News

UNIL to become SPI member

The Swiss Polar Institute is thrilled to welcome the University of Lausanne (UNIL) as a new member and funder from 1 January 2020. "The widening of the range of institutions engaging in the SPI's activities shows the increased relevance of scientific work in polar regions for the great challenges of our times" says Prof. Konrad Steffen, the Swiss Polar Institute's Scientific Director.


The Swiss Polar Institute supports science in polar and remote high-altitude regions with customised funding for logistics and field work as well as by supplying specialised training and services. It acts as a focal point for the Swiss polar community through the organisation of scientific expeditions and dedicated conferences or workshops. The Swiss Polar Institute also supports public outreach activities towards the Swiss public and works in partnerships with cultural organisations in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the regulating mechanisms and impacts of polar regions.


"The University of Lausanne is continuously increasing its focus on climate science and sustainability. We are particularly interested to study the impact of climate on landscape evolution, the cryosphere, and soil and water ecosystems, which is particularly relevant in polar and alpine regions. We are also interested in starting to study the sustainable development of Artic regions." confirmed Frédéric Herman, Dean of the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment. "Joining the SPI as a member and funder will enable UNIL to be part of the growing Swiss Polar research community, while bringing our expertise both in natural and social sciences." he further added.

New list of field and summer schools for 2020

Every year, SPI contributes towards the costs of the participation in field and summer schools linked to polar topics. The list has been updated for 2020! The objective is to offer master and doctoral students opportunities to aquire specialied experience and knowledge. Have a look here!

Swiss atmospheric research in Svalbard with SPI support

PhD students Julie Pasquier, Joerg Wieder and Guangyu Li and their supervisors Jan Henneberger and Zamin Kanji are researching on Arctic aerosol and cloud properties in Ny Alesund, Svalbard (78.9° N, 11.90° E). Being part of the Atmospheric Physics group of Prof. Ulrike Lohmann, the objective of the research is to get a better understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions and their influence on Arctic climate. As part of the project the Experimental Atmospheric Physics group ETHZ is also sampling warm cloud and biological particles using instruments provided by the LAPI group (EPFL). The Swiss Polar Institute has co-funded the research container and the HOLOballoon they are going to use for data collection.

SPI co-owns two research containers which are currently in use on the Polarstern in the framework of the MOSAiC campaign and this one which is presently in Svalbard. When not in use by the funding groups at EPFL, ETHZ and PSI, these containers can be put at the disposal of the Swiss research community.

MOSAiC - Swiss teams participating in the world's largest Arctic expedition

Tonight, the German research icebreaker Polarstern will set out from Tromsø (Norway) on a sea expedition unlike any the world has seen before. Around a month from now, north of Siberia, the Polarstern will be moored to a large floe formed from last year's ice. The water will freeze around it, enclosing it completely. It will then spend several months encased in the ice floe, during which it will drift several hundred kilometres through the Arctic Ocean, passing close to the North Pole. During the drift, the scientists on board will collect unique data on the Arctic winter. Amongsts the scientists on the Polarstern, are different swiss teams.

20.09.2019 

Two new calls for proposals!

The calls for the SPI Technogrants, a newly created programme, and the SPI Exploratory Grants are open. The first one supports the development of technology relevant for polar sciences. The second one is a complementary funding instrument for researchers interested in polar regions and remote high altitudes areas. The deadline is set on 23 October 2019.

For more information, visit our webpage here.

Apply for the "Changing Arctic" programme now!

The programme "Changing Arctic" is now open to students from all Swiss universities. Three places will be made available to students from universities, which are not directly involved in the programme, thanks to the sponsorship of SPI. If you are interested in participating in a scientific cruise in the Barents Sea and in undertaking some fieldwork on the Yamal Peninsula, have a look at the programme description and participate in the call for proposals. More information can be found here.

New SPI funding opportunity for polar technologies

SPI will launch a new funding scheme geared at supporting the development of technologies relevant for polar sciences. The first call for proposals of the SPI Technogrants will be issued by mid-August. More on SPI Technogrants can be found here.

