Session Chair: Vikram Goel (Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway)
Technical Support: Henrik Christiansen (KU Leuven, Belgium)
OCEANOGRAPHY / SEA-ICE
Johannes Jacobus Viljoen, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Abstract: Considering the complex relationship of natural systems and human activity, one research discipline is no longer enough. This is why interdisciplinary studies have become so vital in addressing some of the most complex issues. Interdisciplinary studies emphasize concepts and training acquired across disciplines which promotes practical and transferable skills and enhances the quality of the research. It enables knowledge and diversity of perspectives to deal with complex and changing global issues while equipping someone with a variety of analytic tools. My undergraduate studies in geology centred on multiple earth systems and hard rock geology. However, I was also exposed to fields such as chemistry, environmental science and geochemistry, albeit on a much smaller scale, grounding my interest not only in the solid earth, but even more so in the land-based water masses and the vast oceans. My research interest turned to aspects such as erosion, nutrient cycles and global climate change. Due to the nature of these research themes, an interdisciplinary approach was required and I was introduced to the field of biogeochemistry. Through biogeochemistry, I have been able to apply knowledge and skills on various themes. If it was not for the interdisciplinary nature of biogeochemistry, I would not have been able to understand the various factors that play a role in the mitigation of global climate change. My current research focus is a great example. We are engaged in a major Southern Ocean project where we study the effect of phytoplankton and trace metals (essential micronutrient for algal productivity) on each other and the resulting effects on the earth’s ability to mitigate rapid climate change. Thus focusing on an interdisciplinary approach, I would like to highlight the importance of looking beyond the own study horizon in this presentation and the importance of research groups with diverse backgrounds.
POLICY / EDUCATION / COMMUNICATION
Nuno S. A. Pereira, Polytechnic Institute of Beja, Portugal
Abstract: The best way to commit people to solve the major problems of our planet is to give them the possibility to participate on the process of finding a solution, giving them direct access to information and knowledge. Antarctica is the ultimate region for extreme research with deep societal impact. Advances in information and communication technologies, are enabling faster internet connections, and an incredible processing power that allow global communication, real time video streaming, cloud computing, and virtual reality, inside a small box we now call phablet (phone + tablet). Combining all these technologies, we propose the ViRAL: Virtual Reality Antarctica Laboratory. A VR environment where students and educators all over the world can (virtually) participate in (real) projects that are taking place in Antarctica, and share the same enthusiasm of the researchers. Commitment of the new generations to the Antarctica research will be the best outcome of this project.
This communication will briefly address what would be the ideal ViRAL: the technological frame, the main objectives of the project, and the way it could contribute to engage students and educators in the topics of Antarctic research through the participation in tasks like the planning of experiments, remote control of robotic devices, and observation sessions, for instance, in astronomy and astrophysics projects.
11:15 - 11:30 GMT: Quantarctica: A Free, All-in-One Mapping Package for Antarctic Research and Education
George Roth, Kenichi Matsuoka, Anders Skoglund, Yngve Melvær, and Stein Tronstad, Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway
Abstract: The demand for maps, navigation, and other geospatial thinking to understand our world has increased in both our personal and scientific lives with recent advances in technology. Early career scientists typically produce maps and figures for their research group, often without adequate training, software and hardware tools, and data quality. At the same time, the distribution of scientific data is fragmenting into hundreds of disparate online data portals, which often restrict the spatial and temporal extents, resolutions, or file formats that the user can download. These individual data portals make data availability and utility highly vulnerable to changes in staffing, policy, and funding, and the amount of time and effort spent on importing the downloaded data is often one of the most frustrating aspects of modern research.
Quantarctica (http://quantarctica.npolar.no), developed by the Norwegian Polar Institute, aims to help solve these problems for Antarctic researchers by providing offline access to an extensive package of full-quality Antarctic geospatial data, bundled with the free, open-source, cross-platform, production-grade analysis and mapping software QGIS.
The Quantarctica data package includes a wide range of cartographic basemap layers, geophysical and glaciological datasets, and satellite imagery in standardized open file formats with a consistent Antarctic map projection and customized layer and labeling styles for quick, effective cartography. All Quantarctica datasets are peer-reviewed and include full metadata and citation information. We are actively working to update and incorporate even more pan-Antarctic datasets, including oceanography, biology, atmospheric science and climate, history, and more for the next version release in 2017.
