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Experiences from Cooperation in the European Arctic Skriv ut E-post
søndag 17. april 2011 10:56

“The European Union will have clear benefits of participating and engaging in the development of the Barents region.” This was stated by Mrs. Pia Svendsgaard, Chair of the Barents Regional Council, in a seminar in the European Parliament this week arranged by the North Norway European Office together with the EU-Arctic Forum and the Barents Regional Council.

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Continued investment in the high north crucial for Europe Skriv ut E-post
fredag 04. februar 2011 11:24

On the 2nd of February political representatives from the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas in Finland, Sweden and Norway met with the European Commission to highlight the importance of continued investment in the regions.

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Norwegian explorer highlights ice-free Arctic Skriv ut E-post
mandag 27. september 2010 16:59

For the first time in history a sailing vessel has completed both the Northwest and the Northeast Arctic passages in one season, using less than 3 months. The Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland stated that the purpose of the voyage was to highlight how climate changes have reduced the amount of ice in the Arctic.  




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Multi Level Governance in the Arctic Skriv ut E-post
torsdag 24. juni 2010 17:19
On Thursday June 24th North Norway European Office arranged its fourth workshop on Arctic issues: Multi Level Governance in the Arctic.
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News Skriv ut E-post
torsdag 08. mars 2007 12:10


Response from North Norway to the EU on Maritime Green Paper

 The County Governments of Nordland and Troms have transmitted their views from North Norway on the Green Paper on an EU Maritime Policy.  The County Governments of Nordland and Troms have already submitted their views on the EU Maritime Policy to the national level in Norway. We fully agree with and support the national document from Norway, which was sent to the Commission before Easter. This additional response is to emphasise that there are some very important aspects of an EU Maritime Policy concerning issues along the coast of northern Norway that need special attention.

  • The illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is our greatest concern. The IUU fishing affects all European coastal regions depending their livelihood on fishing. The forthcoming action plan should find measures to combat IUU fishing.
  • We support the principle of subsidiarity. Regarding planning matters relevant to maritime policies, it is important to ensure that local and regional authorities are strengthened within the framework of a new maritime policy.
  • There should be a separate window for marine related research. We would like to draw special attention to the MAREANO research programme.
  • The safety of the transport corridors along our coastline is of vital importance due to the expected increase in both oil transport and container and general cargo.
  The active participation by the county governments during the consultation phase of the Green Paper is strongly supported by the county Parliaments in Troms and Nordland. Nordland has participated in the CPMR-project, “Europe of the Sea”, and both counties have put their views forward in the North Sea and Baltic Sea Commissions.



North Norwegian participation at the conference "European regional young ambassadors"

The European Youth Ambassador and County Council deputy chairman Ane-Marthe Aasen from Troms participated at the conference "European regional young ambassadors" in Brussels the 26th February this year. The main attraction was the meeting with the EU Commissioner Margot Wallström. The main message at the conference was that motivated young people should be heard in a European context. In addition to the conference Ane-Marthe Aasen met with us at the NorthNorway European Office and informed about the conference as well as other activities at home, while the office informed about our agenda for the spring.

"The European Youth Ambassador Scheme" is supported by the AER and its main task is to improve young peoples EU knowledge in their respective regions. A "European Youth Ambassador" achieves its title once a year while participating at a Youth Summer School organized by AER. Aasen was one out of two participants from Troms County Council at the AER Youth Summer School 2006. The next Youth Summer School will take place in Devon from 26. August to 1. September 2007.

You can find more information about AER Youth Summer School here
Read more about AER here


Skriv ut E-post
fredag 25. juli 2014 12:18

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  • Permafrost thaw cracks urban infrastructure, students dig in

    The 2014 International Field School in Siberia this July studies the effects of permafrost thaw on Russian cities.

    Students from Russia, U.S., Norway, Germany, Italy, China and U.K. arrived this week in Norilsk, Russia where they will spend two weeks in a field school to assess the effects of permafrost thaw on Russian urban infrastructure. 

    The student researchers will conduct permafrost research in the field as well as meet with representatives of the Norilsk-Nickel mining company and of local production plants and geological, planning, social and migration services to form a science-based dialogue about problems and solutions. 

    “A substantial population resides in permafrost regions, especially in Russia, and they see the impacts of thawing first-hand. They are at the frontier of those changes, so to speak,” field school instructor Dmitry Streletskiy told BarentsObserver. 

    Approximately 24% of the exposed land surface in the Northern Hemisphere is permafrost, according to a United Nations Environment Program report. Permafrost, or perennially frozen ground, has been under intense recent study because of the rapid acceleration of permafrost thaw. 

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card notes that in 2013 record high permafrost temperatures were recorded in Alaska and Canada, and in 2012 active permafrost layer thickness in west Siberia was the greatest observed since 1996. 

    Google Earth satellite image of Russia with the location of Norilsk marked.

    Buildling Sustainability

    Permafrost is an important factor in climate change because it contains large stores of methane and carbon dioxide, two major greenhouse gases that are released as layers of frozen ground thaw.

