January 2024

Welcome to the January edition of the quaterly EU-PolarNet 2 newsletter!

A happy New Year and welcome to our first EU-PolarNet 2 newsletter in 2024.

Towards the end of 2023, we finalised one of our key project deliverables, namely concrete research priorities to progress in polar research in the coming years.

We are now entering the final year of the EU-PolarNet 2 project working towards presenting our results at various events. We are organising a session at ASSW2024 and the Arctic Circle Forum in Berlin, are one of the co-organisers of the EU Polar Science Week held in Copenhagen in September ’24 and will organise a Town Hall event in Brussels towards the end of the year. In addition, we are now preparing to transfer our legacy into the European Polar Coordination Office (EPCO), so that it can begin its work from the end of 2024.

Stay tuned for more news on the results of the EU-PolarNet project later this year.

Newsletter content

News from EU-PolarNet 2

EU-PolarNet 2 at Arctic Circle 2023

EU-PolarNet 2 organised a networking event of Arctic science funders and operators at the Arctic Circle Assembly 2023. The session was an excellent opportunity for Arctic science funders, operators, researchers, and other stakeholders to network and learn about the most recent developments from the EU-PolarNet 2 with a specific emphasis on research optimisation and funding.

The short presentations at the beginning of the session on EU-PolarNet 2, the EPB, ICARP IV and various polar funding institutions initiated a wide-ranging discussion with the aim of jointly implementing large-scale initiatives that effectively address the most pressing research questions of the international polar research community within the framework of ICARP IV, the European Polar Board Strategy 2023 – 2027 and the integrated polar research programme EU-PolarNet 2.

EU-PolarNet 2 at Arctic Circle 2023. (credits: A. Strobel, AWI)

EC-ESA Science workshop in November in Frascati, Italy

The EC-ESA Science Workshop took place in Frascati, Italy, from 22 – 24 November 2023. With the aim of strengthening the collaboration between ESA and the EC funded polar projects under the joint RTD-EOP Earth System Science initiative, this workshop was a great networking and collaboration opportunity for polar scientists. Representatives from more than 15 Cluster members took part in the workshop and presented their work in relation to earth observation. During the workshop, a number of key scientific challenges and research needs were identified, as well as the main scientific priorities for joint research and future project funding by ESA and the European Commission.

The results of the discussions will feed into future ESA funding programmes, which will also explicitly include funding for joint scientific consortia.

Read more about the event here:

EU Polar Cluster & ESA Polar Science Cluster Collocation meeting in Frascati in November 2023. (credits: A. Strobel, AWI)

EU-PolarNet 2 research prioritisation

In June 2023, representatives of EU-PolarNet 2 and a group of Polar Experts from a broad variety of polar research disciplines met in San Servolo (Venice) to elaborate the future research priorities for European polar research. The prioritisation was based on the European Polar Research Programme, the current scientific state of the art, as well as future research needs collected from the EU Polar Cluster and the EU-PolarNet 2 Polar Experts.

During the research prioritisation workshop, the scientific experts discussed the priorities of the following 4 priority areas: 1) Polar Climate System, 2) Polar Biodiversity/Socio-Economic Systems, 3) Human impacts on polar systems and 4) Prospering Communities in the Arctic. For each priority area, the workshop participants identified and elaborated several research topics that should be addressed at European and international level in the coming years. The specific topics and the research prioritisation methodology are published as an EU-PolarNet 2 deliverable on the project website.

In parallel to the research prioritisation workshop, EU-PolarNet 2 conducted 2 professional interviews with the participating scientific experts. In these interviews, they provide more background on their prioritised research topics based on their scientific expertise. Watch the expert interviews on our YouTube channel.

