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IPY-CARE - Climate of the Arctic and its Role for Europe (CARE) – A European component of the International Polar Year

Summary information

Funding:FP6 - Specific Support Action
Total cost:409000
Ec contribution:395000
Start date:2005-07-01
End date:2007-03-31
Duration:21 months
Coordinator:Ola M. Johannessen (
Organisation:Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center – Norway
Themes:Abiotic and biotic impacts; socio-economic consequences
Keywords:International Polar Year 2007-2008, Arctic Environment and Ecosystems, Arctic Climate Change
Project name:IPY-CARE - Climate of the Arctic and its Role for Europe (CARE) – A European component of the International Polar Year
Project summary:Abstract
The overall objective of IPY-CARE is to create, co-ordinate and prepare a Pan-European science and implementation plan for Arctic climate change and ecosystems research programme as contribution to the International Polar Year.

The Arctic has over the last 2-3 decades warmed more than other regions of the world, and the sea ice cover has decreased in the order of 10% in the same period. Climate models furthermore indicate that anthropogenic global warming will be enhanced in the northern high latitudes due to complex feedback mechanisms in the atmosphere–ocean–ice system. At the end of this century, the Arctic Ocean is predicted to be “a blue ocean” during summer time. The Arctic may therefore encounter the most rapid and dramatic changes during the 21st century, with significant consequences for environment and human activities.

The IPY-CARE Specific Support Action will create a coordinated plan for European Arctic climate and ecosystem research programme by organising expert groups who will develop a science and implementation plan for a coordinated pan-European IPY-CARE programme. Expert groups will be established for the following six modules which represent the main components of the programme: M1:Processes determining Arctic climate variability and changes; M2: Marine biological processes in response to climate change; M3: Air-sea-ice meso-scale processes and climate variability; M4: Past climate variability; M5: Remote sensing and new technology for climate data provision, and M6:Assessment of Arctic climate change impacts on climate in Europe including the Mediterranean area and socio-economic consequences for Europe. An important part of the expert groups’ activities will be to organize an Arctic climate symposium open for all.

IPY-CARE will require large and multi-disciplinary resources that can only be mobilized by a joint effort of a broad consortium, which includes all the major polar research institutions and groups in Europe. IPY-CARE will build up promotion and outreach activities to rise the awareness of the importance of the Arctic for global climate, resource exploitation, transport and environmental vulnerability. Furthermore, IPY-CARE will develop education and training programmes in the area of Arctic climate research for young scientists in Europe.

The overall objective of the IPY-CARE Project is to explore, quantify and model Arctic climate change, its interaction with the climate in lower latitudes and its impact on Arctic marine ecosystems, and to assess the socio-economic consequences for Europe.
Its specific objectives can be summarized as follows:
- To determine the processes responsible for the past and present variability and changes in the Arctic climate system and to improve their representation in regional and global climate models.
- To understand the degree to which recent variability and changes in the Arctic climate system, e.g., shrinking sea-ice cover, thawing permafrost and increased methane emission, are of natural or anthropogenic origin.
- To understand and quantify the response of marine biological processes to climate change and their effects on Arctic marine ecosystems and the air-sea CO2 fluxes and to improve their representation in ecosystem models and inclusion in global climate models.
- To quantify the Arctic freshwater budget and its linkages to the global thermohaline circulation (THC) and climate, and to assess its potential in causing rapid climate change, sea-level change and sequestration of CO2.
- To improve capabilities to predict Arctic climate on decadal and longer time scales and design optimal components of an integrated monitoring and forecasting system.
- To assess the impact of climate change in the Arctic on the THC, marine ecosystems and fisheries, transportation, offshore industry and oil and gas production, coastal infrastructures, and on climate in Europe.
Project outputs:Work performed and results achieved
The main end results of IPY-CARE are the Science Plan and Implementation Plan for Arctic climate research during and after the IPY period (2007 – 2009). The Science Plan describes objectives, approaches, work packages, role of participants and expected results for six main work packages of IPY-CARE: WP1: Processes determining Arctic climate variability and changes; WP2: Marine biological processes in response to climate change; WP3: Air-sea-ice mesoscale processes and climate variability; WP4: Past climate variability; WP5: Remote sensing and new technology for climate data provision, and WP6: Assessment of Arctic climate change impacts on climate in Europe. The Science Plan emphasizes that Arctic climate and ecosystem research requires and interdisciplinary efforts from climate scientists working with the physical environment (atmosphere, sea-ice, ocean, hydrology), biologists, paleo¬climatologists, satellite remote sensing and other specialists on observing systems and data transmission. The methodology includes use and update of databases for the Arctic, including archived as well as new data, and implementation of new information technology to make data available in more user-friendly ways. Acquisition and use of satellite data will be coordinated and intensified during IPY. Numerical models and computer resources for running model simulations will be strengthened and coordinated. Dissemination of research results and public outreach will be enhanced using web map technology. The Science Plan has been used to apply for funding at the national and international level. The Science Plan for IPY-CARE was expanded and completed in May 2006 where new partners were included. More than 80 institutions from 17 countries are now on the participant list. The Science Plan has been an important background document for preparing proposals for implementation of various Arctic research projects. The Science Plan is available on the project web site (

