The China-Iceland Arctic Science Observatory (CIAO) was formally opened today, Thursday October 18, 2018, at Karholl in Northern Iceland.
The CIAO is established under an agreement between the Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannis) and the Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC) as a platform for Arctic research cooperation between Icelandic and Chinese research institutions. Rannis coordinates and promotes Icelandic participation in collaborative international projects in science and technology. PRIC conducts comprehensive studies and outreach, operates scientific and logistic infrastructures and promotes international cooperation in the polar regions.
The aim of this cooperation is to further scientific cooperation between Icelandic and Chinese scientists and to advance knowledge in multiple fields of Arctic science. Participation by scientists from other nations is encouraged.
The Arctic Observatory is governed by a joint organizational and management committee, the CIAO board, with the support of an international Science and Outreach committee. The scientific emphasis will be on, but not limited to: the understanding on solar-terrestrial interaction and space weather by conducting polar upper atmosphere observations such as auroras and geomagnetic field variations; climatology; glaciology; oceanography; biology; ecology; and other related fields of science.
Special emphasis will be on outreach to the public. Within the he CIAO will be a Guest centre dedicated to Science Communication based on activities conducted in and around the Arctic Observatory. Special emphasis will be on the Aurora Borealis, the magnetic fields and upper atmosphere. Iceland is very well located for this kind of research as the aurora belt lies over the country. The Guest centre will be a very welcome addition to education, tourism, service, and recreation in the region.
The land of the CIAO is 156 ha and the new Arctic Observatory building is 760 m2 on three levels, built out of concrete and steel. The first floor is dedicated to science outreach, the second is for laboratories and management, and the third is for scientific equipment.
The construction formally started with a ground-breaking ceremony on 2nd June 2014. A cornerstone ceremony took place on 10th October 2016. The first three observational cameras were installed in October 2017.
The land and facilities at Karholl is owned by a local non-for-profit foundation Aurora Observatory (AO). PRIC leases the facilities and land from the AO for the operations of the CIAO observatory.
An open day ceremony will take place on Monday October 22. 2018.