Newsletter EU-PolarNet 1​

January 2017

We wish you all a happy new year and hope that it will bring you interesting new challenges, successful projects and valuable new encounters! We are looking forward towards an exciting 2017 and would like to share our overview on what this new year will bring to the EUPolarNet consortium – and you! Stay tuned for high-level events, new extensive deliverables and the preparation of our first white papers!


The year of infrastructures: Our main deliverables in 2017

EU-PolarNet is entering its third year and with a glance on the list of upcoming deliverables, it’s going to be an interesting year for anybody with an interest in infrastructures. So far the consortium’s work packages two and three have:

  • conducted a survey of existing polar research data systems and infrastructures (Deliverable D3.1);
  • made an inventory of existing monitoring and modelling programmes (Deliverable D2.3);
  • and compiled an extensive European polar infrastructure catalogue (Deliverable D3.2).
Infrastructure in the Antarctic (IPEV)

Latter with substantial support by theInternational Network for Terrestrial Researchand Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT), Council of Managers of National Antarctic Program (COMNAP) and the European research fleet consortium (EUROFLEETS2).

Now four new reports are in the pipeline. One of them is a survey of existing use of space assets by European polar operators. Since the beginning of the project, task lead Andrew Fleming, the remote sensing manager at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has been working closely with the European Space Agency (ESA). Andrew has also been very engaged in the Strategic Cooperation on Research and Innovation between the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research & Innovation and ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes – bringing polar research into the focus of European earth observations. The report can thus be expected to contain some interesting insights and a valuable set of recommendations for improved future coordination.

A second infrastructure highlight will be looking into synergies between polar commercial infrastructure and research. The survey is led by the World Ocean Council, EU-PolarNet’s industry partner within the consortium. The objective is to identify what commercial infrastructures could be made available to European polar research programmes. This could be tourist ships operating in the high latitudes, ferrying scientists to and from research stations, or commercial vessels deploying observational floats while traversing polar waters. Click here to participatein the survey.

These two activities are followed by a strategic analysis of different monitoring and modelling programmes and their related infrastructures, which is conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, as well as data management recommendations for polar research datasystems and infrastructures led by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

This year thus promises to lay important foundations for closer cooperation opportunities and better access to European polar infrastructures in coming years. So keep an eye open as we will publish these four deliverableso ver the course of 2017.

Joint forces: Co-creation of polar white papers

One of EU-PolarNet’s main objectives is to develop an integrated European polar research programme – involving a wide range of stakeholders. A challenging and exciting task. But how will the consortium actually go about defining the most relevant topics and subsequently bringing them together in one coherent programme?

(c) RBINS - Th. Hubin

One of the first steps was to compile a synthesis of national European polar strategies, international consortia and major scientific clusters, identifying the current research priorities for the polar regions (click here to view the report).

The second step will be to write and publish a series of scientific white papers. These will address the top research questions, which both were identified in the synthesis report and reoccurred during stakeholder workshops and the EU-PolarNet Town Hall event. These topics will of course not represent all the research identified in a European Polar Research Programme. They can rather be regarded as a set of core questions to tackle at the start of the programme.

The white papers are intended to provide a state of the art for each issue, to identify the challenges in addressing the issue, and to outline possible approaches that could be addressed through a European Polar Research Programme. The innovative aspect of this task will be for researchers of multiple disciplines and stakeholders to actively cooperate in codesigning the white papers and to engage in cross-disciplinary discussions around the identified topics.

For this around 50 experts – scientists and stakeholders – will meet for a five-day workshop in Madrid this September. The experts will be nominated by the EU-PolarNet national representatives in an open consultation. The final composition of the expert groups will in turn be decided by EU-PolarNet Executive Board based on a review of all nominations and recommendations by the External Experts Advisory Board.

Interested in getting involved? Then fill in our stakeholder questionnaire and we will get in touch with you.

