The Norwegian Polar Institute and the International Polar Year

The International Polar Year lasts from 1 March 2007 until 1 March 2009, ensuring the inclusion of two full seasons in both hemispheres. The Norwegian Polar Institute is actively contributing with research and information to many of the IPY projects.

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The Norwegian Polar Institute is leading five of Norway's 26 Polar Year projects and is a participant in eight others. In addition there are four projects defined as national Polar Year projects, but that receive financing from other sources than the funds earmarked by the Norwegian Research Council for International Polar Year projects. The Norwegian Polar Institute is a member of the national Polar Year committee and the sub-committees for popularizing and data management and heads the sub-committee for logistics.

Below is a short presentation of the projects headed by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole (MEOP)

Deep-diving marine mammals will be tagged with salinity and temperature data loggers. In this manner researchers can explore the movement patterns, behaviour and habitat utilization of marine mammals in the polar regions. Concomitant with the sampling of ecological data sets on these top predators, the animals will themselves (via the equipment they carry) collect a vast, high-precision oceanographic data set from logistically difficult areas of polar ocean that are strategically important to climate and ocean modelling. The project will perform deployments on the deepest diving pinniped species in the Arctic and the Antarctic - hooded seals in the north and southern elephant seals in the south (Bouvetøya). The multi-disciplinary mixture of classic oceanography and marine mammal ecology contained in this research programme will increase our understanding for the world’s oceans and the animals high up in the food chain that live there.

Contaminants in Polar Regions: Dynamic Range of Contaminants in Polar Marine Ecosystems (COPOL)

Research on environmental contaminants is often in the shape of snapshots. This project will attempt to describe how the contaminants behave in the marine food chain over several seasons. This will provide more knowledge about what comprises natural changes and what relates to climate changes. The field work will take place in Kongsfjorden in Svalbard.

Trans-Antarctic Scientific Traverses Expeditions—Ice Divide of East Antarctica: the Norwegian–US IPY Antarctic Traverse (TASTE-IDEA)

What role does Antarctica play in the global climate? This project will investigate changes of the ice mass in Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica. The expedition will traverse areas in the interior of the Antarctic continent that have never been visited before. Never before has climate information been gathered from these areas, and the resulting data set will be a unique contribution to the International Polar Year.

Long-term Sea Level Variability in the Nordic Seas (LEVANS)

No extensive survey of changes in ocean levels of the Arctic ocean has until now been conducted. This project will provide us with a better understanding of the Arctic climate system. In collaboration with Russian polar scientists, Norwegian Polar Institute researchers will analyse historical data and models, data that has hitherto been inaccessible to others to some degree.

Monitoring of Oil Development in Traditional Indigenous Lands of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Northwestern Russia

Intensive oil and gas development occurs under Arctic conditions in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. Severe impacts occur, both on the environment and on the socio-economic situation of the indigenous peoples living in and of the land. The project aims at monitoring the situation and producing a GIS database, which documents activities and can be used to promote the interests of traditional land users. The Association of Nenets People "Yasavey" is the major cooperation partner of the project, which ensures that local indigenous peoples' knowledge and needs are taken into account. Both natural and social scientific methods will be applied to acquire data on oil and gas development as well as traditional subsistence activities, mainly reindeer herding.