About Polar Science

Polar science is a broad and diverse field – the epitome of interdisciplinary study. From polar bears to the Antarctic ice sheets, below is an attempt to briefly summarize some of the research areas that UKPN members are involved in. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions about the UKPN and what were are involved in!


The study of the atmosphere above the poles is crucial to our understanding of the climate and weather systems. The transport of pollutants from industrial areas of the northern hemisphere pollute the Arctic leading to the so-called Arctic haze, affecting the health of wildlife and local people. Unique weather conditions isolate the Antarctic atmosphere from that of the rest of the globe and the low temperatures create the conditions necessary for the complete depletion of stratospheric ozone every spring. Other phenomena such as noctiluscent clouds and the aurora make the study of the polar atmosphere quite fascinating.

Scientists from around the world have been involved in projects during the IPY to help further understand the processes occurring in this unique environment. One of these was the COBRA (impact of COmbined iodine and Bromine Release on the Arctic atmosphere) field campaign in Hudson Bay in Canada in 2008 studied tropospheric ozone depletion, mercury deposition, oxidant and aerosol chemistry. This campaign was part of the international multidisciplinary Ocean – Atmosphere – Sea Ice – Snowpack (OASIS) program, more details of which can be found on their website.

To read what young polar researchers got up to out on the ice in Canada check out the blogs from Roisin Commane who’s an atmospheric chemistry PhD student at Leeds and Rachel Obbard, a post-doc at the British Antarctic Survey.


More information coming soon


More information coming soon


The study of ice (glaciology) is a study of the past, present, and future. The vast volumes of ice on the North and South Poles represent unique records of past climate change and contain information

about the last glacial and interglacial periods. In addition to the ice masses on Antarctic and Greenland, icecaps and glaciers worldwide not only act as sensitive climate indicators but provide large number of people with vital water and hydropower resources. Ultimately, the future evolution of glaciers, sea ice, icecaps, and ice sheets will influence life on Earth as we know in particular with respect to water resources and potential sea level rise.

Computer models of ice flow behaviour, cryospheric remote sensing, ice core drilling, studies of the mass balance of the ice sheets and the hydrology of the melt water under the ice sheets are just a few examples of the various methods that are used in glaciology. To learn more about glaciology, check out current research in the Journal of Glaciology or The Cryosphere and their parent organizations the International Glaciological Society and the European Geosciences Union.


More information coming soon


More information coming soon