Open call 2023 – focus area Antarctica

Expeditionen DML 21-22
From the expedition DML 21-22. Photo: Ola Eriksson.

Introduction

This is the second open call for thematic proposals within the Polar Research Process. This call focuses on multi- and transdisciplinary research connected to Antarctica.

Background

Since 1984, Sweden has been a member of the Antarctic Treaty (AT) and takes responsibility for a number of commitments in organizations and treaties (CCMLR, SCAR, ATCM), which are coupled to Sweden's involvement in ocean and climate work.

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat promotes and coordinates Swedish research and development in the Polar regions. Since the research stations Svea and Wasa were built in 1987/88 and 1988/89, respectively, the Secretariat has supported Swedish research in Antarctica. Every year, Swedish researchers are offered the opportunity to visit Dronning Maud Land (DML), where the Swedish stations are located. Through the Polar Research Process (PRP), which is a regularly occurring programme-level support, the Secretariat can plan and offer participation in larger and more complex field operations in the Polar regions where large-scale themes are developed in collaboration between researchers.

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat seeks to increase the scope and interest in Swedish Polar research conducted in Antarctica. A special effort such as a call for thematic proposals focusing on Antarctica falls in line with the need for increased knowledge and understanding of ongoing climate changes and corresponding consequences. This call aims to attract collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and maintain Sweden’s long-term commitment to ongoing environmental and climate work in Antarctica.

Dronning Maud Land is a geographically large part of Antarctica (2 800 000 km2). The aim of this call is to obtain research results, which will add new knowledge and data from several research disciplines to provide a knowledge-basis for future decision-making. The final step in the Polar Research Process is a synthesis work to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge about and from the Polar regions to societal level. This contributes to increasing awareness among the public and provides knowledge support to decision-makers.

Geographical focus area

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat manages research infrastructure located in Dronning Maud Land (DML) in Antarctica and has a well-established research and logistical network in the area/region. The proposed research theme should involve research in DML but is not limited to that area. Collaborations with researchers and Polar organisations from other countries are encouraged.

Duration and times

The call for thematic proposals 2023 pertains to fieldwork starting during the Antarctic summer season 2025/2026 and continuing until the Antarctic summer season 2027/2028. The proposed research theme can be planned to cover one or more field seasons during the specified period.

Infrastructure

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat manages two research stations, Wasa and Svea, https://www.polar.se/en/research-support/research-stations-in-antarctica/. Within the proposed theme, it will be possible to collaborate with other countries active in Dronning Maud Land in terms of research infrastructure, for example, Finland (Aboa), Germany (Neumayer, Kohnen), Norway (Troll), South Africa (Sanae) but also elsewhere in Antarctica. It may also be possible to make use of marine infrastructure/vessels and flights.

Scope of the theme

The following definitions describe the different stages of the Polar Research Process. Please see the link for a detailed description of the PRP, https://www.polar.se/en/research-support/polar-research-process/.

Theme

A research theme within the Polar Research Process describes an overarching research direction connected to the Polar regions. Several research disciplines are connected to a large-scale research theme, which is jointly developed by a group of researchers. The intention is to attract collaboration across disciplinary boundaries such that both fieldwork-based and non-fieldwork researchers can collaborate, thereby increasing the use and application of collected field data.

Project

Once a research theme has been decided by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, an expedition plan and timeline are defined. Via an open call for projects, researchers can apply for support for individual research projects that fit within the scope of the theme. Thereby, individual research projects will contribute to forming the specific content of the theme. The difference between a theme and project is that each researcher is responsible for their own project. However, each project must fit within the overall thematic focus and exhibit potential to collaborate with other accepted projects in the expedition.

Synthesis

The Polar Research Process ends with a thematic synthesis report summarising how the research results contribute to society. The aim is to make the research results broadly available and applicable. The primary audience for the summary report is decision-makers.

To whom is the announcement addressed

The call is aimed at researchers interested in forming larger multi- and transdisciplinary research themes focusing on data collection and knowledge acquisition, which can contribute to increased understanding of and future decisions regarding various environmental and climate scenarios focusing on Antarctica.

The proposed research theme must be knowledge-transcending within several research areas and display scientific research questions that align with the international research front. A proposed theme will also be reviewed according to how relevant the overall research questions are with respect to the demand for the expected research results.

Research areas and topics that the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat considers relevant are based on previous research projects within the geographical area and also the priorities adopted within SCAR (The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research), https://www.scar.org/science/horizon-scan/overview/.

The application procedure

The call for proposals opens on January 16, 2023, and the last day to apply is April 16, 2023. Please submit the application form to office@polar.se. Please use the registration number Dnr 2023-12 in the subject line.

The principal applicant of a research theme must be a researcher affiliated with a Swedish university or institute. Research themes are encouraged to include international collaborations and international research partners.

The proposed theme must be carefully explained and the proposal must contain a detailed description of the purpose and objectives as well as anticipated methods. A selection of well-formulated scientific research questions should show how collaboration between different research disciplines has contributed to the theme, preferably developed by a group of researchers representing both fieldwork-based and non-fieldwork research. In the formation of the thematic proposal, the description of the final synthesis work will be an important component. The application must be written in English with a Swedish summary, see below for details.

The following information or documents should be attached to the application

A detailed description of the research theme (maximum seven A4 pages) and how the anticipated research results will be used in a final synthesis work (maximum two A4 pages). A concise, popular science description of the theme which describes the scientific questions, suggested methods and how the results can be used in a final synthesis work (maximum one A4). CV and a list of publications from the lead applicant. Name, e-mail address, university and country of participants stated in the application. Please use this application form.

According to Swedish law, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat is bound by the principle of the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act. Upon submission to the Secretariat, thematic proposals (including appendices) are thus considered general public documents. Consequently, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat is obligated to disclose application documents if requested.

The process for assessment

Submitted applications will be assessed according to the following criteria: scientific excellence, the feasibility of the proposed research theme, applicant competencies, the relevance of research collaborations, and how the proposed research theme describes the applicability to synthesis work.

The assessment will prioritise a clear and well-defined research theme focusing on Antarctica with multi- and transdisciplinary research questions and covering a greater breadth than individual research projects. Thematic proposals that clearly describe and synthesise how the research results can be applied and add societal value will be ranked higher than thematic proposals without a clearly defined synthesis work.

A national and international scientific advisory group with various research backgrounds will be appointed and included in the assessment process in order to achieve an equal and fair assessment of the applications.

Process for developing research themes

Proposed research themes which are considered to be sufficiently well-developed in order to be implemented will be prioritised. Applicants of these thematic proposals will later be invited for an open workshop to facilitate the opportunity to further develop the themes together with other researchers (to achieve the most significant possible impact). The workshop is preliminarily planned for May 2023. Once a research theme has been approved, the expedition/s will be planned into the timetable Wasa.

Contact

If you have questions about the call, you can contact Senior Research Officer Cecilia Lund at cecilia.lund@polar.se.