Once the hunger for the Arctic information appears, the Swedish experts rush to find a remedy to overcome it. The debate on a new research vessel unfolds over many years, so the time has come to make political decision. This is urgent. We do need data from the Arctic, says Professor Katarina Gårdfeldt, Director-General of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.
By claiming its leadership in Arctic climate research, Sweden is reminding the Western counterparts of the importance of expeditions on the Swedish icebreaker Oden (built in 1988) and the emerging need to move to higher levels anytime soon to search and analyze data on climate change across the Arctic. However, no matter how urgent investments in a new vessel may be, which, by and large, sets a peaceful mission, this initiative has not found the support of the Swedish government yet. The US and Germany which hold leading positions in climate studies also avoid the discussion around the successor to the Swedish Oden, since the cost is too high, up to 2.4 billion Swedish kronor (over 200 million dollars).
Obviously, the construction of the new flagship vessel is not triggered only by the need to improve the infrastructure for advanced research. A statement from Stockholm University to the Ministry of Education highlights the endeavor to amplify Sweden’s voice and influence on the development of the Arctic and Antarctic, with the emphasis on climate agenda on the international arena.
Whenever it was highly doubtful that Sweden could spend billions on the construction of a new research vessel, today the top-down decision-making is fueled by continued progress and achievements of Russian academia in the Arctic. Russian scholars proceed to collect data as part of expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, the Russian Geographical Society, with the support of state-owned companies and state authorities, including the Ministry of Defense, The Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency, etc.
One day we’ll need to ask Russia what the weather will be tomorrow, Katarina Gordfeldt commented in the Swedish Antinget.