EU-PolarNet

Newsletter

July 2022

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

EU-PolarNet 2 is looking back to a busy spring. From publishing two of its key documents, the “Catalogue of national Polar programmes and other large-scale programmes” and the “Directory of Polar research funding programmes in Europe” to establishing closer links with the members of the EU Polar Cluster, and the organisation of two online events – and there is yet more to come. In addition, this newsletter presents the national polar programme of IGOT and the Portuguese Polar Community and highlights in polar research.

Stay tuned for a third calls for services on the climate research needs of the European Polar Research Programme this autumn, a White paper on the European Polar Research funding landscape and for in-person meetings where you can meet us!

Newsletter content

News from EU-PolarNet 2

Webinar: Who owns the Arctic? – an Introduction to Arctic Governance

APECS and EU-PolarNet 2 jointly held the webinar ‘Who owns the Arctic? – an Introduction to Arctic Governance’ on 9th of June 2022. Volker Rachold, Head of the German Arctic Office at the Alfred Wegener Institute, gave a presentation about stewardship and governance of the Arctic region. Two moderators from APECS, Ebru Cyamaz from the Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey and Elena Adasheva from Yale University, guided through the discussion after the presentation.

A total audience of 40 people joined the webinar, including a lot of early career scientists and researchers from all fields of Arctic research, as well as policymakers and the general public from over 15 different countries. A recording of the webinar can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Workshop ‘Recommendations towards an Integrated Polar Observing System’

The workshop, arranged on 7th June 2022, aimed at facilitating better alignment of observing system efforts in the Arctic and Antarctic, and on initiating a process to create actionable policy-level recommendations to accelerate the development of an Integrated Polar Observing System.

The workshop consisted of inspiring highlight presentations by various Arctic, Antarctic and Polar organizations, networks and projects across approaches, scales, domains and services, and of in-depth breakout sessions for discussion. The highlight presentations are available on the EU-PolarNet 2 YouTube channel.

The workshop was received with great enthusiasm, and over 60 experts participated the workshop to join the co-design of the recommendations. The recommendations will be feeding into a white paper, published as a deliverable of EU-PolarNet 2 in 2024.

The results of the workshop will be presented in an on-line Wrap-up Session, arranged on 6th September at 14.00-15.30 CEST.

The invitation and the programme of the wrap-up session will be announced on the EU-PolarNet 2 website in July 2022.

Online workshop ‘Recommendations towards an Integrated Polar Observing System’ (credits: H. Savela, UOulu)

Catalyst platform launched

One of the main goals of EU-PolarNet 2 is to facilitate the exchange of information within the European polar community, to identify synergies and to develop partnerships within Europe.

The basic collaboration tool that EU-PolarNet 2 has developed for this purpose is the Catalyst platform. The Catalyst platform will accommodate a continuous information exchange and an interactive room as a discussion forum for the Polar community to identify synergies and develop partnerships within Europe. It will also serve as catalyst where researchers, stake- and rightsholders, industry, and others discuss new ideas and big collaborative initiatives involving several parties.

The Catalyst platform was launched on Thursday, 30 June 2022. A recording is available on YouTube. Everyone is welcome visit the platform to share resources and join the discussions. The platform can be reached at: https://polarcatalyst.eu/.

‘Catalogue of national Polar programmes and other large-scale programmes’ and ‘Directory of Polar research funding programmes in Europe’ published!

In spring 2022, EU-PolarNet 2 published its key documents, the “Catalogue of national Polar programmes and other large-scale programmes” and the “Directory of Polar research funding programmes in Europe”. The catalogue of national Polar programmes and other large-scale programmes” is the first and crucial step of EU-PolarNet 2 to improve the coordination and cooperation of national polar re­search programmes in Europe. The “Directory of Polar research funding programs in Europe” provides an overview of the governance, strategies, and procedures of polar research funding in Europe.

Both documents together reflect the different approach of each country to polar policy and research funding.

Download the Catalogue and Directory here.

EU Polar Cluster News

After more than two years of pandemic, the EU Polar Cluster held its first in-person meeting in Brussels on 21 and 22 June 2022. About 50 representatives from 21 Polar Cluster projects and initiatives joined the meeting in the EC premises.

Representatives from the European Commission, Szilvia Nemeth (Healthy Oceans DG Research and Innovation), Paul Webb (Head of Department Green Europe, REA) and Miguel Roncero (DG MARE policy officer) were opening the meeting and emphasising the value of the EU Polar Cluster. On the second day, Elle Merete Omma from the Saami Council came by for a talk on the importance of co-creation of knowledge, and Kotryna Markeviciute JRC talked about Arts-based methods in knowledge co-creation in policy relevant Arctic research projects.

