May 2024

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

We are now entering the final year of the EU-PolarNet 2 project and are working on presenting our results at various events. We have organised sessions at ASSW2024 and will be present at the Arctic Circle Forum in Berlin and the EU Arctic Forum in Brussels. We are also one of the co-organisers of the EU Polar Science Week, which will take place in Copenhagen in September ’24. On 19 November ’24 we will organise a Town Hall event in Brussels during which we will present the key results of EU-PolarNet.

This year we are preparing to transfer our legacy to the European Polar Coordination Office (EPCO) so that it can become operational in early 2025. To this end, we are working on the concrete development of our information and engagement tools, including the Catalyst platform, the EU Polar Cluster and a stakeholder engagement tool, which we will hand over to EPCO at the end of the project.
Stay tuned and find out more about the results of the EU PolarNet project later this year.

Newsletter content

News from EU-PolarNet 2

EU-PolarNet 2 at ASSW2024

During this year’s Arctic Science Summit Week, which took place from 21 – 29 March 2024 in Edinburgh, EU-PolarNet 2 organised two sessions. The session European Research Community Priorities for Polar Research: EU-PolarNet’s contribution to the ICARP IV process aimed to present the process and outcomes of the research prioritisation exercise that was conducted by EU-PolarNet 2 in 2023. The session also aimed to create first connections between the research needs and key questions defined by EU-PolarNet 2 with the ICARP IV process.

In the second session, EU-PolarNet 2 launched its recently published White Paper with recommendations to accelerate the development of a sustained and fully integrated Polar observing system. This White Paper entails actionable policy-level recommendations, from the polar research, observing and data communities to develop a fully integrated Polar observing system. You can watch the launch meeting of the White Paper again here.

EU-PolarNet 2 and EU Polar Cluster members at ASSW2024. Credits: E. Horovkacova, EPB

EU-PolarNet 2 Releases White Paper with 80 Policy Recommendations to Strengthen International Collaboration in Polar Observations

In April 2024, EU-PolarNet 2 launched a white paper featuring 80 actionable policy-level recommendations aimed at enhancing international collaboration in polar observations. The white paper identifies over a hundred polar initiatives and offers recommendations to defragment the polar observing landscape, minimise duplication, bridge gaps in the current polar observing strategy and enhance large-scale coordination.

Compiled over a two-year period of consultations and meetings with experts and stakeholders from the polar community, the recommendations cover areas of mutual interest between the Arctic and the Antarctic. Key focus areas include addressing user, stakeholder, and rightsholder needs, strengthening data systems, advancing infrastructure and technology, fostering international cooperation, establishing effective governance structures, promoting collaborative research, and emphasising societal relevance. 

Each recommendation is tailored to strengthen collaboration among international scientific, stakeholder, rightsholder and funding communities, with the overarching goal of advancing polar observations and supporting well-informed decision-making processes. The target audience encompasses European and non-European decision-makers, funding agencies, academia, NGOs, and other stakeholders involved with polar observations. 

The white paper launch sessions at the Arctic Science Summit Week and the Arctic Observing Summit in Edinburgh received significant attention, sparking engaging discussions and setting the stage for concrete action. The next phase will involve activating the recommendations from the white paper at the highest policy levels, necessitating commitment and goodwill from all parties. 

In the coming months, a series of communications and discussions will be held at various polar events to initiate large-scale collaboration. These include the EU Polar Science Week in Copenhagen (September 2024) and the EU-PolarNet 2 Town Hall event scheduled in Brussels (November 2024). 


Photo: Arctic Observing Summit 2024, EU-PolarNet 2 White paper session, Edinburgh. Credits: E. Horovcakova

EU-PolarNet 2 research priorities published

One of the core objectives of the EU-PolarNet 2 project was to identify priorities and important socially relevant topics in polar research. This task is based on the Integrated European Polar Research Programme (EPRP), the results of the EU-PolarNet 2 project and national research strategies. For this purpose, a Polar Expert Group (PEG) was formed and participated in a closed meeting together with representatives of other stakeholders (Venice, San Servolo, June 2023). At the retreat, the research topics were defined and adapted and future research measures were formulated.

These research priorities are now available in a, which can be downloaded here.

The research priorities were defined in a three-stage process:

(1) Creation of an initial information base from relevant background documents, service projects, stakeholder meetings, surveys within the EU Polar Cluster and in consultation with a specially established Polar Expert Group (PEG).

(2) An in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the information based on an objective text-data mining method, which helped to reduce the very extensive list of topics to the research needs and related key questions.

(3) During the thematic retreat, a group of experts consolidated and categorised the relevant topics based on the results from step 2. For each selected topic, a short and exhaustive description was created based on a defined template.

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

The legacy of EU-PolarNet 2 is progressing

EU-PolarNet 2 is enthusiastically working on its successor, the European Polar Coordination Office, in this final year of the project.  To this end, the leaders of the EU-PolarNet 2 work packages met in April 2024 to concretise all the information and engagement tools that will be developed during the project. These tools will be integrated into the European Polar Coordination Office in a modular toolkit together with the operational plans for the EPCO after the end of the project.

