Turkey's Polar Studıes


In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Technology assumed responsibility in terms of the organization of Antarctic studies and activities under the auspices of the Presidency of the republic of Turkey, and the first scientific expedition to Antarctica was realized in 2017. İstanbul Technical University was responsible for the technical organization of the expedition.

Antarctica is a continent that belongs to no one and it is ruled by the countries, which are original signatories and Consulting Parties to the Antarctic Treaty that was signed in 1959. Turkey ratified the Antarctic Treaty in 1995 and since then, has held the status of observatory country. It is important for Turkey to upgrade its status and become a Consultative Party, if it wishes to have a say in Antarctic affairs. In this process, the objectives of Turkey are regular scientific expeditions to be made in the continent, establishment of scientific cooperation with the other countries, preparation of the National Polar Science Program and setting up a scientific research base in Antarctica.

In line with Turkey’s goal of becoming a Consultative Party; the Workshop on Polar Sciences on 12-13 April, 2017 have been organized and hosted by İstanbul Technical University with a view to determine the main research topics to be conducted in the poles by the scientists. 120 Turkish scientists from 36 institutions participated in the event and the conclusions from the workshop have provided a basis for the National Polar Science Program.

The vision of ‘becoming one of the pioneering countries in the world in terms of polar sciences’ was adopted during the preparation of the National Polar Science Program (2018-2022). The main objectives under this vision are,

• Ensuring that national science expeditions are conducted in the continent,
• Implementing the National Polar Science Program,
• Promoting bilateral cooperation on polar sciences and ensuring that Turkish scientists are deployed in the scientific base of other countries,
• Ensuring that a Turkish Science Base is established in Antarctica.
The objective of the National Polar Science Program (2018-2022) is to implement the scientific activities and research on polar sciences with a systematic integrity and project approach. Below mentioned achievements will be accomplished in the medium and long term:
• Strengthening Turkey’s position in terms of the future of Antarctica and Arctic Regions, as well as their preservation,
• Creating a roadmap for Turkey to become a member of Arctic Council,
• Enhancing the scientific and technological competencies of the country on this issue by encouraging Turkish scientists to conduct polar research,
• Promoting human resources competency who work on polar sciences by increasing the number of under graduate, graduate, doctorate, and post-doctorate programs,
• Becoming a member of international organizations working on polar issues and increasing the efficiency of Turkey within such organizations,
• Creating awareness on global climate change.
National Polar Science Program (2018-2022) shall focus on priority research themes, human resources, international collaboration, education, publicity and public access, science expeditions and logistics and Turkish science base.

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting ATCM
The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is the primary forum in which the representatives of Parties to the Antarctic Treaty exchange information, formulate measures, decisions and resolutions to comply with the principles and objectives of the Treaty. The resulting outcomes of the meetings are adopted by consensus of all the Consultative Parties.

There are the 29 Consultative Parties in ATCM. These countries are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea (ROK), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.

The 24 non Consultative Parties in the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting are Austria, Belarus, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Korea (DPRK), Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Turkey and Venezuela.

The 3 Observers in the ATCM are The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

There are Invited Experts in the ATCM as well. These experts are : the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Turkey’s first polar research centre PolRec was established in 2015. The mission of the centre is to carry out research on the Antarctic and to develop Turkey’s visibility in the international scientific community. The mission of the centre is to research on future of Antarctic region for empowering our country’s visibility in international area. At the same time, İTÜ Polar Research Centre acts as an interface between universities, R&D centres, industrial bodies, and other national or international scientific bodies and authorities. The vision is to conduct intercollegiate and international studies on arctic, Antarctic, ocean and marine sciences, to raise public awareness about these topics, and to contribute to Turkey’s surplus value with referred arctic studies in international area.
Main fields of activity of İTÜ Polar Research Centre are mentioned below:

• Participation of Turkey to international consortium of Antarctic continent,
• Foundation of a Turkish Scientific Research Base
• Act as an interface between researchers in ITU and other universities of Turkey and with national or international scientific bodies and authorities,
• Carry out studies for providing Turkey to have a say in future of arctic regions,
• Carry out studies for Turkish Arctic and Antarctic Research Programs (TUARK) and ensuring sustainability of the current studies, development of new technologies and scientific methods,
• Carry out trainings intended to raise public awareness about Turkish Arctic and Antarctic Research Programs (TUARK) works,
• Increase scientific studies, international publishing and participation to international scientific platforms that focus on global warming in Arctic and Antarctic region,
• Publish reports, bulletins, projects, books, articles, journals and likewise publications which include solution suggestions and explain scientific and technical findings as results of practices and studies,
• Carry out studies on establishment a new main centre involving laboratories, virtual and interactive presentations, and suchlike visuals and ensuring sustainable management of the centre.