- selects, coordinates, supports and implements national and international science and technology programmes and projects in its capacity as the agency for resources and skills,
- organizes and leads scientific expeditions,
- sets up and operates research observatories,
- takes part in international discussions on scientific and logistical issues posed by polar operations by maintaining permanent links with its foreign counterparts,
- manages the resources necessary to bring its activities to fruition,
- maintains close connections with partner organizations and other resource agencies,
- fosters understanding of polar science and technology and stimulates public awareness and interest for these regions,
- compiles and manages an open information and archives library in these fields.
Remote situations and extremely harsh climates in these regions demand operators with highly specialized technological capabilities and know-how. The Institute brings together professionals in polar logistics, harnessing its knowledge of extreme environments and special expertise to coordinate, maintain and implement science and technology projects in the high-latitude zones, both North and South.
About 200 seasonal personnel or winterers operate in Antarctica and the subantarctic islands. Spread over the different stations they enable a force of over 200 researchers to conduct their fieldwork. For the Arctic zones, 100 or so scientific staff go on assignments each year with the French Polar Institute support.
Around 30 professions are involved in developing advanced technological solutions in the field that are adapted to harsh, sometimes extreme environments and climates. Among them are mechanics, logisticians, operators or scientific instrumentation and operations managers.
The annual budget of the Polar Institute is 28 M€, 90% of which is allocated to field activities: scientific, technical and logistical. Every year the Institute thus sustains and implements between 70 and 80 scientific projects and and until 2018 chartered the vessel Marion Dufresne for 217 days per year for about 10 oceanographic campaigns.
To sustain research-station living conditions, the polar Institute transports annually more than 300 tonnes of supplies. Foodstuffs account for 30 tonnes of this.
With its know-how and the scientific platforms it deploys the Institute is a major player in bringing out the value of the polar regions and fostering public awareness of the specific issues inherent to them.
On the international scale, the French Polar Institutetakes part in the scientific, logistical and environmental consultation on the polar regions by involvement in bodies like the European Polar Board (EPB), Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) or again the Antarctic Consultative Treaty Meeting (ATCM) and the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP, Madrid Protocol).
Until January 1st, 2018, the French Polar Institute was in charge of operating the largest European oceanographic research ship, the Marion Dufresne, which embarks over 300 researchers every year to take them across all the seas of the world.
The French polar Institute forges a range of partnerships, operating in polar research but also environmental or international management or even geopolitical issues.