One of the main goals and outcomes of the meeting was networking and building cooperation, facilitated by round table discussions, among other things, in order to shape the future objectives of the Cluster.

Since summer 2021, the EU Polar Cluster publishes its own regular newsletters. They aim to give you an update of the key inter-project activities.

Sign up here to directly receive the EU Polar Cluster newsletters.

EU Polar Cluster meeting Brussels, June 2022 (credits: E. Ford)

Partner highlights on polar research

New SEES.nl expedition to Spitsbergen in July

From 13 to 22 July 2022, a large group of researchers will embark on an expedition to Edgeøya, on the east side of Svalbard. As in 2015, the name for the second scientific voyage to this island is SEES.nl. The scientific participants cover many scientific disciplines. The common thread among them is the rapid warming up of the polar regions. SEES.nl is the acronym for Netherlands Scientific Expedition Edgeøa Svalbard. NWO is funding this expedition to Svalbard to map the changes in an area scarcely touched by people. SEES.nl will collect data on site and compare it with data from 1977, 1986 and 2015. During the ten-day expedition, various interest groups will be together on a single ship: mainly researchers, policymakers, politicians and the media. With this diverse group, we will be able to gain a good understanding of changes in the area and emphasise the importance of the polar regions. The expedition opes also to strengthen international collaboration, especially with Norway.

For further science highlights »

Research station Kapp Lee (credits: Ko de Korte)

Micro- and nanoplastic from the atmosphere is polluting the ocean

Plastic particles have now been detected in virtually all spheres of the environment, e.g. in water bodies, the soil and the air. Via ocean currents and rivers, the tiny plastic particles can even reach the Arctic, Antarctic or ocean depths. A new overview study has now shown that wind, too, can transport these particles great distances and much faster than water can: in the atmosphere, they can travel from their point of origin to the most remote corners of the planet in a matter of days. In the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, a recent study by AWI and GEOMAR describes how microplastic finds its way into the atmosphere and how it is subsequently transported.

Micro- and nanoplastic in the air is also relevant for human health. In a recently released British study, microplastic was detected in the lungs of 11 of 13 living human beings.

For further science highlights »

Plastic litter at Puerto Morelos beach (credits: SLoeschke, AWI)

Southern Ocean floor mapped in greatest detail ever

An international group of researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute recently presented the best and most detailed seafloor map of the Southern Ocean, which is a key region for the Earth system and the global climate. Here, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, driven by powerful westerly winds – the infamous “Roaring Forties” – represents the key connecting element in the globe-spanning thermohaline circulation, influencing ocean currents in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Currently, high-resolution data can only be gathered using ship-based methods. As a result, multibeam echosounder readings taken in the Southern Ocean by research vessels like the icebreaker Polarstern often yield previously undiscovered topographical highlights like a 1,920-metre seamount. Read more here.

 

 
IBISCO (credits: Dorschel et al. (2022)

Start of Swiss Flagship Initiatives in Pamir and Greenland: a new phase for Swiss polar science

As part of its reinforced national mandate, the Swiss Polar Institute has committed to enable large scale Swiss science programmes in polar regions. The recently launched Flagship Initiatives are at the centre of this new dynamic.

PAMIR (From ice to microorganisms and humans: Toward an interdisciplinary understanding of climate change impacts on the Third Pole) is a programme to characterise the current state of the Pamir cryosphere in an unprecedented degree, as well as to study its impacts on ecosystems, hazards and water resources.

GreenFjord (Greenlandic Fjord ecosystems in a changing climate: Socio-cultural and environmental interactions) explores the socio-cultural and environmental interactions by focusing the research on 2 different fjord systems: a marine and a terrestrial terminating glacier in Southern Greenland. There are 6 clusters: cryosphere, land, ocean, atmosphere, biodiversity and human.

Both projects will lead field campaigns this summer 2022 and last until 2025.

For further science highlights »

(credits: © Blake Matthews, all rights reserved)

Konrad Steffen Grant for enhanced Swiss-Greenlandic research collaboration

In 2021, the Swiss Polar Institute, in collaboration with the Greenland Research Council (NIS), launched a call for interest for a new funding opportunity, the Konrad Steffen Grant (KSG). In memory of Konrad Steffen, one of the founders of the Swiss Polar Institute and its first Scientific Director, the KSG builds on his legacy of collaborative research between researchers based in Switzerland and Greenland on environmental change in Greenland.