The Quantarctica project team takes an active role in educating and supporting the next generation of Antarctic researchers in the effective use of open geospatial software, data formats, and practices for planning, visualization, and problem solving.
11:30 - 11:45 GMT: Using the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA) Project as a tool for Outreach in the form of Science Communication
Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA), Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Abstract: The Antarctic Legacy project is a development grant by the NRF of South Africa to preserve and promote South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic. We would like to see ALSA as the ‘go to place’ for anyone wanting to know more about the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). Until recently, the history of South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic region (here defined to include the African Sector of the Southern Ocean and the Prince Edward Islands and Gough Island) was poorly documented and as a consequence was little known and studied.
ALSA truly believe that “the growth and sustainability of a democracy is dependent upon equitable access to information and knowledge” (Library and Information Association of South Africa).
Besides preserving South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic region, ALSA also takes on the role of public engagement (in the form of science communication) in order to create Antarctic Awareness. This is done by using the ALSA project’s digital archive as a tool to communicate science. In South Africa we consist of a large number of obstacles which make the task of science communication a difficult one. In this presentation I would like to show you how ALSA is going about Science Communication to promote South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic region. This presentation will include material that is used by the project as well as talks given by the project curators, other scientists and researchers involved in South Africa’s National Antarctic Programme.
In conclusion, there is still a wide gap in the education of South Africans regarding the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. This is an important matter as South Africa is a gateway city to Antarctica for all countries but especially for the rest of Africa.
Alexandra Yingst, University Centre of the Westfjords, Iceland
Abstract: The majority of the world does not discuss the research that is being conducted at the poles. This lack of conversation does not occur because the general public is not interested in these environments. On the contrary, there is great interest in the polar regions, but there is no easy way for people to access information about them. This presentation suggests creating an online database of presentations, publications, and information about the research that has been done in the world’s polar environments. It should be user friendly and in multiple languages so that educators, students, and others around the world can gather information from it. All additions to the website could be approved by a team of volunteers to ensure that the website stays professional, as well. This team could be multinational to encourage international collaboration, which is essential in these regions. Additionally, researchers and others involved with these regions can even put their contact information on this website if they would be interested in participating in activities such as video presentations with classrooms across the world about the Arctic and Antarctic. This website will give educators interested in presenting about the polar regions resources to draw upon to use in their classrooms. In addition, students or other people will have a place to go to learn more about regions that are of critical importance to protect but that not many people know much about.
Oceanography / Sea Ice
Donald Banks, Polar Environment Research Agency
Abstract: Faced with limited public funding pools, I decided to focus who would want my start up Agencies research and data, and how could I evolve that data to fit the needs of those who could use it, not for policy development, but for operational knowledge of sectors operating within the Arctic.
By delivering data and real time ondemand models supplied by data from our ground based atmospheric monitoring equipment within the Arctic, and combining this with Satellite data and ocean buoy data, we created a product that serves those using the Arctic ocean for shipping goods and tourism.
The revenue we make is reinvested in expanding the number of machines, and also pays for us to spend 10 days per month between May and September using UAV's with optical imagery equipment which we use to develop models of the Greenland glaciers by combining them with polar orbiting Satellite EOs.
The extremity of having a physical human presence across the Arctic Ice and expeditions deploying equipment between Greenland and the North Pole, along with Extreme adventurers has put us on the 'radar' of Redbull and delivered a finance platform for filming and delivering a documentary in 2017, not on scaring people about climate change, but about how technology can protect operators developing the Arctic economy for Arctic countries, and how dealing with climate change can deliver alternative economic engines to purely hydrocarbon based living.
Our model for conducting scientific polar research provides a greater physical presence and more data in 2017, than NASA, NOAA and the national snow and ice center combined for the inner Arctic Circle, and it started because we asked Arctic industry, what is that they would like to know and how often about the environment within the inner Arctic Circle, and it started with a budget of 143,000 pounds, 70 % of which came from an enterprise start up grant and 30% from a Satellite company and a number of other partners.
Our efforts have been constructed to deliver jobs for scientists looking to conduct research outside of programs identified by the Academic Sector. Making money from our data, and reinvesting money in research, improves the quality and coverage of data and models, and keeps clients happy and Arctic operators safe when operating in Sea Ice zones!
Been a scientist is not just about been a scientist, but about been a collaborator, a creator, creative and dynamic. Making money from Science research is not wrong, commercialize your work and find people willing to pay for your data because it is of use to them, preferably not just governments!