Nansen Environmental Research Centre Celebrated 20th Anniversary

KOCHI:
The Nansen Environmental Research Centre – India (NERCI) in Cochin a non-profit Indo-Norwegian joint-venture research centre established in 1999 celebrated its 20th anniversary with its scientific partners and associates from India and Norway.

The 20th anniversary 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 and Renewable Energy and Energy Systems seminars were conducted in a parallel on 5th and 6th February 2020 at Indian Institute of Technology Madras Research Park in Chennai. The seminar was inaugurated by 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 1970 ties. 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. During this occasion, two MoUs were signed, one with KUFOS, NERSC (Norway) and Nansen Scientific society for collaborative research in fisheries and marine sciences and the other with Amity University, Noida to conduct collaborative research mainly in Himalyan studies.

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 Indian 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. NERCI also been awarded this year the EU-Horizon 2020 –Ministry of Earth Sciences co funded project to study the future oceans in the context of climate change tipping points involving 31 EU partners along with CMFRI.

Each year the Board of the Nansen Center, Norway presents the Nansen Polar Bear Award to a person “Who has made an outstanding contribution to environmental research with focus on the use of remote sensing, either as a researcher or as a research manager” for the benefit of the society. The Director and research staff of Nansen Centre India is chosen for the Nansen Polar Bear Award from Director Sebastian Mernild, Norway for the year 2019.

Iscea

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