International collaboration in the Arctic with the Office of Naval Research, the Norwegian Coast Guard, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Last week, the Nansen Center had several prominent guests from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway. The reason for the visit was to discuss collaboration efforts and show highlights from the past two decades of collaboration in research, training, and technology between Norway and the USA.

 

Who was visiting?

Rear Admiral Lorin C. Selby is the Chief of Naval Research, leading the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in the US. He brought along Captain Matthew Farr, the Commanding Officer of ONR Global with the headquarters in London, as well as Dr. Elena McCarthy, the ONR Global Science Director, and three more. The Chief of the Norwegian Coast Guard, Oliver Berdal, was also part of the visiting party. Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University in Bergen, and the Nansen Center presented results from ongoing projects that are related to the visiting parties, be it through funding, ship time, or scientific collaboration.

Impressions of the visit. Photos: Henni Wilborn/Nansen CenterImpressions of the visit. Photos: Henni Wilborn/Nansen Center 

What are the connections?

ONR has been a funding source for the Nansen Center for decades. They have been funding field-based marine research during the early days of the Center, and again since around 2005, when the Center returned to field-based research in the Arctic Ocean. The Norwegian Coast Guard has been involved in supporting our research since 2007 by providing their vessels for research cruises. This way they have been able to train in Arctic conditions and ice operations while supporting research, for example during the CAATEX cruise in 2019, where moorings were set out in the Arctic Ocean and the KV Svalbard became the first Norwegian ship that reached the North Pole. And Scripps has been a partner institution collaborating with us in several research projects throughout the years.

 

Examples of collaboration in research, training, and technology

The Nansen Center has collaborated with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in acoustical oceanography in the Arctic since 2005 through an unbroken line of research projects. This has been made possible through research funding from ONR, the EU, and the Research Council of Norway. Ship time from the Norwegian Coast Guard has been enabling this work.

The Coordinated Arctic Acoustic Thermometry Experiment (CAATEX) is the largest and most recent project that has been made possible thanks to financial support from ONR and the Norwegian Research Council, ship time thanks to the Norwegian Coast Guard, and scientific collaboration with Scripps. Moorings were placed on both sides of the Arctic Basin, sending out sounds across thousands of kilometers, to gain a better understanding of the temperature developments within the Arctic Ocean. The project has moved to the data analysis stage after the last moorings were picked up in the fall of 2020, and researchers from the Nansen Center and Scripps presented interesting preliminary results to the guests from ONR and the Norwegian Coast Guard.

The EU-funded INTAROS project (Integrated Arctic Observation System) just recently ended and is a good example of how collaboration in research, training, and technology can lead to great research. It resulted in the establishment of an observation system spanning the entire Arctic to address environmental changes and challenges.

Tied to INTAROS and realized with funding from the Norwegian Research Council and ship time supplied by the Norwegian Coast Guard, two scientific cruises took place with the purpose to educate early career scientists in the field – the Useful Arctic Knowledge (UAK) cruises. Students from Norway and many other countries learned how to use instrumentations for sea ice and ocean observations in the Arctic. Two MSc students and a PhD candidate that took part in these cruises also presented some of their project work tied to UAK and CAATEX to our guests.

Another project that recently ended and resulted in the improvement of a product, our sea-ice model neXtSIM, is the DASIM project. DASIM stands for Data Assimilation for a new generation of Sea-Ice Models. Arctic sea-ice forecasting with neXtSIM has improved thanks to ONR funding this project.

 

Important collaboration

“The collaboration with Scripps builds on rich traditions. Their director from 1936 to 1948 was Harald Ulrik Sverdrup who came from a position at the Geophysical Institute here in Bergen, and his student Walter Munk, who worked at Scripps for more than 80 years (!), visited Bergen and the Nansen Center numerous times throughout his long life. We are thankful for the long-term support the collaboration has received from the Office of Naval Research and the Norwegian Coast Guard and look forward to new endeavors in the forefront of Arctic Research” says Tore Furevik, director of the Nansen Center. 

Left: KV Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean during the CAATEX mooring retrieval cruise in the summer of 2020.  Photo: Espen Storheim/Nansen Center. Right: Mooring retrieval for the CAATEX project onboard KV Svalbard in the Beaufort Sea in November of 2020. Photo: KV Svalbard/Norwegian Coast GuardLeft: KV Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean during the CAATEX mooring retrieval cruise in the summer of 2020. Photo: Espen Storheim/Nansen Center. Right: Mooring retrieval for the CAATEX project onboard KV Svalbard in the Beaufort Sea in November of 2020. Photo: KV Svalbard/Norwegian Coast Guard

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