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Minimising the footprint of Arctic research - 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly session co-convened by the EPB and INTERACT

With INTERACT, the European Polar Board will convene a breakout session at the 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, Iceland, titled Minimising the footprint of Arctic research.

The breakout session will be held at 11:00 on Sunday, 21st October, in room Háaloft, Harpa, Reykjavík.

Polar research is an essential part of global efforts to address the big issues of the 21st century for planet Earth. However, polar environments are among the most sensitive and remote on the planet. It therefore imperative that efforts are made to minimise the negative impacts of all activities in the polar regions, including those relating to research. Hundreds of field campaigns are conducted throughout the circumpolar Arctic at various scales each year, with diverse levels of environmental impact from region to region.

While the footprint of individual field campaigns may be small, the cumulative environmental impacts of research activities across the Arctic are significant. Field campaigns generate waste which can be polluting if not correctly dealt with, potentially introduce invasive species to Arctic environments, and possibly disturb sensitive flora, fauna and fragile sites. Furthermore, the social impacts of research activities on small, remote communities, particularly in the peak Arctic summer field season, are not insignificant. This breakout session will explore ways in which these impacts can be minimised and properly managed with the help of best practice guidelines, environmental and cultural sensitivities, new technologies, avoiding duplications of effort, and utilisation existing observations, all without compromising research quality.

The breakout session will feature a range of experts in polar research and logistics.

-    Brenda Konar (University of Alaska Fairbanks) – best practices for scientific research vessels operating near indigenous communities
-    Birgit Njåstad (Norwegian Polar Institute) – environmental protection and management, lessons from Antarctica
-    Hannele Savela (INTERACT/Thule Institute, University of Oulu) – minimising physical field presence by virtual and remote access, and by using existing data
-    Annette Scheepstra (Arctic Centre, University of Groningen) – research impacts on Arctic communities
-    Elmer Topp-Jørgensen (INTERACT/FARO) – best practice guidelines for research and logistics, sharing resources, new technologies

Chair – Kirsi Latola (European Polar Board/Thule Institute, University of Oulu)

The 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly is held in Reykjavík, Iceland, 19th-21st October. For further details, including programme and registration information, visit