20 years of the Nansen Center in India – bilateral seminar on Ocean Space in Chennai

The Nansen Environmental Research Centre - India (NERCI) in Cochin was registered as a none-profit Indo-Norwegian joint-venture company in 1999 and celebrated its 20thanniversary with its scientific partners and associates from India and 

Director general Anne Line Wold, Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, has just unveiled the Book on 20 years of scientific abstracts of NERCI. From left: Lasse H. Pettersson (NERSC/NERCI), Bindu G. (NERCI), Nandini Menon (NERCI), HE Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ajith Joseph (NERCI), Director general Anne Line Wold (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research), Kristin Danielsen (Research Council of Norway) and Milind P Wakdikar (Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India).Director general Anne Line Wold, Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, has just unveiled the Book on 20 years of scientific abstracts of NERCI. From left: Lasse H. Pettersson (NERSC/NERCI), Bindu G. (NERCI), Nandini Menon (NERCI), HE Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ajith Joseph (NERCI), Director general Anne Line Wold (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research), Kristin Danielsen (Research Council of Norway) and Milind P Wakdikar (Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India).

Norway. The 20thanniversary was associated with the official visit of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Research and Higher Education delegation to India. The anniversary was accordingly hosted as part of the Indo-Norwegian “Ocean Space” seminar on bilateral co-operation in Ocean, Climate and Polar research and technology, on 5th and 6thFebruary 2020 organized at Indian Institute of Technology Madras Research Park in Chennai. The Ocean Space and Renewable Energy and Energy Systems seminars were conducted in a parallel. The seminar was inaugurated by HE ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund and Director general Anne Line Wold, Norwegian Ministry of Research and Higher Education.

The Ambassador highlighted the long-term marine cooperation between Norway and India, starting with the FAO/UNDP Nansen Fisheries program on investigations of fishery resources and mechanizing the fisheries in Kerala during the 1970ties. He further underlined the importance and central role of the oceans in both the two academic parts of the seminar. The Ambassador thanked Smart Innovation Norway and the Nansen Center for planning the two academic seminars, which had extensive participation from both Norway and India, opening for establishment of new connections and areas of cooperation.

Director general Anne Line Wold underlined the overarching importance of the climate and environmental changes the Earth are facing today and that requires both new scientific knowledge and action. She presented highlights from the life of the scientist, explorer, humanist and Nobel Peace laureate Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. Among other mentioning his attempt to drift across the North Pole and vision to look forward, taking the risk to walk on skis towards the North Pole. The Director general and the Ambassador both congratulated NERCI on its 20th anniversary and the DG unveiled the book of Abstracts of NERCI´s scientific achievements.  The opening remarks were concluded with the wishes that the seminar should contribute for stepping up the bilateral Indo-Norwegian research and educational cooperation. 

The MoU between the Nansen Centers and the Amity University signed by (from left at the table) Director M.S. Madhusoodanan, Director Sebastian H. Mernild (NERSC) and Executive director Ajith K. Joseph (NERCI), overseen by the Ambassador Fryenlund and the Director General Wold.The MoU between the Nansen Centers and the Amity University signed by (from left at the table) Director M.S. Madhusoodanan, Director Sebastian H. Mernild (NERSC) and Executive director Ajith K. Joseph (NERCI), overseen by the Ambassador Fryenlund and the Director General Wold.During the opening session the two Nansen Centers signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Amity Institute of Global Warming and Ecological Studies, Amity University in Uttar Pradesh in order to develop joint co-operation in research and higher education in particular, in areas of ocean studies, remote sensing and fisheries, socioeconomics and fisheries, climate variability and marine living resources. A renewal of the MoU with Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), also including the Nansen Scientific Society (not present), was signed, in order to develop joint co-operation in research and higher education in particular, in areas of Ocean studies, Remote Sensing and Fisheries, Socio-economics and Fisheries, Climate variability and marine living resources. The MoU ceremony was overseen by the Ambassador and the Director General and signed by Director Sebastian H. Mernild (NERSC), Executive director Ajith K. Joseph (NERCI), and Director M.S. Madhusoodanan and Senior scientist Ambilicumar, respectively.

