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Call: TFI NCoE "Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere"

The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
12.02.2010 16:00
Full call title
Nordic Centre of Excellence Programme within the Top-level Research Initiative Sub-programme "Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere"
Call description

The Top-level Research Initiative (Toppforskningsinitiativet, TFI) launches a Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) programme within the sub-programme "Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere". The initiative is a Nordic contribution towards solving the global climate change challenges and intends to promote research and innovation within the region. The Top-level Research Initiative is the largest joint Nordic research and innovation initiative to date. The focus will be on fields of climate and energy research of common interest to the Nordic countries, and where the region can contribute with international solutions. For more information visit the TFI homepage:

The cryosphere refers to the part of the Earth System where water occurs in its frozen form. It is extensive at high latitudes but also occurs in elevated areas at lower latitudes. It is a prominent feature of the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas but extends over most of the Nordic region. Snow and sea ice, albeit the small volume, cover vast areas and are crucial for solar reflection and ocean circulation at global scale. The permafrost affects soil water content and vegetation of huge areas. Glaciers and ice caps reacts relatively rapid on climate changes with impacts on ecosystems, human activity at regional level, interactions with and feedbacks on ocean currents and act as good indicators of climate change. Temperature rise due to the changing climate is thought to be more prominent in the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas than at lower latitudes and thus, affects the stability and dynamics of the cryosphere in these regions. However, even modest temperature rises can have a major impact on the cryosphere in other Nordic regions. Absence of winter ice in the Baltic sea and snow cover over the boreal zones will impact the environment and as feed backs into the Earth System. In the Nordic region, the direct impact of the changing cryosphere on society and industry and the geographical proximity and long historical connection to the Arctic, make the Nordic countries especially suitable for accomplishing joint research programmes within this topic. The knowledge produced by such a research programme is relevant not only for the Nordic region, but also in a global perspective.

The main objectives of the TFI sub-programme "Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere" (ICCC) are to reinforce Earth System research cooperation in the Nordic region and beyond, to improve our understanding of the cryosphere stability and dynamics, to specify cryosphere parameters in the Earth System models and to support science driven questions of high interest to society, science, industry and/or national infrastructure.

The NCoE is an instrument to increase the scientific quality, efficiency, competitiveness and visibility of Nordic research through enhanced collaboration between Nordic countries. A NCoE consists of prominent research groups from at least three Nordic countries, forming a physical or virtual centre with common objectives and coordination.

The main objectives of the NCoE-ICCC are to reinforce research of excellent scientific quality; create critical Nordic mass and added value; and increase the visible and attractive Nordic research in a European and global context.

Participants from industry, policy makers and societal parties, should be included in the NCoE when relevant.

Funding framework

- The budget of the present NCoE programme is 100 MNOK for 1-3 NCoEs
- The duration of a NCoE is 5 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
- 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. A particular NCoE thus will have basic funding originating from national sources (including national budgetary funding of the host institutes, other public funding, or private funding) and possibly also international sources (e.g. EU). The NCoE funding will be supplementary and will be used for the activities with the specific aim of creating Nordic strength for research teams to adopt a leading role internationally
- The flexible scheme of the grant implies that eligible activities may be allocated to direct costs of the Nordic collaboration:
* Researcher and key staff training, including support for Nordic doctoral courses arranged by the NCoE
* Fellowships for visiting senior scientists
* Fellowships for post-docs and PhD students
* In specific cases, part-time salary for researchers (20-50% of full salary), not associated with mobility can be applied for
* Extra management and co-ordination costs within a centre, including network meetings, seminars, workshops, etc. Salary costs for a co-ordinator may also be included under this point, but should be kept as moderate as possible
* Miscellaneous costs for activities providing added Nordic strength to the NCoE
- Fellowships include both, short-term and long-term (full) fellowships. Fellowships are meant to increase mobility and knowledge transfer between countries, and it is therefore assumed that a researcher moves to another country than the country of residence or of affiliation when receiving the fellowship grant. Fellowship costs can also include a resettlement grant intended to meet the additional costs of living abroad for the researcher and possibly the family of the researcher
- Research groups from non-Nordic countries may participate in the consortium, but have to cover their project costs themselves. However, fellowships for visiting scientists, post-docs and PhD students can be awarded to residents from both Nordic and other countries
- The funding from the NCoE Programme is not granted to cover running costs of the research units
- If an NCoE uses its programme funding to recruit PhD students or post docs, open calls for applications shall be organised
- 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 Centre, it is highly encouraged that the Centres involve and draw on their relevant European and international contacts
- The NCoE should maintain a website at which information is continuously provided on the activities and results of the NCoE. The website should be linked to the homepage of TFI
- Applicants must provide a complete proposal according to the two following documents:
1) NCoE programme memorandum “Top-level Research Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment Sub-programme 'Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere', 2010-2015". The document describes the objectives, the organisation and structure of this NCoE programme
2) the TFI General Guidelines for Applicants (sub-programme I and II)
- It is necessary to read the NCoE programme memorandum and the TFI General Guidelines for Applicants (sub-programme I and II), which are available at the end of the present call as pdf files
- Applications have to be submitted using the NordForsk Application Portal and before the submission deadline. Only complete applications will be processed
- Granted NCoEs are expected to initiate their activities in autumn 2010.

