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Norwegian polar research is world-class

A recent evaluation finds that Norwegian polar researchers publish world-class publications in many areas and that Svalbard plays an essential role as a research platform.

The evaluation committee was chaired by Dr. David Carlson of the US, who recently retired after many years as Executive Director of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The objective of the evaluation was to examine how polar research is funded, coordinated and prioritized in Norway, and to recommend how these mechanisms could be better organized in order to enhance the quality and the impact of the research conducted.

“The report attests to the high standard of Norwegian polar research. We should be proud of Norwegian polar research and our polar researchers,” says Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway, John-Arne Røttingen. (Photo: Research Council of Norway)

The evaluation committee also pointed out that Norway, with its extensive scientific and technical capabilities, has the opportunity and responsibility to contribute actively to understanding and predicting the major changes taking place in the Arctic. Svalbard in particular. Research on wide-ranging environmental changes and commercialization of the polar regions are identified as areas where Norway should take the lead in well-coordinated national and international polar research programmes.

“We can clearly take on greater responsibility as a coordinator of research in areas where Norwegian polar research is at the forefront, and we can also use a stronger voice internationally when it comes to flagging the major changes underway. Changes in the Arctic have an impact on the entire planet,” points out Dr Røttingen, “so this is an important task.”

The evaluation report stress the importance of drawing up a plan for polar research and education in Svalbard, with particular focus on the key role of the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and the activities in Ny-Ålesund. The Research Council will address some of these issues at the Svalbard Science Conference in Oslo in November. One of the aims of the conference is to improve coordination of research activities.