The Arctic and the Antarctic are key regions for the dynamics of the Earth System and are interlinked to the whole planet through the atmosphere and global Ocean, influencing natural and socioeconomical processes. However, the dynamics of the Polar regions is complex and still poorly understood. The impacts of the accelerated environmental changes that are well underway, both in Arctic through the so-called Arctic Amplification, as well in Antarctica, for example, through the changes in the interface between the Southern Ocean and the Ice-shelves and ice-sheet, have profound Global implications. Problems such as sea-level rise, increasing extreme weather events, health and food safety or new geopolitical scenarios, have led to the strengthening of the concerns with the Polar regions at the national and international levels.
Studying the complex dynamics of Polar regions implies enormous scientific, logistical and technological challenges, which can only be properly addressed through interdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation. Similarly, extreme environment sciences at the planetary level, such as astrobiology and planetary exploration, also need to tackle high complexity problems. An example is the study of the icy moons of the Solar System, which on Earth find analogues in Polar and in extreme arid regions. Extreme environments extend also to Space, providing completely different conditions from the natural habitat of Humans, and posing several challenges to engineering and spatial exploration, which development is still in its early stages.
The College on Polar and Extreme Environments (Polar2E) of the University of Lisbon (ULisboa) aims at creating synergies between excellent research teams of ULisboa in areas such as the cryosphere, climate modelling, ecology, remote sensing, constructing in extreme environments, astrobiology and aerospace engineering, linking them to other research domains in the university. Polar2E is a collaboration between IGOT – the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, IST – The Instituto Superior Técnico, and FCUL – The Faculty of Sciences, involving several research centres and laboratories.
The specific objectives of Polar2E are:
- Promoting scientific and technological synergies, maximising sharing of resources and logistics.
- Consolidating the critical mass on Polar sciences, Planetary sciences and Astrobiology, enlarging it to other schools of ULisboa.
- Consolidating the international relevance of ULisboa, by increasing its scientific impact and attracting new funding and partnerships.
- Foster new international partnerships in post-graduate teaching, research and technology.