2022 - Finally a normal year?
We enjoyed the beginning of a normal year with good working days and social life, but 2022 turned out to be a completely unusual year nonetheless! On February 24, Ukraine was invaded. At the same time we lost communication with our listening stations, and our work to monitor explosions near the nuclear power plants began.
It is pleasing to see that the technologies used to monitor explosions from test explosions of nuclear weapons can also be used to map other types of events. Ukraine has four nuclear power plants with a total of 15 reactors that are vulnerable to military activities. Our technologists have established automatic monitoring of the areas around them to ensure independent data about the bombings. This contributes to the overall picture the Norwegian authorities use to assess the danger of radioactive fallout over Norway.
Monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is our most important task and an important foundation for a safer world. The treaty is one of the important pillars of the global disarmament effort. The Nobel Peace Center organized the seminar "The morning you wake (to the rest of your life)" which highlighted various aspects of the nuclear threat and what it really means when the threat hits society. At the same time, we marked the 25th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and demonstrated the value of its verification system. The agreement's verification system is an example to follow of how compliance with agreements can be ensured and documented. Our status as an independent research foundation means that we have a special task in this work – our neutrality ensures our credibility and attention when we tell the world what we observe.
In 2022, we have had the pleasure of collaborating with Norconsult and Alcatel on service development to ensure avalanche-prone roads for Troms and Finnmark County Municipality. Our automatic detection algorithms will now detect avalanches over the road and find out if vehicles have been taken by the snow masses. This is an important and challenging technological development based on fiber technology and event detection - with promising results!
Our core competence is knowledge of the earth's vibrations; natural and man-made, and to describe them in real time through automatic registrations and interpretations. We have been doing this for over 50 years!
This knowledge is used in EU-funded projects to protect society against natural disasters. A typical black swan; an event with a low probability and high damage potential, such as an earthquake. We have delivered the TURNkey project together with 21 partners from Europe. The result is a prototype of an interaction and information platform for early warning of and rapid response after an earthquake. Many of the partners are involved in the follow-up project MEDiate, which looks at how we can protect society against combined natural hazards today, but also in the future, where climate change is expected to increase the risk of natural hazards. One of the results from this project will be a support tool to help decision-makers assess the probability and damage potential of combined events. Oslo municipality is an important Norwegian partner in the project.
Our research is helping to solve the climate challenges the world is facing! The EU and the Research Council of Norway have entrusted us with the task of investigating what the population thinks about underground storage of CO2 and positioning microseismic monitoring as a technology that can give confidence in the storage's integrity. We look forward to presenting results over the coming years!
NORSAR concentrates on one theme; we create a safer society from outstanding knowledge of the earth's vibrations. Our employees come from all over the world, have their doctorates from different countries and a worldwide collaboration network. The good teamwork in 2022 produced good results - it bodes well for the future!
Anne Strømmen Lycke