Most of the EU-PolarNet 2 legacy tools will be presented on the Catalyst platform. The Catalyst platform is regarded as the central coordination tool, which is being taken over by the European Polar Coordination Office and is currently being restructured. As one example, the Stakeholder Engagement Tool will be integrated into Catalyst as an interactive tool, and also the coordination of the EU Polar Cluster will be facilitated through the platform.

EU-PolarNet 2 meeting in April 2024 for preparing the tools for the European Polar Coordination Office. Credits: Anneli Strobel

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 Arctic Circle Berlin Forum 2024 to the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024. More information here.

EU Polar Cluster News

After a great success last year, the EU Polar Cluster once again organised a community meeting at the Arctic Science Summit Week in March 2024. The meeting entitled ” EU Polar Cluster: Coordination and networking for Polar cooperation projects” took place on Tuesday 26 March 2024 and was co-organised by EU-PolarNet 2, the European Polar Board and the British Antarctic Survey. The meeting aimed for open discussions and collecting input from our Cluster community on specific topics. The session was structured around the following 3 main focuses: 1) guidelines and best practices for policy briefings, 2) experiences, needs and wishes for the interact with stakeholders and 3) the need for an EU Polar Cluster observation working group. We had lively discussions with around 30 meeting participants and were able to gather numerous best practice experiences on policy briefings and stakeholder interaction. Next to the Cluster community meeting, we also organised a booth with a variety of materials from the Cluster members to disseminate information. Many thanks to all visitors to the booth and the Cluster meeting for their interest in the European polar research community!

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.

Partner highlights on polar research

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 around 27 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) and mobilizes 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: Campaña Antarctica Espanola

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

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. Credit: Riccardo Selvatico / Ice memory Foundation

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. Credit: N. Łatacz

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

In late August and September of 2023, essential activities were acomplished 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: Cryosphere Integrated Observatory Network in Svalbard (CRIOS)

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 “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:

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

In November 2023, the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) celebrated its 10 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:

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.

Further information: Netherlands Polar Programme

Alun Hubbard appointed Director of the Thule Institute

Prof. Alun Hubbard will become the new Director of the Thule Institute at the University of Oulu from 1 July, 2024. The Thule Institute coordinates and promotes the University’s broad and multidisciplinary Arctic and Polar activities, research, faculties, and formally administers the Arctic Research Network and the Arctic University.

Alun gained his bachelor’s from Oxford University and was awarded a PhD in ice-sheet geophysics and modelling from Edinburgh University in 2003. Since then, a wide-ranging career primarily in glaciology, geophysics and environmental sciences has taken him from the South Pole, Antarctica to the High Arctic in Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia, whilst working at the University of British Columbia (Canada), Canterbury and Wellington Universities (New Zealand), his home town in Wales (UK), and, for the last decade, UiT – Tromso (Norway).

Read more on recent research of Alun Hubbard:

Alun Hubbard Credits: Lars Ostenfeld

New collaboration opportunities with Tara Ocean Foundation and the upcoming Tara Polar Station

On 26 February 2024 in Sion (VS), the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) and Tara Ocean Foundation held a joint workshop focused on presenting the drifting scientific observatory/laboratory, Tara Polar Station, and on exploring synergies between the two organisations and their respective scientific communities. The collaborative workshop concluded with both parties formalising their agreement with a Memorandum of Understanding.

Further information:

Presentation of Tara Polar Station during the afternoon workshop. Credit: 2024 Swiss Polar Institute.

SPI-AWI workshop on current and future synergies in polar research

On 1 March 2024, the jointly organised SPI-AWI workshop reflected the rich collaboration between AWI- and Swiss-based scientists. Various presentations focused on current and future joint projects in polar regions. The online workshop concluded with a dynamic discussion about future collaboration opportunities in Antarctica.

Further information:

The Changing Poles: how Antarctic and Arctic science helps to inform and prepare the EU for changes in sea level rise and the global climate (Policy brief)

A policy briefing ‘From changing Polar regions to policy responses – Strengthening EU and global climate preparedness’ organised by the European Polar Board (EPB) with assistance from the European Parliament Intergroup European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) on behalf of the EU funded projects OCEAN:ICE and Arctic PASSION took place on 24th January 2024 at the European Parliament.

A policy brief ‘The Changing Poles: how Antarctic and Arctic science helps to inform and prepare the EU for changes in sea level rise and the global climate’ can be found on the EPB website.

Further information:

Link: The Changing Poles: how Antarctic and Arctic science helps to inform and prepare the EU for changes in sea level rise and the global climate (Policy brief)

European Polar Board in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

During the Polar Symposium that took place on 22-23 February 2024 in Monaco, the EPB’s Executive Secretary, R Badhe and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Vice President & CEO, Olivier Wenden have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the European Polar Board and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. By this agreement, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation forged a strategic partnership with the European Polar Board, a co-organiser of the Polar Symposium.

At the Polar Symposium, the European Polar Board has also co-organised a panel discussion, and breakout discussion sessions on the 22 February 2024 on “Long-term Collaborations in the Polar Regions: Upcoming initiatives for the next decade”.

