Polar Literacy Principles

The Polar Regions are facing changes with global consequences. From climate to food web changes, impacts continue to emerge, while the importance of our Polar Regions are often overlooked. The Polar Literacy Principles outline essential concepts to improve public understanding of these critical and sensitive ecosystems.

For polar scientists, these principles define the important concepts to convey when communicating the broader impacts of their research. For educators, these principles provide guidance on significant concepts to teach about the Polar Regions.

The Principles below represent the current version as developed by the Polar-ICE team: Rutgers University, California State University – Monterey Bay, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Eidos Education, Indiana University and Open Minds Media. Special thanks to our contributors including scientists and educators from Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Byrd Center for Polar and Climate Research, The Ohio State University, Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), and the Long-term Ecological Research Programs – Palmer Station and McMurdo Dry Valleys.

Polar Literacy Principles

  1. The Arctic and Antarctic Regions are unique because of their location on Earth.
  2. Ice is the dominant feature of the Polar Regions.
  3. Polar Regions play a central role in regulating Earth’s weather and climate.
  4. The Polar Regions have productive food webs.
  5. The Poles are experiencing the effects of climate change at an accelerating rate.
  6. Humans are a part of the Polar system. The Arctic has a rich cultural history and diversity of Indigenous Peoples.
  7. New technologies, sensors and tools — as well as new applications of existing technologies — are expanding scientists’ abilities to study the land, ice, ocean, atmosphere and living creatures of the Polar Regions.