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The Carlsberg Foundation pays tribute to Queen Margrethe and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

On the occasion of the 80th birthday of Queen Margrethe on 16 April and the 90th birthday of former Icelandic President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir on April 15 this year, the Carlsberg Foundation establishes a Danish-Icelandic research center in collaboration with Icelandic authorities to increase our understanding of the interaction between climate and ecosystems and the importance of climate-related changes in the ocean to culture and society in Iceland. The Carlsberg Foundation contributes DKK 25 million, the Icelandic state DKK 7 million and the Icelandic Research Fund DKK 5 million through the Icelandic research center Rannís.

The interdisciplinary research center "Queen Margrethe’s and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir's Interdisciplinary Research Center on Ocean, Climate and Society" is presented as a joint birthday gift to Queen Margrethe and former Icelandic President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.

The research center, which will be based at the University of Copenhagen and the University of Iceland, will be headed by Professor Katherine Richardson, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with several Danish and Icelandic researchers. The grant will mainly be used for the recruitment of young talented researchers, primarily at postdoc level, who must divide their time between the two universities during the project period. They will play a crucial role in strengthening the collaboration between the Danish and Icelandic researchers affiliated with the research center.

Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation Professor Flemming Besenbacher states:

“Denmark and Iceland have a strong friendship and long and proud traditions of scientific collaboration, which the Carlsberg Foundation has contributed to in many different contexts historically. I am therefore pleased that we can now create a research center as a gift for Queen Margrethe and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. They are both concerned about the environmental and societal development in the North Atlantic area, and they have often emphasized the importance of culture and science to the development of society."

The Icelandic Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir expresses her full support for the project, as the Islandic authorities wish to honor the intensive and fruitful scientific collaboration that has existed for centuries between Denmark and Iceland, e.g. in relation to the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Iceland last year. They are now able to do so with a major contribution to this collaborative project.

Studies of both past and present

Iceland is a unique laboratory where both historical and contemporary interactions between humans and the climate can be uncovered. The research carried out at the center will investigate the interaction between climate, ecosystem and society, including culture, based on changes in the North Atlantic and Iceland - both in historical time and further back in geological time. The starting point is the ocean today as a background for understanding Icelandic society today - not least in view of climate change – but many of the results obtained will be relevant to the North Atlantic in general.

Professor Katherine Richardson states:

“We know that the climate in the form of wind and weather affects people directly. However, we know surprisingly little about the indirect climate effects on people and society. Many of these effects are apparent through changes in nature. Icelandic society has always been very dependent on ocean resources, which are currently undergoing rapid change due to climate changes. Therefore, Iceland is quite a unique laboratory which makes it possible to map both historical and contemporary interactions between humans and the climate.”

The research carried out in the center will utilize the recent progress in environmental DNA methodology, which combined with information on current ecological processes can provide a whole new understanding of the interaction between climate, living organisms and society. This interaction not only forms the basis of people's way of life, but also of their worldview.

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