It is designed to provide seed money for collaborative research on the topic of Natural Hazards in Greenland. The hope is that the first 2 KSG projects will foster exchange of expertise, networking, and future collaboration opportunities between Swiss and Greenlandic researchers to address some of the big challenges ahead related to natural hazards in Greenland.

A workshop was held in Nuuk in March 2022 to allow the bottom-up collaborative development of projects with the most effective spread of available funding.

For further science highlights »

(credits: Greenland Research Council, all rights reserved)

The tenth Portuguese flight supporting the Antarctic Summer season 2021-22

For the tenth time, Portugal contributed to the international logistics supporting science in Antarctica by chartering a flight between Punta Arenas (Chile) and the airfield Teniente R. Marsh in King George Island, South Shetlands Islands Archipelago. The inbound and outbound flights took place on the 22nd of January 2022 and were beginning of the Portuguese Antarctic Campaign 2021-22 that ran from January till the beginning of March, with the support of several partner Antarctic programs. The flight transported a total of 86 researchers from the Portuguese, Bulgarian, Chilean, Korean and Spanish polar programs, all following quarantine in Punta Arenas (Chile) and strict Covid-19 procedures before flying to King George Island. PROPOLAR supported 6 Antarctic projects last season.

For further science highlights »

The chartered Portuguese flight preparing to departure King George Island (Antarctica) (credits: Goncalo Vieira)

Estonian Arctic Policy

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has initiated  discussions towards creating  an Estonian Arctic policy document. The Estonian polar research community is engaged in the process, which should be finalised by the end of 2022. Related to this action the Estonian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced a call for two Academy  Arctic research professorship in order to allow for two top level scientists in the field within one year to establish small research groups (2-3 researchers+ 1-2 PhD students ) for to fulfill an existing or to start a new Arctic research project in cooperation with a foreign  polar research institution.

For further science highlights »

Geomorphological processes shape Arctic plants

Rapid climatic change in the Arctic is shaping the soil and plants in many ways. Cryoturbation relocates soil, and plant communities are affected by soil mixing, a new study shows. It is hard for plants to grow tall, but on the other hand nutrients may rise from deeper in the soil.

Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oulu and physical geographer Julia Kemppinen together with her colleagues investigated how geomorphological processes influence Arctic plants. The group collected data from Svalbard, Greenland, and Fennoscandia. They found that the plant communities were most affected in study plots with cryoturbation. Cryoturbation is the mixing and relocation of soil material as the ground freezes and thaws. This has an impact on the plants that grow on cryoturbated soils.

The study was published in the Global Ecology and Biogeography journal on 4 May 2022.

For further science highlights »

First ice core drilling campaign of Beyond EPICA successfully completed

The Beyond EPICA project successfully completed the first ice core drilling campaign in Antarctica.

During the 2021/22 field activity, the team completed the field camp installation, set up the drilling area, completed the temporary storage cave and installed the complex drilling system.

From late November 2021 to the end of January 2022, the international team – 12 among scientists/drillers and logistics – reached a depth of 130 meters, where the ice preserves information on the climate and atmosphere of approximately the last 3000 years.

The next campaign 2022/23 will involve a final testing of the drilling system and then proceed to conduct deep drilling.

For further science highlights »

In the preparation of the casing operation at the BEOIC drilling trench. (credits: Carlos Barbante ©PNRA/IPEV)

Czech Arctic running research projects at the Centre for Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice:

Polyphasic assessment of the diversity of phototrophic microorganisms from cold environments and their bioprospection potential.

The Czech Centre for Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice are assessing the adaptation mechanisms of arctic microalgae evolved to withstand the harsh environment characterised by low temperature, freeze-thaw cycles, desiccation, salinity, and high and variable photosynthetically active and ultraviolet radiation. Hence, Arctic microalgae developed ecological, physiological, and molecular defensive and adaptive strategies, including synthesizing a tremendous diversity of compounds originating from different metabolic pathways that protect them against the abovementioned stresses. Production of different biological compounds and various biotechnological applications, for instance, water treatment technology in low-temperature environments and many others, are the perspectives of humans who widely explore the Arctic. Possible constructions of photobioreactors for mass cultivation of microalgae are proposed for operations in the Arctic as economic activities, including association with Arctic first nations. Read more: Kvíderová J., Shukla S.P., Pushparaj B., Elster J. 2017, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-57057-0

Closed polar photobioreactor; annular column, aerated by air or air + CO2 mixture (credits: Kvíderová J. etal, 2017)
  • Protocol for collecting behavioural data for ÉLVONAL shorebird project

