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Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium: A strategy for meeting the needs for marine-based research in the Arctic

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ARICE (Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium: A strategy for meeting the needs for marine-based research in the Arctic)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2020-12-31

The recent changes of the Arctic and the resulting increased economic activity in the region have triggered a societal demand for accurate sea-ice and weather predictions, information on the status of the Arctic Ocean and its marine life, and complex predictions of future scenarios. To address these issues of particular environmental and societal concern and to develop policy recommendations for a sustainable usage of the Arctic Ocean and its resources, the international Arctic science community must have access to world-class research icebreakers to access the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. The lack of availability of icebreakers in Europe and beyond and a not optimally coordinated polar research fleet and polar programmes impedes Europe’s capacity to investigate this region. There is thus an urgent need for providing European researchers with better research icebreaker capacities for the Arctic. ARICE aims at reaching this goal with the existing polar fleet by:
1) Developping strategies to ensure the optimal use of the existing polar research vessels at a European and international level, working towards an International Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium which shares and jointly funds operational ship time on the available research icebreakers.
2) Providing transnational access to a set of six key European and international research icebreakers for European scientists, based on scientific excellence of submitted proposals:
PRV Polarstern, Germany
IB Oden, Sweden
RV Kronprins Haakon, Norway
MSV Fennica, Finland
CCGS Amundsen, Canada
RV Sikuliaq, United States of America
3) Improving the research icebreakers’ services by partnering with maritime industry on a “ships and platforms of opportunity” programme and by exploring into new key technologies that could lead to an improvement of ship-based and autonomous measurements in the Arctic Ocean. ARICE will also implement virtual and remote access of data via an innovative 3D Virtual Icebreaker.
Measurable results
Objective 1: Harmonisation of the European Arctic Research fleet
- Definition of modalities of exchange of ship-time on the available PRV´s.
- Ongoing dialogue among the PRV operators to improve the coordination of Arctic operations:
- Report on the existing collaborations and exchanges of European Polar Research Vessels (PRVs).
- Report on contribution of a coordinated PRV fleet to fulfilling EU member states’ research interests in the Arctic Ocean.
- Summary of research questions of high importance to be addressed by a coordinated European fleet.

Objective 2: Developing an International Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium
- Report on the global investments in research icebreaking capacity, today and foreseen in the near future.

Objective 3: Establishing a regular dialogue with the maritime industry
- An Industry Liaison Panel has been established as a group of high level industry representatives with interest in a dialogue with scientists, also able to engage their community further in those dialogues.
- A regular dialogue between the ARICE project and Arctic industry representatives is taking place (1 meeting in RP1 and 3 meetings in RP2).
- Report on potential science-industry priorities in research and observations.
- Inventory of specific opportunities for technology transfer and innovation.

Objective 4: Educating a new generation of polar researchers and professionals
- Two webinars have taken place during RP1 and three in RP2.
- Training resources, recordings of the webinars along with training materials produced as part of the project are available online at www.arice.eu
- ARICE contributed to the MOSAiC School, were ca 20 early career scientists will board the icebreaker Akademik Federov on its way to PRV Polarstern as part of the MOSAiC expedition.
- Training resources generated are available online at www.arice.eu .

Objective 5: Providing access to European and international research icebreakers in the Arctic Ocean
- Creation of a joint model of access to research icebreakers.
- Implementation of an international review system for ship-time proposals.
- Two calls for proposals have been opened and the scientific and logistic evaluation of all proposals has finalised.
- Selection of eight proposals for implementation.
- Implementation of three cruises in RP2.

Objective 6: Expanding the monitoring and observation capacities in the Arctic Ocean
- Definition of standard parameters for Arctic Ocean data collection which can be gathered on all vessels in the Arctic Ocean.
- Definition of monitoring priorities for ships and platforms of opportunity.
- Guidelines for recommended technology, data collection and transmission systems for environmental data collection.
- Report on monitoring capabilities of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in the Arctic Ocean.

Objective 7: Enhancing virtual and remote access to data
- The data management plan has been submitted.
- Agreement on procedures for virtual access to the ARICE cruises.
Networking activities
ARICE aims at coordinating Europe’s Arctic research fleet and thus at providing European researchers with better access to the Arctic Ocean by:
1) Increasing the ship time availability in the Arctic Ocean with the existing polar vessels at a European level. This will be achieved by better coordinating the research icebreakers with the ice-strengthened/ice-classified vessels and by alignment of the national priorities into a common European marine Arctic research programme.
2) Increasing international coordination of operations in the high Arctic, towards the creation of an International Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium.
3) Cooperating with industry to expand and improve the use of “ships and platforms of opportunity” for Arctic monitoring and data collection in order to increase the European Arctic research capacities.
A better coordination of PRVs will benefit the whole scientific community of all disciplines involved in marine-based research in the Arctic.
ARICE will foster a spirit of collaboration between the scientific community, PRV operators and the industry towards sustainable Arctic marine activities.

Transnational Access
ARICE opens, for the first time, the possibility for European researchers to apply for ship time on board six European and international heavy research icebreakers with access to the High Arctic.
All six PRVs are truly unique infrastructures.

Joint Research Activities
The Joint Research Activities in ARICE will put a focus on:
- The standardisation and the improvement of the observation capacities in the Arctic Ocean by:
- defining common standards and practices with respect to the common set of parameters that should be measured in the Arctic Ocean by all the research icebreakers and ice-going RVs,
- engaging the maritime industry in a greater, more coordinated use of “ships and platforms of opportunity”.
- identifying new key technologies to improve the observation capacities in the Arctic Ocean.
- The data management and access to data by:
- designing a data management system and tools aiming as an interoperable referential system among the polar community, collaborating with other data management systems beyond the scope of the project.
- providing access to the information on and data from ARICE in a state-of-the-art through an innovative 3D Virtual Icebreaker.
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