Our contribution to science and environmental awareness is important to us, and a key part of the ‘Pole of Possibility’ project.

POP team member, Mike Christie , is a professor of Environmental and Ecological Economics at Aberystwyth University and a chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Mike is a world-leading researcher on valuing the multiple ways people interact with and benefit from nature.

The POP expedition will provide a platform to apply his research expertise to the study of how polar regions affect people’s lives, particularly how climate change and the melting of icecaps impact people around the world. Two research endeavours are planned:

  • Bio-geo-mapping of polar microbes. Microbes are found within polar icecaps; however, we know very little about them. Polar microbes have evolved to survive in extremely cold environments, giving them ‘special powers’ to function in low temperatures. Such powers have led to an interest in understanding the potential of these microbes for the development of e.g. new medicines or commercial products such as biological washing powders that work at lower temperatures. The POP expedition will, for the first time, collect ice samples along the last 2 degrees of Antarctica, which will then be analysed by scientists at Aberystwyth University for their microbial content. This mapping exercise will increase understanding of the microbes found in polar regions.

  • Valuing the benefits of polar regions. People across the world appreciate polar regions in many ways: whether it is a distant appreciation of polar wildlife and landscapes or protection against sea-level rise. Drawing on his expertise in valuing nature, Mike will undertake a systematic review of evidence on the physical impacts of climate change on polar regions and how these impacts affect people around the world. Such evidence can then be used to raise awareness of the importance of protecting polar regions.