Understanding climate
for the benefit of society

Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research Five Year Strategy Plan 2022-2026

Entrance of Bjerknes Centre in snow, with tracks leading towards the door.
Where we're going. (Photo: Ellen Viste)

Vision:  Understanding climate for the benefit of society

Mission: To advance climate research through interdisciplinary approaches, transdisciplinary partnerships, and investigations that encompass the major components of the global climate system and their linkages across spatial and temporal scales; To provide the information and guidance that enables societal transformation in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Identity: The Bjerknes Centre addresses the urgent challenges arising from unprecedented changes to the climate of the Earth. The Bjerknes Centre will contribute to excellence and relevance in climate research and provide a science-based foundation for climate mitigation and adaptation. When considering what the Bjerknes Centre should achieve in the future, its ability to provide added value is a principal advantage that must be nurtured.

We marshal the diverse expertise and perspectives of our 4 partner institutes, to achieve actionable science for the benefit of society by addressing the complexity of the climate system and its drivers. This strategy intends to focus the Bjerknes Centre to strengthen its academic and societal impact and underpins an unwavering commitment to our mission.

To advance our vision and mission, the Bjerknes Centre will: 

  • Deliver innovative research on drivers, interactions and impacts of regional and global climate.
  • Build on our excellence on Arctic-Atlantic variability and predictability
  • Capitalize on the unique opportunities in climate research emerging from the combined strengths of the four partners.
  • Foster interdisciplinary research and use of complementary methodologies to investigate past, present, and future climate.
  • Establish transdisciplinary partnerships to enable societal transformation.   
  • Be a focal point for training and mentoring next generation of climate scientists. 
  • Engage and communicate climate science to the public, stakeholders, and politicians at all levels of society.
  • Prioritize climate science research that addresses pressing challenges and supports mitigating ongoing climate change and its impacts.

Academic footprint: Together with the Centre’s cross-cutting activities (including Model Development, Data Management, Research Training, Dissemination, and Outreach) the four research themes on identifying climate hazards and risks, understanding the drivers and impacts of carbon and biogeochemical cycles, constraining the dynamics and impacts of climate change in the polar regions, and assessing the local and global teleconnections and dynamics of climate change represent the core of the research activities at the Bjerknes Centre.

The four research themes of the Bjerknes Centre, climate hazards, carbon, polar climate and global climate. (Illustration: Suet Chan)

Strategic goals

The Centre’s four research themes have articulated a series of key research goals and actions for the next 5 years. In addition, we lay out three overarching strategic goals and actions.  We are committed to manage our activities and achieve success in our goals, and progress will be assessed annually, including updates from all partners, allowing delays to be identified quickly and mitigated. 

Goal 1: Deepen our excellence in climate research

Park bench under water. (Photo: Ellen Viste)Be at the international forefront through rigorous testing of scientific hypotheses and developing innovative approaches to modeling, observing, reconstructing, and predicting the climate system 

  • By promoting novel, excellent, and blue-sky research.
  • By continuous development of the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM), an IPCC-class earth system model, the Norwegian Climate Prediction Model (NorCPM), a climate prediction model based on NorESM, and key regional models (e.g., neXt generation Sea Ice Model).
  • By further developing our cutting-edge analytical facilities (e.g., national infrastructures, ICOS, FARLAB, EARTHLAB) with unique capabilities. 
  • By leveraging our geographic and infrastructure advantages to gather crucially needed field data. 
  • By providing actionable climate information and knowledge at local and regional scales through downscaling global climate projections. 
  • By integrating advanced statistical methods such as machine/deep learning and data assimilation approaches. 

Enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and collaboration by engaging on a broader scale than ever before and wield its diversity of skills and perspectives to initiate transformative research.

  • Use the five internal strategic projects as key elements in conducting novel research, scientific expertise and excellence across themes and partner institutions, and seed externally funded projects. 
  • Scale up and broaden our capacity for multidisciplinary research by leveraging the success of our recent industry collaborations and transdisciplinary projects. This will require specific attention from the Centre’s leader group as we build towards stronger stakeholder engagement, strengthen multidisciplinary science, and seek partnerships outside of the Centre’s expertise (e.g., with social sciences)
  • Further promote interdisciplinary collaboration by providing more opportunities for our scientists to interact and engage with each other (through Bjerknes Seminars, Bjerknes Getaway, Annual Meeting). We will create targeted opportunities for networking to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and formulate collaborative research projects on key research topics such as Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, Arctic sea-ice loss, hydrological cycle changes, climatic teleconnections, tipping points and compound events. 

