Silje joined the CIRFA team already in 2020 to do her PhD with us. She is located at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET) in Oslo and her work focuses on ocean circularion forecasts for the Norwegian coastal and shelf seas.

Photos: Silje Christine Iversen (portrait, private), and Linford Miles on Unsplash.

Where are you from, and what is your study and/or work background?

I grew up in Storfjord in Troms and Finnmark county, but I have been located in Oslo during the last six years. I studied at the University of Oslo and obtained my master’s degree in meteorology and oceanography in 2020. While studying, I held a part-time job at the Division for Ocean and Ice at MET Norway. During this part-time job, I worked on establishing routines to validate the sea-surface temperatures in forecast models.

What motivates you to spend time with your research?

Throughout my studies I became largely fascinated by the ocean – there are so many questions yet to be answered. My master’s thesis concerned the large-scale ocean circulation, focusing on circulation changes on longer time scales. My part-time job at MET Norway, on the other hand, aroused my curiosity and interest in ocean forecasting. Skillful ocean forecasts, and in particular skillful forecasts of the upper ocean circulation, are essential during many operations at sea related to for instance minimizing the damage of oil spills, search-and-rescue, and spreading of toxic algae and salmon lice. My curiosity and interest in the field of ocean forecasting, in combination with knowing the importance of having skillful ocean forecasts, motivate me to spend time with my research. I enjoy diving into the theoretical background, as well as spending time on programming and other technical/numerical challenges. 

How will your research make a difference for people and companies that are operating in icy waters?

Ocean forecasting includes the process of data assimilation where the ocean state represented by a numerical model is adjusted by available observations. My research will focus on understanding how different observations from both upcoming and established observational platforms contribute to this ocean state adjustment, and the results can thus shed light on how to optimally use the observations to improve the quality of the ocean forecasts. Being able to improve the representation of the water masses and the circulation could benefit models including sea ice, especially when it comes to ice melting/freezing and the drift of ice.

What benefits do you expect for your professional development?

Being a Ph.D. student allows me to get a broad and deep knowledge within the field I am studying – my research skills are constantly tested and developed. I also have the opportunity to get to know a lot of talented people with whom I can discuss topics. All in all, I will develop on a professional level, but I will definitely develop on a personal level as well.

I have been living in Oslo for some years, and I enjoy having the possibility to attend so many activities nearby – whether it is meeting friends for a coffee, going to museums or stand-up shows, trying out ziplining, or simply relaxing at a spa. Working in Oslo is fantastic. I am grateful to be part of the team at MET Norway, and I appreciate the positive working environment.