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Call: Impacts of Climate Change in Nordic Primary Industries (1)

The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
03.11.2009 16:00
Call description


In collaboration with NordForsk, the Nordic Council of Ministers launches a call for research networks for the period 2009-2013. The thematic network programme aims to provide the basis of a Nordic climate change adaptation and mitigation policy for natural resources and food production. The purpose is to create Nordic networks within five thematic areas focusing on food and food production and sustainable resource management. The primary industries comprise fishery, agriculture, forestry and food.

Five themes are proposed with two cross-cutting themes and three sector-specific themes. The two cross-cutting themes cover several sectors, where climatic change is expected to affect the primary industries in terms of both threats and opportunities. Assessments of impacts and recommendations for adaptation to climate change in these areas will constitute important elements in the long-term management of all primary industries.

The three sector oriented themes focus on different parts of the Nordic food and biomass production systems and how these are impacted by climatic change, how industry can adapt to these changes and how they can mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases.

The five thematic areas are:

A. Two cross-sector themes

A.1 Plant and animal health
A.2 Conservation, adaptation and utilization of genetic resources

B. Tree sector-specific themes

B.1 Adaptation and mitigation in milk, meat and cereal production systems
B.2 Impacts and adaptation in fish production systems
B.3 Sustainable biomass production and carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems

The thematic areas are specified at the end of the present call. The overall objectives for all five thematic areas are that networks should contribute towards developing;

1) a knowledge base for policy making within adaptation and mitigation issues
2) Nordic research strategies within climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation
3) leading Nordic research communities on studies of interactions between climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies

When applicable within a thematic area, the specific objectives for;

1) the knowledge-based policy making are;

a. performing empirical and model based analyses of the effects of climate change and climatic variability
b. developing and presenting scenarios on effects of climate change
c. presenting an overview of main adaptation options to climate change
d. evaluating the effectiveness and potential of different mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

2) the Nordic research strategies are;

a. formulating specific scientific research questions and priorities for further research on impacts adaptation and mitigation to climate change
b. analyzing and suggesting strategies and priorities regarding monitoring, collection, storage, exchange, reprocessing and accessibility of Nordic data on observed climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation in the Nordic countries

3) the leading Nordic research communities are;

a. discussing and providing advice on methods and means to strengthen and support ongoing and planned national research activities within climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation in the concerned thematic area
b. providing research training, competence building and exchange of personnel between the Nordic countries in particular and also between the Nordic countries and their nearest neighbours
c. stimulation and support for Nordic led consortia that work towards grant applications from relevant EU research programmes A dialogue and development of links between research and industry should be core elements in the networks set up, and great flexibility is encouraged in relation to the organisation of the networking activities for providing policy relevant solutions.

