Research Topics

The polar atmosphere is characterized by high stability and a the strong thermal inversion that occurs in these regions (the temperature increases with increasing altitude with respect to the ground, as opposed to what happens at mid-latitudes), both phenomena are a consequence of the almost perpetually frozen ground that is often covered with snow and ice. This also applies to the frozen surface of the sea, when covered by ice.
Another important element of the polar atmosphere is the presence of the so-called polar vortex, a swirling motion of the air masses around the pole that keeps the cold polar air masses separate from the warmer ones in mid-latitudes.
Knowledge of the thermodynamic characteristics of the polar atmosphere is fundamental studying the biogeochemical cycles of natural species and long-distance transport processes of atmospheric components from populated areas.
The research activities carried out at ISP are aimed to deepen the knowledge of the processes and the interactions between the different components of the climate system, in particular at the interfaces air-snow-soil and air-sea-sea ice.

Research Topics

Polar environments are highly biodiverse on a spatial temporal scale as well as at different levels of biological organization, from the molecular level to the entire ecosystem. Recent and rapid climatic and environmental changes give urgency to understanding the response of biological communities to these changes, and their impact in the short and long term. In this context, ISP researchers study the different bio-ecological aspects of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of both poles. Their research is developed along four main often interconnected research fields.

Ice Memory is an international Research Project, recognized by UNESCO, which aims to preserve a testimony from current glaciers, threatened by global warming, for future generations. The project aims to collect ice cores from glaciers all over the world and to store them in a library to preserve the information that such real archives of past eras can provide. For this purpose, a site has been set up in Antarctica, where the cores will be transferred and stored to safeguard the information contained therein for future generations of scientists.

Starting in 2015 various core drilling campaigns in different parts of the planet have been performed:
  - Col du Dôme, Mt Bianco, Italy
  - Nevajo Illimani, Bolivia
  - Mt Elbrus, Georgia
  - Altai, Russia
  - Grand Combin, Switzerland
Contact person: carlo.barbante AT
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The oceans and the polar seas are studied for their physio-chemical and biological properties, their water mass circulation patterns, their exchange of heat and energy with the atmosphere and the geological processes that are active in the different oceanic basins that contribute to the deposition of marine sediments.
Scientists at the Institute of Polar Sciences deal with several aspects of oceanography in the polar seas:

The increasingly evident melting of the ice sheets and glaciers with the consequent changes in sea level, together with the destruction of the ice shelves, highlight how this part of the cryosphere is an extremely fragile portion of the Earth system. Glaciers are unique climate archives that give us the opportunity to investigate the climate of the past and to assess the changes taking place with a long-term perspective. However, these changes are also evident from the melting of the permafrost, which has a dramatic impact in polar and high-altitude mid-latitudes areas. In the difficult context of climate change, the researchers of the Institute of Polar Sciences, through their interrelated research activities, deal with the study of snow and ice, their chemical composition and their main physical parameters, the evolution of the permafrost and the impact of increased melting on the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere at both regional and global levels.

ministero Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale
L'Italia e l’Artico
L’Italia e l’Antartide

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   National Research Council
   Institute of Polar Sciences
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