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Norwegian Ships of Opportunity Program for marine and atmospheric research (2018-2023)

NorSOOP is a project funded by the Research Council of Norway for 26.9 mNOK over 5 years to establish a ship of opportunity-based infrastructure to support marine and atmospheric research

The oceans account for about ~3/4 of the Earth's surface and produce about 1/2 of the oxygen that we breathe. The oceans are also important because they provide protein for human consumption through wild and farmed fisheries, they have a strong control on weather and climate, and they influence our health and well-being. A national infrastructure called NorSOOP (Norwegian Ships of Opportunity program) that uses ships of opportunity, such as container ships, ferries, and cruise ships, will be established by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Institute for Marine Research (IMR), Akvaplan-niva (Apn), and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET Norway).The objective of NorSOOP is to support oceanic and atmospheric research and observations, and to help find ways to detect and manage human impacts on the ocean. NorSOOP will have ships that operate regularly in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea (including coastal Norway and fjords), and the Barents Sea in the Arctic. The ships will be outfitted with state-of-the-art environmental sensors and samplers to measure physical, chemical, and biological processes in Norwegian waters. Some of the ships will also have lab space available for advanced tasks and experiments.

Funded by: Research Council of Norway, Research Infrastructure program, project number 269922

Budget: 26.9 mNOK (~3.1 million Euro) over 5 years; May 2018-May 2023

Partners: NIVA (project coordinator), IMR, Met NO, and Akvaplan-niva

Project coordinator:  Andrew King (NIVA)

Associated projects: Horizon 2020 JERICO-NEXT, Horizon 2020 INTAROS

Primary objectives:
Coordinate and upgrade existing FerryBox ship of opportunities
Add 3 new lines (Lofoten Islands, Norwegian Sea, Arctic)
Develop and implement cutting edge environmental sensors
Provide on-board lab space for visiting researchers and experiments

Ships of Opportunity

Currently in operation: 
M/S Trollfjord (Hurtigruten): Bergen - Kirkenes (Norway) 
M/S Vesterålen (Hurtigruten): Bergen - Kirkenes (Norway) 
M/S Color Fantasy (Color Line): Oslo (Norway) - Kiel (Germany) 
M/S Norbjørn (Bring AS/Marine Supply): Tromsø (Norway) - Svalbard

To be upgraded during the project: 
M/S Norrona (Smyril Lines): Hirtshals (Denmark) - Tórshavn (Faroe Islands) - Seyðisfjørður (Iceland) **NOW IN OPERATION**

New regions that will be added during the project:
Lofoten Islands
Norwegian Sea
Arctic Ocean

color fantasy
Above: Passenger ship M/S Color Fantasy which operates a NIVA FerryBox system. Photo: Color Line.


Currently in operation:
"Core": Temperature, salinity, optical oxygen sensor, Chl-a fluorescence and turbidity
"Advanced": CDOM fluorescence sensors, membrane-based pCO2, and spectrophotometric pH sensors, and PAH fluorescence sensor, upwelling and downwelling radiance and downwelling irradiance sensors, short- and long-wave radiation, air temperature and humidity, atmospheric pressure, and wind speed and direction

To be added during the project (to be confirmed):
phytoplankton pigment absorption sensor (integrating sphere), dissolved nutrient analyser (NH4, PO4, NO3, SiO2), additional carbonate system sensors, greenhouse gas sensors (CH4, CO2), Pocket FerryBox for ad hoc deployments, flow cytometry and imaging camera, and fast repetition rate and pulse-amplitude fluorometers (FRRF/PAM)

Above: FerryBox sensor package including: (left, top to bottom) PAH fluorometer, cDOM and phycocyanin fluorometer, chlorophyll a fluorometer, turbidity sensor; (right; top to bottom) salinity/temperature sensor, debubbler, and oxygen optode. Photo: Kai Sørensen.


Currently in operation:
Refrigerated water autosamplers, active/passive contaminant samplers, microplastic samplers

To be added during the project:
plankton concentrators and samplers, aerosol/airborne particle samplers



  • INTAROS General Assembly, Bremen, Germany, Jan 2019
  • NorSOOP research presented in an oral presenation at the ASLO Aquatic Science Meeting, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb 2019
  • NorSOOP partners met and presented research and development at 9th FerryBox workshop in Genoa, Italy, April 2019
  • New FerryBox system installed and now operational on M/S Norrona in cooperation with Faroe Marine Research Institute, May 2019
  • NIVA was accepted by EuroGOOS as an official member institute at the EuroGOOS General Assembly (and will continue to serve as co-chair of EuroGOOS FerryBox Task Team), Heraklion, Crete, May 2019
  • NorSOOP scientist Wenche Eikrem was interviewed on NRK and NRK radio about the recent toxic algal blooms in Norway, June 2019
  • JERICO-NEXT final General Assembly, Brest, France, July 2019 - fingers crossed for JERICO-S3 follow-up proposal that was submitted in March 2019


  • Project kick-off meeting at NIVA Oslo with 12 participants from NIVA, IMR, Met NO, and Apn, May 2018
  • NorSOOP presented by NIVA Director Greta Bentzen at Ocean Week, Trondheim, Norway, May 2018
  • NorSOOP presented by Kai Sørensen and Sjur Tveite at Spaceport Norway, Stavanger, Norway, May 2018
  • Svalbard Integrated Observing System (SIOS) kick-off meeting attended by Kai Sørensen, Tromsø, Norway (NorSOOP ship M/S Norbjørn is part of SIOS), May 2018
  • NorSOOP presented as part of the FerryBox Task Team report to the EuroGOOS General Assembly by Andrew King, Brussels, Belgium, May 2018
  • Kai Sørensen interviewed by NRK Østfold about FerryBox observations and NorSOOP, May 2018
  • JERICO-NEXT General Assembly, Galway, Ireland, Sept 2018
  • Steering Committee and Advisory Board meeting, Oslo, Norway, Oct 2018

Upcoming events

Date Event Location
28-29 Aug 2019 NorSOOP Annual Meeting and Steering Committee/Advisory Board meeting Radisson Blu, Oslo Airport, Oslo, Norway
16-20 Sept 2019 OceanObs '19 Honolulu, HI, USA
16-21 Feb 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting San Diego, CA, USA
Fall 2020 10th FerryBox workshop TBD

Funding support for access to NorSOOP ships

NorSOOP has a total of 1.5 mNOK to support access costs (travel and accommodation) for researchers and students to carry out research activities on NorSOOP ships. Of this, 500 kNOK earmarked for students access only.

Application information

The application process for NorSOOP's 1st call for the Research and Development Access Program (RDAP) for 2019-2020 is now open. Three more calls will be announced in 2020, 2021, and 2022. More details regarding the NorSOOP RDAP and applications can be found online at:

Applications review will begin on 15 September 2019 and continue until funding has been fully exhausted. First funding decisions will be made by 15 October 2019. 

Last updated 09.08.2019