Newsletter EU-PolarNet 1​

November 2015

Welcome to EU-PolarNet's inaugural newsletter!

This is the very first EU-PolarNet newsletter – thank you for joining us!

From now on we will be issuing an edition quarterly to inform you about news from the consortium and affiliated projects, to reflect on developments in European polar research and to give a glimpse on conferences and events coming up in near future.

This is the very first EU-PolarNet newsletter – thank you for joining us!

From now on we will be issuing an edition quarterly to inform you about news from the consortium and affiliated projects, to reflect on developments in European polar research and to give a glimpse on conferences and events coming up in near future.

If you have any news or would like to publicise an event, conference or course, please get in touch by emailing

What is EU-PolarNet?

EU-PolarNet is the world’s largest consortium of expertise and infrastructure for polar research. The Horizon 2020 funded Coordination and Support Action brings together 22 of Europe’s internationally-respected multi-disciplinary research institutions from 17 countries. Their goal is to develop and deliver a strategic framework and mechanisms to prioritise science, optimise the use of polar infrastructure, and to broker new relationships with international partners. One of the main focuses therefore lies in establishing an on-going dialogue with policymakers, business and industry leaders, local communities, as well as scientists from various disciplines. In doing so EU-PolarNet aims at co-designing an integrated European polar research programme with these stakeholders, which is directly relevant and beneficial to European society and its economy. The resulting legacy of the consortium will be sustained by the European Polar Board after the project’s end in the year 2020.

What has happened and what is currently going on?

Working on a lasting relationship: EU-PolarNet and the European Commission

One of the most important tasks of EU-PolarNet is to engage in a constant dialogue with the European Commission (EC). The consortium has been called to assist the EC and to give advice in polar related questions. EU-PolarNet representatives have thus over the past months been involved in several cooperation talks, such as with US American and Canadian funding agencies, discussing co-funding opportunities of upcoming calls. Further EU-PolarNet has been strengthening its ties with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is aiming at setting a stronger focus on the Arctic in future.  Now being a member of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and the ESA Earth Observation Programmes partnership, EU-PolarNet will support ESA in identify pressing topics in the Polar Regions.

Townhall Meeting at the AGU Fall Meeting 2015

EU-PolarNet will host a Townhall meeting at this year’s AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. The Townhall aims at informing scientists about the project and to discuss with them how they can contribute to the development of the research programme. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Date: 14th December 2015, 6.15 – 7.15 pm
Location: Moscone West – 2005, San Francisco

Horizon 2020 work programme 2016/2017 includes 4 polar topics

The EC has included four polar topics within its “Societal Challenges“ work programme 2016/17 with a total budget of 42 million Euro. EU-PolarNet experts have contributed with their knowledge and expertise to the identification and development of these topics. Three Arctic topics belong to the Call: Blue Growth (BG) – “The Arctic Dimension” within SC2. An Antarctic topic has been published within SC5 „Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials“:

  • BG-09-2016: An integrated Arctic observation system
  • BG-10-2016:  Impact of Arctic changes on the weather and climate of the Northern Hemisphere
  • BG-11-2017:  The effect of climate change on Arctic permafrost and its socio-economic impact, with a focus on coastal areas
  • SC5-05-2016: A 1.5 million year look into the past for improving climate predictions

The infrastructure work programme 2016/17 which will be officially published on 8th of December 2015 will include an additional Arctic Call: INFRAIA-01-2016/2017 “Research infrastructures for terrestrial research in the Arctic” with an indicative budget of 10 million Euro.

Mapping stakeholders and identifying research priorities

With two important deliverables coming up in March 2016, members of the Work Packages 2 (Polar Research for Science and Society) and 4 (Interaction with Stakeholders and end-users) met in Berlin for a two-day workshop in the middle of September. Their goal was to prepare both a report on prioritised objectives in polar research and a stakeholder map.

Approach to D2.1 (by Björn Dahlbäck)

The report on prioritised objectives aims at identifying Europe-relevant polar research questions. These will in the course of the project build a basis for the dialogue with stakeholders. On one hand the report will collate the range of research questions emerging from the IASC, SCAR and national review processes. On the other hand, it will also include those questions, which are brought up during discussion meetings with the wider community. Once national and international research preferences have been harvested, a matrix with key questions will be shared among all consortium members. The task:  To prioritise the identified research questions. This done, the report will be published for a public e-consultation in February 2016.

