norway’s overall interests in this context. The document was prepared by the Norwegian National Committee on Polar Research for the Research Council of Norway. The Research Council of Norway established the Programme on Polar Research (POLARFORSKNING) in 2011 to address the research-related challenges identified during IPY, in the polar research policy document and elsewhere.
Several of the Research Council’s other programmes also deal with polar-related issues. The greatest polar focus is found under the Programme on Climate Change and Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA), but polar research is also included in the portfolios of the Space Research Programme (ROMFORSKNING), the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme (HAVKYST), the Optimal Management of Petroleum Resources Programme (PETROMAKS), and the Norwegian Environmental Research Toward 2015 Programme (MILJO2015).
Svalbard Science Forum (SSF)
Developing Svalbard as a platform for Arctic research is a national objective. In accordance with international agreements and Norwegian legislation, Norway is responsible for research activities on Svalbard.
The objective of Svalbard Science Forum (SSF) is to develop Svalbard as a platform for Arctic research. The SSF provides information about and coordinates all research carried out on Svalbard by the various institutions, while promoting collaboration among them. In addition, the forum provides an overview of available infrastructure as well as information about logistics, research bases, application processes for permits, and more. An important objective is to base the establishment of new research infrastructure and international research in the existing Norwegian settlements of Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund. The SSF administers Svalbard Strategic Grant to projects and workshops and Arctic Field Grant to fieldwork in Svalbard. The SSF reports to the Research Council through the National Committee on Polar Research.
Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS)
Understanding current and future climate-related change, particularly in the polar regions, requires an integrated earth system approach. This means that we are not only studying the individual processes, but also their interactions at all levels in five spheres: the biosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere and hydrosphere.
While earth system models have already come far in terms of integrating processes, the observation systems have not yet been developed with the same systematic approach. SIOS seeks to address this gap at the regional level by:
- establishing an Arctic earth observation system in and around Svalbard which integrates and complements existing research and monitoring platforms for geophysical, biological and chemical studies aimed at matching integrated models;
- utilising satellite remote sensing data that is available via the receiving station on Svalbard and the space centres that use that station.
- building a close collaboration with other ESFRI projects that are planning activities in the European Arctic, as well as with existing regional research networks in the European Arctic and with pan-Arctic initiatives such as the Sustained Arctic Observing Network (SAON).
The activities of Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS) are coordinated by the Research Council
Cooperation with USA
The agreement on polar research cooperation between USA (through the National Science Foundation) and Norway (the Research Council) lays the foundation for joint research activities between Norwegian and US scientists. Activities started in 2006 and receive funding of NOK 2 million annually. In 2013, funding was allocated to 8 projects for the period 2013-2015.
Cooperation with Russia
The agreement on polar research cooperation with Russia (through the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation) and Norway (Research Council) encompasses polar research on Svalbard. The objective is to strengthen scientific cooperation and the coordination of research on Svalbard. The two countries meet annually to discuss research activities and priorities. Activities started in 2006 and receive funding of NOK 3 million annually. In 2013, funding was allocated to 6 projects for the period 2013-2015.
Cooperation with Italy
An agreement on polar research cooperation also exists between Italy and Norway (through the Research Council). The countries meet annually. No funding is currently allocated to this cooperation.
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