Funding framework
  • The research programme has a budget of 18 MNOK over a period of four years. Each network may apply for a maximum of 820.000 NOK per year. This funding constitutes a part of the total budget of each network. A self-financing of minimum 60% of the total budget is required for each network. Self-financing may constitute basic faculty funding and external grants
  • The duration of a network is maximum 4 years
  • The call is open to established researchers and research groups at academic institutions, research institutes or authorities within the Nordic region. The main applicant must be an institution, an organisation or other legal entity in one of the Nordic countries
  • The proposal must involve collaboration between at least three Nordic countries or minimum two Nordic countries and one of the Baltic countries
  • From 2008, joint funding is required for projects with participation from the Baltic countries according to the Nordic Council of Ministers Knowledge Building and Networking Programme and Guidelines fro the Nordic Council of Ministers cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 2006-2008
  • Participation from the Baltic countries requires joint funding of at least 30% of the Baltic part of the actual project activity costs. The joint funding is part of the self financing part of the budget and it should be mentioned in the detailed budget plan as well as documented in the annual project reports
  • The general principle is that funded activities should support genuine Nordic cooperation, i.e., the Nordic funding should enhance relevant national activities and add important Nordic dimensions - At least one network is expected to be funded within each of the five thematic areas
  • A network is expected to cover the whole or significant parts of a theme
  • The flexible scheme of the grant implies that eligible activities may comprise combinations of direct collaboration. Eligible costs may cover a broad spectra of activities such as network and mobility costs, travel expenses, personnel costs of researchers, Ph.D and post doc fellowships, joint Nordic research activities, management, dissemination as well as participation and/or organisation of international scientific conferences, workshops and courses (overhead exclusive) etc.
  • NordForsk does not cover overhead expenses, except for salaries. The overhead rate for salaries is 20%. In addition, maximum 10% of the grant can be used to cover direct administrative costs. The percentage of 10% is based on the grant excluding costs related to salary (salaries and 20% overhead of salaries)
  • Beyond the partnerships of the network, it is highly encouraged that the networks involve and draw on their relevant European and international contacts. The network may also cover costs of participants from outside the Nordic and Baltic countries, however, the majority of network participants should come from the Nordic and Baltic countries
  • Other research fields than the natural sciences may favourably be included in order to cover the management aspect of the call
  • The network should maintain a website of the project, at which information is continuously provided on the activities and results of the network. The website should be linked to the homepage of NordForsk:
  • Applicants must provide a complete proposal according to the application guidelines. It is necessary to read the General Guidelines for Applicants using the link appearing at the left column of the NordForsk Application Portal
  • Applications have to be submitted using the NordForsk Application Portal
Evaluation criteria
  • Relevance of the proposal in relation to the call themes and general conditions as communicated in the call text and the associated instructions (see General Guidelines for Applicants)
  • Scientific quality of the proposal, including quality and innovativeness of the project plan
  • Scientific competence of the applicants and the managerial competence of the project leader will be assessed by the extent to which the project leader has the knowledge and experience required and general qualifications to lead and organise an international and Nordic project
  • Feasibility of the project plan; the realism and the feasibility of the project in relation to the proposed resources (including human resources, infrastructure, budgetary and time line parameters)
  • Potential impact of the project, including scientific and societal impact, etc.
  • Deliverables: A plan of expected deliverables will be assessed (see Deliverables section)
  • Level of Nordic cooperation will be assessed in terms of cooperation which may develop synergies across Nordic borders and develop Nordic capabilities in the research field
  • Dissemination and implementation: plans for communicating results and user contact will be assessed
  • Level of interdisciplinary interaction between different fields of research
  • Extent to which the project covers the specific research theme
  • Extent to which the networks involve their European and international contacts, which however are not partners of the network project
  • If applicable, other information in the project plan that has influenced the evaluation (benefit of the multidisciplinary approach, collaboration between academia and industry etc)
  • As a general rule the application should follow good research ethics and take into consideration ethical questions of relevance to the project
  • Arguments for gender equality will be assessed according to the General Guidelines for Applicants of NordForsk
  • Visions for continuation of cooperation
The programme committee will monitor the activities in accordance with the contract which consists of an agreement document and the Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract available by clicking on the General Guidelines at the left bar at the NordForsk Application Portal. The thematic networks are required to deliver annual reports. The networks present their results at a mid-term and a final conference, in scientific reviews and project reports. A dialogue with stakeholders should be achieved as early as possible in the project period. The results of the network will serve as input to a policy report prepared by the programme committee.
Max applied amount (NOK)
820.000 NOK per year and project for maximum 4 years (NOT incl. self financing)
Decisions will be made by
End of 2009 by the programme commitee following external peer review
Responsible adviser

Senior adviser Michael Andersson
Phone: +47 94 16 85 47

Responsible adviser

Senior adviser Maria Nilsson
Phone: +47 99 38 02 64

Specification of thematic areas
This call asks for multi-disciplinary network projects from Nordic research institutions covering main or all parts within one of the following five thematic areas or by combining subject across the five themes.

A. Two cross-sector themes - threats and opportunities in all primary industries

A.1. Plant and animal health
The objectives are to (i) carry out decisions on preparedness, monitoring and handling of the topic through improved knowledge regarding important health issues related to climate change; (ii) develop strategies to adapt to the changes with minimised disease risks; (iii) socio-economic effects of climate changes on the covered health issues, (iv) increased cooperation between the Nordic countries within health research, risk control and health management. The most relevant objectives of the network project would be:
- To describe the effects of climate changes on terrestrial domestic animal health, such as the risk of emerging infections including exotic infectious diseases, vector borne diseases and zoonoses. Potential increased importance of other existing diseases may also be prioritised. Simulation modelling of the spread and foresight analyses including the related animal health economics connected to the various scenarios is of interest
- To describe the prevalence and development of diseases in wild life in order to analyse the risk of transmission of diseases from wildlife, imported animals and animal products to domestic animals and humans. Included can be the wildlife as an indicator of potential threats to domestic animals and humans and the wildlife as a reservoir for various microbiological threats. The risk and consequence of introduction and establishment of alien animal species related to the risk of disease introduction and establishment
- To describe the prevalence and development of the plant health situation for the Nordic plant population under climate change, including both the natural and cultured plants. Specific consideration should be given to effects of climate change on plant pests and diseases in agriculture and forestry. The issue of possible consequences of changes in diseases for animal and human health through effects on food safety should also be considered. The increased risk of introduction of exotic plant diseases and pests to the Nordic cultured plant population in agriculture, horticulture and forestry with biological vectors and plant material should be dealt with
- To assess the impacts of the climate change and how this change may influence the health status of cultured fish in the Nordic countries. This assessment should include for instance changes in the dynamics of disease transmission (e.g. francisella), in particularly the transmission mechanisms between wild and cultured stocks of fish. One should consider possible changes in the virulence and vulnerability to diseases as such conditions may change with more extreme temperature and rainfall fluctuations. The probability and risks of new pathogens introduced by immigration of new wild species, or by new aquaculture species and the effect of spreading of such diseases should also be considered

