The polar regions may seem remote but the rapid changes now affecting both these areas have resulted in significant consequences for the weather and climate elsewhere, including Europe. Those environmental changes being observed, particularly in the Arctic, are a clear indication of the threats to European environments, society and industry in the future.
Changes in the polar regions present societal challenges but also economic opportunities for Europe and the world. A changing Arctic brings new opportunities for exploitation of natural resources and this also brings significant technological and environmental challenges. Europe is a leading source of innovative solutions; the polar regions could be a catalyst for technological developments that help conserve these regions, sustainably where possible, whilst safely accessing important resources.
Science is a vital tool in establishing what is driving this rapid change. Science is also necessary to make our climate models and forecasting more realistic by identifying and reducing the many sources of uncertainty that can degrade reliable prediction. It is essential that Europe works to benefit in a sustainable manner from the opportunities of change in the polar regions.
The high rate of change demands an early response and Horizon 2020 presents a timely opportunity and an effective mechanism for Europe to address polar issues. In order to highlight the major priorities in polar science, the Horizon 2020 Action Group edited the brochure Arctic and Antarctic Science for Europe: The Polar Regions in a Connected World, including six fact sheets on the following topics
- Polar Climates and our Connected World
- Poles of Technological Innovation and Development
- Natural Resources in Polar Oceans
- Polar Infrastructures and Scientific Platforms
- Communicating Polar Agendas – Focus on societal aspects
- European Polar Research – Focus on European and international cooperation