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2013 Norway Sea Ice Workshop Report


Norway has significant expertise in sea-ice observations, research, and provision of operational sea-ice services. To help bring this community of experts from geophysics, remote sensing, modeling, observing and user groups together, the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) Project, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Norwegian Ice Service, and the Research Council of Norway held a 2-day workshop at the Fram Centre in Tromsø, on 18-19 February 2013. The workshop represented an opportunity for these groups to engage in dialog, strengthen and develop new collaborations and share future research objectives.

The meeting began with a comprehensive summary of who does sea ice work in Norway, where, and with whom, as seen by Sea Ice researcher S. Gerland, leader of the Oceans and Sea Ice section at the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Sea Ice research has a long history in Norway, beginning with the early Polar explorers such as Fridtjof Nansen and the Fram Expedition to the Arctic Basin (1893-96). Key current research areas include long term monitoring, and process studies, with field campaigns with Norwegian and international participation. Looking towards the future the possible change in Arctic shipping routes as a consequence of sea ice changes in the Arctic is a big driver of current and future research.

Norway has infrastructure available to support sea ice research including the NPI research station (Sverdrup Station) at Ny-Ålesund, the research vessel of the NPI RV Lance, and the Norwegian coastguard vessel KV Svalbard. Other important facilities are freezer laboratories at different locations (e.g. Tromsø, Fram Centre and UNIS, Longyearbyen).

Funding for sea ice studies in Norway is commonly sought from:
•    Research Council of Norway
•    Government (Ministries)
•    EU and other international funding
•    Norwegian Space Centre/ ESA
•    Private sector, oil & gas.

Sea Ice Research Priorities (Introduction)

The session on Monday afternoon was dedicated to a discussion of priorities for Norwegian sea ice research. A series of short talks covering different aspects of sea ice research provided an introduction to the breakout and discussion sessions.
Aleksey Marchenko from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) talked about three different aspects of sea ice mechanics research done at UNIS: measuring sea ice strength and the interaction of ice with coastal and offshore infrastructure. This was followed by a talk by Gunnar Spreen from the Norwegian Polar Institute, who presented his view of the three most pressing questions in sea ice remote sensing: (1) retrieving new quantities and establish reliable error estimates, (2) merging existing observations to new remote sensing products, (3) closing the gap between sea ice monitoring and climate system understanding. The final presentation was given jointly by Lars H. Smedsrud (Bjerknes Centre) and Laurent Bertino (NERSC) from Bergen. They addressed important questions and the way forward regarding sea ice and polar oceanography, and sea ice modelling and forecast.

The research priorities breakout sessions were focused on the identification of gaps in modelling and forecasting products, and the key requirements to support operations in ice infested waters.

Stakeholder Priorities

The first session on the Tuesday morning examined stakeholder priorities for sea ice information. The first presentation was provided by Nick Hughes, Leader of the Norwegian Ice Service at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (, who gave information on the “Research and Sea Ice Information Requirements” of the Ice Service. The viewpoint of the oil and gas industry was provided by B. Kvingedal, of Statoil, who explained the different needs of the industry at different stages of a project. Finally Lt. T.-I. Larsen presented information from the Norwegian Coastguard.

Breakout sessions focused on the identification of stakeholder needs. Within the shipping sector, which can be summed up very simply as “a 24 hour ice warning system”. Most ships have no ice class and would like to avoid interactions with the ice. In the oil & gas industry session, the desire for research collaboration was stressed & several possible projects were identified.

Recommendations for future Norwegian Sea Ice Research

The final session focused on the development of an action plan for the future, based on the discussions generated by the previous sessions, and on responses to a pre meeting questionaire.

The need for more focused collaboration between observational studies and modelling projects was identified to be of key importance to future sea ice research. It was proposed that a natural split existed within the research community, with groups in Oslo and Bergen leading the modelling component while Tromsø heads up the observational and fieldwork components. The development and evaluation of the sea ice co

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