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18. June 2015 09:30

Sailing through Changing Oceans: Ocean and Polar Life and Environmental Sciences on a Warming Planet

In the current context of Global Change, sustainable and responsible exploitation of the Oceans can be realised only through a deep understanding of the Ocean processes and of the associated ecosystems spanning every latitude of Planet Earth. This is the key concept advocated by a new position paper from the European Science Foundation.

Sailing through Changing Oceans analyses long-term, mid-term and short-term climatic changes and associates a number of key processes and impacts from Antarctica to the Arctic via the Atlantic, which highly affect ecosystems and need to be carefully addressed in the future.  It looks at key topics of the future of research on ocean and polar sciences in a warming planet in the framework of the new European research perspective and of its link to the increasing societal needs for a sustainable economy. It aims to generate new synergies among experts on ocean and polar life and environmental sciences on a warming planet in the current European and global funding scenario.

This position paper originated from a meeting organised under the auspices of the ESF’s Standing Committee for Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (LEE (formerly LESC)) - now the Scientific Review Group for Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SRG-LEE) -, when a panel of scientists involved in the ESF European Collaborative Research Programmes EuroDIVERSITY (, EuroMARC ( and EuroDEEP ( joined other scientific experts involved in international programmes1  to discuss the theme of ocean and polar life and environmental sciences on a warming planet, exploring long-term and widely multidisciplinary collaborative opportunities in view of common and/or complementary top-priority future research needs in marine and polar areas.

The rapidly evolving European scenario prompted an analysis of the evolution of this scientific domain over the last 50 years and the identification of the key and most pressing priorities for future research, but also a careful analysis of the recommendations made by international organisations and scientific clusters during the development of the European Commission Horizon 2020 Work Programme. Topics include long-term climatic changes, super warm interglacials, abrupt climate changes, sea level rise, stability of ice sheets, marine inter-hemispheric tele-connections and oscillations and effects on the oxygenation level.

The Position Paper concludes with opportunities for new synergies among experts on climatic change, polar regions, ocean processes, marine ecosystems and biodiversity on a European and a global scale. In the words of Professor Yvon Le Maho, Director of Research, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), “With such important scientific challenges, we have to think of how our scientific communities can be organised to be efficient. Why should biologists not be able to reunite their forces at the international level, and particularly by bringing together European resources, as physicists have been doing for years in particle physics?” In line with that, a potential joint action of the European Marine Board, the European Polar Board and the European Union could be very beneficial to the development of research on ocean and polar life on a warming planet.

The Position Paper is to be presented at a special session at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche’s (CNR) Liaison Office in Brussels , Rue du Trône 98, on Thursday 18 June 2015, 10h00-12h30.


1 Antarctic geological drilling (ANDRILL) (;
   Life in Extreme Environments (CAREX) (;
   The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
   (CCAMLR) (;
   Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA) (;
   Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER)
   European Polar Board (EPB) (

Notes for Editors

European Science Foundation (ESF)
The European Science Foundation was established in 1974 to provide a common platform for its Member Organisations – the main research funding and research performing organisations in Europe – to advance European research collaboration and explore new directions for research. ESF provides valuable services to the scientific and academic communities – such as peer review, evaluation, career tracking, conferences, implementation of new research support mechanisms and the hosting of high-level expert boards and committees – with the aim of supporting and driving the future of a globally competitive European Research Area. ESF currently has 66 member organisations in 29 countries.

Editors of the report Sailing through Changing Oceans: Ocean and Polar Life and Environmental Sciences on a Warming Planet are
Jean-Pierre Henriet, Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Department of Geology and Soil Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium;
Laura De Santis, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Trieste, Italy;
Eva Ramirez-Llodra, Section for Marine Biology, Research Centre for Coast and Ocean, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Oslo, Norway;
Paola Campus, Scientific Review Group for Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences, European Science Foundation (ESF),  Strasbourg, France;
Roberto Azzolini, Department of Earth System Science and Environmental  Technologies, National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Rome, Italy.

For further information contact:

Professor Jean-Pierre Henriet

Dr Paola Campus

Dr Roberto Azzolini