On the Horizon2020: Four new polar projects to keep an eye on

The Horizon2020 work programme funded four new polar projects in 2016. We are very much looking forward to working with them and to create synergies in between our projects. Here they are at a glance:


Acronym: Advanced Prediction in Polar regions and beyond: modelling, observing system design
and LInkages associated with a Changing Arctic climaTE
Coordinator: Thomas Jung, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine
Research (AWI), Germany
Partners: 16 partners from nine countries
Budget: 8m €
Duration: 4 years

  • Enhancing weather and climate prediction capabilities in the Arctic, and the effects of Arctic climate change on the weather and climate in Europe, Asia, and North America
  • Training the next generation of experts and raising awareness about the benefits of improved climate and weather forecasting
  • Engaging stakeholders in order to improve models and forecasts and to take user needs into account


Coordinator: Olaf Eisen, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
(AWI), Germany
Partners: 14 partners from ten countries
Budget: 2,2m €
Duration: 3 years

  • Select and evaluate the optimum drill site for the future “Oldest Ice” core project and establish a science and management plan for a future drilling
  • Coordinate the technical and scientific planning to ensure the availability of the technical means to implement suitable drill systems and analytical methodologies for a future ice-core drilling, and of well-trained personnel to operate them successfully
  • Embed the scientific aims of an “Oldest Ice” core project within the wider paleoclimate data and modelling communities through international and crossdisciplinary cooperation

BLUE-ACTION: Arctic Impact on Weather and Climate

Coordinator: Steffen M. Olsen, Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), Denmark
Partners: 40 partners from 17 countries
Budget: 7,5m €
Duration: 4 years

  • Improving the ability to describe, model, and predict Arctic climate change and its impact on Northern Hemisphere climate, weather and their extremes, and to deliver climate services of societal benefit
  • Improving the description of key processes controlling the impact of the polar amplification of global warming in prediction systems through simulation of the stable Arctic atmospheric planetary boundary layer
  • Fostering the capacity of key stakeholders to adapt and respond to climate change and boosting their economic growth by developing and delivering valuated climate services


Acronym: INTegrated Arctic Observation System
Coordinator: Stein Sandven, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC),
Partners: 9 partner institutions from 20 countries
Budget: 15,5m €
Duration: 5 years

  • Developing an integrated Arctic Observation System (iAOS) by extending, improving and unifying existing systems in the different regions of the Arctic.
  • Assessing strengths and weaknesses of existing observing systems and contributing with innovative solutions to fill some of the critical gaps in the in situ observing network.
  • Developing community-based observing systems, where local knowledge is merged with scientific data. An integrated Arctic Observation System will enable better informed decisions and better-documented processes within key sectors (e.g. local communities, shipping, tourism, fishing), in order to strengthen the societal and economic role of the Arctic region and support the EU strategy for the Arctic and related maritime and environmental policies.
  • Developing a platform, iAOS, to search for and access data from distributed databases.

A glimpse on: Austrian Polar Research

How has polar research in Austria developed in the past decade(s)?

Austria has a long-standing tradition in polar research. This started with the Austrian-Hungarian Polar Expedition during the 1870s and continued with participation in the First International Polar Year, during which Austria’s contribution was focused on conducting research on Jan Mayen. By the way, the idea to strengthen polar research through the coordinating effort of an “International Polar Year” was formulated for the first time by Carl Weyprecht, an explorer and officer of the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

Other milestones for Austrian polar research were the contributions to the International Geophysical Year in 1957/58, which formed the basis for a polar focus at the University of Innsbruck and had the consequence of attracting and hosting several well-recognised researchers working both in the Arctic and the Antarctic. During the 1990s, the anniversary of the discovery of the Franz Josef Land focused the Austrian polar research on this Arctic archipelago for nearly a decade. Finally, the most recent International Polar Year in 2007/08 was a great success for the Austrian polar research community, strengthening national and international collaboration, and leading to the foundation of the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) in 2012.

