The Nansen Legacy project gets the go-ahead

Marit Reigstad er prosjektleder for «Arven etter Nansen», og professor ved arktisk og marin biologi ved UiT Norges arktiske universitet. (Foto: Magne Velle)
Following six years of planning, Norwegian and Arctic marine research is set to take a giant leap forward. The Norwegian Research Council yesterday approved an application from the Nansen Legacy project, allowing the new Norwegian research vessel ‘Kronprins Haakon’ (Crown Prince Haakon) to soon set sails on its first research voyage.


Following six years of planning, Norwegian and Arctic marine research is set to take a giant leap forward. The Norwegian Research Council yesterday approved an application from the Nansen Legacy project, allowing the new Norwegian research vessel ‘Kronprins Haakon’ (Crown Prince Haakon) to soon set sails on its first research voyage.

Norway’s new ice-going research vessel had its maiden voyage on 19 July this year, along the Tuscan coast and in Corsica waters. On the exact same date next summer, the research vessel commences its first research voyage. That much is clear following the research council giving the go-ahead for the Nansen Legacy research project.

The project, which aims to map the northern parts of the Barents Sea, has an overall budget frame of nearly NOK 800 million (> €  80,000).

 

- Will be very significant

Norway has a big need for further knowledge of these areas, following sea ice melting and larger areas becoming available.

- The Nansen Legacy project has received praise from the experts. Everything is now set for research that will carry great significance for sea management and for the understanding of climate changes that are taking place, says John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Norwegian Research Council.

Following years of planning, the collaboration partners are now more than ready to take the Arctic marine research a giant leap forwards. The goal is to understand and learn more about how the climate and eco systems of the northern Barents Sea work and not at least; to see how it responds to climate changes.

- We have worked hard for this and we succeed thanks to extensive national team effort from all partner institutions. We will provide Norway with a solid foundation of knowledge and good tools for future management, strengthen cooperation in Polar research and educate a new generation of polar researchers, says project manager and professor at the University of Tromsø, Marit Reigstad.

The Nansen Legacy is a collaboration between the University of Tromsø, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the University of Bergen, the University of Oslo, the University Centre in Svalbard, the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center and Akvaplan-niva.

Minister of Education and Research: - Crucial

It was announced early September that the Norwegian government will allocated NOK 30 million each year for the next six years to this project.

According to the University of Tromsø, the Norwegian Research Council will match this allocation and the ten cooperating partners on the project will contribute with a total of NOK 360 million towards the project.

- The Nansen Legacy is a crucial project, says Minister of Education and Research, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

- I am very pleased that all the key Norwegian research institutions join forces to secure a solid development in the High North. It is vital for business development in the High North, for Norway’s reputation in polar and High North research, and also for Norway’s position as a responsible actor in the North, he adds.

- I think it is amazing that we now have the go-ahead to commence an extensive, modern and interdisciplinary project that many have been involved in developing. The Arctic is changing, and the main research areas of the Nansen Legacy project – the northern Barents Sea and the areas bordering on the Polar Sea – are key areas for these change processes, says deputy project manager of the project and senior researcher at the Norwegian Polar Institute, Sebastian Gerland.

Nearly 300 field days

The Nansen Legacy project aims for a total of 285 field days with the ‘Kronprins Haakon’ vessel during 2018 to 2022.

When the first field journey commences on 19 July, 2018 there will be mapping of water masses, water chemistry and the seabed, in order to prepare upcoming biology and geology studies. There is also a plan of setting out rigs that are to conduct measurings throughout the year.

- The Arctic and the Barents Sea are key elements of both Norwegian industry and cultural heritage, as well as in a global perspective where ongoing climate changes are among the most dramatic. It is thus both a joy as well as about time that we gather the significant competence that exists around the country in order to – literally – follow the sea edge northwards and understand the causes for and consequences of what is now happening, says professor Tor Eldevik of the University of Bergen, who is also deputy manager of the project.

Chairman of the Board of the Nansen Legacy project and pro-rector for Reseach at the University of Tromsø, Kenneth Ruud, is pleased that the Norwegian Research Council’s review has confirmed the high scientific quality of the Nansen Legacy project.

Model for future research

- This is an important project for Norway in order to secure a sustainable and knowledge-based management of the northern Barents Sea and the Polar Sea. The project constitutes an important element in the following up of the international evaluation of Norwegian polar research, which pointed to the importance of national cooperation. The Nansen Legacy with its ten national partners responds to this recommendation in a most suitable way and may become a future model for Norwegian polar research cooperation, says Ruud.

- I want to congratulate all those who for years have worked to bring us to where we are today and can start implementing the Nansen Legacy project, Ruud adds.

John-Arne Røttingen agrees that the recent evaluation of Norwegian polar research stresses the need for better coordination, and that the Nansen Legacy project contributes towards that.

- Big changes occur in the Arctic, and better knowledge is more important than ever to secure a sustainable development. Norway has the responsibility for and the opportunity to bring forth much of the knowledge required, and that is why this initiative is so important, Røttingen says.






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