About the Mohn Prize

The International Mohn Prize for Outstanding Research Related to the Arctic (The Mohn Prize) has been established in collaboration by Academia Borealis The Academy of Sciences and Letters of Northern Norway (NNVA), Tromsø Research Foundation (TFS), and UiT The Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The prize amounts to 2 million NOK, and is awarded biennially.

The Mohn Prize recognizes outstanding research related to the Arctic. The award also aims at setting issues that are central to the further development of the Arctic on the national and international agenda. 

The Mohn Prize is named after Henrik Mohn, who in addition to being considered the founder of Norwegian meteorology, provided a number of Norwegian Polar expeditions (among them Fridtjof Nansen's expedition on the Fram from 1893 to 1896) with meteorological equipment. Henrik Mohn was also the first director general of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and he was the great uncle of Trond Mohn's father. Given the family connection, and the fact that Henrik Mohn was a pioneer in a field of research that is central to our understanding of Arctic processes, NNVA, TFS and UiT, when establishing a prize to recognise excellence in Arctic research, deemed it very fitting to name it The Mohn Prize.

Why an Arctic prize?

Arctic research and monitoring has been taking place in, and based out of Tromsø for more than 100 years. Following the decision of the Norwegian Parliament in 1968 to establish the University of Tromsø, Tromsø has built world leading competence in Arctic natural and social sciences. 

Being host city for UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the Norwegian Polar Institute (since 1993), the permanent secretariat for the Arctic Council (since 2011), and a number of other institutions and organisations with an Arctic agenda, Tromsø is undoubtedly one of the world's main hubs for Arctic research, education and management. 

Arctic issues are high on the international agenda for a number of reasons – climate change and access to natural resources (renewable and non-renewable) foremost among them. 

Both of these issues have global implications, but are also of great concern to indigenous and non-indigenous people living in the circumpolar North. 

Reindeer husbandry, agriculture, fisheries and hunting are still important both economically and culturally in many indigenous communities in the Arctic. The increased international interest in the region – particularly when driven by resource extraction – could potentially come at odds with traditional interest, culture and ways of life. Balancing these, sometimes, different interests and priorities is challenging, and must be based on the best available knowledge, combining novel technological advances, an updated theoretical framework, and local, traditional skills and expertise.

Even though the establishment of a university in Northern Norway was controversial at the time, Arctic research carried out by institutions in the region far pre-dates the university. Tromsø Museum, established in 1872, and the Northern Lights Observatory, established on the mountain Haldde near Alta in 1899, and relocated to Tromsø in 1928, are both parts of UiT today. Since its inception, Tromsø Museum has had a particular responsibility for documenting Sami culture and Sami traditions. As a continuation of this work, UiT has been given a national responsibility for research, education and dissemination in the fields of Sami language and culture.

Another central academic institution in Northern Norway – The Norwegian Meteorological Institute's Division for Forecasting in Tromsø – was established in Tromsø in 1920, thus contributing to making Tromsø an academic focal point in Northern Norway.

Building on this academic tradition, the Norwegian Parliament in 1968 decided to establish the University of Tromsø as a comprehensive university. Given the geographical location – at 69°N – Polar research was a priority for the university from the onset. The successful expansion in the field of Polar research was an important consideration when the Norwegian Parliament in 1993 decided to relocate the Norwegian Polar Institute from Oslo to Tromsø. This decision, in turn, paved the way for the decision in 2011 by the Arctic Council to make Tromsø the permanent location for its secretariat.

Academia Borealis, The Academy of Sciences and Letters of Northern Norway (NNVA) was established in 2001 with the purpose of promoting scientific activities in the North, as well as fostering understanding for the importance of research to societal development. The Academy has in excess of 170 members.

Tromsø Research Foundation (TFS) was established by Trond Mohn in 2007. The Foundation supports research and research related activities at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, giving particular priority to funding for young, excellent researchers, and relevant research infrastructure.