Norway – A major contributor in the International Polar Year

Fifty thousand researchers from over 60 countries were ready for action when International Polar Year (IPY) opened on 1 March. Norwegians are represented in half the IPY projects, making Norway one of the largest contributors to this global research initiative.

07/03/2007 :: The IPY 2007-2009 will probably be the largest international cooperative endeavour on research to date. Opening ceremonies were held on numerous locations around the world. In Oslo, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg cut the ribbons alongside thousands of school children.    

The International Polar Year spans two years, from 01 March 2007 to 01 March 2009, as two years are necessary for the researchers to get the required field work done in both polar regions.

 – The IPY is a unique cooperative and coordinative endeavour. It makes possible projects on climate research, for example, that cannot be realized unless many countries act together. Because such a vast number of scientists are brought together in collective effort , we will get access to a volume of data previously not available, says the Norwegian Minister of Education and Research, Øystein Djupedal.   

Norway will assume an active role during the IPY

– Norway has strong research communities with wide international networks, and we have a long tradition of expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. We can also offer a unique research infrastructure on Svalbard, the most accessible High Arctic area in the world. By granting at least NOK 320 million over a period of 4 years Norway places itself among the top contributors, says Mr. Djupedal.

Norway participates in about fifty per cent of the 206 approved international projects. The participation in the IPY is part of the implementation of the Norwegian government’s  strategy for the High North, where knowledge development is a central element.

Climate research is an important issue for the government. However, climate research faces challenges no one nation can meet alone. The polar ice is both an indicator of climate change and could itself be the cause of dramatic climate change.  Another research area that needs attention is the sea level, for which the most important factor is the development of the ice on land, especially in the Antarctica and on Greenland. As part of the IPY there are also research projects on how climatic changes and pollution may affect animal life in the polar regions. Questions related to indigenous peoples will be treated in social science projects, as part of the“Human dimension”, which is included as a new research theme in this polar year. The development of minority languages and how climate changes affect circumpolar societies and traditional vocations such as the reindeer herding are examples of themes being researched in Norwegian projects.

-We seek to communicate the activities of the IPY across a wide range of channels. Hopefully, this will raise awareness of polar research, of Norway’s unique role and  particular advantages in this field, and contribute to increased interest for the polar regions. Especially, I hope that the IPY will inspire children and young people to pursue research in the natural and social sciences, and help recruit a new generation of polar researchers, says the Minister of Education and Research.

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