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SPRI Review 2009: Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)

The SCAR secretariat, hosted by the SPRI, continued its work of coordinating scientific research in the Antarctic and surrounding seas. A major achievement during 2009 was publication of 'Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE)'. This 560-page document is a comprehensive review of the state of the Antarctic environment and includes predictions of possible future responses to climatic fluctuations. The report is free for use in teaching and research, and can be downloaded from SCAR's major Scientific Research Programmes (SRPs) have been increased to six with the addition of Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica; the others cover the modern climate system, climate history, sub-glacial lakes, evolution and biodiversity, and solar-terrestrial effects. The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) – a SCAR programme, and part of the global Census of Marine Life – reported some 7500 animal species, 1000 more than were known before. Surprisingly, some 235 species were found to be common to both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

SCAR was made responsible by the Tinker Foundation for the award of the 'Martha T Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica', a US$100,000 unrestricted award presented to an individual in the fields of Antarctic science or policy who has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica. The 2009 award went to Prof. Steven Chown of South Africa; he is Chief Officer of SCAR's Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System.

SCAR contributes scientific advice to the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and associated Committee on Environmental Protection meeting. In 2009 these groups met in Baltimore. SCAR continued to serve on the steering committee for the International Polar Year, which formally came to an end at the end of February 2009. The steering committee continued in being to oversee the development of scientific papers emerging from the two-year field phase (2007–09), and to plan the 2nd IPY Science Conference, which will take place in Oslo in June 2010. Three of SCAR's key contributions to the IPY are (i) the ACCE report; (ii) the development and publication of a Data and Information Strategy for Antarctica; and (iii) a draft design for a Southern Ocean Observing System. SCAR is currently planning its XXXI meeting, which will include the 4th SCAR Open Science Conference and will take place in Buenos Aires from July 30-August 11, 2010.

Colin Summerhayes (Executive Director)