Research Urgencies in the Polar Regions and Their Links to the ICSU Grand Challenges in Global Sustainability Siena, Italy 23-24 September 2011

Sponsored by the ICSU organisations SCAR, IASC and IACS

Supported by PNRA/MIUR, CNR and MNA

Hosted by the University of Siena

This two day symposium will be held in the historic city of Siena, Tuscany, on 23 and 24 September 2011. It will address all aspects of polar science, with a focus on the functioning of the Earth System in the Arctic and Antarctic, the major drivers of pervasive change and the as yet unaddressed research issues in these regions. These global issues will be considered in the polar regions within the context of the ICSU Grand Challenges and the research priorities of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) and other ICSU Unions and Interdisciplinary Scientific Bodies with interests in polar sciences.

Identifying and acting on the grand challenges for ‘global sustainability’ research and transferring scientific outputs into reliable short-medium term advice for decision makers will be increasingly critical over the coming decades. This applies in Polar Regions as much as for other parts of the Earth. But in the polar regions the ICSU co-sponsored International Polar Year 2007-2008 has heightened public awareness of environmental issues and has opened a dialogue with policy makers to find sustainable solutions in the face on unprecedented and rapid change.

Invited speakers will outline the major current global challenges and changes in terrestrial and oceanic domains in the polar regions and highlight how these are linked to the ICSU Grand Challenges in Global Sustainability. A Panel Session, involving representatives of a range of ICSU bodies, will discuss the relevance of polar urgencies to their organisations research priorities, and to the overall ICSU strategy.

The programme outline is available on the symposium website.

The programme includes a reception at the Antarctic Museum and a visit at the historic Siena in the evening of the first day and the opportunities for coach tour to visit nearby Monteriggioni and/or San Gimignano in the afternoon of the second day.

September is high season in Siena and accommodation should be blocked largely in advance. Therefore an expression of interest by 10 May 2011 (including information on date of arrival and departure, accommodation needs) has to be sent by email to

Registration by 20 July 2011.


International steering committee: Ian Allison, Carlo Barbante, David Hik, Mahlon C. Kennicutt, Antonio Meloni, Volker Rachold, Mike Sparrow

Italian organising committee: Carlo Barbante, Antonio Meloni, Carlo Alberto Ricci