Further information:

Upcoming events of the European Polar Board

The European Polar Board is co-organizing a side event “Long-term Engagement in the Polar Oceans: A Decade of International Action” as part of the upcoming 2024 UN Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona (10-12 April 2024).

Further information:

“High North and Far South from European and Regional Perspectives” organised by Centre for Polar Studies (University of Silesia in Katowice), Polish Polar Consortium, Committee on Polar Research (Polish Academy of Sciences) and the European Polar Board that will take place on 24 April 2024 in Katowice, European City of Science 2024. Link.

ICARP IV webinar series dedicated to Research Priority Teams (RPTs) – more information TBD. Link.

Find more events here.


European Polar Board at the Arctic Science Summit Week 2024 in Edinburgh

The European Polar Board co-organised several successful sessions at the ASSW 2024 in Edinburgh (21-29 March 2024), including the EPB & EU Polar Cluster booths at the main conference venue.

Following session were co-organised with the EU Polar Cluster members:

– Recommendations to Ease Bottlenecks in Transnational Access for Arctic Research                 

– EU Polar Cluster: Coordination and networking for Polar cooperation projects

– AOS 2024 – PS2: Launch of the EU-PolarNet2 White Paper with recommendations to accelerate the development of a sustained and fully integrated Polar observing system

Many thanks to everyone who visited our booths and participated in the sessions!

Further information:

Enormous Ice Loss from Greenland Glacier

Ground-based measuring devices and aircraft radar operated in the far northeast of Greenland show how much ice the 79° N Glacier is losing. According to measurements conducted by the Alfred Wegener Institute, the thickness of the glacier has decreased by more than 160 metres since 1998. Warm ocean water flowing under the glacier tongue is melting the ice from below. High air temperatures cause lakes to form on the surface, whose water flows through huge channels in the ice into the ocean. One channel reached a height of 500 metres, while the ice above was only 190 metres thick, as a research team has now reported in the scientific journal The Cryosphere.

Further information:

Launching of the HarSval Project – a new opportunity to strengthen cooperation in Svalbard and skills development for early career scientists

A large predefined project “HarSval” (Bilateral initiative aiming at Harmonization of the Svalbard cooperation) was launched on 1st March 2024. The Polish Polar Consortium initiated the project involwing 11 partners from Poland and 14 from Norway (Leader – Dr. Dariusz Ignatiuk from the Center for Polar Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice. The project focuses on a sustainable development of scientific collaboration between Poland and Norway in Svalbard. Activities aiming at: (1) modernization and standardisation of observing system in priority areas; (2) development of skills and support for the mobility of scientists and postgraduate students; (3) strengthening in circulation of FAIR data and open science by training, workshops, and better connection with SIOS Data Portal; (4) development of competencies in the dissemination of results, communication and strategic planning of research. The project is financed by the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

Further information:

A trip to the field observation sites in Svalbard in early spring. Credits: Dariusz Ignatiuk

New Dronning Maud Land Marine Observatories Installed

During a 50-day hot-water-drilling campaign on Fimbulisen in central Dronning Maud Land, oceanographic moorings were deployed at two sites below up to 400 m thick ice. The sites have been instrumented since 2009, and the unique, long-term records, which have shown an increase in warm water intrusions since 2016, will now hopefully be maintained for another decade.

The installations are part of the Troll Observing Network (TONe) and are complemented (since 2020) by an array of multidisciplinary oceanographic moorings north of the ice front. The observatories provide insights into the coastal marine environment in the Atlantic sector of East Antarctica, its relevance for marine ecosystems, the ice sheet mass balance and sea level, and linkages to large-scale climate dynamics. The campaign was an international effort, with contributions from Norway, the UK, France, and the US.

Further information:

Project: Origin of resistance to desiccation and cryoinjuries in biological soil crust microalgae of High Arctic

This international project aims to understand the complex eco-physiological and molecular-genetic mechanisms of resistance of biological soil crusts (BSC) microalgae to stresses associated with the harsh seasonally changing Arctic conditions. The topic is relevant to the most urgent global problem, climate change, which is of particular importance in the Arctic. We generally expect that hardened and/or starved BSC microalgae will be more resistant to Arctic winter, melt-freeze cycles, cryostress and desiccation, compared to those growing under more favourable conditions. These physiological differences will be accompanied by morphological and ultrastructural modifications and altered metagenomic and (meta)transcriptomic profiles, since the vast majority of adaptation/acclimation mechanisms is connected to rearrangements of metabolism. The project will combine field observation and manipulation studies together with laboratory experiments and analyses in close co-operation of Czech and German partners. University of South Bohemia (USB) and Institute of Botany CAS (IB CAS) will focus on understanding the eco-physiology (hardening, starvation, cryoinjuries and desiccation stresses) of BSC microalgae on Svalbard over the whole period of a year. Institute for Plant Science, University of Cologne (UC) will deal with the same BSCs microalgae with respect to description of molecular genetic principles of their hardening, starvation, cryoinjuries and desiccation stresses resistances through metagenomic and (meta)transcriptomic analyses.

Curious about what’s up next?  – get a first glimpse of where to meet up with EU-PolarNet 2 the next months.
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