Antarctica Day 2015!

About the Author: Jenny Turton is the education and outreach head on the UKPN committee. She co-ordinated the UKPN role in the Antarctica day flag activity. She is a third year PhD student with the British Antarctic Survey and the Univeristy of Leeds. Her research focuses on Foehn winds over the Antarctic Peninsula, and how they impact on the surface of the Larsen ice shelf.

Antarctica Day 2015


December 1st 1959 marks the day when 12 countries signed the Antarctic treaty. The Antarctic treaty is an internationally recognized legislation that protects and promotes the natural environment of the Antarctic and the surrounding Southern ocean. Similarly the treaty regulates international actions including nuclear explosions, and gives freedom to scientific investigations. In more recent years, December 1st is now acknowledged as ‘Antarctica Day’ to celebrate the signing of the treaty, and to promote the continued political friendship surrounding the pristine continent. Antarctica Day was established and is organized by ‘Our Spaces’ which is a ‘Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces’. This charity focuses on advancing education and promoting research within the Polar Regions, and also coordinates events for Antarctica Day, directed by Dr Julie Hambrook Berkman. In 2015, the UKPN had the pleasure of being involved with a big part of the promotion and celebration of Antarctica Day. Being part of the education and outreach team within UKPN, I had a large part in co-ordinating a particular event for the day; the Antarctic flags. Soham-page-001 For the last 5 years, an event has been coordinated internationally for school pupils and students to design flags for the Antarctic. The task can form part of the school curriculum, be carried out as additional homework, or form part of a visit to the school from scientists and researchers. A number of the UKPN committee visited schools and highlighted this exciting opportunity. One school in Egypt had the chance to Skype with a lab technician and past Antarctic winter meteorologist, Richard Warren. As a group, school or class, the pupils were asked to design and create a flag for the Antarctic. The pupils were encouraged to try and capture some of the features of the Antarctic treaty, the environment of the Antarctic, and the species living there (including visiting humans!).  Similarly, bright colours were encouraged, to highlight the variety of colour within the Antarctic, and to produce a stand-out flag My role was to communicate with interested schools, contact schools that may be interested and send information to teachers. As part of the event, Our Spaces provided teaching resources and booklets in numerous languages to send to the interested schools. Many members of the UKPN committee reached out to their previous schools, teachers, friends and family to engage as many schools as possible. This event was not just a UK wide event. Designing flags for the Antarctic was an international event, with many countries taking part. Designing the flags was not the final step in this event. These flags were about to embark on a 10,000 mile journey (if travelling from the UK) to the Antarctic. Once the schools had the resources and knowledge, it was back to the UKPN committee to find flag-bearers. The flag-bearers were volunteer researchers, scientists, engineers, winterers (staff who remain on the Antarctic bases during the harsh winter months) and other Antarctic travellers who would shortly be leaving their warm homes and travelling to the Antarctic. These people kindly offered up their precious luggage space to pack in the (sometimes 80+) flags, and take them to the Antarctic. SAS4 When the flags were designed, they were sent to myself, Julie (ourspaces) or TJ (UKPN Co-President) via post or scanned email attachments, and assigned to travelling flag-bearers. As the flags arrived at different times, and the flag-bearers departed at various times, it became quite an organizational effort to ensure that all flags were sent south. As not all flag-bearers were travelling to the same place in the Antarctic, the flags have been distributed around a large proportion of the continent from Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island, to the UK’s Halley research station, to the American McMurdo station, and deep in the field. One set of flags is even circumnavigating the continent on the JCR ship travelling around the Southern Ocean, as this blog is posted! CHC Once the flags had arrived at their destination and been unpacked from their bearer’s luggage, they were displayed at the various locations. The flags were hung with pride around the various stations, attached to posts in the deep snow and even plunged into the freezing waters (after being thoroughly waterproofed of course!). A selection of photographs below show some of the amazing flag designs and their distribution across the Antarctic. Not all flags have yet reached their destination, but by March 2016, all designed flags will have been to the Antarctic Parliament Hill Antarctic Flag 3 of 5 Along with the flags, the flag-bearers were provided with certificates for each school that participated. These certificates provided proof of the flag travel, and gave information on their end destination, the traveller who kindly took the flags and the name of the school. These certificates will be making their way back to the schools once the researchers return. In total over 40 schools were located, had flags designed and were assigned flag-bearers by myself and other members of the UKPN. These schools include 18 from the UK, 8 from America, 5 from China, as well as flags from Australia, Vietnam, Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, South Africa and France. All these schools gave a grand total of 284 flags, and those were just on the UKPN side of things! BISC This has been such an exciting and important event, and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to help promote Antarctica Day, and encourage participation from so many young people. This was the largest number of flags this event has seen, and we want Antarctica Day 2016 to be even bigger! So spread the word, December 1st is Antarctica day! If you would like to get involved with the Antarctica day events for 2016 please email me at We would love to hear from potential flag-bearers, volunteers to help with the organization and promotion of the event, and schools/teachers with an interest in having their flags sent to the Antarctic.