EU-PolarNet 2 research prioritisation workshop San Servolo 2023. (credits: AWI)

Webinar: International cooperation on research on human health and well-being in the Arctic

This EU-PolarNet 2 webinar, organised by AMAP and EU-PolarNet 2, took place in September 2023. A total of 102 persons attended the webinar This webinar dealt with the effects of climate change on the environment and the increasing challenges in terms of the health, well-being and food security of people living in the Arctic, especially indigenous peoples. Watch this interesting webinar on our YouTube channel.

New activities at the Catalyst platform

Have you visited the Catalyst Platform yet? It is one of the main cooperation tools developed by EU-PolarNet 2 that shall improve the information flow within the European Polar community. The Catalyst platform collects all news and events from EU-PolarNet, the European Polar Board and the EU Polar Cluster. It thus provides an excellent overview of all information about the European polar research community in one place! Check out the recently published events and news ranging from the Polar Symposium 2024 to the Arctic Science Summit Week 2024. More information here.


EU Polar Cluster News

Arctic Circle Assembly 2023 - Booth and Workshop

After a great success last year, the EU Polar Cluster once again organised a booth at the Arctic Circle Assembly 2023 in Reykjavík, Iceland. This time, the extra-large stand had a prominent location and was organised and managed by members of EU-PolarNet 2 and the European Polar Board. Behind the booth we had set up a video screen with a Cluster video and a Cluster slide-show, as well as numerous materials from the Cluster members to disseminate information.
We had many high-level visitors at our booth, many good conversations with EU Polar Cluster members and many other visitors. Many thanks to all visitors to the booth for their interest in the European polar research community!

Next year at ASSW2024, the EU Polar Cluster will once again hold a community meeting. The meeting entitled ” EU Polar Cluster: Coordination and networking for Polar cooperation projects” is scheduled for Tuesday 26 March 2024 from 10:30 – 12:30 UK time.

The EU Polar Cluster also publishes its own regular newsletters. Read the latest edition of the EU Polar Cluster and sign up to the Cluster newsletter here.

Next year at ASSW2024, the EU Polar Cluster will once again hold a community meeting. The meeting entitled ” EU Polar Cluster: Coordination and networking for Polar cooperation projects” is scheduled for Tuesday 26 March 2024 from 10:30 – 12:30 UK time.

Partner highlights on polar research

Permafrost: Innovative atlas reveals perilous realities of permafrost thaw

The European funded Horizon 2020 “NUNATARYUK”-project, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute, has carried out a comprehensive six-year investigation into the rapidly changing permafrost regions in the northern hemisphere. The project seeks to answer pressing questions about the role of permafrost thaw in the global climate system, and the consequences for ecosystems, the economy, and the people living in these regions. The culmination of this ambitious endeavour is the “Arctic Permafrost Atlas,” a ground-breaking publication set to launch during the Arctic Circle Assembly in October 2023.

Further information: Between Arctic Land and Sea

Pre-opening of the new Sermilik Research Station (East Greenland)

Thanks to a generous private sponsorship, the Sermilik Station in East Greenland is being brought up to a modern standard by the University of Graz (Austria). In future, the station will be operated in cooperation between the Universities of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Graz and will provide space for around 25 – 30 researchers. Basic laboratory facilities will support the researchers in their work. In the long term, the possibility of winter access is also envisaged. In addition to research, the station will also serve as a central base for training and teaching next generation scientists. The new building was officially opened in September 2023 in the presence of sponsor Dr. Christian Palmers and the Rector of the University of Graz, Dr. Peter Riedler. The new station was also presented to the local community and relevant stakeholders at an event in nearby Tasiilaq and the possibilities for involving them were discussed. The station should start routine operations in summer 2024.