A.2. Conservation, adaptation and utilization of genetic resources
In order to meet the challenges and impacts on future climatic change in the Nordic region, more knowledge, competence and collaboration within the field of gene resources and adaptation, and also gene resources and mitigation is required. This includes responses to new crop genetic demands; breeding and adapting traits of economic importance in plants and farm animals and developing new solutions for CO2 reduction, carbon sequestration and mitigation. Both new opportunities and threats to current systems should be emphasized under a regime of warmer, wetter and longer growing season. The aim is to contribute to sustainable utilisation of genetic resources relevant for agriculture, forestry and fishery under climate change.
- Plant husbandry is the base of our primary food and feed production. The crop seed market is becoming increasingly globalized. However, little consideration is taken to the relatively small market of the Nordic countries with its special need of plant material adapted to northern day-length and extreme weather conditions. The need for adaptation regards both a general access to a wider diversity in our crop species, and to access to specific traits, e.g. resistance to biotic stresses and tolerance to abiotic stresses. In this respect the effects of climate change to crop wild relatives found in situ should also be considered. To a large extent, Nordic food production has to take responsibility for own supplies of plant material. There is an increasing need for developing new crop varieties more adapted to the rapidly changing climate and environment. Joint Nordic pre-breeding strategies and activities are requested in order to meet the challenges and to utilize the opportunities in a cost-efficient way.
- Conservation of genetic resources of forest trees is mainly done in situ or in dynamic ex situ, allowing the different species to be adapted to the environment. However, the reproduction success may change significantly due to interaction with environmental conditions, such as climate changes. In situ conservation strategy is therefore dependent of knowledge on the genetic structure of the forest tree species in question. A Nordic network on in situ conservation of forest tree species should be an efficient tool to describe the effect of the climate changes on the Nordic forest. Surveillance systems should be evaluated and developed considering the risk of emerging threats.
- There is a general need to increase the level of competence and coordination within the agricultural and forest sector in order to seek for long-term solutions. A cross-sectorial Nordic network of scientists taking a holistic perspective on possibilities and risk assessments concerning climate changes influence on the agriculture and forest sector is requested.
- Reducing greenhouse gases through better use of genetic resources, and plant and animal breeding. Examples could be animal breeds with less methane emissions, crops that have more roots and larger carbon inputs to soils and crops with higher nitrogen use efficiencies.
- [Specification 20.08.2009]: Fish genetic resource preservation and utilisation in relation to climate change constitute long-term management and political decision topics along with breeding programmes. A key aspect is analysis of the need for and effects of introducing selection criteria into breeding programs that can adjust the aquaculture populations to the environmental conditions (variability, temperature increase, diseases) expected under various climate scenarios (e.g. safeguarding sufficient genetic diversity). The network is expected to provide strategic advice on how genetic research and breeding programs can contribute to efficient use of food resources and hence contribute to global food security.

B. Three sector-specific themes

B.1. Adaptation and mitigation in milk, meat and cereal production systems
Milk, meat and cereals are central production systems in Nordic agriculture. Climate change will affect the growing conditions and geographical distribution of both crop and livestock production systems and through secondary effects on nutrient cycling and weeds, pests and diseases also on the management of both crops and livestock. At the same time these production systems are large sources of several greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide and CO2. The general objectives within the theme are assessments of climatic change impacts and adaptation in production systems in terms of changes in growing conditions, geographical distribution, changes in management practice and environmental impacts. Furthermore, to provide assessments of greenhouse gas emissions from different production systems and how these can be mitigated. More specific objectives comprise (i) Empirical and model based analyses of effects of changes in climate and climatic variability (including extremes) on crop and livestock production with focus on milk, meat and cereal production. Also the analyses of secondary order effects, including those of weeds, pests and diseases, health issues and environmental impacts of agricultural production, (ii) Developing and presenting scenarios of effects on climate change on productivity and production structure (e.g. crop choice in Nordic countries, (iii) Presenting an overview of main adaptation options to climate change for milk, meat and cereal production in the Nordic countries. This overview should include both autonomous and planned adaptation options and suggestions for policy action, (iv) Developing a common overview of the main factors and drivers affecting greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production systems in the Nordic countries, (v) Evaluation of effectiveness and potential of different mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from milk, meat and cereal production systems in the Nordic countries. This overview should also include considerations for barriers and suggestions for policy action, (vi) Evaluation of synergies between adaptation and mitigation measures in milk, meat and cereal production systems.