Release of the first SPI science plan

The first SPI science plan defining the institute's future scientific priorities up to 2025 and beyond is now publically available in its final version. With the release of the paper entitled Polar Science in Switzerland - Proposed priorities for the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) up to 2025 and beyond, the Swiss polar community positions itself towards global challenges and key polar science topics.

This paper has been prepared by the Science and Technology Advisory Board of the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) on the basis of two stakeholder consultations carried out during workshops at the Swiss Polar Day 2018 and a Call for Ideas launched by the SPI in 2017-2018. A draft version of this document was also issued for consultation in February 2019.

Consult Polar Science in Switerland:



Also available in PDF format

GLACE expedition postponed

The Swiss Polar Institute regrets to announce that it has not received the requested research permits from the Danish authorities within the necessary deadlines. The Swiss Polar Institute attaches great importance to working with the full support of local authorities. For this reason and given the uncertainty related to the permit delivery date, the Swiss Polar Institute has decided to postpone the GLACE expedition in order to secure all necessary permits and offer optimal conditions for the GLACE scientific expedition for the coming years. Further details will be communicated in due time.

Contact person for any related question from media: Danièle Rod, SPI Executive Director

Contact person for any related question from the participating scientists: Samuel Jaccard, GLACE Chief Scientist

Health and Safety in the field

SPI is offering medical training in order to address the needs of researchers planning to undertake a field trip to Polar regions. These courses aim at enhancing the preparedness of expedition parties in the field of first aid.

Planned courses for 2019:

  • Arctic Tundra / Remote environments: 26/27April 2019
  • Ice / extreme Polar temperatures: exact date to be confirmed – will be held between end of November and early December.

More information here.

SPI Science Plan open for consultation

A draft version of the first science plan prepared by the SPI is currently under public consultation. Inputs are welcomed! If you wish to submit a feedback, you will find the relevant information on the process, the draft version of the Science Plan and guidelines here. The consultation will remain open until Sunday, 3 March 2019. Inputs and proposed amendments will then be analysed by the SPI Science and Technology Advisory Board.

Gaining a better understanding of the Arctic


GLACE is the second major scientific expedition organised by the Swiss Polar Institute. It aims to complete the first circumnavigation of Greenland in August and September 2019. By gathering scientific observations all around Greenland, the expedition will be able to provide a unique holistic understanding of this region critically affected by climate change.

To learn more about the expedition, have a look at its newly created website and follow it on twitter @GLACEexpedition.

Presentation of the GlobalArctic project

The Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) and the EPFL are pleased to announce a workshop on the GlobalArctic project to be held on 19 February, 2019 from 10:00 to 12:00 on the premises of the EPFL, Lausanne.

Florian Vidal, PhD in Political Science (Paris Descartes University), will hold a lecture based on the results of his doctoral research on the Barents region from a social sciences and humanities perspective.

Prof. Matthias Finger (EPFL) will then engage the discussions on the brand new MOOC GlobalArctic, a trans/interdisciplinary initiative, and related research activities.

After the workshop, the SPI invites the attendees to an informal sandwich lunch.

Further information regarding the venue of the workshop will be communicated, once your participation is confirmed.

Everybody is cordially welcome, to RSVP contact Secretariat.spi@epfl.ch .

Workshop on Polar Social Sciences and Humanities in Switzerland

SPI is organizing a workshop on Sciences and Humanities interested in Polar regions. The objectives are to identify and discuss opportunities, needs and structural barriers for Swiss researchers from social sciences and humanities (SSH) interested in Polar regions. This will be a great opportunity better place these fields in the Swiss Polar research landscape and to see if the SPI activities meet there particular needs.

We would be very happy to count on your active participation in order to highlight the importance of social sciences and humanities and the Swiss competences in this field, and introduce them in the current SPI planning for the period 2020-2025.

The workshop is scheduled on 18 February, at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle Neuchatel. If you would like to join the event or need more information, please contact us at Secretariat.spi@epfl.ch.