The stakeholder map in turn is set up to give an overview of existing and potential stakeholders by sector, such as government policy, business, NGO’s, science and the public, particularly Arctic residents and indigenous people. During this identification process the focus will lie on those stakeholders that are likely to be end-users or influencers of polar research, and those who are the most relevant at local and regional levels. For this task EU-PolarNet will involve international networks and NGO’s with an interest in both Polar Regions. Task lead, Annette Sheepstra, though has pointed out: the mapping of stakeholders is not a static process. The stakeholder map will thus be a living document – continuously growing and taking shape.

Towards a European Polar Infrastructure Catalogue

In October members of Work Package 3 (Infrastructures, Facilities, and Data) met with representatives from INTERACT, FARO and EUROFLEETS in Lisbon. Together they set the course for preparing a European Polar Infrastructure Catalogue. Further they discussed how EU-PolarNet and these infrastructure initiatives could best cooperate in future, in order to avoid replication and duplication.

EU-PolarNet at the Arctic Circle

Session: “What can Arctic stakeholders and researchers learn from each other?” Organized by EU-PolarNet and European Polar Board

– a blog post by Nicole Biebow and Renuka Badhe

EU-PolarNet and the European Polar Board (EPB) hosted a breakout session at this years’ Arctic Circle Assembly, which took place October 16th – 18th in Reykjavik, Iceland. The annual Arctic Circle Assembly has become the largest international gathering on the Arctic and is attended by more than 1500 participants from close to 50 countries.

The EU-PolarNet / EPB session brought together people both from Arctic research projects and polar organisations, which exemplified the sharing of knowledge and a strong engagement with society. It was very well attended with standing room only.

The session was divided into two parts – the first giving room for four introductory presentations, of which one was about the relevance of the Arctic for European society and the planned investments of the European Commission on Arctic Research within Horizon 2020 (see video A. Tilche). Another speaker, Adam Stepien from the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, impressively showed the challenges and risks, disappointments and success stories from the stakeholder consultations he was involved in during the EU Arctic Information Centre preparatory project. His presentation was very well received and formed the basis of the second part of the session –the panel discussion.

The panel discussion was moderated by the EPB executive secretary Renuka Badhe with panellists representing the following projects /organisations (see picture):

  • Karin Lochte (AWI, EU-PolarNet)
  • Jeremy Wilkinson (BAS, ICE-ARC)
  • Yves Frenot (IPEV, EU-PolarNet)
  • Kirsi Latola (UArctic, EU-PolarNet)
  • Volker Rachold (IASC/ICARPIII)

The panellists had a lively discussion with the audience about the problems faced in, and their solutions for, identifying stakeholders and their experience in working with them. For those who could not be present at the panel discussion, there was a chance to put questions to the panellists via social media. There was great engagement from the audience, both in person and via Twitter, with questions coming in thick and fast! The panellists reflected on the processes used for identification of stakeholders within their organisations and projects. The discussion also focussed on the importance of using multiple channels of communication, as appropriate for various stakeholders to maximise interaction. In summary, the main message underlined by the panellists was to have a sustained and open dialogue between both researchers and stakeholders throughout the process.

Andrea Tilche’s speech at the Arctic Circle 2015 session „What Can Arctic Stakeholders and Researchers Learn from Each Other?”. Andrea Tilche is the Head of the Climate Action and Earth Observation Unit, Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

A glimpse on: Polar research in Estonia

How has polar research in Estonia developed in the past decades?

The Estonian research community, as one from a very small country with limited research capacity, has been unusually active in polar research throughout its entire history. Worth noting is that several pioneers of polar exploration originated from Estonian Baltic Germans (e.g. Bellingshausen, Baer, Wrangell, Middendorf, Toll).

During the Soviet period Estonian scientists as well as supporting personnel participated remarkably in Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. In glacier and polar icecap research Estonian scientists have shown internationally highly recognised results. Also polar atmosphere, permafrost-related, sea-ice and limnological research are well developed, and together with the studies on marine systems form a solid basis for the current and future Estonian Polar research.

How is the Estonian polar community set up?

Placing Estonian polar research in a global context we face the reality of the problems and challenges, which are nearly identical all over the world. A small, but well integrated community is lacking proper support both for current research as well as for the development of future human resource. In the Estonian context the challenges are especially dramatic due to the overall small number of researchers. Many prominent scientists are close to their retirement age and the young generation of researchers is critically low in numbers.

However, an important positive characteristic of Estonian Polar research is the involvement of new research groups from marine sciences, limnology, botany, ecology, experimental and molecular microbiology, which are actively targeting questions related directly to modern polar research. Combining the classical approaches of polar research with modern methods of chemical-physical measurements, in connection with up-to-date modern molecular- and systems biology tools, IT and numeral modelling is opening up new perspectives for interdisciplinary activities.