NERCI 20 years

In February 1997, Prof. Ola M. Johannessen, the Founding director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), Bergen took the initiative to host a three-day NansenInternational Workshop on Coastal Ecosystem Studies in Cochin, Kerala. This initiative and the workshopwere a key platform for initiating the new environmental marine research centre in Cochin. The Indo-Norwegian joint venture registered was in 1999 in the State of Kerala as a non-profit research company under“Article 25” (similar as a scientific foundation) in partnership between TerraOrbit AS (a subsidiary  of the Nansen Center in Bergen), and the Indian partners Norinco Technical Services Pvt. Ltd and JACOB (Ms. Anita Jacob). Since, the first director Dr. Paul Samuel the Centre has developed the bilateral and international cooperation, including an extensive scientific cooperative network of cooperation with Indian research institutions and universities, in the fields of ocean, atmospheric, climate and environmental research. 

Collage of NERCI workshops and research schools during 20 years.Collage of NERCI workshops and research schools during 20 years.

The vision of NERCI is to serve the society through advancing knowledge on south Asian monsoon, ocean variability, and coastal marine ecosystem for sustainable development by promoting interdisciplinary research and education cooperation programmes in the spirit of Nobel laureate Fridtjof Nansen. It is NERCI's mission to generate scientific results of high relevance and to disseminate the science for the benefit of society.

For the last two decades, NERCI has been contributing to science, particularly in the fields of marine, atmospheric and climate research, imbibing a culture of collaboration and networking within science, providing capacity building within and for the young generation of oceanographers, marine biologists and atmospheric scientists. Looking back at the track record of NERCI, more than seventy scientific publications have been delivered during in the last 20 years in national and international peer reviewed scientific journals by a handful of scientists and students at NERCI. Six Ph.D. students have been awarded their doctoral degrees by memoranda of understanding partner Universities – i.e. Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), University of Bergen, and Anna University, Chennai. The students were supported with fellowship grants from Nansen Scientific Society, as well as scientific supervision and contributions from NERSC and other partner institutions. Around twenty alumni of NERCI are well placed in coveted positions primarily in India as well as internationally. About fifty Master theses have been supervised by NERCI scientists. During this period, projects worth approximately 14.4 million NOK has been handled and knowledge exchange was facilitated to both the Indian and European, including Norwegian, scientific community and society. The research covers climate change, oceanography, marine ecosystem, Asian monsoon and Arctic teleconnection, promoting bilateral and international exchange visits and recruitment. 

A major recognition of NERCI was the award as the coordinator of the European Commission 7th Framework program (FP7) project “INDO-MARECLIM; Indo-European Research Facilities for Studies on Marine Ecosystem and Climate in India”. This was the first EU research project coordinated by an Inidan institution and its dedicated coordinator late Prof. N.R. Menon. The overall objective of INDO-MARECLIM was to use and extend the research infrastructure at NERCI in order to strengthen scientific cooperation between India and the European Union member states and associated countries in the scientific fields of:

  • monsoon climate variability, 
  • marine ecosystems studies and 
  • costal management, including impact on society. 

Thematically the research topics focused on studies of the impact of monsoons and climate change on the marine ecosystems of the northern Indian Ocean, with emphasis on the coastal zone and NERCI capitalized on established research and Indo-European / Norwegian cooperation, mainly including five European partners - NERSC, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK, ALTERRA, The Netherlands, IFREMER, France and the Italian Climate Research Institute(CMCC), Italy. The project resulted in the establishment of the research infrastructure at NERCI, 17 joint scientific publications. During the course of INDO-MARECLIM a total number of 138 scientists and about 450 young scientists from approximately 60 Indian and 33 European research institutions were involved in 50 events including conferences, workshops, seminars, lecture series, exhibitions events and exchange of scientific cooperation and partnership. In addition, around 200 Indian students and 38 EU students had the opportunity to learn from the research schools, tutorial lectures and hands on training organized during the INDO-MARECLIM and other projects.

 

Book of Abstracts NERCI 20 years.Book of Abstracts NERCI 20 years.A more extensive summary of NERCI is given in the 20 years in science Book of Abstracts, published on the occasion of the 20thanniversary.

 

The Nansen Centers in India and Norway, and its affiliates, were well represented at the Indo-Norwegian “Ocean Space” seminar on bilateral co-operation in Ocean, Climate and Polar research and technology.The Nansen Centers in India and Norway, and its affiliates, were well represented at the Indo-Norwegian “Ocean Space” seminar on bilateral co-operation in Ocean, Climate and Polar research and technology.

Some of the panelists in the Ocean Space seminar sharing their experiences from bilateral cooperation.Some of the panelists in the Ocean Space seminar sharing their experiences from bilateral cooperation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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