Introducing the EU Polar Cluster Projects


APPLICATE (Advanced Prediction in Polar regions and beyond: modelling, observing system design and LInkages associated with a Changing Arctic climaTE) is a €8 million project, financed by the EU HORIZON 2020 Research and Innovation programme and involves 16 partners from nine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The project will be carried out over a period of four years.

The multinational and multidisciplinary consortium will work to enhance weather and climate prediction capabilities not only in the Arctic, but also in Europe, Asia, and North America. A focus on the Arctic is important for improved predictions of weather and climate in the mid-latitudes because the changes taking place in the Arctic due to climate change—the retreat of sea ice, warming seas and a warming atmosphere—have the potential to influence weather and climate in the mid-latitudes.

The impacts of severe weather on commerce and infrastructure can be significant, so having adequate tools to predict when and how severe weather systems will affect Europe, Asia and North America is vital to inhabitants of these regions. The APPLICATE project is bringing together an international team of experts in weather and climate prediction to improve climate and weather forecasting models to work on improving prediction tools while expanding and improving  observational capabilities  in the Arctic.

The APPLICATE project also involves a strong education, training and outreach component in order to train the next generation of experts and raise awareness about the benefits of improved climate and weather forecasting. Members of the APPLICATE consortium will engage with stakeholders who use weather and climate forecasts to obtain constructive feedback, allowing the models and forecasts to be constantly improved and updated, taking into account user needs. Early career scientists in climate-related fields will have the opportunity to participate in a summer school and webinar lectures, while the general public will be able to learn about the project thanks to specially-produced informational videos and publications.

Thomas Jung, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Luisa Cristini - Project Manager




The overall aim of ARCSAR is to fast‐track uptake of existing innovations and knowledge by practitioners, predict future needs for innovation and knowledge, and identify priorities for security and standardisation across the Arctic and North-Atlantic (ANA) region. The ARCSAR project will establish international best practice and propose innovation platforms for the professional security and emergency response institutions in the Arctic and the North-Atlantic.

The project will look into the need for enhanced measures to respond to composite challenges including surveillance of and mobilization in case of threat situations, and emergency response capability related to search and rescue (SAR), environmental protection and firefighting.

The focus is on increased interaction in targeted networks between the professional institutions, academia and the innovators in the preparedness service and equipment industry. The ARCSAR project will monitor research and innovation projects and recommend the uptake and the industrialization of results, express common requirements as regards innovations that could fill in capability and other gaps and improve their performance in the future, and indicate priorities as regards common capabilities, or interfaces among capabilities, requiring more standardization.

The ANA region has traditionally been important in terms of fisheries and fisheries‐related activities. Increasingly, the region is experiencing more attention, resulting in greater traffic, and increased human activity. This stems from a number of factors including but not limited to increased tourism, fishing, and the presence of fossil fuels.

The region is now a highly important economic trade route with increasing infrastructure. New shipping routes are opening up due to changes in the ice coverage, providing new routes for the transport of goods from east to west.

It is widely acknowledged that seaborne disasters and security threats will result from the opening of the Northern passages, and increasing operations in the ANA region, urgently requiring more open cooperation amongst governments, industry, and security organizations across many jurisdictions

Coordinator: Bent-Ove Jamtli, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway (JRCC NN)

Contact: Irene Andreassen, Project manager JRCC NN





ARICE (Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium: A strategy for meeting the needs for marine-based research in the Arctic) is project financed by the EU HORIZON2020 RIA Research and Innovation action on the topic "Integrating Activities for Starting Communities". ARICE joins the efforts of 14 partners from 12 different countries (Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, France, Italy, Poland, Finland, Denmark, Canada and the United States of America). The project will start on the 1st of January 2018 and will run for 4 years. ARICE is an international cooperation strategy aiming at providing Europe with better capacities for marine-based research in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean.
ARICE aims at reaching this goal by better coordinating the existing polar research fleet, by offering transnational access through a "call for ship-time proposals" to a set of six international High Arctic research icebreakers and by collaborating with maritime industry in a "programme of ships and platforms of opportunity".

Nicole Biebow, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Verónica Willmott - Project Manager 



Blue-Action will provide fundamental and empirically-grounded, executable science that quantifies and explains the role of a changing Arctic in increasing predictive capability of weather and climate of the Northern Hemisphere. To achieve this Blue-Action will take a transdisciplinary approach, bridging scientific understanding within Arctic climate, weather and risk management research, with key stakeholder knowledge of the impacts of climatic weather extremes and hazardous events; leading to the co-design of better services.

