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A new French strategy for the Arctic and Antarctica

View from the roof in spring of the Concordia research station in Antarctica, 3,200 meters above sea level.

Recognized worldwide for its contribution to polar research, France knows “a dramatic stall for twenty years”summarizes the ambassador in charge of the poles and maritime issues, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, who supervised the France’s polar strategy for 2030, made public Tuesday, April 5. While it ranks sixth in the world for its scientific publications in this field, its facilities in the Arctic and Antarctica are at the end of their rope, and the insufficient staff of the Paul-Emile Victor Institute (IPEV), which handles all the logistics, is common knowledge.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “French polar research is at a turning point due to a lack of resources”

Several parliamentary works have again underlined this in 2021. Also, the brand new director of the institute, Yan Ropert-Coudert, welcomes “the breath of fresh air” represented by the roadmap unveiled on Tuesday. “A research station like Concordia, which is in a hostile environment in Antarctica, dies if you stop it, you can’t restart it, related the scientist, delighted with “ofinally obtain the means for its renovation”.

The State has indeed announced that it wants to devote 15 million euros to the rehabilitation of this Franco-Italian scientific base, which has been operational since 1997, built inside the white continent, as well as 60 to 66 million for that of Dumont d’ Urville, opened in 1956 on the coastal coast, in Adélie land. At the same time, polar research must be rebalanced towards the Far North with, in particular, the creation of a logistics office in Nuuk in Greenland, which has experienced repeated episodes of extreme melting recently. As Mr. Poivre d’Arvor observes:

“Greenland has become the balcony of the disaster, we are going to develop a new station and research programs there, including in the human sciences with the local populations. »

“300 to 800 million euros”

The scientists present on Tuesday morning hammered home the importance of their presence in the Arctic and Antarctica, these “planet thermostats” where sea level rise plays out, an essential part of CO capture2 in the ocean, species migrations, rising temperatures. “This is the first time that a country has presented a global strategic vision targeting the two poles and which is accompanied by financial commitments programmed until 2030”, supports the diplomat. This could reach “300 to 800 million euros in the next eight years”he tells the Worldbut a large part of the trade-offs remains to be made.

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