Which status does polar research have in Estonia?

Whilst it is acknowledged that polar research has a decisive importance in studying climate change and increasing knowledge about the Earth systems, the role of Estonia’s polar research activities on a global scale and it’s contributions to domestic policy-making are less clear. A long-term vision and integrated approach to research activities is needed, as well as a clearer concept on how to use scientific information for policy-making. These steps will help to establish a coordinated effort that leads to more continuous research opportunities in the field.

Which research priorities does the Estonian Polar research program highlight?

In 2012, commenced by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, the Estonian Polar Research programme  for 2014-2020 (ESTPOLAR) was compiled. In this document Estonian polar researchers have defined several priorities based upon previous expertise, existing, emerging and advanced national and international collaborations, available and projected funding and human resources. The research is planned in five directions:

  • Paleoenvironment of glaciers, polar icecaps, terrestrial and limnic sediments
  • Sea ice physics
  • Studies of atmosphere physics in Polar Regions
  • Biological diversity and resilience of marine, terrestrial and limnic biological systems in the context of global warming
  • Historical and educational aspects of polar region research and social research of polar communities
What are new developments within Estonian polar research?

Until recently Estonian Polar Research has been mainly focusing on fundamental issues of Polar Regions. However, new emerging themes targeting directly technology development and leading to future socio-economical benefits are clearly visible.

One such issue is the application of ice research in fields of technical sciences such as materials design, mechatronics and shipbuilding. Polar shipping and ice breaking studies will become even more topical, as Estonia is going to build a multipurpose icebreaker to be used not only in the Baltic Sea and the running of such an expensive asset without good ice information would not be effective. The Estonian sector of logistics is growing and if the planned opening of a Northern Sea Route for international shipping comes to life, sea ice data and the overall knowledge will become very important and vitally useful. Existing good communication and collaboration with Estonian ice researchers have laid a good and relevant foundation for research in those applied technical science fields.

EU-PolarNet 2nd General Assembly at the ASSW 2016

The 2nd General Assembly of EU-PolarNet is scheduled for Sunday 13.03.2016 in Fairbanks, Alaska during the Arctic Science Summit Week 2016. The assembly will take place the full day, with a closed morning session and an open afternoon session from 1.30 pm until 5pm at the Wood Center Ball Room.

Prior to the General Assembly, an EU-PolarNet Stakeholder Workshop on Research Needs for Arctic Health and Wellbeing will take place in the same venue on Saturday 12.03.2016 from 9am until 6pm. The workshop will convene Arctic researchers, health professionals, representatives of Arctic communities and Indigenous peoples groups, and other interested organizations and persons to discuss research needs to study effects (both physical and mental) arising from the combined impacts of stressors such as climate change, food and water insecurity, changes in availability of traditional wildlife species, increased activities such as tourism and resource exploitation, etc., on the health and wellbeing of Arctic residents. The workshop will also consider research needs in relation to technological equipment that can assist health professionals working in remote Arctic areas. The workshop is jointly organised by AMAP and EU-PolarNet.


Fall edition of IASC Progress released.
The latest IASC Progress has been released and can be found here.
Progress contains information of IASC’s ongoing activities and initiatives in the five Working Groups of Atmosphere, Cryosphere, Marine, Social & Human and Terrestrial.

AOS 2016 – Registration Now Open!
The upcoming 3rd Arctic Observing Summit, AOS 2016, will be held at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, March 15-18, 2016, in conjunction with Arctic Science Summit Week (March 12-15) and other side events such as the 2016 Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials meeting (March 15-17), public lectures, an APECS event, and others.

Upcoming conferences and events

  • 2015 Arctic Observing Open Science Meeting
    : 17th until 19th November 2015
    : Hyatt at Olive 8, Seattle, USA
    More information are available on the ARCUS website

    Date: 30th November – December 11th 2015
    Location: Paris, France
    Visit the COP21 website



    ArcticNet Scientific Meeting
    Date: 7th – 11th December
    Location: Vancouver, Canada
    Learn more on ArcticNet


  • AGU Fall Meeting
    : 14th until 18th December 2015
    : San Francisco, USA
    Get more information about the AGU Fall Meeting


    EU-PolarNet Townhall Meeting
    Date: 14th December 2015, 6.15 – 7.15 pm
    Location: Moscone West – 2005, San Francisco

  • Arctic Frontiers 2016
    : 24th – 29th January 2016
    Location: Tromsø, Norway
    More information on the Arctic Frontiers website