Students and researchers from the working group Polar Ecology investigating permafrost soil on the Tazovskiy Peninsula, Siberia. Photo: APRI
Olga Povoroznyuk (working group Social and Cultural Systems) conducting a mobility survey” with an Evenki local resident for the CoRe project in Pervomaiskoe, Amurskaia Oblast. Photo: Peter Schweitzer, APRI

What is currently the main focus of Austrian polar research?

Currently, research at APRI is represented by the three research focus areas: Polar Ecology, Cryosphere and Climate, and Social and Cultural Systems, in which 15 research groups address issues in the natural as well as the social sciences. Regular field campaigns are carried out for the study of snow and ice, soils and vegetation, atmospheric composition, as well as for the study of social and cultural conditions of local communities in the Arctic (there is no Antarctic social science research in Austria to date). Investigations range from microbial communities in ice and permafrost soils, climate reconstruction from ice cores and climate-permafrost feedbacks, to the analysis of socioeconomic changes. Most of these activities are conducted through the lens of global change, which is not only affecting polar environments but also altering living conditions for the (indigenous and non-indigenous) residents of polar regions.

In the natural sciences, remotely sensed data from satellites are used by several groups for monitoring of larger regions with focus on glaciers and permafrost across scales. An important role plays the modelling of terrestrial and marine environments, as well as of the atmosphere, to address changes in the coupled polar energy and water budget. In the field of the Arctic social sciences, researchers address issues ranging from how humans related to infrastructure and the built environment to natural resource industries and their relations with local populations to theoretical and applied approaches to human mobility and locality to security and sustainable regional development.

Austria so far has no research station or other large infrastructure in either the Arctic or the Antarctic. Thus, the research of Austrian researchers is largely enabled through European and international cooperation and linkages with international polar organizations and networks, such as IASC and SCAR.


How is the polar community in Austria set up?

The Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) is a research consortium founded in 2012 by the Universities of Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz, as well as by the Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics. APRI promotes and coordinates research and education in the area of polar sciences between the polar research at the participating organizations.

Due to its structure as a research consortium, the actual research in the polar regions is being conducted by members of research groups affiliated with member organizations of APRI. In total about 100 scientists in Austria are involved (although rarely exclusively) in polar research. This relatively large community of polar scientists for a small country like Austria is mainly due to Austria being located in the Alps and the fact that many research questions and approaches in Alpine and Arctic communities are similar.

The strong connection to universities and research institutions in Austria gives us the opportunity to implement the findings of polar research also into academic teaching. However, the polar community is not limited to scientists within the Austrian Polar Research Institute, but also contains a number of laypeople who are interested in aspects of polar history, mountaineering, or simply traveling. We consider this wider community an important addition to the scientific community, because they provide a strong link to the general public.

Unfortunately, there is no dedicated polar science program being supported by the Austrian government or Austrian funding agencies. Thus, all APRI research groups need to compete for grants in their disciplinary fields, irrespective of the regional focus of the proposed study.

Upcoming conferences and events

  • European Climate Research Alliance General Assembly
    Date: 7th – 8th March 2017
    Location: Square Brussels Meeting Centre, Brussels
    More information
  • Gordon Research Seminar – for early career scientists
    Date: 25th – 26th March 2017
    Location: Ventura Beach Marriott, Ventura, CA, USA
    Application deadline 25th February 2017.
    More information.

  • Gordon Research Conference in Polar Marine Science
    : 26th – 31st March 2017
    : Ventura Beach Marriott, Ventura, CA, USA
    Application deadline 25th February 2017.
    More information.

  • Arctic Science Summit Week
    Date: 31st March – 7th April 2017, EU-PolarNet General Assembly 3rd April
    Location:Prague, Czech Republic
    More information


  • Arctic Science: Bringing Knowledge to Action
    Date: 24th – 27th April 2017
    Location: Reston, Virginia, USA
    More information

  • Ninth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences: People and Place
    Date: 8th – 12th June 2017
    Location: Umeå, Sweden
    More information

  • Arctic Circle Assembly
    Date: 13th – 15th October 2017
    Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
    More information

  • 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23)
    Date: 6th – 17th November 2017
    Location: Bonn, Germany