This is one of the main conclusions of the newly published report, Norway’s research activities in the Antarctic 2013-2022 (Norwegian language only).
“The report provides vital input to the discussion on how the Research Council of Norway should proceed in order for Norway to become a leading polar research nation in the south on a par with its standing in the north,” says Fridtjof Unander, Executive Director of the Research Council’s Division for Energy, Resources and the Environment.
Norway is the only country withmanagement responsibility in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. But the amount of research carried out in the two regions is far from equal. In the Arctic, Norway is ranked number three among countries actively conducting research there, whereas efforts in the Antarctic place the country considerably further down the list, at number 21. The Research Council is actively seeking ways to increase research activities in the south.
Krill - a vital component in the marine ecosystem
“Norway can and should increase its research on krill,” say Bo Andersen, chair of the Norwegian National Committee on Polar Research.
Today, Norway is the largest harvester of krill in the Southern Ocean. The need to gain greater knowledge about krill is highlighted both because Norway harvests so much of it, and because it is such a vital component in the marine ecosystem.
“It is essential that we employ as integrated and science-based an approach to marine resource management in the Antarctic as we do in the Arctic,” states Mr Andersen.
The Research Council has issued a call for proposals for research on krill. The funding announcement is part of the follow-up to the cooperation agreement on polar research reached between the ministries of foreign affairs in Norway and the UK in November 2011.
Gives insight into climate change
“Research in the Antarctic, for example on changes in the ice sheets, enables Norway to contribute significantly to global climate research,” asserts Jan-Gunnar Winther of the Norwegian Polar Institute, who also headed the committee that drew up the report.
The report states that there is a compelling need for greater insight into changes to the ice sheets, including how they are affected by the sea and how they in turn affect sea levels.
The report will be an essential tool when the process of revising the Research Council’s policy document for Norwegian polar research gets underway in 2013.