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A New Policy for Antarctic Research


The Norwegian National Committee on Polar Research has made a Policy Platform Document for Norwegian Research in the Antarctic 2005 - 2009, commissioned by the Research Council of Norway. The document implies a considerable upgrade of Norwegian Antarctic research.

Being the only country with both Arctic and Antarctic territories, Norway has a special obligation to develop knowledge concerning the polar areas. The new policy document states that Norwegian Antarctic research should focus on topics where significant progress can be made. Furthermore, it should generate thorough knowledge on the proper management of the territories claimed by Norway.

Important issues are: climate, marine ecosystems and the effects of human activity. Attention is brought to the potential for Norwegian industry in Antarctic research, especially in the field of bioprospecting and technology development. Also included in the document is a survey of the environmental status in Antarctica, with particular regard to the Norwegian Troll station.

Norwegian Antarctic research is entering a new era, as the Troll station in Queen Maud Land soon will operate throughout the entire year and has its own airstrip. This makes it possible to distinguish between marine research and land-based research, and it requires a stronger national coordination.

Being a nation with territorial claims in Antarctica, Norway may now play a more active part in the coordination of international research in Queen Maud Land and the surrounding oceans. The planning and implementation of the International Polar Year in 2007-2008 is an important part of this work.

The Norwegian National Committee on Polar Research appointed an expert panel to make an outline of the new policy document. The panel was headed by Jan-Gunnar Winther from the Norwegian Polar Institute and its members were Professor Egil Sakshaug from NTNU, Prof. Tor Gammelsrød from the University of Bergen, and researcher Synnøve Elvevold from the Norwegian Polar Institute. Also involved were David Walton from the British Antarctic Survey and Eberhard Fahrbach from the Alfred Wegener Institut fur Polarforschung. The National Committee has revised the outline after it was evaluated by several research communities.

The new policy document will be instrumental in the Polar Institute’s allocation of NOK 5 million to Antarctic research in the year 2005-2006. In order to fulfil the ambitions of the policy document, however, the funding of Antarctic research will have to increase significantly.

Thomas Evensen | alfa
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