100 Days to Antarctica Day!

Today marks the 100-day countdown to Antarctica Day! We at UK Polar Network will be working with Our Spaces this year to lead the Antarctica Day festivities--you'll be hearing a lot from us over the next couple of months. As part of this initiative, we invite individuals, classrooms and schools to participate in the festivities by sending us their renditions of Antarctic flags. The flags will then hitch a ride all the way to Antarctica, and we will send proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey!
Antarctica flag activity in Cape Town South Africa

Antarctica Day Flag event with the International Polar Foundation, in Cape Town, South Africa

What's so important about Antarctica Day and our Flags event? After almost fifty-five years, the Antarctic Treaty continues to shine as a rare beacon of international cooperation. To celebrate this milestone of peace in our civilisation with hope and inspiration for future generations – Antarctica Day is recognised to be December 1st -the day when the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959. As an annual event, Antarctica Day encourages participation from around the world. Our aim is to continue expanding Antarctica Day through our Flags initiative as a globally-accessible platform to share, interpret and cherish the values associated with Antarctica for the benefit of present and future generations.

For researchers travelling to Antarctica

You can help!

Are you heading down to Antarctica or any of the surrounding Antarctic Islands this Winter (November - January)? If so, please let us know! All we ask is for you to help bring down some of these flags, which will be sent to you in pdf or jpg format (however many you are willing to help with!) and photograph them on Antarctica as proof of them having made the journey down south. However you do so is completely up to you--you can be as creative as you want. The photos in this post show various ways that past Antarctic teams have showcased these flags.

Rothera Station Antarctica Day

Staff at Rothera Research Station celebrate 55 years of the Antarctica Treaty with Antarctic flags

For teachers and classrooms:

We've uploaded many school resources, including class plans and PowerPoints on how you, as an educator, can introduce Antarctica and Antarctica Day into your classroom, and have your students create flags to be sent down to Antarctica. We would like to emphasise that submissions to us can only be up to 5 flags per school or classroom--if you would like to submit your flags to us, please contact Julie Berkman <> where she will provide you a DropBox link on reply. The idea is for your students to design flags for the Antarctic. You can either get all students to design flags, and then chose your 'top five' or you could design a couple of flags as a whole class/year group. Digital pictures of the flags are sent to us, and we then print off these picture and send them down to the Antarctic with our scientists and engineers in November and December. A picture of your flags will then be taken within the Antarctic, and the student/classroom will receive a certificate to say where their flag was displayed. There is also a chance that a competition will be run for the best flags to be hung up around the British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Museum. We can provide a large number of resources and lesson ideas. We would also like to maintain a relationship with the school afterwards, either by a visit to the school from a scientist, or an online Q&A session for your students with a scientist. This is an international activity, and so far we have schools from over 20 countries taking part. The UKPN would love to have your school participate in this exciting event. To help you implement this activity within your classroom, we've attached a sample class plan for Antarctica Flags that has been most popular over the last couple of years! If you would like this class plan in another language, please let us know by replying to this email.
Antarctic Day - Escuela Rural 110, Soriano, URUGUAY

A classroom at the Escuela Rural 110, in Soriano, Uruguay, displays their renditions of the Antarctica Flag

This year, our deadline for submission of Antarctica Day flags will be slightly earlier, on the 1st November (exactly 1 month before Antarctica Day!), because we'd like to get your flags to be photographed in Antarctica on the 1st December. 