Further information:



The new Sermilik Station in East Greenland (credits: Christoph Ruhsam)

10th anniversary of the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI)

In November 2023, the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) celebrated its 10th anniversary. These celebrations coincided with the opening of an Arctic exhibition at Austria’s largest museum, the Natural History Museum in Vienna. 10 years is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved in comparison to the goals that were set. For APRI, this comparison is very positive. In addition to participation in the relevant international polar research organizations (IASC, SCAR, EPB), the national representation of polar research in Austria has also been achieved. Outreach has become an important component of the APRI and brings polar research to the outside world. Participation in EU-Polarnet 1 and 2 also demonstrates the role of APRI both nationally and internationally. It should also be mentioned that APRI researchers are highly successful in research, as evidenced by several ERC grants and other prestigious awards. The APRI can therefore look forward to a successful future.

Further information:

From changing Polar regions to policy responses – Strengthening EU and global climate preparedness

A policy briefing, From changing Polar regions to policy responses – Strengthening EU and global climate preparedness, will take place on 24th January 2024 (Wednesday), at 14:15 – 16:00 CET at the European Parliament & online. This event is hosted by MEP Urmas Paet, Co-Chair of the Arctic Working Group of the European Parliament Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’. The main goal is to showcase the latest findings of OCEAN:ICE and Arctic PASSION on how changes in the polar regions impact European climate, infrastructure and livelihoods. Both the Arctic and Antarctic play a pivotal role in regulating the global climate. Changes at the Poles are having direct impacts on communities around the world. In Europe, an increased number of recent extreme events has shown the urgency of mitigation and adaptation strategies that are based upon multiple disciplines and knowledge systems.

Further information: From changing Polar regions to policy responses – Strengthening EU and global climate preparedness

SO-CHIC Webinar: Upper ocean ventilation pathways (Work package 2)

The next SO-CHIC Webinar: Upper ocean ventilation pathways (Work package 2) will take place on 12th January 2024 at 15:00 CET (14:00 GMT) online. The SO-CHIC project is a European Union Horizon 2020-funded project exploring the processes influencing heat and carbon exchange between the Southern Ocean and the atmosphere. Work Package 2 will seek to determine the lead rate-controlling processes of ventilation in a region of up welling of warm deep waters in the Southern Ocean. This webinar will feature talks by four of WP2’s researchers explaining WP2’s goals, the current research being conducted, and recent results. The webinar is hosted and coordinated by the European Polar Board, in conjunction with WP2 leads, Dr. Alexander Brearley of the British Antarctic Survey and Prof. David Marshall of the University of Oxford.

 Further information: Webinar: Upper ocean ventilation pathways (Work package 2)

The Portuguese polar campaign 2022-23 finished successfully

The Portuguese polar campaign 2022-23, managed by the Polar Portuguese Program (PROPOLAR), finished successfully. In the Arctic and Sub-Arctic, four projects were developed, taking 10 researchers to work in Kangiqsualujjuaq, and Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk (Northwest Territories), Canada, and South and East Iceland. In the Antarctic, 7 research projects, with a total of 12 scientists on the ground, were developed on the islands of King George, Deception, Livingston, (South Shetlands Archipelago), Amsler Island (Palmer Archipelago), Cierva Cove (Antarctic Peninsula), and in the marine areas off the South Georgia Islands, with the support of several partner Antarctic programs. Both the Arctic and Antarctic projects were developed in the areas of atmospheric, biological, cryosphere, environmental, biological and Earth sciences, all related to the impacts of climate change. These projects were coordinated by scientists from 7 national public research centres. Some projects were led by and included in their field teams, researchers who belong to the College of Polar Sciences and Extreme Environments (Polar2E) of the University of Lisbon, in articulation with the polar activities that have been developed by the college. The Portuguese chartered flight supported the Antarctic campaign, transporting scientists and technicians between Punta Arenas in Chile and the Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin aerodrome located on the island of King George in Antarctica, for the 12th time, and was the anchor of the Portuguese Antarctic Campaign 2022-23.

