Important legal notice
   
Contact   |   Search   
RTD info logoMagazine on European Research Special issue - May 2005   
Top
 HOME
 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL

Download pdf de en fr


Title  European nations at the forefront of international collaboration

With the growth of scientific networks and the considerable benefits reaped from past International Polar Years, contemporary polar research represents a vast collaborative effort with the shared goal of better understanding the dynamics of the polar regions and the role which they play in the Earth System as a whole.

As part of the Arctic Coring Expedition Russia’s Sovetskiy Soyuz breaks large ice floes, Sweden’s Oden crushes mid-sized ice floes and Norway’s Vidar Viking holds station over the drill site.
As part of the Arctic Coring Expedition Russia’s Sovetskiy Soyuz breaks large ice floes, Sweden’s Oden crushes mid-sized ice floes and Norway’s Vidar Viking holds station over the drill site.
© M. Jakobsson/IODP.
In this context, European nations have not only been amongst the most active members of coordinating organisations such as the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), but have also been avid supporters and initiators of international polar research initiatives across all fields, whether individually or through the European Polar Board (EPB).

Europe and the International Polar Year
European national polar programmes and pan-European organisations such as the EPB have been at the forefront of the 2007-08 International Polar Year (IPY), in its development, through membership, and in submitting research proposals. Europe’s involvement continues to be strong. For example, the IPY’s International Programme Office (IPO) is housed at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) headquarters in Cambridge, and the Director of the BAS, Professor Chris Rapley, plus several leading European scientists are members of the joint IPY ICSU-WMO (1) committee.

Increasing US cooperation
Recent years have also seen the European Polar Board forging a close liaison with the United States National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs (NSF/OPP) in an effort to instigate joint initiatives and encourage close dialogue between the directors of polar agencies in Europe and the US (see Polar research outside Europe).

At least 145 lakes have been discovered lying beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
At least 145 lakes have been discovered lying beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
© IPF
Participating in a new research plan in the Antarctic
Through their full membership of SCAR, 13 European nations are actively involved in its new, recently approved science plan, entitled: ‘Antarctic Science Changes Direction’. According to Colin Summerhayes, SCAR’s Executive Director, this plan aims to refocus member nations’ work on a few select themes that will be relevant for the next decade or more.

Three of these themes, Antarctica and the Global Climate System (AGCS), Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE), and Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA), relate directly to climate change, whilst ICESTAR relates to the interactions of the solar wind with the Earth’s outer atmosphere, and Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments (SALE) relates to the 145 or so lakes buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.

Involvement in Arctic projects
With a couple of exceptions, those European countries that are full members of SCAR are also members of IASC and have been involved in a whole series of IASC projects ranging from the study of Arctic coastal dynamics to nutrition and health among northern indigenous peoples. Many have also contributed to the far-reaching and alarming Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report presented by Robert Corell, Chair of the ACIA, to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in November 2004.

More international projects…
Other international polar research projects in which European nations are involved include:

  • The International Partnership in Ice Coring Science (IPICS) which is endorsing a programme of coring coastal sites around both Greenland and Antarctica to complement the information being gathered from continental ice caps by projects such as EPICA.
  • The European Partnership in Ice Coring Science (EPICS) which will enable enhanced structuring, coordination and strategic issues between ministries and funding agencies in ice coring at the European level, thus connecting with IPICS activities.
  • The Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX). See ACEX: The Arctic coring expedition.
  • The Aurora Borealis Arctic research icebreaker, providing a platform for deep drilling and investigations of climate change of the most inaccessible parts of the planet (see article on the Aurora Borealis).
  • Histories from the North – environments, movements and narratives (BOREAS) - see article on the Social Sciences.
  • Southern Ocean – Climate Interactions, Resources and Carbon Links within the Earth System (SO-CIRCLE). An EPB-sponsored initiative which aims to address climate variability, biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem dynamics in the Southern Ocean.
  • Air-Ice Chemical Interactions (AICI) documenting the full range of processes that arise at the air-ice interface, and how they depend on environmental conditions.


(1) International Council for Science – World Meteorological Organization

    
  Top
Features 1 2 3 4 5 6

TO FIND OUT MORE

CONTACTS