B.2. Impacts and adaptation in fish production systems
Climate change will affect production, distribution and sustainable exploitation of the most important commercial fish populations in Nordic sea areas. The general objectives within the theme are assessments of climatic change effects on commercially important fish populations and monitoring of projected changes. Furthermore, to provide recommendations of adjusted management and assessment of energy efficiency in fisheries. More specific objectives comprise (i) historical analyses into variations in the distribution and abundance of commercially important fish stocks in Nordic seas such as cod, herring (including Baltic herring), blue whiting and mackerel; (ii) developing scenarios on the effect of climate change on the above-mentioned fish stocks in a multispecies/ecosystem perspective; (iii) assessment of the potential effects of new intruding or invasive species of fish or other organisms; (iv) an evaluation of current exploitation or quota shares in relation to future changes in distribution and abundance of important fish stocks; (v) developing a basis for evaluation of the zonal attachment of fish resources within and between countries; (vi) analysing the need for and effects of revised and more "precautionary? harvesting strategies, based on the safeguarding of necessary stocks resilience to expected climate changes; (vii) developing scenarios on the potential effects of climate changes on industries and local communities; (vii) assessment of the energy consumption in the fish sector; (viii) assessment of methods and standards on how to digitize old and historical data related to fish stocks, fisheries and climate so that this may become of outmost use for studies related to aims of the Nordic climate programme.

B.3. Sustainable biomass production and carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems
Terrestrial ecosystems, e.g. forests, arable land, semi-natural grasslands and mires, typically contain large amounts of stored organic C in soils and vegetation. Especially in the cool climate at northern latitudes, a substantial share of the organic C belongs to the below-ground compartments in form of litter, peat, humus and roots. The large amount of stored C in these ecosystems means that they, from the perspective of the atmosphere, are potentially significant sources or sinks of CO2-C. These types of ecosystems represent a substantial part of human land-use and thus management practices may have a decisive role for the net flux of CO2-C between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Maybe the most evident negative historical example, regarding atmosphere-biosphere gas exchange, is the draining of peat-land with subsequent agriculture using repeated soil tillage or harvesting of peat for energy production purposes. A largely positive example is the gradual afforestation of naturally poor soils or soils that has been previously impoverished by man.
In land-use, options both for mitigation of climate change and needs for adaptation to climate change is relevant to consider. As regards mitigation, the cultivation of crops, especially long-lived forests, can be used in two principally different ways to combat climate change - firstly, substitution of fossil fuels with bio-energy, or non-renewable products with renewable alternatives, and secondly long-term sequestration of C in plants and soils. The interaction of land-use and climate change is not only a matter of CO2. The fluxes of the two even more powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs) nitrous oxide and methane may be strongly affected by management practices and should thus be considered.
Even though there are options for combating climate change, all scenarios point at a significant change within the next 100 years. Thus, adaption of terrestrial land-use has to be seriously concerned. The proposed climate change may challenge the sustainability of many plant-based production systems. Major threats are e.g. an increased drought during the vegetation period in some regions, a disturbed plant growth rhythm, and new and more severe plant pests. As a consequence, adaption measures, such as selection of new species, provenances, and varieties for cultivation, or changes in crop rotation, soil tillage, and plant nutrition and pest management, may be needed.
Project proposals submitted under this theme are expected to aim at the co-ordination of ongoing Nordic fore-front research that jointly, in a range of terrestrial ecosystems and types of land-use as outlined above, cover studies of biomass production, C stores and fluxes of GHGs coupled to options for mitigation and adaption management practices. Suggested shifts in land-use management, should not only consider their impact in relation to climate change, but also their cost-efficiency and environmental consequences in general.

For more background information, the programme proposal of 18 December 2008 can be downloaded in the appendix below.
NordForsk, Stensberggata 25, 0170 Oslo, Tlf: +47 476 14 400, E-post:, Organisasjonsnummer: 971 274 255