Portuguese researchers walking to their fieldwork location in Antarctica (credits: Gonçalo Vieira)

Ice Memory in the Arctic

The Ice Memory project collect ices cores from glaciers all over the world to archive them in Antarctica to preserve them as a memory of the past. In March-April 2023 an international team lead by ISP-CNR of Italy, and involving scientists from the French CNRS, Norwegian NPI, the ISAC-CNR of Italy and Universities of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Perugia, was able to drill three deep ice cores on the Holtedahlfonna glacier in Svalbard as part of the SENTINEL project. This project is looking at the impact of sea ice disappearance on climate and bromine and mercury cycles, funded by the Arctic Research Program (PRA) of the Italian Ministry of University and Research. Despite finding water in the snow layers and extreme weather conditions, that forced the scientists to move to a new water free site on the Dovrebreen glacier, the team managed to drill an ice core down to bedrock in a couple of days, reaching a depth of 73.89 metres into the glacier.

Further information:

Drilling camp taken from a drone (credits: Riccardo Selvatico / Ice memory Foundation)

37th Spanish Antarctic research campaign: Technology and health monitoring

The RV Hesperides left its naval base and will be supporting the opening of the Spanish Antarctic bases at 27th of December when the 37th Spanish Antarctic research campaign will begin. This season involve 30 scientific projects to be carried out at the bases located at Livingston Island (BAE Juan Carlos I and the International Byers Peninsula Camp) and Deception Island (BAE Gabriel de Castilla) mobilizing 240 people, including scientific staff, crew and technical personnel.

Among this year’s novelties can be highlighted: A project that will develop technology based on thermoelectric generators capable of harnessing the geothermal heat in active volcanoes to produce electricity to power monitoring stations. The ad hoc developments on laboratory, field measurements, monitoring and understanding the distribution of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza unfortunately potentially arriving to Antarctica next summer season, to preserve the human and animal health for potential infection.

Further information: 37th Spanish Antarctic research campaign: Technology and health monitoring

Solar panels, seismic station and GNSS station for volcanic monitoring on Deception Island (credits: National Geographic Institute).

The Netherlands Polar Programme and International cooperation

The Netherlands Polar Programme has special cooperation schemes with both AWI and BAS. On 16 November, the NPP and AWI hosted a workshop to chart possible joint Dutch-German projects. The NPP will open a call-for-proposals on Arctic research in collaboration with AWI. Numerous other ideas for funding were also identified. 30 November, a call-for-proposals for Dutch Antarctic research in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey closed, with the selection expected to be in April and first fieldwork at Rothera in November 2024.

Ten new fact sheets on a changing Barents Sea

The extensive Norwegian research project The Nansen Legacy provides a new and more holistic understanding of the seasonally ice-covered Barents Sea region, and how important climate drivers and human footprints impacts the ocean environment and the ecosystem. The project approaches its end, and a series of illustrated fact sheets communicates key findings on a wide range of topics.  This includes among others the Atlantic water inflow, via sea ice, improved weather forecasts, to multiple stressors and the future Barents Sea. The fact sheets were launched during the international symposium “Towards the new Arctic Ocean – past, present, future” in Tromsø 6-9 November 2023.

The Nansen Legacy project is interdisciplinary across natural sciences and includes more than 230 scientists from ten Norwegian partner institutions.

Further information:

Frida Cnossen, science illustrator in The Nansen Legacy, has illustrated the fact sheets, that were developed in close collaboration with the scientists. (credits: Elin Vinje Jensen, Norwegian Polar Institute)

Successful first edition of the Swiss Polar Class Festival

On 2 December in Sion, about 600 visitors braved the first snow to explore the complex beauty of the cryosphere and the polar regions through various engaging activities including an exhibition of circumpolar art, an interactive science area, a polar explorer treasure hunt and live conferences from Antarctica.

The festival was organised by Swiss Polar Institute’s outreach programme which mission is to raise awareness on the importance of scientific research and polar and high-altitude regions in understanding climate change. Valuable support from the Canton of Valais, the Energypolis campus and EPFL Valais-Wallis, as well as a close collaboration with Museum Cerny, EPFL Science Outreach Department and Espace des Inventions made this venture possible.