Call conditions

Applicants to the NCoE – ICCC should consider the following:
- The proposal should target science driven question(s) of high interest to, society, science, industry and/or national infrastructure. New, versatile and innovative approaches are strongly encouraged. An interdisciplinary component must be present.
- The focus of the programme is on the Nordic and Arctic regions (See Appendix 3 – Nordic cooperation in Arctic research of the NCoE programme memorandum)
- Modelling at different levels is an important tool for understanding the cryosphere and its link to other aspects of the Earth system
- The proposed research can include measurements and analysis of new or existing data with the purpose of elucidating science question(s) of interest. This can include measurements and analyses to understand cryospheric processes or to describe climate parameters for the present and future of the cryosphere–climate (change) interaction.
- International collaboration both within and outside the Nordic countries is encouraged.
- Advanced climate modelling is an integrated part of the TFI activities, and interaction with and input to other TFI sub-programmes is encouraged (see background information in Appendix 4
- Nordic cooperation in advanced climate modelling of the NCoE programme memorandum)
- Proposals should consider cooperation with industry and industry-related research institutes when relevant (see Appendix 5 – Industry cooperation within ICCC of the NCoE programme memorandum)
- A well defined strategy for continued cooperation after the five (3+2) years TFI financing period is a prerequisite for funding. Applicants should also note:
- The NCoE - ICCC programme will not support monitoring activities
- The NCoE - ICCC programme will not support development of new instrumentation and new model tools for climate research.

Evaluation criteria

Criteria for evaluation and selection of the Nordic Centres of Excellence in Research on Interaction between Climate Change and the Cryosphere.

The most important evaluation criteria are the excellent scientific quality of the research plan at an international level, the international status of the senior researchers in the respective fields of research within the proposed NCoE, as well as the potential to further develop scientific excellence.

The proposals will be evaluated on basis of:

Research idea and plan
* the quality of the research plan
* scientific added value and originality, possibilities for major scientific break-through
* added value through Nordic collaboration
* feasibility
* added value to Nordic society

Scientific merits and output of the leader and the senior researchers
* quality and quantity of scientific output
* international status and scientific leadership of researchers in their own field of research

Research environment
* critical mass appropriate to the field in question
* co-operation between the researchers of the different Nordic countries in the proposed NCoE
* premises, instrumentation, special equipment and other infrastructure
* activity, nature and volume of international co-operation
* mobility of the researchers

Researcher training
* demonstrated skills in researcher training
* adequate ratio of students and supervisors
* organized and committed co-operation in relation to researcher training
* creative and innovative ideas
* practical and adequate arrangements/plans

Management and operation of NCoEs
* leadership qualifications of coordinator and team leaders
* a plan for the management of the Centre
* a plan on how to create and maintain cohesion between research groups of the NCoE candidate
* a plan on how synergetic benefits and added value through Nordic collaboration, may be achieved and utilised
* a plan on how to spread excellence, e.g., publications, knowledge transfer, to recipients outside the network including a brief plan for dissemination to the public
* a strategy how to accomplish long-term collaboration beyond the financing period of the centre

For general criteria applying to all activities within the Top-level Research Initiative, please see the "General Guidelines for Applicants within the Top-level Research Initiative (Sub-programme I and II)".

Funded budget
The five year budget of the present NCoE programme is 100 MNOK with the intention to fund 1-3 NCoEs
Decisions will be made by
June 2010 by the programme committee of the sub-programme following external peer review
Responsible adviser

Senior adviser Michael Andersson
Phone: +47 941 68 547

Responsible adviser

Senior adviser Harry Zilliacus
Phone: +47 948 38 681

NordForsk, Stensberggata 25, 0170 Oslo, Tlf: +47 476 14 400, E-post:, Organisasjonsnummer: 971 274 255