The Nansen Legacy / Arven etter Nansen

This is a novel and holistic Arctic research project that provides the integrated scientific knowledge base required for future sustainable management of the environment and marine resources of the Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin.

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About the project

The Nansen Legacy (Arven etter Nansen) is a 6-year project (2018−2023) with core activities being research expeditions into ice-covered waters of the Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin – waters that are becoming increasingly accessible to human activities as arctic sea ice is melting. The project constitutes an integrated arctic perspective on climate and ecosystem change—from physical processes to living resources and from understanding the past to predicting the future. Thus, Nansen Legacy will result in an unprecedented scientific basis for long-term, holistic, and sustainable management of marine ecosystems and human presence in the emerging oceans of the high Arctic.

The Nansen LEGACY comprises a dedicated Norwegian national team of ten institutions committed to Arctic research, and to the Barents Sea region in particular. The UiO is involved in all parts of the project and responsible for leading the work package on human impacts.


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The Nansen Legacy will pursue its vision by addressing the following overarching objectives:

  1. Improve the scientific basis for sustainable management of natural resources beyond the present ice edge
  2. Characterize the main human impacts, physical drivers, and intrinsic operation of the changing Barents Sea ecosystems – past, present, and future
  3. Explore and exploit the prognostic mechanisms governing weather, climate and ecosystem, including predictive capabilities and constraining uncertainties
  4. Optimize the use of emerging technologies, logistic capabilities, research recruitment and stakeholder interaction to explore and manage the emerging Arctic Ocean.
  5. Enhance the national cooperation and better use of knowledge, and resources for education and research, including communication with the public and recruitment of the next generation of polar researchers.


The Nansen Legacy will produce the following scientific, societal, and end-user impacts and legacy: establish a holistic “ground truth” for the environment and ecosystem in the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Ocean; provide a 2020–2100 outlook for the expected state of climate, sea ice, and ecosystem, including near-term pre­dictions; to evaluate sensitivity and functionality of early-warning indicators used to detect change in marine resources and their vulnerability to exploitation; allow reliable polar weather forecasts for the safety of people and commercial operations. Another core legacy will be the recruitment and training of the next generation of trained cross-disciplinary researchers, with a unique national and international network. The Nansen Legacy will improve, secure and operationalize national data archives and ensure open data availability in accordance with national and international standards. Overall, the legacy and societal impact will be the scientific knowledge base needed for sustainable resource management in the transitional Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin.


An ice-free Arctic is gradually emerging. Wintertime sea-ice retreat is to date most pronounced in the Barents Sea, the Atlantic gateway to the Arctic. The knowledge basis for sustainable management of this changing environment and the associated resources is an urgent scientific challenge. As sea-ice retreats and technology and infrastructure improve, it is imperative for the Norwegian research community to rise to the scientific and exploratory legacy of Fridtjof Nansen and move poleward through the Barents Sea.


The Nansen Legacy is organized into four Research Foci and four Research Activities. The Research Foci (RF1-4) represent “what” LEGACY is investigating, the Research Activities “how” (A–C), including impact and legacy in the public domain .

Sub-projects Nansen Legacy


The project is financed by The Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the ten participating institutions.


The participating institutions include four universities, one university centre, three management institutions and two private research institutes;

University of Tromsø the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), University of Bergen (UiB), University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Institute of Marine Research (IMR), The Norwegian Meteorological institute (MET), Akvaplan-Niva (APN) and Nansen Centre for Environmental Research (NERSC).


The Nansen Legacy is highly depending on the collection of a variety of data from the water column, the seafloor, as well as from sea ice and the atmosphere. Most of these data can only be collected from research vessels, as e.g. the new Norwegian ice-going research vessel Kronprins Haakon, but also from non-ice-going vessels like G.O.Sars and Kristine Bonnevie.  In total 16 research cruises totalling more than 340 days at sea are planned during the project period.

Published Dec. 19, 2017 3:27 PM - Last modified Aug. 25, 2021 9:44 AM