Swiss Polar Class Festival (credits: Steven Schlosser)

Memorandum of Understanding signed with the French Polar Institute at the One Planet-Polar Summit in Paris

On 9 November 2023 in Paris, the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) and the French Polar Institute (IPEV) formalised their collaboration in polar and high-altitude science. The MoU opens a new chapter in this long-term partnership between France and Switzerland, two neighbouring countries that share not only a border, but also the Alps and glaciers threatened by climate change.

Scientific research and collaboration between Switzerland and France have made significant contributions to climate science over the last decades, most notably in uncovering the ice cores’ potential in understanding past greenhouse gas emissions and changes in Earth’s atmosphere and climate. This collaboration has grown and developed through various multinational research programmes, such as the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA, 1996-2005) and its current counterpart, Beyond EPICA (2019 – ongoing).

The present MoU honours their continuous and mutual engagement in scientific cooperation with facilitated access to respective research infrastructure in the Arctic and the Antarctic, as well as to other resources and research projects, such as the SPI’s Flagship Initiatives. It also aims to foster regular exchanges between both research communities and to promote their respective expertise for a heightened handprint of polar and high-altitude science.

The signing parties were respectively represented by Yan Ropert-Coudert, Director, IPEV and Danièle Rod, Executive Director, SPI, who also underlined the urgency and necessity of a united front to face climate change.

Interdisciplinary Polar Studies Modular Meeting in Svalbard: “Arctic Amplification - Glaciers - Environment” (IPS-2023)

The IPS-2023 conference was held in Longyearbyen at UNIS and consisted from two-day plenary sessions and field workshops in the Isfjorden region and the Hornsund Fjord area (30 August – 4 September 2023). It gathers over 60 participants from 13 countries. The main goals were (1) strengthening an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to research of polar environment for better understanding of environmental changes under accelerated warming of the Arctic and (2) encouraging of the new generation of scientists for creative involvement in the 5th International Polar Year 2032/2033 and active participation in the IASC ICARP IV process.

Presentations provided many new results related to studies of changing polar environment.

IPS-2023 was organised by the Centre for Polar Studies, University of Silesia, in cooperation with the Institute of Geophysics and Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, SIOS, UNIS and supported by the IASC travel grants for early career researchers.

Further information:

Participants of the IPS-2023 field workshop part of the conference at the Hans Glacier (credits: N. Łatacz)

The CRIOS project research teams have deployed modern monitoring instruments in Svalbard

In late August and September of 2023, essential activities were accomplished within the Cryosphere Integrated Observatory Network in Svalbard (CRIOS) project granted by the EEA funding scheme for basic research. Teams from Poland and Norway installed monitoring devices for studies of permafrost, snow cover, ablation of glaciers, and automatic meteorological stations in the thoroughly planned locations. This new system creates a harmonized observation network complementing the existing SIOS (Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System). Selected monitoring stations should provide near real-time availability of data thanks to the satellite transmission. The corner reflectors as the reference points for the SAR satellite analyses were mounted as well.

Further information:

The corner reflector as a reference point for SAR satellite images mounted on Breinosa in September 2023. (credits: Z. Perski)

The “Warsaw Format Meeting” of the Arctic Council’s Observer States

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Poland hosted the Arctic Council’s Observer States meeting with the Norwegian Arctic Council Presidency representative in Warsaw on 28 September 2023. The Arctic Council (AC) was established in 1996 and has accepted the first group of non-Arctic Observer States since 1998, including Poland. The Warsaw Format Meeting formula was initiated in 2010 by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a forum to discuss and exchange views between the AC Observer States and the EU with the AC Presidency State represented by the Chair of the Council’s Senior Officials. The recent meeting was organised after the break since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The talks covered plans for Norway’s Presidency of the Arctic Council in 2023-2025 and the current cooperation in the AC projects.

Further information:

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