One of the biggest challenges faced by IPY in 2009 was to create education & outreach (E&O) mechanisms to create a strong polar legacy. As a non-polar country, and being involved for the first time in IPY, Portugal was one of the highly active countries in pole position that could allow the international community to see how those mechanisms were working.
One of the strongest legacies of IPY was the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). In 2009, Portugal continued active involvement in the Executive committee until March 2009 when José Xavier returned to Antarctica on fieldwork, there was also very active involvement on the Council and in various APECS activities (e.g. APECS strategy for 2009, planning for Oslo conference 2010, organization of ESOF 2010, article on young researchers inter-disicplinary research). To boost even more Portuguese Polar Research, the Portuguese IPY Committee in collaboration with the bank “Caixa Geral de Depósitos” offered 6 scholarships to young researchers to work on a polar project for up to 2 years.
In terms of research, Portugal is still receiving excellent feedback from the work carried out during IPY. The Portuguese national programme PROPOLAR continued strongly, with teams going to Antarctic Peninsula to work on permafrost (January and February 2009) with the Argentinean, Bulgarian and Spanish Antarctic Programmes. This was the largest Portuguese expedition, having involved 5 Portuguese scientists in a team of 14 people from 5 nations. Antarctic research also took place in the Scotia Sea (March-April 2009 onboard of the RRS James Clark Ross) and at Bird Island, South Georgia (April-November 2009) on marine ecology, with the British Antarctic Survey. This is undoubtebly the longest research expedition to the polar regions by Portugal. Complementary to this work, Portuguese scientists also conducted research in the Canadian Arctic (May 2009) and Falklands (late 2008).
Education and Outreach has always been a strong component for Portugal. During this field season, websites, blogs (reporting almost daily news from the polar regions) and direct contact with schools and Universities took place. Phone/skype calls between schools and the Antarctic have occurred regularly. For example, José Xavier (while onboard of the James Clark Ross) was in touch with schools and radio stations from Brazil, a live teleconference in Malaysia, Skype meetings with Portuguese high schools and email contact with schools from UK. Recently, a Skype call took place between Antarctica and a school in Portugal to launch an educational book where polar regions were mentioned and acknowledged as a key element for awareness to the general public of how polar regions are important, not only regionally but to the whole planet.
Future scientific and educational work will continue in Portugal beyond IPY, but big challenges still lay ahead. International research collaborations are key for non-polar countries. To keep these collaborations beyond IPY, is essential to keep supporting polar research, and promote educational activities within those countries.
José Xavier and Gonçalo Vieira
What is IPY
Monday, 29 June 2009 22:09
IPY research, E & O: how IPY can make all the difference to non-polar countries beyond 2009?Written by Karen Edwards
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