Over a hundred Arctic researchers from around the world came together on 11th-13th September 2019 to attend the UK Arctic Science Conference, held at Loughborough University and supported by the NERC Arctic Office. The three-day conference showcased some of the latest developments in Arctic science: both natural and social, with thirty-five speakers sharing and discussing their progress in these fields.
Topics discussed included the various impacts of climate change on the vast array of social and environmental systems within this physically and ecologically diverse region; the questions associated with the future of the Arctic in terms of ownership and potential shipping pathways (and where UK science fits in); and discussions around the anticipated changes expected in the Arctic (and how these changes, in turn, will impact the wider climatic system on Earth).
Furthermore, as well as the stimulating range of speakers heard over the course of the three-day conference, there were several events/breakout sessions offered to delegates and the wider community.
Early career researchers were offered a series of side meetings prior to the start of the conference through the UK Polar Network, including a talk on Digital Outreach for Conferences, an evening networking event with other ECRs and a half-day workshop on Writing Successful Proposals: a guide for ECRs which included invaluable strategies for maximising the potential success of grant applications.
A drinks reception was held on the first evening of the conference, providing an opportunity for delegates to explore the array of posters on display, with thirty-nine contributors exhibiting their latest research, and network and catch up with colleagues within the Arctic science community over snacks and locally sourced refreshments from the Wicked Hathern Brewery.
The UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership (UKAAP) also ran a horizon-scanning exercise during the second day of the conference which focussed on identifying upcoming work priorities in the five key areas of Arctic research: cryosphere; oceans; terrestrial; atmosphere; and social. These priorities are due to be disseminated in due course.
There was also a well-attended school outreach programme held on the final afternoon of the conference where around fifty senior school students were hosted at Loughborough University to learn about the Arctic and undertake a series of experiments related to climate and environmental change in Arctic, followed by a Q&A session and a tour of campus.
To conclude, the UK Arctic Science Conference was a big success. Delegates were united in their passion for the Arctic, and resolute in their commitment to furthering the field of research in this area. The wealth of high-calibre speakers and posters presented at the event were well-received and, by bringing together researchers from across a full range of Arctic disciplines, talks offered new perspectives beyond individual areas of specialism. Furthermore, the fascinating developments shared in this year’s conference are indicative of the quality of Arctic research undertaken at UK institutions and emphasise the wider value of the UK academic community to Arctic science as a whole.
Author: Amy Gray, Loughborough University