Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made this announcement in connection with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the successful attempt by Roald Amundsen and his crew to be the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. The funding will be earmarked for enhancing collaboration between Norway and other countries on polar research.
Flora, fauna and entire ecosystems are being increasingly affected by the rapid changes in the polar areas arising from climate change. Two consequences of the ice melt are greater access to natural resources and new opportunities for shipping traffic in these areas. International interest is growing dramatically.
International cooperation is crucial
Some of the new funding will be used to realise a cooperation agreement on polar research signed by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in November 2011. The agreement encompasses two specific collaborative projects: research on the ocean ecosystem and krill in the Southern Ocean and the shared cultural heritage of South Georgia. The third component of the agreement is the implementation of a workshop between the Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the UK to lay further plans for research cooperation in other areas in 2012-2016.
The new funding will also be used to expand cooperation on polar research with countries such as the US and Iceland.
Focus on climate change is positive
According to Prime Minister Stoltenberg, the additional funding will be targeted in particular at research on climate change and the ecosystem in the Southern Ocean.
“NOK 13 million per year from the Government for polar research is a welcome supplement,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. “Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s emphasis on research on climate change is completely in keeping with the Research Council’s recommendations. Climate research is one of our top priorities and an area with a tremendous need for research,” Mr Hallén notes.