Awarded the inaugural Mohn Prize

Written by Henriette Leine Wangen, translated by Gavin Tanguay

The team behind The Meaning of Ice and Dr. Eddy Carmack have been announced as the joint winners of the International Mohn Prize for Outstanding Research Related to the Arctic. The announcement of the laureates of the first Mohn Prize in history took place today at Árdna – the university’s Sami cultural house. 

Synnøve de Bouvrie from Academia Borealis held a speech under the announcement. Foto: Mathilde Torsøe

The prize, which is worth NOK 2 million (approximately € 210 000), was established in collaboration between Academia Borealis The Academy of Sciences and Letters of Northern Norway (NNVA), the Tromsø Research Foundation (TFS) and UiT The Arctic University of Norway (UiT).
The objective of the prize is to recognise research related to the Arctic. Furthermore, it aims to put issues of particular relevance to the future development of the Arctic on the national and international agenda.

Award criteria

Nominations for the Mohn Prize put forward by members of the Arctic research community have been evaluated by an international Scientific Committee based on the following three criteria:

  • Whether the nominee has conducted excellent research, and developed groundbreaking new knowledge
  • Whether the nominee is recognised as a leader in his/her/their field
  • Whether the nominee has highlighted issues that are of particular relevance to the future development of the Arctic (and put these issues on the national and international agenda)

In its evaluation, the Scientific Committee wrote that “after through consideration of the nominees, the committee recommends that the team behind The Meaning of Ice and Dr. Eddy Carmack be ranked in joint first place for their groundbreaking contribution to developing Arctic research and knowledge of the Arctic system”.

Worthy laureates

The formal award justification demonstrates that, in their respective ways, the team behind The Meaning of Ice and Dr. Eddy Carmack both fulfil the criteria as laureates of the Mohn Prize.


About The Meaning of Ice

The Meaning of Ice is a collaborative effort, involving a large, international network, with Shari Fox Gearheard as a principal investigator. Foto: Private

The research group behind The Meaning of Ice consists of a core of 13 researchers and indigenous experts from Alaska, Canada and Greenland. The project The Dynamics of Human-Sea Ice Relations: Comparing Changing Environments in Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland was implemented from 2006-2011. The project involved more than 40 participants, an overwhelming majority of which were indigenous experts with unrivalled, experience-based knowledge of the Arctic.

Excellent research and groundbreaking knowledge
An excerpt from the award justification states that: “This project made groundbreaking contribution to our understanding of Arctic ice-dominated systems via a highly innovative combination of natural science, social science and indigenous knowledge.”

A leader in his/her/their field
An excerpt from the award justification concludes that: “This project exemplifies a major development in Arctic science that will stimulate others to make use of similar procedures to address a wide range of topics in the coming years.”

Relevance to the future development of the Arctic
An excerpt from the award justification states that: “Changes in the Arctic environment are now verified independently by both scientific methods and observations of the Arctic residents. Inherent to a sustainable Arctic is resilient local communities continuing their use of ice-dominated environment based on established knowledge systems, culture-based values, and indigenous languages.”

Based on these three criteria, the Scientific Committee strongly recommended that The Meaning of Ice should be honoured as one of the laureates because the consortium is a unique example of “collaboration between academics and indigenous experts which has given us new knowledge of and understanding about the Arctic, and has developed an advanced understanding of the dynamics of the Arctic sea ice”.


About Dr. Eddy Carmack

Scientist Eddy Carmack Foto: Private

Dr. Eddy Carmack is a Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, climate researcher and oceanographer. From 1986-2011, he was affiliated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada.

Excellent research and groundbreaking knowledge
An excerpt from the award justification states that Carmack may be regarded as “the most influential and cited oceanographer at work in the Arctic Ocean”. Furthermore, that the outstanding nature of his research is reflected in “his many extraordinary contributions on water mass formation, thermohaline circulation, mixing, shelf dynamics and freshwater budgets in the Arctic; on evidence and impacts of climate variability in subarctic and arctic seas; on the role of the changing physical environment on biogeochemical processes in the Arctic; and on the dynamics of high-latitude lakes and rivers”.

A leader in his/her/their field
An excerpt from the award justification states that: “As a result of his creativity, originality, and influential accomplishments, Eddy Carmack, already an acclaimed leader in Arctic physical oceanography, is now leading the international development of a unifying pan-Arctic perspective of concepts and theories, one that includes Arctic ecosystems and processes in this era of climate change and practical challenges.”

Relevance to the future development of the Arctic
An excerpt from the award justification states that by “thinking deeply, writing cogently, and speaking clear narratives about the concept of resilience as it applies to all of these issues, Eddy Carmack places each of them front and centre on our national and international agendas, while himself epitomizing modesty, openness, curiosity and authenticity in his interactions with citizens, students and scientists alike”.

Based on these three criteria, the Scientific Committee strongly recommended that Dr. Eddy Carmack should be honoured as one of the laureates because he approaches his work in an original, diverse and groundbreaking manner to increase the understanding of physics in the Arctic, as well as the interaction between climate, land and ecosystems. Moreover, he manages to consider and focus on the area’s changing environment and the indigenous communities which are reliant on the environment.

The prize will be presented during a private event on 22 January at Arctic Frontiers 2018 – an international conference committed to ‘connecting the Arctic’. The following day, on 23 January, the laureates will hold lectures about their scientific work at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. This event is open to the public. The Mohn Prize will be awarded biennially.


The importance of an Arctic prize

The term ‘High North’ (or alternatively ‘Circumpolar North’) is often used to describe the area between the North Pole and the Arctic Circle. Through the Mohn Prize, NNVA, TFS and UiT wish to honour knowledge builders who have contributed groundbreaking new insights in the Arctic and the High North. The Scientific Committee believes the Mohn Prize has the potential to set the standard for outstanding research connected to the Arctic and the High North. Arctic research has been taking place in, and based out of Tromsø, for more than a century. For nearly 50 years, the research environments in Tromsø have developed world leading competence in Arctic natural and social sciences. The international interest in the Arctic is largely motivated by climate changes that are clearly expressed in the region, and by the rich natural resources found here.



Page administrator: Tommy Hansen
Last changed: 11.12.2017

  • The Mohn Prize
  • c/o UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • P.O. Box 6050 Langnes
  • 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • info@mohnprize.no
Skip to main content