    “More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means the climate will be even warmer, and more permafrost will thaw,” says Streletskiy. “The more the ground is warmed, the more methane is released and climate keeps warming,” a self-perpetuating cycle that does not bode well for the future if rapid thaw continues. 

    But more concrete effects can be seen in urban city centers where buildings are constructed with foundations on pilings that are buried in permafrost. Ground that was once hard is softening as it warms. Urban buildings and their foundations are not designed to withstand the changes in the ground around them, so they fail. 

    “People have built on what was hard solid, but what happens when that solid starts to thaw or sink?” says Gunnar Bjørnnson, a student from the Norwegian School of Economics studying the social and economic impacts of thaw this summer. “When you have an unstable foundation that starts to crack, it can break and destroy pipelines, sanitation, sewage, water access. It can cause a lot of complications, repair costs, and maintenance costs.” 

    To better understand the behavior of the permafrost in which urban building foundations are anchored, Bjornnson and 14 student geographers, geologists and soil scientists have traveled from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk, Igarka, Dudinka and finally arrived in Norilsk Monday for the remainder of the course. 

    Ice wedge measurement during the 2013 field school. (Photo courtesy Kelsey Nyland.)

    Along the way, they have studied wetland tundra landscapes, ground ice formations, cryogenic (low-temperature) processes and permafrost conditions as well as visited the abandoned Igarka lumber mill to study technogenic impacts on the permafrost and deformed structures at the facility. 

    The July 2014 class is a collaboration between Moscow State University and George Washington University, and the Barents Institute joined this year with support from its Arctic Urban Sustainability project, “ArcSUS.” The project analyzes the sustainability of Russia’s urban Arctic cities and the impact of climate change on Arctic urban development. And permafrost studies are essential, says principal investigator and head of Barents Institute Aileen Espiritu.

    “When you look at permafrost in cities in Arctic Russia, Alaska and Canada it’s clear that permafrost thaw is impacting everyday lives of Arctic residents…major populations are being affected by these kinds of climate change questions,” she says. 

    Digging for Answers

    Students in the field school are visiting two Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) sites at Norilsk and the Igarka Geocryological Laboratory where they will take measurements of the active permafrost layer. Active permafrost is the top layer that thaws each summer and re-freezes in the fall. A thicker active layer thawing each year can cause problems for the environment: trees that cycle over time from standing to leaning and standing upright again, or massive landslides and mudslides that occur in areas with mountain permafrost. 

    The students will also try to determine if permafrost thaw is contributing to river discharge, which can increase the salinity, or salt content, of the oceans. They’ll also study demographic and migration patterns and the effects on populations. For example, the indigenous Yenet tribes who migrate from north to south in winter, travel over frozen ground and ice. When ice arrives later in the year, their migration patterns are changed, affecting the tribespeople and their reindeer herds. 

    To accurately assess temperature changes and rates of thaw that vary from one place to another, a global network of permafrost measurements is needed. The Global Terrestrial Network on Permafrost created in the 1990s standardized measurements to make monitoring more effective. 

    The GTN-P has two components: a system of measuring temperatures at various depths in 860 boreholes around the globe and another system for measuring the thickness of the active layer of permafrost at 260 sites. Measuring both the thermal state of permafrost in boreholes and the active layer in the field creates a combined database that allows scientists to monitor and assess the condition of the world’s permafrost. 

    Students excavating an ice wedge during the 2013 field school. (Photo courtesy Kelsey Nyland.)

    Students in the field school participate by taking measurements at two CALM sites, but they are also examining how human activity like construction and industry affect permafrost.

    “We are interested in local and regional impacts,” Streletskiy says. “In centers of human activity, effects are more intense because humans modify vegetation cover that affects permafrost in the summer, and in winter they redistribute snow which serves as a thermal insulator for the permafrost below.” 

    Norilsk, an industrial center built on permafrost with a population of almost 200,000 is a prime example for study. 

    In Norilsk the students will study the landscape and changes in ecological conditions on the right bank of Norilsk River and the engineering of the auto-rail bridge across the river, visit several open-pit mines an d the world’s largest technogenic rock glacier, evaluate the northernmost avalanche protection structures in the world, study the foundations of buildings in the abandoned residential district of Oganer 5km east of Norilsk, monitor building deformations and learn about artificial freezing of soils with thermosiphons. 

    While much of the course is geared toward geography and permafrost studies, the students will also dialogue with local leaders about engineering and mitigation techniques that can be used to protect permafrost from thawing and warming. 

    “We look at engineering aspects, but we don’t tell an engineer how to build a house. Instead, we can teach them what are the methods to adapt this city, region, or even a particular building to natural and climatic conditions as they change,” Streletskiy says. “It helps to know how to consider climate and local natural conditions when they build on permafrost.” 

    Google Earth satellite image of the city of Norilsk, Russia.

    The International Permafrost Association created the field school in Siberia as part of the 2007 International Polar Year, along with other field schools such as the one just completed at the University Centre in Svalbard in June. The annual Siberian course in July has seen more than 100 students from Russia, China, US, Germany and France since its beginning. 

    “The thawing itself complicates any society or industry that has built on permafrost,” 2014 student Gunnar Bjørnnson says. “…whether in Russia, Canada or Alaska.”