Windless Bight_Gateway PCAS students w Antarctic Flags

Staff and students on the Gateway Antarctica expedition with Antarctica New Zealand display Antarctica flags on Christmas Day

Lastly, to keep updated and involved in the Antarctica Day festivities, please follow us on Facebook (UKPN and Antarctica Day) and Twitter, where we will be regularly posting your flag submissions and other relevant items counting down the days to December 1st.

Please get in touch with either me <>, Jenny Turton <> or Julie Berkman <> if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing your Antarctic Flags!

 TJ Young and Jenny Turton

Sea Ice, Shackleton, and Science – a century of changes in Antarctica

Our most recent project has come to an end! Funded by the British Antarctic Territory (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), and in partnership with the International Polar Foundation, we have now run three workshops across the UK since September 2014. For full details, please see the report below. But a massive thank you from me to all the UKPN volunteers who came to the events to help out and inspire the public with their own research, the International Polar Foundation for allowing us to work with them on such a fantastic project and the use of their excellent Polar Puzzles and Class Zero Emission climate change experiments, each of the host science centres, and the British Antarctic Territory for funding this project in the year of Shackletons centenary. Laura. SeaIceShakScience_finalreport_IPFUKPN

Science and Society 2014 – a brief summary.

On 22nd and 23rd April, the UK Polar Network held a workshop at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Funded under the Education and Outreach aims of the British Antarctic Territory (Foreign Commonwealth Office), the workshop was entitled “Science and Society: do they have to be Poles apart?” P1040927 The entire focus was to look at ways early career researchers could engage with the public more successfully, and to give our attendees the skills and confidence to make their science more accessible to the wider audience. Our first day keymnote was delivered by Dr Sian Henley, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Throughout her astonishingly successful early career in science, Sian has always “gone the extra mile”, and taken part in countless science festivals, school visits and public engagement events.  She spoke enthusiastically of the benefits of public engagement, and really set the scene for the two days ahead.  Matt Donnelly, of the British Oceanographic Data Centre, followed up with an introduction on communication within science – how can we make our data and programming more accessible within even our own fields? The resounding question left in every ones minds was “Will your data be accessible and useable to repeat the studies in 5 years time? 20 years? 100 years?”. Matts talk was kindly sponsored by the Software Sustainability Institute. The afternoon session led us into two interactive workshops – one by Dr Jon Copley of the NOC on “Does outreach make you a better researcher?” He firmly argued the point of yes, and gave some excellent examples of dealing with the media. This was followed by Kim Marshall-Brown, of the NOC communications department who discussed the role of science in the printed media, how little science features in the average daily newspaper, and how to liaise with your press team to help them help you. IMG_1222 Day two began with an excellent keynote from David Derbyshire (the keynote session was kindly supported by the NOC communications team). A freelance environmental journalist, David has written for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail amongst others. His vast experience with the national media led to a great discussion, and was particularly eye opening when considering the readership of national papers when compared to the ones that are more popular in the field of science. David was followed by a presentation from Ella Darlington and Laura Hobbs (Loughborough University and Scottish Association for Marine Science respectively) who presented on their own experiences of social media, blogging from the field, school outreach, and making podcasts. Vijay Shah, of several Arctic expeditions, gave an excellent “crash course” in Polar film and photography – something that nearly all of the attendees had very little experience in! Key tips, such as the best time of day to take a photo, and getting the perfect person:landscape:sky ratio were discussed, along with how to make your films the sort that people just can’t pause! Our two interactive afternoon sessions featured Liz Pasteur from the International Polar Foundation with their amazing interactive maps and hands on experiments! Participants had the chance to reconstruct Antarctica (something most found surprisingly/embarrassingly difficult!), and conduct the experiments on albedo, the contribution of sea ice and glacial melt on sea level rise, and thermal expansion of water. The final session was a great overview of science communication from Helen Czerski (University College London) – covering important but often not considered topics such as communicating error, and simplifying without dumbing down. P1040934 The workshop was a great success, and we’ve had some really positive comments from participants. There was a total of 40 attendees, made up of a variety of early career levels from undergraduate to early post doc, and from a range of institutes including Bristol University, University of Southampton, Reading University, and Queen Mary London, amongst others. A big thanks to all of our supporters, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the British Antarctic Territory, Loughborough University and the Software Sustainability Institute. Thank you to all of the facilities, reception, estates and catering staff at the NOC, Southampton, who put in a tremendous amount of effort to help the workshop run smoothly. Finally, a huge thanks to all of our speakers who gave their time and effort to contribute to the workshop. With special thanks to Kim Marshall-Brown at the NOC, who not only provided a session of her own, but assisted us with both time and finances extensively to help with finding and booking other aspects of the programme. Thanks to all those that attended, and we look forward to seeing you at future UKPN events!        

