The Belém Statement identifies 6 priority thematic areas, including Polar Research. AA-MARINET holistic Joint Action therefore aims at promoting and facilitating the convergence and the alignment of Research and Innovation initiatives with a strong infrastructure component in the area of Polar Research. Scientific polar infrastructures comprise a wide range of facilities and platforms: year-round and seasonal stations, seasonal laboratories, camps and shelters, and research vessels. Since harsh climate and distance make the access to polar research facilities complex and expensive, it is proposed to focus, at a first stage, on the promotion of the access to polar stations, multidisciplinary facilities more easily accessible, which are capable to offer good opportunities of strengthening collaboration in the long-term.
The long-term objective is to encourage and establish sharing-mechanisms of polar research facilities (e.g., research vessels) and create the favourable conditions for an actual and productive connection between Arctic and Antarctic research programs. To achieving the objective, we propose:
- to explore the potential ways of synchronization of the polar research funding calendars,
- to identify the Arctic-Antarctic joint research priorities and cross-cutting activities (e.g., capacity building) .
- to exploit existing mechanisms for sharing facilities , such as the Trans-National Access (TNA)
Short term objective:
As a first contribution to the long-term objective of the Polar Research pilot action, the barriers limiting or preventing the access to the polar facilities and the necessary measures for increasing the access, will be identified for one particular type of polar facilities , the polar stations (supporting marine science).
More specifically, attention shall be posed on how to implement access mechanisms such as TNA to polar stations, and on which polar research topics can be more attractive for scientists in order to support a closer interconnection of research programs on Arctic and Antarctic regions and where the access mechanism can be smoothly applied.
It is worth clarifying that in the context of this Joint Action, TNA is a mechanism which ensures full coverage of the access cost, since the cost of travel and use of research vessels to reach the polar stations, and the accommodation and subsistence at the polar stations are reimbursed by projects’ or programme’s budget which include TNA mechanism, although initially charged to national organisations of the researchers.
- In order to deploy the above mentioned plan, the polar thematic area of WP7 joint Area will bring together around one table representatives of several relevant polar institutions managing and programming polar research activities in Arctic and Antarctic regions.
- The pilot action will build on the extensive work conducted by the EPB Working Group on possibilities for a common system/mechanism for infrastructure access as well as best practises in the Arctic, with the potential contribution of INTERACT (International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic). In particular, the pilot action will also exploit the INTERACT transnational access programme which launches annual calls for scientific project/experiments proposals. A panel of reviewers selects the best proposals and recommends for implementation to the Arctic stations, which in turn have the final say on their capability to hosting researchers. INTERACT’s experience in running this system for access to stations is positive and helps to harmonise access requirements and practises. The system also enables a certain level of standardisation, while also making space for station-specific budgets and requirements. Additional experience can be offered by ARICE project (end december 2021) aimed at coordinating better access to available icebreakers. The ARICE project developed from EUROFLEETS, an earlier project coordinating access to European research vessels in all regions (including the Arctic), which has recently been funded for its third phase as EUROFLEETS+.AA