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The polar regions are warming. Why should we be concerned?
Melting glaciers, impact on natural resources and changes in wind direction... in the poles, climate is showing signs of major change. For Sustainable Development Week, BNP Paribas Switzerland invited experts from the Swiss Polar Institute, a partner of the BNP Paribas Foundation in Switzerland, on Thursday 7 June 2018 to talk about polar issues. It was also the opportunity to review the creation of a fund to promote polar and global warming research among young scientists.
What is the role of Switzerland in international polar issues?
Founded in 2015 and based at EPFL (Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne), the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) is a consortium of Swiss universities including EPFL, the Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), ETH Zurich and the University of Bern.
With the aim of making Switzerland a key international player and federator in the field of polar and extreme environment research, this Institute creates a bond between Swiss institutes already active and renowned for their research on the Earth’s poles. The Institute also wants to be an international federator of research activities on the topic of Polar Regions, essential to our planet’s climatic equilibrium.
The BNP Paribas Switzerland Foundation supports major expeditions around Antarctica
The SPI has launched a major project to mark its creation: the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), the first scientific expedition to go all the way around the Antarctic continent. From 20 December 2016 to 19 March 2017 aboard the Russian vessel Akademik Treshnikov, 22 research projects led by 55 researchers from thirty or so countries worked to measure and quantify the impact of climate changes and pollution in the Antarctic Ocean. An exceptional number of samples and amount of data was collected during the expedition. It is now being analysed by the teams with the goal of publishing the results by the end of 2018.
While the BNP Paribas Foundation in Switzerland partnered with the SPI in 2016 to specifically support two Swiss projects aboard ACE directed by Professors Katherine C. Leonard (EPFL) and Heini Wernli (ETH Zurich), the partnership was extended in 2018 with the creation of the Polar Access Fund.
Polar Access Fund: a new tool giving young researchers access to the poles
In January 2018, the BNP Paribas Foundation in Switzerland and the Swiss Polar Institute (based at EPFL) launched the Polar Access Fund, a new tool enabling young researchers involved in climate change research to gain grants for conducting their first scientific expedition in the Polar Regions.
The Arctic, the Antarctic or very high altitude regions - the so-called “third pole” - are very difficult to access despite being environments of great value for science. This research can include several disciplines: glaciology, oceanography, biology, meteorology, microbiology, economics, social sciences, medicine and more...
Every year, the Polar Access Fund will assist between 5 and 10 doctoral and post-doctoral students from Swiss universities and research institutes, studying in various disciplines, to complete their research on global warming. Grants of up to 20,000 CHF will help these young researchers to undertake their first scientific expedition in the extreme polar environments.
Five projects have already been financially supported in 2018. Visit the Polar Access Fund website to find out more!
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