  • To the memory of a true Barents journalist

    Elena Larionova worked relentlessly to promote cross-border journalism cooperation in the Barents Region and was one of the founding-mothers of the journalism network Barents Press.

    Always positive and always working for closer relations across national borders, Elena won respect and admiration all over the region. Her death is a great loss for the Barents journalism community.

    Read obituary by Rune Rafaelsen, leader of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, below.

     In Memory of Elena Larionova

    Elena Larionova passed away Sunday 6th July. She was a true Barents pioneer. She was one of the first journalists, who started to work with cross-border cooperation in the Barents Region, even before the Barents Cooperation was established in 1993. She learned Norwegian at Svanvik Folkehøgskole, worked for the local radio station, and developed very soon strong relation to Norwegian and Nordic media partners.

    She also for a period worked at the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in Murmansk. In 1995 she was one of the founding mothers of Barents Press International. She was as an enthusiastic project coordinator for Barents Press to the bitter end. Her engagement for journalist cooperation in the Barents Region can not be overestimated.

    Elena became the voice of Murmansk. Her journalistic work during the tragedy of the Russian submarine “Kursk” in August 2000 stands as an example how independent and critical journalism should be implemented. She never in her work lost her faith in a truly free press in Russia. For that she also received a press prize from Zeit-Stiftung Hamburg and the Norwegian Fritt Ord.

    We have lost a friend, a loving person, and a beautiful and decent soul. We promise you, to try to follow in your footsteps.

    Our thoughts go to Elena’s husband and her two daughters.

    Rune Gjertin Rafaelsen

    The Norwegian Barents Secretariat

  • Russia in times of change

    From October, Russia switches from permanent summer time to permanent winter time.

    The State Duma approved in its final reading on Tuesday the law “On computation of time” – to switch the clock on October 26 to permanent winter time. The move will grant northerners one hour earlier daylight during the dark season mid-winter compared with last winter.

    It was then-President Dmitry Medvedev that introduced permanent fixed summer time in 2011. For cross-border travelers between Norway and Russia in the north, the challenges appeared difficult. The land-border between the two countries became the only in Europe with a three hour time difference during the time of the year when other European countries changed to daylight savings. 

    Commenting on the confusing time-change and people’s lack of day-light, Vladimir Putin said the year after “Something might not have been thought through.”

    The lawmakers in the State Duma argued that permanent summer time had caused increased stress and had a detrimental effect on the public’s health. It was also the Duma’s Committee of Healthcare that issued the recommendation to endorse the permanent winter time bill.

    With permanent winter time, the difference in time on the Norwegian, Russian border will be two hours in winter and only one hour during summer when Norwegians are on daylight savings time. On the Finnish, Russian border, there will be no time difference during summer, and one hour difference during winter.

    At the same time as Russia turns back the clocks, the easternmost time zone will be reintroduced, nine hours ahead of Moscow time. In total, Russia will then have 11 time zones, from Kaliningrad in the west to Chukotka region in the northeast.

  • "Norwagon" awarded best young entreprenour

    HAPARANDA: Norwagon founder Matthew Lynch is aimed on getting adventurous persons to far-flung spots on low cost.

    Matthew Lynch has with his company Norwagon given people the freedom to explore the more remote regions of the Barents Region by car. It is a “part vehicle, part experience” service and is aimed at getting adventurous persons to far-­‐flung spots. With the rental of a practical camper van from Norwagon, the traveller can remove the cost of a hotel or a more expensive camper. 

    For this idea Matthew Lynch won the pitching competition Dragon’s Den, which makes him the best young entrepreneour of the Barents Region in 2014. The Dragon’s Den prize was awarded to him on the Barents Reunion conference in Tornio/Haparanda. Founder of IKEA Ingvar Kamprad supports the annual conference and was also present during the award ceremony.

    The Norwagon could bring you to places you didn’t even know existed. (Photo:

    Lynch is originally from New Zealand and setteled down in Norway five years ago after a vacation where he fell for Norways beautiful nature and discovered great potential for tourism. To make it more accessable he came up with Norwagon. 

    “It’s wheels to get you out there by day; then by night, the van converts into a little home away from home.”, says Matthew Lynch

    All Norwagons are fitted with a double bed, cooking facilities and even a kitchen sink. The vans are painted up and designed for the budget traveler with everything you need. Travelers used to backpacking understand and embrace the ‘value for money’ approach.

    Lynch is participating in the Kolarctic ENPI CBC project ”Young, innovative entrepreneurs”, that in addition is supported by the three northernmost counties in Norway; Nordland, Troms and Finnmark, The Norwegian Barents Secretariat and Landsdelsutvalget.

    The jury consisted of the previous Entrpreneur of the year, and young entrepreneur of the year in Barents, Yngve Bergheim. Michael Dahlen, Cecilia Fritzon Gårdnäs and Therese Östling was the other jury members. The jury’s decision was based on that the business idea showed great potential for scalability, it was budget friendly and that it had already been tested in a small scale, showing great results. The jury was also impressed by the pitch and Lynchs’ ability to communicate the idea and convince the audience.