ARICE´s overall aim is to provide Europe with better capacities for marine-based research in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. A natural extension of this goal is to bring these increased capabilities to Antarctica as well. An increasingly in-depth study and monitoring of the Arctic ocean and of the seas at latitudes greater than 60 ° S can only be carried out through the coordination and cooperation of the research vessels that regularly sail those seas to carry out observations and studies that are aimed to the sea and its ecosystems as well as to the atmosphere and cryosphere (sea ice). For this purpose ARICE proposes to:
1. develop strategies to ensure the optimal use of the existing polar research vessels at a European and international level. The aim is to establish an International Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium which shares and jointly funds ship time for scientists on the available research icebreakers;
2. develop procedures to sustain the application process to provide transnational access to research icebreakers, granted on the base of scientific excellence of the research proposals;
3. improve the research icebreakers’ services by working closely together with maritime industry on a so called “ships and platforms of opportunity”; program, with the aim to increase acquisition of oceanic and atmospheric data, thanks commercial ships;
4. work together with industry to explore new technologies, which can improve ship-based and autonomous measurements.
An increased capacity to coordinate and collaborate, not only between scientific institutions but also with the private sector, necessarily passes through a greater knowledge and usability of the observation platforms that must necessarily be used for this purpose of study and monitoring. In particular, it is very important to be able to make it as easy as possible to access research vessels and the data they collect. The technologies available today and the very rapid development of the virtual dimension offer us new ways of thinking about this “access”. With the advantage of being able at the same time to bring research vessels, complex and expensive platforms, but essential to be able to integrate the observations that satellites can make from space, with measurements from the ground, to a much wider audience than that of researchers.
This innovative 3D Virtual Icebreaker platform aims to collect in a single site all the essential information of the polar research vessels participating in the ARICE project, and to offer features that allow both the researcher and people simply curious to know, to find themselves in to be able to know and experience the ship and the activities / observations that are made as much as possible similar to if they had been on board. For the researcher, the functionalities present will allow to carry out the preparation of the experimental setup in a precise and efficient way even without physically accessing the ship. Both will be able to find an archive of historical campaigns and from this access information on cruises and data. The ultimate goal is to be able to access the observed data in real time for as many ships as possible (ideally all).