Supporting Swiss polar science

The Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) was created to provide services to and promote synergies within the polar community in Switzerland.

The objectives of the SPI are the following:

  • Strengthening Swiss polar science to address global challenges: The SPI supports and enables the performance of cutting-edge Swiss research that addresses key global challenges in polar regions and comparable extreme high-altitude environments;
  • Facilitating access to infrastructure and polar science initiatives: The SPI supports the Swiss polar science community in developing or accessing national and international initiatives and the necessary infrastructure;
  • Creating new synergies: In its actions, the SPI pays particular attention to linking science from different polar regions and comparable remote high-altitude environments;
  • Federating the Swiss polar science community: The work of the SPI supports the synergies within the Swiss research community, with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary integration and the emergence of a new generation of scientists;
  • Bringing polar science closer to the Swiss public: The SPI seeks to enhance the visibility and understanding of polar regions and related scientific questions within targeted audiences in Switzerland;
  • Supporting innovative partnerships: The SPI helps position Switzerland as a key player in polar science, through research-driven national and international collaborative initiatives and the provision of new opportunities to access or develop infrastructure.

International collaboration

In order to improve the conditions and impact for the Swiss science community, SPI actively participates in relevant organisations at the international level.

SPI represents Switzerland in the Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO) and acts as observer in the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), the SPI focuses on logistics, access and operational support. SPI also engages at the bilateral level with European and global counterparts in order to increase the opportunities and support collaboration by Swiss scientists.

The SPI is a partner in the EU-PolarNet 2, a network of European polar research institutions, to foster joint collaborations and initiatives. In coordination with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and other Swiss actors, SPI also participates in relevant international conferences and fora with a specific focus on polar research.

In order to provide the Swiss polar scientific community with information and access to good data management practice, SPI represents Switzerland on the Standing Committee of Antarctic Data Management (SCADM). Furthermore, SPI engages in the wider polar and global data communities through the working group on Polar Data Discovery Enhancement Research (POLDER) as well as international conferences.

SPI provides data curation and support for data publication, encouraging open access data from SPI-led expeditions. Thanks to an ongoing collaboration with EMODnet Physics, these data are easily findable by a wide audience.

SPI funded by a consortium

The Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) is funded by :

  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), acting as Leading House
  • Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ)
  • University of Bern (UniBe)
  • University of Lausanne (UNIL)
  • Editions Paulsen

Placed under the patronage of the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the SPI is a Swiss initiative to study the Earth’s poles and extreme environments.

Swiss academic institutions and actors who would be interested in becoming members of the Swiss Polar Institute are encouraged to contact the SPI Secretariat for details on the membership structure and fees.

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