Turkey’s polar studies have taken an institutional form with the establishment of Polar Research Institute within TÜBİTAK, and this year for the first time, 24 participants from various agencies will conduct studies in the “white continent” during the 4th National Antarctic Science Expedition which will start in February under the coordination of the Institute.
Polar Research Institute (PRI), whose establishment was announced for the first time during the 2020 Central Government Budget Meetings in the Turkish Grand National Assembly by the Minister of Industry and Technology Mr. Mustafa VARANK, has started its studies.
Assoc. Prof. Burcu ÖZSOY who led the previous expeditions of Turkey to the Antarctic has been appointed as the Director of PRI that was formed under TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center (MAM); and the Institute has been commissioned for the 4th National Antarctic Science Expedition as the first mission requiring a hard work.
“It will keep conducting scientific studies”
The Director ÖZSOY made a statement to Anadolu Agency about the Polar Research Institute and the preparations for the 4th Expedition to the Antarctic.
ÖZSOY stated that the new structure allowed an acceleration in the materialization of national goals in polar studies, and added “PRI, which has been assigned as the new executor of the Project for the ‘Establishment of a Scientific Research Base in the Antarctic’, will keep conducting scientific and political studies so as to make Turkey a consultative member in the Antarctic Treaty which serves as a decision making mechanism on the Antarctica
“Strategies will be employed in line with national interests”
ÖZSOY expressed that “becoming a consultative member state in the Antarctic Treaty System requires some practices and formal rules” and added “the establishment of PRI was one of these requirements”. Pointing out that becoming a consultative member state in the System also requires the conduct of significant scientific researches, she added:
“This includes not only the conduct of a lot of publications quantitatively, but also the conduct of high quality and internationally visible publications qualitatively. Such publications can be produced with long-term observations and measurements on a certain field. Therefore, having a scientific research base is a must to meet this requirement. It is also necessary for meeting logistic needs. Full membership to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) where Turkey is represented by TÜBİTAK, the transposition of the Antarctic Treaty Environmental Protection Protocol to the national law, the creation of an Antarctic Database and the involvement in international collaborations, etc. are among the many practical and formal pre-requisites. Strategies are employed in line with national interests by coordinating all the stakeholders in Turkey.”
The goal of taking part in decision-making mechanism on polar regions
Ms. ÖZSOY stated that PRI has completed the formal establishment procedure and started its activities in the Gebze Campus of TÜBİTAK, and, it is going ahead with organizational structuring.
Ms. ÖZSOY added:
“PRI aims to conduct regular scientific expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic by pursuing national interests of Turkey, to ensure the sustainability of these expeditions, to ensure the engagement of scientific projects in these expeditions, to allow Turkish scientists to make contributions to scientific community by making publications on the projects realized, to increase the number of studies on polar regions by developing human resources, to enhance the infrastructures of Turkey in polar regions, and most importantly to ensure Turkey to take part in decision-making mechanisms on polar regions.”
Trainings start on the 4th Scientific Expedition to the Antarctic
ÖZSOY stated that the 4th National Antarctic Science Expedition will be conducted in February and March under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Technology and under the coordination of TÜBİTAK PRI, and that the preparations for the expedition are continued rapidly.
She added that the trainings will start on the 30th January and stated “The 4th National Antarctic Science Expedition will involve a total of 24 participants, 22 of whom are Turkish and 2 are foreigners. As part of bilateral collaborations, 2 Turkish scientists will conduct studies at the bases of Belgium and Poland in the continent.”
She also stated that, this year, 15 scientific project studies will be conducted in the continent, and that, in addition to these projects under the call of TÜBİTAK, the expedition will include participants from the Turkish State Meteorological Service, the General Directorate of Mapping and the Turkish Naval Forces Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography, like the last year.
ÖZSOY expressed that she will personally coordinate the expedition which will be led by the Karadeniz Technical University faculty member and the President of Turkish Mountaineering Federation Prof. Ersan BAŞAR. She said, this year, the expedition will include two deputy leaders -one in charge of scientific studies and one in charge of logistics- who will be Assoc. Prof. Hakan YAVAŞOĞLU and Captain Özgün OKTAR.
ÖZSOY stated that polar researches must also concentrate on the Arctic as much as on the Antarctic, and that studies are continued on this subject matter, too.