This section includes all of Spain’s R&D&i activities that are developed in the polar areas of the Arctic and Antarctica. The Spanish authority responsible for coordinating all these activities is the Spanish Polar Committee.

Spanish Polar Committee

The Spanish Polar Committee (CPE in Spanish) is the Spanish authority responsible for coordinating Spain’s R&D&i activities in the polar areas. Royal Decree 852/2020, of 22 September, regulates its composition and operation. 

At present the CPE is attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the General Secretariat for Research.


Antarctica includes all the territories situated south of the 60th parallel south. It has a surface area of 14 million km2, 98% of which is covered by ice with an average thickness of 3 km. It has the most extreme climate on Earth, having registered the lowest temperature on record, and it is the windiest place with the lowest rainfall. It is the highest continent in the world with an average altitude of 2,000 m. It holds around 80% of the planet’s fresh water.

The Arctic

The Arctic is an area adjacent to the North Pole formed by the Arctic Ocean and the land surrounding it. It is estimated to have 4 million inhabitants.

The Arctic belongs to the eight States with sovereign areas located beyond the Arctic Circle: Canada, Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and United States of America. These countries meet in a cooperation forum called the Arctic Council.

Polar science

Scientific research in the polar regions is particularly relevant thanks to the global significance of the processes and discoveries that take place in them. They are considered privileged observatories in numerous areas of knowledge. Understanding, knowledge and observation of the geological, biological, oceanographic and atmospheric processes that occur in both the Arctic and Antarctica are critical to advancing our knowledge of global processes on Earth. International collaboration is essential for the development of polar science.

Bases, vessels and operations

Spanish Antarctic bases and oceanographic vessels are the infrastructures that Spain has for supporting and developing polar research.

Spanish polar activities are mainly carried out in Antarctica, although there is also activity in the Arctic. Operations in Antarctica are usually carried out during the austral summer (November-March). International collaboration is essential for the development of polar activities.

Polar data

The movement of open access and creation of e-infrastructures to support the use of scientific information by the scientific community has considered the importance of accessibility to research data. These data are recognised as a source of proprietary and independent knowledge from publications. They can generate new knowledge and could be exploited in an interdisciplinary manner.

Law 14/2011, of 1 June, on Science, Technology and Innovation refers to the standardisation of data management in repositories in order to facilitate data preservation, access and distribution (article 37).

Polar data, especially Antarctic data due to the requirements of Article III in the Antarctic Treaty, feature instructions for the deposit and reuse of data available in thematic repositories. Proper data management must be coordinated to guarantee data preservation and exploitation, and to ensure interoperability.

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