Dear CIRFA-partners, colleagues, and collaborators,

The year 2015 is approaching the end, and it is time to summarize and give a brief status report.

CIRFA started up on September 1st, 2015, but a lot of planning activities and work were carried out prior to this date.

At the date of writing, 17 of the 18 partners, who confirmed participation in CIRFA, have signed the Consortium Agreement. Hopefully, everybody will have signed before Christmas, which will allow us to complete the contract with the Research Council of Norway.

CIRFA has got its new office space in the NOFIMA building on the UiT campus, where the CIRFA staff hired by UiT is sharing offices with members of the EOgroup at the Department of Physics and Technology. This may change already in January 2016, as there has recently appeared an opportunity to move to the Research Park, on the floor just below Norut’s office space.

From the administration side, the attention has so far been focused on getting in place appropriate and effective tools and routines for communication and reporting, which we hope will be of benefit to CIRFA in the long run. These tools are partly in place now, but there will certainly be modifications, as weaknesses are detected and new functionalities are demanded. We therefore encourage you all to report back to us shortcomings and/or improvements, which could make our work easier.

We have appointed a CIRFA Board, and it had its first, constitutive meeting on November 2nd. The discussions in this first meeting were constructive and promised a good, collaborative atmosphere. The Board will have at least 2 meetings a year, and will be an important co-player, especially on strategic issues. I look forward to future collaboration in the CIRFA Board.

CIRFA still has to fill its Scientific Advisory Board and Innovation Advisory Board, and appoint members for three Technical Committees, one for each of the three application areas: Ocean Remote Sensing, Sea Ice Remote Sensing, and Oil Spill Remote Sensing. Appointing members for these bodies has high priority, and the committees should be in place early in 2016.

CIRFA had a successful official opening on November 13th, with participation from almost all partners, and presentations from both the academic partners (Wolfgang Dierking), and the user partners (Richard Hall and Jan Petter Pedersen). State secretary Dilek Ayhan from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries performed the formal opening, and a representative from the Research Council of Norway, Elise Husum, handed over the “SFI-plakett”, which is the official proof of CIRFA having SFI status. Among the approximately 60 guests present at the opening, we had participation from Tromsø Kommune by its new Mayor Jarle Aarbakke and from the administration of UiT-the Arctic University of Norway by Rector Anne Husebekk.

CIRFA had kick-off meeting on November 30th and December 1st at the university campus. Nearly all partners were represented. Day one of the 2-day event had a
fixed program, with presentations from the different work packages, whereas day two was open for discussions. Thanks to enthusiastic engagement both from academic and user partners, the discussions were fruitful, and led to concrete plans for collaboration between work packages. The success of CIRFA really depends on this type of cross–WP interactions, and we are satisfied with the way this worked out. The kick-off meeting revealed that most of the WPs already have well developed activity plans for the next years.

So far CIRFA has announced eight positions, seven PhDs and one Postdoc. Six of the PhD positions have been filled with the candidates ranked on top of the ranking list. We have good hopes to also find a good candidate also for the 7th position. The evaluation process regarding the announced Postdoc position is ongoing, and the position is planned to be in work from April 2016. In additions to these positions, CIRFA has hired one Postdoc, one Prof. 2, and one administrative coordinator (50%). Together with personnel employed at the partner institutions, the staff is already at a level to actively pursue many of the interesting scientific and technical issues planned for in the project.

So as the year 2015 soon turns into 2016, I am happy to conclude that CIRFA is more or less up and running. I know that there are big expectations to the work to be done, but as we already have an excellent and enthusiastic team in place, I am confident that we can deliver exiting research.

With these words, I wish you all a peaceful Christmas, and a happy new year. We look forward to an exiting collaboration in CIRFA in 2016.

Torbjørn Eltoft