What we do

The Norwegian Polar Institute is a directorate under the Ministry of the Climate and Environment. The Institute’s activities are focused on environmental management needs in the polar regions. In addition to collaboration on environmental protection in the Barents region, the Institute dedicates much effort to research on climate, long-range transport of pollutants and their impact on the environment, and biodiversity. Topographic mapping is also an important task. In Antarctica, the Institute is responsible for management of all Norwegian activities. This means that all Norwegian subjects planning activities in Antarctica must first contact the Norwegian Polar Institute. The Institute has arranged Antarctic expeditions regularly since 1976.

Our tasks: to manage and to advise

One of the Institute’s main tasks is to act as an advisory body for management where polar environmental issues are concerned. The Norwegian authorities are determined that Svalbard should be one of the world’s best managed wilderness areas. The Norwegian Polar Institute participates in the efforts to achieve this goal. In the Norwegian sector of Antarctica, the Institute is in charge of management, and administrates the environmental regulations for the Norwegian territories and claims in Antarctica. This means that anyone planning activities in these areas must first contact the Norwegian Polar Institute.

  • The Norwegian Polar Institute participated in formulating the Government’s Management Plan for the Barents Sea, and is now involved in several of the committees that are working to follow up on the plan
  • Environmental Status Svalbard provides the latest information about current and developing environmental conditions in the Svalbard archipelago
  • Along with other institutions organised under the Ministry, the Institute contributes to the website State of the Environment Norway

Research and monitoring

The Norwegian Polar Institute does research on biodiversity, geological mapping, climate and pollutants in the High North and the polar regions, and contributes to national and regional research programmes that involve these topics. The Polar Institute provides important contributions to international climate research and the Institute is an active point of contact within the international scientific community. Research and monitoring in the polar regions yield information that is crucial for understanding global environmental changes and their consequences. Better data coverage and insight into climate and the environment will also improve Norway’s ability to manage its national territories and resources.

The Norwegian Polar Institute collects and processes data concerning factors with environmental impact and about the status of the natural and cultural heritage of Svalbard and Jan Mayen through the project MOSJ. The Polar Institute’s research gives better knowledge about the protected areas in Svalbard, thus contributing towards improved management and protection of these vulnerable areas. The data are interpreted and environmental trends are identified, allowing the Institute to provide knowledge-based advice to the authorities concerning requirements for action, additional research or improved monitoring. The MOSJ project includes the atmosphere, land and sea areas surrounding the archipelagos of Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

Operations and logistics

NARE (Norwegian Antarctic Research Expeditions) is an expedition framework that supports the accomplishment of all Antarctic research funded by the Norwegian government; expeditions to the continent are arranged by the Norwegian Polar Institute on a regular basis. Research in polar regions is challenging, not least in terms of logistics. Great distances, cold climate and the general lack of infrastructure place stringent demands on transport systems, equipment and safety. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Antarctica[http://www.npolar.no/en/antarctica/polar-operations/], where the distances are vast, the climate extreme and the infrastructure patchy at best. In conjunction with upgrading Troll to a year-round station in Dronning Maud Land, the Norwegian Polar Institute has set up a sizeable support system to handle the station’s needs in terms of purchasing supplies, shipping, staffing, training, and operational and technical maintenance.

The Norwegian Polar Institute outfits and organises major expeditions to both Poles, owns the research vessel Lance and runs several research stations, two in Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard (the Sverdrup station and the Zeppelin atmospheric research and monitoring station) and two in Antarctica (Troll and the field station Tor).

Mapping and place names

The Norwegian Polar Institute is the national mapping authority for polar regions, including geological surveys for non-commercial purposes. As Norway’s mapping authority for mapping of Norwegian land claims and territories in the Arctic and Antarctic, the Institute publishes maps in both digital and printed form.

The Polar Institute is also the official agency responsible for place names in the Norwegian polar regions. This includes responsibility for naming conventions for Svalbard (including Bjørnøya – Bear Island) and Jan Mayen and adjacent seas, and Dronning Maud Land, Bouvetøya (Bouvet Island), Peter I Øy (Peter I Island) and adjacent seas.

Place names are officially adopted by the naming committee at the Norwegian Polar Institute. It should be noted that “nynorsk” is the form of Norwegian consistently used for place names in Norwegian polar regions. The current member of the naming committee at the Norwegian Polar Institute are Oddveig Øien Ørvoll (chair), Ivar Stokkeland, Gudmund Melland, Winfried Dallmann and Per Kyrre Reymert. The committee meets two to four times per year, as needed. They can be contacted at or by telephone at +47 77 75 05 00.

Communication

The Norwegian Polar Institute disseminates polar research results and information about the polar environment to central Norwegian authorities, other research institutes, the media and the general public. The Institute also highlights Norwegian polar research and environmental management in an international perspective. The Institute’s goal is to ensure that information about our research results and management tasks is presented well, both through our own website, publications, library and exhibitions, and in the media.

The Institute publishes its own multidisciplinary scientific journal in English. Polar Research is an Open Access journal, produced in collaboration with Co-Action Publishing.

Our target groups are many, but our main concern is to provide accurate, pertinent information about the polar regions to Norwegian authorities and decision-makers, other research institutes, schools and the media – as well as the interested public. We are also in charge of the Institute’s own conferences and we coordinate visits from schools and the media.

The Polar Institute has an extensive library and photo library, employs a polar historian, and is responsible for a number of websites on polar themes.