UK Polar Network 2023 wrapped

The UK Polar Network (UKPN) have had a very busy 2023, so we felt it would be worth mentioning some of what we’ve been up to this year! Our outstanding committee members have been hard at work over the last 12 months delivering all of the work UKPN offers. 

The start of 2023 saw UKPN organise and deliver ‘Polar Pint of Science’, an event which brought scientists out of the lab/field/office and into the pub to chat about all things polar with budding members of the general public. Closely followed the Cardiff Science Festival which the UKPN were present at, providing scientific outreach to children in the capital of Wales. 

The middle of 2023 included the planning for upcoming events later in the year which would include: field courses, written evidence for an inquiry, conference and family events. August would soon come around, and the UKPN would become the focus of BBC News articles and stories which focussed on the Clean Planet Peninsula Dartmoor Training Course which was supported by the Clean Planet Foundation and UKPN. The training course would bring together early-career scientists to discuss and experience research projects and of course, the great British weather on Dartmoor!

By this point of the year, UKPN’s events were beginning to ramp-up with a new committee in place for September of 2023. At the same time, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team were running a session at the Arctic Science Conference hosted at the British Antarctic Survey while preparing for an event in Durham in October. Later in November, our EDI team would be leading Polar Pride celebrations, a day to recognise our LGBTQ+ colleagues and reinforcing the message that polar science is open to everyone, every day. This would be later followed with UKPN committee members being invited to the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions’ lunch which discussed the Polar Pride initiative and diversity in polar science.

The Autumn of 2023 also saw the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the UK and the Arctic Environment which UKPN had submitted written evidence towards. The evidence submitted was included in the final report, citing our evidence on multiple occasions which we hope will influence funding opportunities, particularly for early-career researchers in the future!

Our annual Antarctic Flags programme was bigger than ever in 2023, with over 1000 flags from 290 schools going down south with scientists to Antarctica. This scheme invites schools to deliver lessons about Antarctica and once completed, students design a flag of what Antarctica means to them and what they have learnt. These flags are then forwarded to UKPN and distributed to scientists headed to the poles for a field-season and are pictured and sent back to the schools and their students (as pictured below).

At the end of November, UKPN returned to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich to deliver polar outreach to families visiting the museum. The day saw UKPN volunteers engaging with museum visitors with our polar maps and climate change board game, as well as bringing along polar field gear, giving the visitors a taste of fieldwork and the kit involved!

All in all, 2023 has been a tremendously successful year for UKPN! Who knows what 2024 holds, but we have some exciting announcements to come next year which we look forward to sharing with you.

Everyone at UKPN wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!