Polar Marine Workshop, UEA. Speakers announced!

UKPN Polar Marine Science - Registration closes May 21st!!

Click here for the Workshop Schedule The workshop is an interdisciplinary meeting of early career researchers, focussing on all aspects of marine sciences in the polar regions. It will be hosted at the University of East Anglia in Norwich on the 29th – 31st July 2014. Workshop Themes The theme of the workshop is polar marine science, including physical, biological and chemical sciences of the oceans, as well as links with atmospheric and cryospheric processes. The workshop is funded by the NERC iSTAR project, itself an interdisciplinary project researching the impact of ocean heat transport on the melting of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. Information This workshop aims to bring together 40 – 45 early career polar researchers to present their science and gain knowledge of cutting edge research, funding opportunities and career pathways. We invite talks or posters in any field of polar marine science and also welcome research in progress from early career research students - it will be a great opportunity to present in front of peers and get feedback on your research from a wide range of specialisms. There will be excellent opportunities to build networks with fellow early career scientists as well as senior scientists, who will share their perspectives in a series of panel debates and workshops. Our keynote speaker on Tuesday night is polar explorer Antony Jinman, who also specialises in educational outreach whilst on expedition! Polar technologies such as Autosub, UAVs, AUVs, seal tagging and moorings will be introduced by experts in the field and provide the opportunity to learn more about how they could be used in your research. There will be a registration fee of £50. Registration closes in 3 weeks, so get your abstracts in soon! For more information and registration please visit: You can connect with fellow participants on Facebook: Thanks, The organising committee.

Registration opens for the UKPN ‘Science and Society’ Workshop

Dear UKPN, Registration for the "Science and Society: do they have to be Poles apart?" workshop has been extended to Friday 14th March. Please take a look at the Workshop Webpage for updated details of the workshop (and a link to the registration form), which will run on the 22nd and 23rd of April at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. We encourage all of our members to apply, and to take this opportunity to gain valuable skills in public engagement and making your science accessible. There is no cost for registration and we have funding to contribute towards travel for undergraduate, masters and PhD students. We look forward to receiving applications, and please email with any questions. On behalf of the organising committee, Laura Hobbs, President, UK Polar Network

A-level students inspired by Polar Outreach day at Loughborough University 12th June 2013

loughborough polar outreachThe day involved A2 geography students and staff taking part in a range of interactive experiments designed to teach them about the complex processes that drive climate change and the level of the sea. The students also got the opportunity to dress in polar clothing, to get a feel what it would be like to work in these inhospitable regions. This day really highlighted the benefits of inspiring young people about Geography and Science, which is vital to ensure that we can continue to understand the intricate processes of our global climate system. The experiments were run in association with the International Polar Foundation’s Class Zero Emission project and the UK Polar Network. Simon Holland, Geography teacher at Bilborough College said: “It was an excellent and stimulating day which really brought home the issues to students but also the complex science behind the issues in a tangible and enjoyable way. “The experiments looked at crucial parts of the climate change picture which together create a real issue for us all to address now and in the future, bringing home the message about the potentially devastating impact of climate change on our lives and planet. “Huge thanks must go to the University for organising, coordinating and sponsoring such a useful and motivational event for all involved.” The event was organised by PhD Student Eleanor Darlington, with help from Loughborough University staff and students Morna Simpson, Dr. Richard Hodgkins, Matthew Standell, Joni Cook, Catherine Waite, and Alexis Alamel. More photos available here.

