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FP6

DOE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 36706
Funded under: FP6-SOCIETY
Country: Belgium

Climate and the 'Damocles' threat to the Arctic

Awareness of the climatic crisis in the Arctic is receiving the emphasis it deserves. A European project has toured Europe with an interactive exhibition that stresses the importance of research into the peril that faces our planet.
Climate and the 'Damocles' threat to the Arctic
The impact of climate change is and will continue to be felt most dramatically in the polar regions. Understanding consequences of changes in hydrological cycles, loss of ice cover and flow rates of ocean currents is paramount for not only scientists but the world's population at large. As consumers, the general public are responsible for the monumental increases in carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are wreaking havoc in sensitive areas like the Arctic in particular.

For most people Damocles represents imminent peril and, from an ecological point of view, human impact on the climate is imposing a huge threat, not only in the polar regions but to the European continent as well. Aiming to raise public awareness of these and other issues, the ‘Damocles over Europe’ (DOE) project extended the scope of the existing Damocles IP project. The findings of the existing project had collected integrated data on the Arctic ice-ocean-atmosphere system to improve predictive models and allow a better understanding of interactions with climate.

The DOE project aimed to expand common knowledge on the Arctic as well as eliminate some prevalent misconceptions about climate and this sensitive region. The resulting touring DOE exhibition was showcased by the International Polar Foundation (IPF) and Atelier Brückner, museum designers of Stuttgart, and was shown at various venues in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy and Luxembourg.

Extended with a new format, the DOE exhibition was specially designed to appeal to an international audience and younger participants. To bring home the extent of damage that human practices have inflicted on the Arctic environment, the display graphically showed the contrast between past and present conditions. Stark differences were highlighted with an emphasis on the Arctic through history in terms of climate, science and the nature of life in contrasting warm and cold periods. Links to discussion then stressed how the world’s climate system affects the polar areas and why, through research, it is necessary to understand the whole process.

A total of 270,000 people participated in the events hosting the exhibition. The DOE exhibition will no doubt serve as a model for future initiatives to raise the awareness of the general public on global warming and its grim impact. For those who missed the exhibition, the work of IPF is continuing and details can be found on the http://www.polarfoundation.org/ website.

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