The past and future of the Arctic Ocean are on the agenda at a major research conference this week

The large Norwegian research project “The Nansen Legacy” has studied climate and ecosystem changes in the northern Barents Sea for seven years. Now, the project is soon coming to a close.

Forskere på isen foran isbryteren Kronprins Haakon i den nordlige delen av Barentshavet. Foto: Christian Morel
The researcher on a mission in front of the icebreaker Kronpirins Haakon. Photo: Christian Morel, Arven etter Nansen

130 years after the start of Fridtjof Nansen’s Fram expedition, the project opens the gateway to a new understanding of the Arctic through a massive interdisciplinary research effort.

“The entire effort is about understanding the complex climate and ecosystem processes in the northern Barents Sea,” says Marit Reigstad, project leader for The Nansen Legacy, which involves ten research institutions, including NTNU.

In her usual role, she is a professor of marine ecology at the University of Tromsø.

250 researchers gathers

resarchers on a mission on the helideck of the icebreaker Kronprins Haakon
Resarchers on a mission gathered on the helideck of the icebreaker Kronprins Haakon. Photo: Christian Morel

In the Barents Sea, the extent and thickness of sea ice have undergone significant changes. Norway’s most important fishing areas are just a little further south in ice-free waters.

The Nansen Legacy has conducted 17 research expeditions since 2018, many of them with the icebreaker Kronprins Haakon. In addition, data has been collected through all seasons using research buoys, gliders, and satellite observations.

Now, researchers from the project and colleagues from around the world are gathering for an international closing conference in Tromsø from November 6 to 9, 2023.

250 researchers from Norway and 18 other countries will participate.

Marit Reigstad, project leader in the Nansen Legacy research program.

“It is important for researchers studying different parts of the Arctic Ocean to come together to share knowledge in a time when climate change in the Arctic is four times greater than the global average,” says Reigstad. “The Nansen Legacy is very pleased to host this conference.”

By connecting the new understanding of the northern Barents Sea with climate and ecosystem research in other parts of the Arctic, researchers and society will gain a better and comprehensive understanding of the present and future Arctic Ocean.

More than 30 researchers from NTNU involved

In total, over 300 researchers, including professors, postdocs, doctoral students, and master’s students, have been involved in the Nansen Legacy. They come from Norwegian research institutions and all the major universities in Norway.

From NTNU, more than researchers have been involved, including marine ecologists, marine biologists, marine chemists, marine geochemists, and marine technology researchers, all contributing to the larger puzzle that provides a comprehensive picture of the state of the Arctic Ocean.

Portrettfoto Martin Ludvigsen
Martin Ludvigsen, professor in marine robotics.

Martin Ludvigsen, a professor of marine robotics at NTNU, leads the research on technology and method development.

Professor Geir Johnsen, professor in marine biology at NTNU, has been the deputy leader of the work package that deals with how data from the research, as well as the expertise and knowledge generated in the project, can be further utilized.

They have also supervised several PhD students in the project.

The goal of the conference is to combine the new knowledge base from the Barents Sea with research results from other parts of the Arctic to create a foundation for understanding and better management of the entire Arctic Ocean.

The new knowledge base will be made relevant for various user groups, and “The Nansen Legacy” is therefore launching a series of fact sheets on key topics that summarize findings and knowledge status during the conference.

Contact information:

Charlotte Stark (communication)

Marit Reigstad  (project leader)


Webpage conference: