Utrecht project explores future climates of Polar regions

07 Oct 2021 | Network Updates | Update from Utrecht University
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The Polar regions play a crucial role in balancing global climate – with the poles heating up much faster than the rest of the world. Yet, climate projections for the Polar regions still have significant uncertainties. This is hampering efforts to curb climate change and deal with the effects we already see at play not only within the Polar regions, but also in Europe and the rest of the world. PolarRES, a new research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme will work to make climate projections in the polar regions more reliable.

Over the next four years, researchers in the project will develop new insights on polar processes and adopt a so-called ‘storylines approach’. The research will explore how polar climate change, for example, will affect Boreal wildfires and permafrost thaw. If ancient permafrost thaws, more greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere, further contributing to a hotter planet. Research results from the PolarRES project will contribute important knowledge to the EU Strategy on Climate Action.

At Utrecht University, Willem Jan van de Berg will use regional and global models to study the current and future interaction between the atmosphere, sea ice and clouds for both the Arctic and Antarctica. This research will lead to improved understanding of the sensitivity of the polar regions for climate change.

International cooperation

“International cooperation is key to assessing climate impacts in the polar regions. It requires a broad range of expertise and infrastructure, which is why it is important to bring together leading experts from all around the world to tackle this problem,” says Priscilla Mooney, climate scientist at NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, who is leading the international research team. The project unites researchers from the EU, China, Japan, Russia, Norway, UK, Ukraine, and the US.

The project will not only study the climate in the polar regions, but everything that feeds into it globally. It will take advantage of cutting-edge numerical models and advanced satellite products from the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Programme. PolarRES will also deliver new insights into how physical and chemical processes crucial for atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions can shape the global climate system.


The PolarRES project receives 8 million Euros in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research Program from 2021 to 2025, as part of the EU’s policy on supporting the transformation to a low-carbon, resilient future and the climate action that supports the Paris Agreement. The project is coordinated by the NORCE Norwegian Research Centre.

This article was first published on October 4 by Utrecht University.

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