Build capacity in strategic research areas where we need expertise and proactively pursue new skills and knowledge 

  • Further strengthen our research profile in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. 
  • Extend partnerships to assess climate change impacts on biological systems and increase expertise on terrestrial carbon cycling. 
  • Strengthen our activities on hydroclimate research, especially impacts and hazards
  • Realize opportunities for research on interactions across the atmosphere-land-ocean continuum. 
  • Consolidate our expertise on statistical modeling, in particular artificial intelligence for prediction, hazard, and risk assessment.
  • Be at the forefront of the growing scientific field on providing reliable climate prediction from sub seasonal to decadal timescales. 

The center will be a future-oriented and innovative knowledge and competence hub for a new generation of climate researchers. The Centre will mentor and involve our PhD students and postdocs as they are often the prime drivers of interdisciplinary research.

  • Actively seek funding over the next five years to promote and coordinate PhD research schools within the climate sciences (following the successful work of ResClim and CHESS, both coordinated by the Centre). Strengthen internationalization of PhD education in climate sciences by supporting international training schools such as the renowned Advanced Climate Dynamics Summer School (ACDC).
  • Develop new training and development opportunities, available to all Bjerknes Centre members, including new training initiatives around proposal development and paper writing and further cement peer-to-peer relationships across the Centre. 

Goal 2: Engaging and communicating with society 

Impact is counted in many ways. (Foto: Elin Darelius)The Centre will engage locally, nationally, and globally to scale up its impacts. The Bjerknes Centre will use our talents to inform and translate our research, bringing it into the hands of those best able to use it and contribute to a robust low-emission society.

  • Over the next five years, the Centre will strengthen ties with stakeholders and society by seeking out and building long-term relationships with policy makers, the media, businesses, schools, and non-profit climate organizations.
  • Support efforts by our scientists to expand our leadership, involvement and participation in key scientific and policy activities, networks, and organizations at national and international levels. 
  • Refine external communication to reinforce our role as the go-to source for expertise and knowledge on climate. 
  • Refine our external messaging to communicate our unique expertise more effectively.
  • Enhance translation of research to reach a broader audience and increase our impact. This will be done by strengthening our distinct research and popular science identity by organizing conferences/symposiums, releasing popular articles and press releases on topical research, sharing climate research updates on social media, and creating video explainers and fact sheets on key topics.

Goal 3: Secure structural and organizational sustainability               

A strategic priority over the next 5 years is to secure permanent funding for the Centre and ensure long-term financial sustainability to achieve our aim and goals. 

  • Over the next five years the Centre will contribute to further development of the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM) and the Norwegian Climate Prediction Model (NorCPM), encourage their application in research projects and ensure continued Norwegian participation in climate assessment experiments (CMIP7~2023). It is also strategically important to incorporate Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet modeling and other sea level components as well as water isotopes into the NorESM to remain relevant for CMIP (as well as ISMIP). These aims require secure long-term funding, recognizing that Earth system modeling requires continuous development and cannot be reliably maintained through ad-hoc funding. 
  • Over the next five years, the Centre will continue its commitment to national and global efforts to monitor the fate of man-made CO2 in the Earth system (ICOS, Global Carbon Budget). These enable evaluation of mitigation efforts, the remaining carbon budget, and impacts on ocean health. Securing long-term funding for our marine CO2 observing network in ICOS is a priority. This network is unique and a key component of the global ocean observing system.  Further, it documents the changing efficiency of the Atlantic-Arctic CO2 sink, which removes large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere, and resulting increased ocean acidification. This monitoring is essential for policy and cannot rely on short term funding


Promote a culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI). It is strategically important for the Bjerknes Centre to foster an inclusive, vibrant, and diverse research community. This will make our future work stronger and our partnership more forward-thinking. We recognize that conversations in DEI space can be challenging, especially when we seek to examine our institutions and the systemic biases embedded in them.

  • Over the next five years we will strive to incorporate DEI in our operations and initiatives by exploring new strategies to promote diverse representations and new perspectives and cultivate relationships with our early career scientists. Promoting a culture of inclusion needs active participation from the community, and efforts led by our researchers, post docs, PhD students’ administration, and partners.

Adjust organizational structure to support our vision and goals. The Bjerknes Centre is a vibrant and relevant community of academic collaboration. 

  • Over the next 5 years the Centre will seek to foster more diverse participation in our activities by opening new avenues for networking and participation and ensure that we have a broad representation of our academic areas. A strategic priority is to promote a culture of inclusion with active participation from the partners.

Refine internal communication and operational support. The Bjerknes Centre’s administrative staff support our goals through effective management and strategic investment of resources. 

  • Over the next year, the Centre will do a review of the current administrative routines to optimize the administrative support services. The Centre will also focus on more effective internal communication tools and increase transparency to build a stronger sense of connection across the Centre.

Welcome to our door. (Photo: Ellen Viste)