The Implementation Plan describes briefly the funded research projects and how they are coordinated with nationally and EU-funded activities. The Plan describes coordination of logistical platforms needed to perform Arctic research, in particular icebreakers and ice-going research vessels, buoys and moorings, drifting ice stations and aircraft. The Implementation Plan has been compiled based on projects that are funded from various sources, in particular EU projects and national projects. In 2006 and beginning of 2007 national IPY programmes announced opportunities and provided funding for projects related to many of the topics in the Science Plan. The document describes field activities and projects that have recently started or will start soon as part of the intensive IPY campaigns in 2007 – 2008.

Coordination with other projects has been done primarily to optimise logistics and field experiments. Several projects cooperate the use of icebreakers, open ocean vessels, aircraft and other infrastructure facilities. This is described in the Implementation Plan. Satellite data acquisition is also coordinated between several projects. Coordination also includes new proposal preparation. In the DAMOCLES project, an extension proposal was prepared involving Russian Federation and Belarus partners to strengthen the satellite ice observation and climate modelling work in the Arctic. The Norwegian IPY programme is funding 20 new projects starting in 2007. Many of these projects are focused on specific topics of the Science Plan.

Promotion and outreach activities have continued, including the official website prepared by IPF ( and the website provide by NERSC ( Several presentations of IPY-CARE have been given at conferences, meetings and workshops. Scientific papers have been published, and some training and education activities have been conducted. Specific presentations and meeting have been held for offshore industry and marine transportation and other operators who expect to increase their activities in the Arctic. Presentations have been given to European and global agencies and programmes developing environmental and climate monitoring systems. Promotion and outreach activities were conducted in cooperation with other Arctic climate projects. New results from research projects showing climate change or extreme climate events in Arctic regions have now extensive coverage by the media. New knowledge of the Arctic climate will evolve as a result of the intensified research activities associated with IPY.

Use and dissemination of knowledge
Results of climate research are needed by many user groups and organisations with activities and responsibilities in the Arctic. The partners in IPY-CARE have disseminated knowledge from Arctic climate research to the following user groups:
- Practical operators in Arctic regions, including shipping companies, oil and gas companies
- National agencies and authorities with responsibilities for infrastructure and monitoring services in Arctic regions
- International organisations and programmes for the Arctic, including Arctic Council and its working groups, CliC, GOOS, GCOS, IGOS
- Education and training.
- Technology transfer from science and technology to SMEs
- The general public and media

The approach for dissemination of results includes: Public website with up to date information, publications in scientific & technical journals, presentation of results at conferences related to polar and climate topics, seminars and meetings with specific user groups (e.g. oil industry).