The planet's polar regions call to mind images of virgin territories playing host to flora, fauna and indigenous populations, as well as intrepid researchers and explorers helping to understand climate change, marine biology and much more. A special issue of RTD info, produced with the International Polar Foundation and pre-launched to coincide with the Commission's Green Week, joins the exploration of the Poles' vast scientific wonders
The European Commission's flagship research publication RTD info sets sail on a journey to the ends of the Earth in its exploration of polar research. Readers are taken on a voyage to the polar regions of the world, a trip through time and history, explains the special issue of the magazine launched alongside the Green Week festivities, running from 31 May to 3 June, whose main message was to ‘Get to grips with climate change'.
|Polar research unravels many mysteries of climate change.|
© RTD info
The June issue describes the leading role that European teams are playing in diverse scientific fields, such as climatology, astronomy, the life sciences and glaciology, and outlines the importance of a global commitment to co-operate in research aimed at tackling major climate-related problems.
“For climate researchers, the Poles are a frozen archive of global climate change, helping them unravel what has happened in the past to better understand the future,” the Commission notes in a prepared statement on the latest issue of RTD info. “Sample cores drilled from deep polar ice sheets allow scientists to monitor the impact of global warming and validate simulation models of future changes to the Earth's climate system,” it goes on.
Because of the harsh, cold and remote working conditions, “polar researchers … often rely on specially adapted methods and technologies to carry out their work”. This makes it a complex and costly activity, but essential nonetheless. And the more scientists learn about the two Poles, the more striking their differences appear.
Polar research icebreaker
RTD info climbs aboard icebreaker ships – floating labs for scientists to carry out experiments – travels into space to explore how satellites are tracking ice and vegetation patterns on the Poles, and takes a tour of the leading institutes and organisations working on polar research.
In one section of the 43-page magazine, readers discover how polar fauna and flora are coping with climate warming. And also how seasonal changes in the Arctic are affecting native populations, such as the Dolgans, Inuits and Saami, who are struggling to keep up their hunting and herding traditions.
The issue is capped off by an interview with Alain Hubert, a Belgian polar explorer and head of the International Polar Foundation (IPF), who talks about the importance of communicating polar research to the public. In fact, this special issue was made possible thanks to major contributions from the IPF, which was set up in 2002 to keep society informed on scientific research – especially relating to climate change – in the polar regions.