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It’s Time For Europe To Step Up Research In The Polar Regions

December 8, 2010

Polar research must become an integral part of the European Union’s research activities if Europe is to benefit from the dramatically changing face of the Polar Regions, the European Polar Board (EPB) said today at the launch of its strategic position paper on European polar research: “Relevance, Strategic Context and Setting Future Directions.” 

European research activities in the Polar Regions are significant, amounting to over 300 million euro per year in recognition of the regions’ key role as driver of the Earth’s climate and the functioning of the oceans. But this research is often fragmented with considerable overlap between the various participating nations within Europe.

To remedy the situation, the position paper calls for mainstreaming polar research into the European Research Area so that it becomes a priority within both the upcoming 8th R&D Framework Programme from the European Commission and polar funding agencies at national level in EU member states.  It also urges increased links with international partners to preserve the Polar Regions so that research can help  answer global scientific questions affecting the dynamic Earth system itself.

“We need an ambitious and broad strategy for investment in research activities in the Polar Regions for the long-term benefit of Europe,” said Professor Carlo Alberto Ricci, Chairman of the European Polar Board. “This approach will also serve to increase the weight of European science within the international polar science effort,” he added.

The overlap of European spending and resource allocation will become more critical as climate change dramatically increases accessibility of the Polar Regions and opens up enormous new opportunities in fisheries, tourism, oil, gas and transport. The position paper therefore urges a special effort notably to coordinate European research activities in Antarctica, through common programmes, shared resources and networking of scientific stations, and other facilities and infrastructures.

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