This bridge will build on innovative statistical and dynamical approaches to predict weather and climate extremes. In dialogue with users, Blue-Arctic will take stock of existing knowledge about cross-sectoral impacts and vulnerabilities with respect to the occurrence of these events when associated to weather and climate predictions. Modeling and prediction capabilities will be enhanced by targeting firstly, lower latitude oceanic and atmospheric drivers of regional Arctic changes and secondly, Arctic impacts on Northern Hemisphere climate and weather extremes. Coordinated multi-model experiments will be key to test new higher resolution model configurations. Innovative methods to reduce forecast error, and advanced methods to improve uptake of new Earth observations assets are planned.

Blue-Action thereby demonstrates how such an uptake may assist in creating better optimised observation system for various modelling applications. The improved robust and reliable forecasting can help meteorological and climate services to better deliver tailored predictions and advice, including sub-seasonal to seasonal time scales, will take Arctic climate prediction beyond seasons and to teleconnections over the Northern Hemisphere. Blue-Action will through its concerted efforts therefore contribute to the improvement of climate models to represent Arctic warming realistically and address its impact on regional and global atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Project coordinators:
Steffen Olsen, Danish Meteorological Institute and

Daniela Matei, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Project Office:
Chiara Bearzotti, Danish Meteorological Institute,

Communication, Dissemination, Engagement, and Exploitation Officer:
Hannah Grist, SAMS Research Services Ltd,




EU-PolarNet is the world’s largest consortium of expertise and infrastructure for polar research. Seventeen countries are represented by 22 of Europe’s internationally-respected multi-disciplinary research institutions.

From 2015-2020, EU-PolarNet will develop and deliver a strategic framework and mechanisms to prioritise science, advise the European Commission on polar issues, optimise the use of polar infrastructure, and broker new partnerships that will lead to the co-design of polar research projects that deliver tangible benefits for society. By adopting a higher degree of coordination of polar research and operations than has existed previously the consortium engages in closer cooperation with all relevant actors on an international level.

Antje Boetius, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Nicole Biebow - Project Manager
David Velazquez - Communications Officer



ICE-ARC – Ice, Climate, Economics: Arctic Research on Change

ICE-ARC is an FP7 project that brings together experts in the fields of economics, natural and social sciences, and technology in order to directly assess the environmental, social and economic impact of Arctic sea ice loss. These trans-disciplinary programmes are essential if we are to continue to strengthen the links between science and society.

Jeremy Wilkinson, British Antarctic Survey

Elaina Ford - Programme Manager



iCUPE - Integrative and Comprehensive Understanding on Polar Environments

iCUPE answers to ERA-PLANET (European network for observing our changing planet) thematic strand 4 (Polar areas and natural resources). The project is motivated by the fact that the role of polar regions will increase in terms of megatrends such as globalization, new transport routes, demography and use of natural resources. These megatrends have environmental effects and will drastically affect e.g. regional and transported pollutant concentrations. As a consequence, the polar areas face interconnected grand challenges.

The vision driving iCUPE activities is that we need to establish and maintain long-term, coherent and coordinated observations and research activities on environmental quality and natural resources in polar areas. The core idea of iCUPE is the development of novel, integrated, quality-controlled and harmonized in-situ observations and satellite data in the polar areas, as well as data products to the end users. iCUPE combines integrated in-situ and satellite Earth Observation with a modelling platform. By doing this it 1) synthesizes data from comprehensive long-term measurements, intensive campaigns and satellites, collected during the project or provided by on-going international initiatives 2) relates the observed parameters to impacts, and 3) delivers novel data products, metrics and indicators to the stakeholders concerning the environmental status, availability and extraction of natural resources in the polar areas. These data, metrics and indicators will be targeted to identified stakeholders. They will be useful for policy development and for improving and clearly communicating our multidisciplinary understanding of status of the polar environment and pollution dynamics in the future. The knowledge generated is relevant to the general population, policy makers and scientists.

The ambition in iCUPE will make significant advances towards a better integration between existing in-situ observational networks for polar measurement data on short-lived air pollutants including both aerosols and trace gases, as well as contaminants. The focus is on the availability of long-time data series and on the facilitation of intensive campaigns as well as on piloting near real-time data. Quality control, data flows and data streams will be harmonized within iCUPE.

iCUPE is a 3-year project and the work and tasks performed within iCUPE are distributed to 7 Work Packages, 18 tasks, 56 deliverables and 30 milestones. 

Tuukka Petäjä, Helsinki University



The overall objective of INTAROS is to develop an integrated Arctic Observation System (iAOS) by extending, improving and unifying existing systems in the different regions of the Arctic. INTAROS has a strong multidisciplinary focus, with tools for integration of data from atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and terrestrial sciences, provided by institutions in Europe, North America and Asia. INTAROS is assessing strengths and weaknesses of existing observing systems - both satellite and in-situ - and contributes with innovative solutions to fill some of the critical gaps in the in situ observing network. INTAROS is developing a platform, iAOS, to search for and access data from distributed databases. INTAROS includes development of community-based observing systems, where local knowledge is merged with scientific data. An integrated, sustainable and long-term Arctic Observation System will enable better-informed decisions and better-documented processes within key sectors (e.g. local communities, shipping, tourism, fishing), in order to strengthen the societal and economic role of the Arctic region and support the EU strategy for the Arctic and related maritime and environmental policies.

