With EUR 4 million secured for the preparatory phase, the Norwegian ESFRI project Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS) is now underway. Partners from 14 countries recently gathered for the kickoff conference.
"The project has received very broad support, with 27 partner institutions," says Project Director Karin Refsnes of the Research Council of Norway. Fifty representatives of these partners participated in the conference to launch the project in Oslo in October.
To generate near-real-time data
The SIOS initiative is part of the roadmap for the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The initiative's primary objective is to develop an optimised observational infrastructure which can support advanced Earth System models and provide near-real-time information on Arctic change to relevant stakeholders.
The project will prepare upgrades to the existing infrastructure, as well as organise a limited number of observation platforms and provide a basis for establishing a joint knowledge centre in Longyearbyen.
Planning and overview
The SIOS initiative has now entered the preparatory phase. "In this phase there is no funding for research or monitoring," explains Ms Refsnes. "The main tasks are to gain an overview of the existing infrastructure on Svalbard and establish the organisational, administrative and financial parameters. The EU has allocated EUR 4 million for this purpose, and the Research Council has contributed funding as well."
Coordinated by the Research Council
Ms Refsnes heads a secretariat with three employees who will coordinate these activities. The secretariat is located at the Research Council.
"Svalbard provides unique opportunities to observe climate change where its impacts are most pronounced, and where ecosystems are most vulnerable to rapid change. This provides an ideal basis for an initiative like SIOS. What's more," adds the project director, "the Svalbard archipelago already has extensive infrastructure in place for observation, research and teaching activities. And Svalbard is especially interesting because of its very large climate gradient due to alternating influences from the Arctic Ocean's cold waters and the Atlantic Ocean's temperate waters."
"In addition, the archipelago is the only place on earth where one can carry out detailed studies of solar influence on climate."
Active Norwegian participation
"We are very pleased with the support this project has among the Norwegian institutions," says Ms Refsnes. "Every Norwegian research institution represented on Svalbard is involved: 11 as members of the consortium and 13 others as associate members."
"The project is divided into nine work packages. Norwegian institutions have responsibility for six of them, while Germany, Poland and Italy are responsible for the others. Now the work of specifying the work packages begins."
"This is a complex project with many interrelated components. We have to survey all of the relevant infrastructure on Svalbard and figure out what is lacking, taking into account observation systems for marine, ice, atmospheric and terrestrial conditions."
SIOS - partner institutions
- Research Council of Norway (RCN)
- Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research
- Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI)
- University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
- Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Germany
- Institute of Geophysics - Polish Academy of Sciences (IGF PAS), Poland
- National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Italy
- Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of Roshydromet (AARI), Russia
- National Environment Research Council (NERC), UK
- Institut Polaire Francais - Paul Emile Victor (IPEV), France
- Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC), China
- Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), Republic of Korea
- Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UK
- University of Groningen - Willem Barentsz Polar Institute, The Netherlands
- National Environmental Research Institute - University of Aarhus (DMU), Denmark
- University of Stockholm (ITM-SU), Sweden
- Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Finland
- Arctic Centre - University of Lapland, Finland
- Polar Geophysical Institute - Russian Academy of Sciences (PGIA), Russia
- Institute of Oceanology - Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAS), Poland
- University of Leicester, UK
- Kola Science Centre - Russian Academy of Sciences (KSC-RAS), Russia
- Geophysical Survey - Russian Academy of Sciences (GS-RAS), Russia
- National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Japan
- Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
- National Centre of Antarctic and Oceanic Research (NCAOR), India
- National Science Foundation (NSF), USA
- EISCAT Scientific Association
- Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR)
- Norwegian Space Centre (NSC)
- University of Bergen (UIB)
- University of Tromsø (UIT)
- University of Oslo (UIO)
- Norwegian Meteorological Institute (met.no)
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
- Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)
- Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA)
- Norwegian Institute of Nature Research (NINA)
- Andøya Rocket Range (ARR)
- Akvaplan-niva AS
- Kings Bay AS
- Norwegian Mapping Authority (NMA)
- Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC)
- Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE)
- The Governour of Svalbard
- Kongsberg Satellite Services AS (KSAT)
- Northern Research Institute (Norut)