Call for participation in the UKPN ‘Software and Polar Science Workshop’

We are pleased to announce the call for participation in the UKPN ‘Software and Polar Science Workshop’.  If you are a Polar Scientist who at any point during your research will use computer software, then this workshop will be great for you!  The one day event will run on the 17th September 2013 at the Scott Polar Research Institute (directly preceding the Arctic Science Conference. With our workshop funders, the Software Sustainability Institute, we aim to provide useful guidance and practical assistance for Polar researchers who are in need of inspiration when it comes to dealing with plotting, analysing or sharing data. Specifically we aim to:
  • Help you choose the right software for your project
  • Identify how to develop maintainable software
  • Give you ideas for visualisation of data
  • Show you available means of sharing your data so that it is useful for all!
At present confirmed speakers include the Software Sustainability Institute; and Dr. Jon Blower from the University of Reading. Further information, including the draft programme is available on the conference website, and under the Education and Outreach menu tab. Speakers and sessions will be added as they are confirmed. There is no charge for the UKPN workshop and a lunch will be provided on the day.  Some funding is available to support travel to and accommodation in Cambridge.  All participants are expected to give a short (~2 minute) presentation on a piece of software that they use – if everyone donates one piece of useful knowledge from their experience, then each participant will walk away with lots of great ideas! Once again, the UKPN is offering you a fantastic opportunity to gain useful skills, whilst also meeting up with some of your fellow Polar Scientists.  If you would like to take part, please complete the registration form. Registration will be open until 31 July 2013. Kind regards, The UKPN Software Workshop Team TJ Young Nick Toberg Martin O’Leary Johnny Ryan Jen King Laura Hobbs Allen Pope Aisling Dolan

Software & Polar Research Workshop


The UK Polar Network are running a Software & Polar Research Workshop at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge: Tuesday 17th September 2013. Although we are currently still in the planning process, please save this date in your diaries and check back regularly for updates! Where:  Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge Lensfield Road Cambridge CB2 1ER  When: 17 September, 2013 (immediately preceding the UK Arctic Science Workshop) What: We want to bring together a group of 20-30 early career polar researchers for a day filled with topics on how software has and will play an important role in polar research and your research in particular. Session ideas right now include talks on how software has enabled unique and exciting polar research (whether controlling autonomous vehicles, or fusing large amounts of satellite data over Antarctica and Greenland, for example), a presentation on becoming ready to share your code, resources for software development best practice, tips on choosing the best computing tools for your research, and a collaborative session between workshop attendees. The event will also include a networking reception to allow participants to get to know each other and the presenters. Some funds will be available for travel to Cambridge and accommodation for the workshop, as well as possibly for the duration of the Arctic Science Conference, depending on demand. What Next: Over the next few months we’ll be forming the programme, confirming speakers, and setting up the registration process. To express interest in attending the workshop and receive updates, email If you have any ideas for what you’d like to see as part of the workshop, we’d love to hear that, too. The UKPN is always looking for volunteers who want to get involved, so let us know if you’d like to help organize this event (or a future one), even in a small role. How: This workshop is sponsored by the Software Sustainability Institute. Find out more about how they can help you do your research better at  Look out for their resources as well as their fellowship scheme, which provides researchers at all career levels with funds to attend conferences, run events, and further the aims of the SSI.

Report on the WWRP Polar Prediction Project steering group meeting.

12-13th December 2012 European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) (Reading, England) The World Weather Research Program (WWRP) Polar Prediction Project (PPP) is a ten year initiative aiming to promote cooperative international research into polar weather prediction at hourly to seasonal timescales. As part of this project plans are being made for a Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) in 2017-2018, this will involve an intensive observation and modelling effort to improve polar prediction. Ella Darlington and Jonny Day attended this meeting representing APECS, who are being consulted on project matters related to outreach and education. The meeting was mainly concerned with finalising the project implementation plan. During the discussion on how early career scientists could become more involved in and contribute to the PPP, the following ideas were discussed:
  • Invite early career scientists to PPP events (not just workshops; but also steering groups, etc.).
  • Run mentoring sessions at SG meetings and PPP workshops.
  • Involve early career scientists in informal social settings such as icebreakers where they are encouraged to meet and talk with senior scientists.
  • Run skills training workshops to ensure that early career scientists are familiar with tools as well as operational in-house systems (e.g., models, and diagnosis and verification systems) and can more readily run models or analyse operational centre data. (Existing examples include twice yearly WRF workshops and verification workshops run by JWGFVR.).
  • Run summer schools.
It was agreed to:
  • Invite local APECS representative(s) to take part in the next PPP-SG meeting (tentatively Boulder, Colorado, USA in October 2013).
  • Run a mentoring session in association with the PPP-SG meeting.
In addition Jonny agreed to sit on the project steering group and YOPP planning committee to liaise with both the PPP steering group and APECS concerning the PPP education and outreach plan and its implementation.