Project Coordinator:
Stein Sandven, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center 




INTERACT is an infrastructure project under the auspices of SCANNET, a circumarctic network of currently 79 terrestrial field bases in northern Europe, Russia, US, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Scotland as well as stations in northern alpine areas. INTERACT specifically seeks to build capacity for research and monitoring in the European Arctic and beyond, and is offering access to numerous research stations through the Transnational Access program.
The project, which is funded by the EU, has a main objective to build capacity for identifying, understanding, predicting and responding to diverse environmental changes throughout the wide environmental and land-use envelopes of the Arctic. This is necessary because the Arctic is so vast and so sparsely populated that environmental observing capacity is limited compared to most other latitudes.
INTERACT is multidisciplinary: together, the stations in INTERACT host thousands of scientists from around the world who work on projects within the fields of glaciology, permafrost, climate, ecology, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling. The INTERACT stations also host and facilitate many international single-discipline networks and aid training by hosting summer schools.

Katharina Beckmann - Scientific Secretary/Communicator 




KEPLER is a multi-partner initiative, built around the operational European Ice Services and Copernicus information providers, to prepare a roadmap for Copernicus to deliver an improved European capacity for monitoring and forecasting the Polar Regions.
Our motivation is to put the public and stakeholders at the centre of Copernicus. This follows the recommendations of the ‘Copernicus User Uptake’ review, and its 4 themes of:

  1. Raising awareness for the Copernicus programme,
  2. Informing and educating Copernicus users,
  3. Engaging Copernicus users in public and private sector, and
  4. Enabling access to Copernicus data and information.

These well tailored themes form the core components of KEPLER. However, as the Polar Regions are changing, so too are the challenges and opportunities. Because of these shifts we have included two additional themes that encompass the evolving needs. These are needed to provide opportunities for better understanding the environment, research opportunities, establishing new industry sectors and startups, and importantly empowering citizens:

5. Identification of research gaps regarding integration/assimilation, and

6. Improved sea-ice mapping and forecasting.

Through these six themes KEPLER aims to release the full potential of Polar Regions Earth Observation, including from ESA and EUMETSAT, by identifying and eliminating the barriers that impede the use of the tremendous resource that is Copernicus. Thiscombines two key elements of the call:

  • bringing together key European stakeholders and competent entities, and
  • growing the Copernicus brand and user-base through providing enhanced scientific and technical support.

Our objective with KEPLER is to provide a mechanism that enables the broad range of Polar Regions stakeholders to be equipped with the most accurate and relevant  environmental information so that they can seize the many benefits that Copernicus products generate for society and economy.

Nick Hughes, Norwegian Meterological Institute

Elaina Ford – Project Manager  - British Antarctic Survey




Most human activity in the Arctic takes place along permafrost coasts, making them a key interface. They have become one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth because permafrost thaw is now exposing these coasts to rapid change: change that threatens the rich biodiversity, puts pressure on communities that live there and contributes to the vulnerability of the global climate system. NUNATARYUK will determine the impacts of thawing coastal and subsea permafrost on the global climate, and will develop targeted and co-designed adaptation and mitigation strategies for the Arctic coastal population.

NUNATARYUK brings together world-leading specialists in natural science and socio-economics to:
(1) develop quantitative understanding of the fluxes and fates of organic matter released from thawing coastal and subsea permafrost;
(2) assess what risks are posed by thawing coastal permafrost, to infrastructure, indigenous and local communities and people’s health, and from pollution;
(3) use this understanding to estimate the long-term impacts of permafrost thaw on global climate and the economy.

Coordinator: Hugues Lantuit, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research





Affiliated Partner: European Polar Board (EPB)

The European Polar Board (EPB) is an independent organisation that focuses on major European strategic priorities in both the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. Current EPB membership includes research institutes, funding agencies, scientific academies and polar operators from across Europe.

The EPB envisions a Europe with a strong and cohesive polar research community and wherein decisions affecting or affected by the polar regions are informed by independent, accurate, and timely advice from the EPB.

The EPB has a mission to improve European coordination of Arctic and Antarctic research, by optimising the use of European polar research infrastructures. We promote multilateral collaborations between our Members and provide a single contact point for the global polar community. We advance the collective knowledge of polar issues, particularly in the context of European societal relevance.

Renuka Badhe - Executive Secretary
Joseph Nolan - Junior Policy Officer