This is the conclusion of a committee of international experts commissioned by the Research Council of Norway to evaluate Norwegian earth sciences research. The earth sciences encompass a number of subject fields that study aspects of the planet Earth, including the atmosphere.
According to the evaluation committee, Norway is at the international forefront in many fields, such as climate research, meteorology and atmospheric research, marine geology and marine geoscience research, and petroleum research. In a national context, it is essential for Norway to maintain its strengths in these fields in the years to come.
Essential for climate and petroleum research
Earth sciences research is a key component of climate research, which is a high-priority research area in Norway.
“The earth sciences help us to develop our understanding of the climate system and climate change, and provide knowledge about the impacts of climate change, such as avalanches and landslides, for instance. This knowledge is also essential for all other aspects of climate research. High-quality earth sciences research is vital if Norway and the global society are to adequately adapt to climate change,” says Camilla Schreiner, director of the Department for Climate and Polar Research at the Research Council.
Earth sciences research is also crucial for activities in the petroleum sector.
“Such research is critical for how we exploit the oil and gas reserves on the Norwegian continental shelf and for training the experts that the petroleum sector will need in the future,” states Siri Helle Friedemann, director of the Department for Petroleum Research at the Research Council.
High citation score
Norwegian earth science researchers have a very high publication rate, in both a national and international context. The field ranks fourth in Norway in terms of the total number of citations in international scientific journals. The evaluation committee points out, however, that the number of citations varies greatly among research groups. The universities account for a much larger proportion of international publication than the independent research institutes.
Must develop strategies
According to the evaluation committee, several of the research groups would benefit from more effective management and the development of clear strategies. Research activity is currently spread across too many topics, and plans for publication and recruitment are lacking.
Jørn Hurum is a Norwegian paleontologist, internationally famous for the acquisition and scientific description of a 47 million year old primitive primate, which he named “Ida”. (Photo: Andreas B. Johansen)
It is strongly recommended that the research groups give priority to drawing up strategic plans to focus research activity on areas that will strengthen and further develop the earth sciences community.
The Research Council will invite the institutions and research groups to submit input on how to solve local and national challenges. Input will be assessed by a committee appointed by the Research Council and comprised of representatives of the research community and the evaluation committee. The committee will then draw up recommendations for how the Research Council should follow up the evaluation report.