 In this collaborative project, The Czech Centre for Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice investigates the breeding ecology of shorebirds in relation to environmental conditions at Svalbard (Longyernbayern surrounding Petunia Bay) by quantifying: 

1) Sex roles of breeding shorebirds via standardised observations (courtship and brood care) conducted from a distance without disturbance (see Székely and Kubelka 2019 for details);

2) Incubation behaviour, predator activity and nest predation via continuous video footage with miniaturised and perfectly camouflaged nest cameras (see Székely and Kubelka 2019 for details);

3) Predation pressure at study location via artificial nests, using quail eggs;

4) Food supply for chicks of shorebirds monitored via a series of established pitfall traps and subsequent analysis of captured invertebrate prey, including temporal patterns in food abundance (see Brown et al. 2014 for details);

5) Environmental variables, such as temperature, precipitation, climate change scores, human pressure index or distance to the human settlement (see Kubelka et al. 2018 for details).

 

The first Polish polar policy strategy at government level

On 28 January 2022, the Prime Minister Republic of Poland decided to establish the Governmental Committee for the National Polar Policy to implement a national polar strategy.

The Government Committee held a constituent meeting on 22 March 2022 and established two working groups for the Arctic and the Antarctic. Their tasks include the adoption and implementation of international and legal regulations relating to the environment and tourism traffic.

The Prime Minister’s decision is of great importance for the structure of the Polish Polar Organisation and the strengthening of cooperation between science and politics.

The national polar strategy is mainly based on the “Strategy for Polish Polar Research – a concept for the years 2017–2027” and the “Polish Polar Research: Green-and-White Paper”.

Meeting of the Governmental Committee (credits: Website of the Republic of Poland)

Highlights of Polar programmes

A glimpse on IGOT and the Portuguese Polar Community

Since its beginnings in the 1970s, Portuguese Polar research has focused in both the Arctic and Antarctica. In the International Polar Year 2007-08, endeavors to promote awareness of the importance of Polar regions and research for Portugal resulted in the establishment of a dedicated polar program, the Portuguese Polar Program (PROPOLAR) in 2011. The program is hosted by Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT), University of Lisbon, which is responsible for coordination of polar logistics in Portugal. IGOT is the only faculty in Portugal entirely devoted to teaching and research on Geography and Spatial Planning and integrates the oldest and most prestigious national research centre in geography, established in 1943, the Centre for Geographical Studies (CEG). With 190 researchers, CEG is leading institution conducting research at national and international level on cutting-edge subjects of contemporary Human and Physical Geography and Planning, including polar sciences.

IGOT is the Portuguese partner in EU-PolarNet 2, involved in the consortium since the first EU-PolarNet project in 2015. In EU-PolarNet 2, IGOT is co-leader of task 1.2 (with AWI and NWO) on coordination and facilitation of European Polar Research, and of task 5.2 (with UNIVI-APRI), targeting at dissemination and communication of project results.

Portuguese researchers have brought their internationally recognised scientific expertise to the polar regions, aiming at bridging lessons learned and at feeding them into an integrated framework of Atlantic Interactions from pole to pole. From inland areas to the Arctic and the Southern Ocean, Portuguese research have been focusing on many research areas including atmospheric, marine, cryosphere, geophysical, biological and social sciences, and sustainable architecture. Portugal has been conducting field observations, studying in situ processes, collecting new data and developing new methodological and innovative approaches. Today, 18 research institutions across Portugal are regularly involved in polar research, with Portugal being signatory of the Antarctic Treaty and member of European Polar Board, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, International Arctic Science Committee, Forum of Arctic Research Operators and observer at Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

The PROPOLAR aims at promoting and supporting the development of Portuguese Polar science. It provides access to scientists to the Arctic and Antarctica and fosters multidisciplinary research to enhance knowledge on Polar regions and on their role on the Earth system. Funded by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Portuguese public agency funding science, PROPOLAR resulted in coordination and strengthening at the national and international level of Portuguese contributions to Polar sciences. The program works in close connection with FCT- Polar Program dedicated to institutional support and monitoring of national polar research. One of PROPOLARs primary tasks is to organise and support polar research expeditions. PROPOLAR implements a dedicated funding scheme to stimulate innovative and excellent polar research. PROPOLAR contributes annually to international polar logistics effort in Antarctica with a chartered flight between Chile and the Antarctic Peninsula.

For further science highlights »

Collecting field measurements for rock exposure dating in Livingston Island, Antarctica (credits: Goncalo Vieira)

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