Task 2.1

Identification of key polar research questions for Europe

There have been various national and international initiatives over the years to identify relevant research questions, with possibly the most well-recognised being the ICARP (International Conference on Arctic Research Planning) process that has been employed for research priority setting in the Arctic. Recently this has been joined by a further international initiative: the Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) which has been established to provide a high-level biennial event aimed at developing community-driven science-based guidance for design and implementation of sustained long term operation of a network of Arctic observing systems.

IASC and SCAR are currently working through two different mechanisms (ICARP III and Horizon Scan) to identify pressing research questions in Arctic and Antarctic research for the coming decades. There is therefore considerable intellectual activity on developing and maintaining the various aspects of polar research that EU-PolarNet will utilise.

Task 2.1 will draw on this work as well as that of various national research programmes in order to compile a set of important polar research questions relating to both Polar Regions that can then be integrated in the context of relevance to Europe, existing infrastructural resources and the views and requirements of diverse stakeholders.

The intention is that, as a first step, the European polar research community be consulted to compile a set of Europe-relevant polar research questions. This activity can also help contribute to addressing the broader issue of greater communication between polar researchers which is covered more extensively by Work Package 4.

The Task 2.1 team will be responsible for a desk study to collate the range of research questions emerging from the IASC, SCAR and national review processes but will also organise a set of discussion meetings within larger conference events such as European Geosciences Union (EGU), Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) and International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) annual meetings, as well as appropriate industry meeting settings, to provide a forum to discuss polar research issues and provide opportunities for different interest groups, and not just scientists, to give their views.

This information will be synthesised into a draft report that will form the basis for the first EU-PolarNet Town Hall meeting with representation from all the key scientific communities as well as representation from relevant international programmes such as ArcticNet, Arctic Science Partnership (ASP), SEARCH, International Permafrost Association (IPA), Climate and Cryosphere (CliC), and World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), bodies such as the Belmont Forum and longer-term initiatives such as Future Earth. It is the intention that the Town Hall meeting will also be where relevant stakeholders are formally brought into the discussion of priorities to give their view on the tentative research areas and questions and to begin the more detail process of co-design that will continue through Task 2.2. The outcomes of the Town Hall meeting will be included in an initial high level report.

The co-leading institutes of Task 2.1 have been carefully chosen to guarantee that Arctic research (The Research Council of Norway (RCN)), Antarctic research (the Italian National Research Council - Department of Earth System Science and Environmental Technologies (CNR-DTA)) and social sciences (the Dutch University of Groningen (RUG)) are equally considered. The anticipated outcome of Task 2.1 depends on a composite work of the whole consortium.

This Task will focus on:

  • Laying the scientific foundations for a researcher/stakeholder dialogue by compiling a set of high level polar research priorities, with relevance for European interests.

  • Organising a Town Hall meeting where the compiled priorities can be discussed by the research community in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders.

Work Package lead

Marie-Noelle Houssais
Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique (CNRS)
Paris, France

Task leads