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A View from the South

Steven Chown

- insights from SCAR's President,
Dr. Steven Chown

Dear Colleagues,

We are now only a month away from Polar2018 (

The meeting offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore polar research jointly from the Arctic and Antarctic perspectives. How the Polar Regions will change, what the global consequences of their change will be, and how local ecosystems and people will be affected, are profoundly important questions. The meeting will enable these and other fundamental research questions to be discussed in an interdisciplinary setting.

At Polar2018 we will also formally celebrate SCAR’s 60th Anniversary.

On Monday 18th June in the early evening, we will hold an Open Celebration to mark SCAR’s 60th anniversary. A small panel of SCAR-affiliated researchers will introduce the evening’s activities and we will then celebrate 60 years of science facilitation and advice.

On Wednesday 20th June, SCAR and the journals Nature and Nature Communications will hold a panel discussion and Q&A session entitled Polar Change and the Future of Society. The discussion will include an opening video message from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, and a short presentation on ‘Choosing the Future of Antarctica’ by Steve Rintoul. It will take place between 18h30 and 20h00 and will be limited to 300 participants.

Details for both events will become available shortly, including an indication of how to register interest in the panel discussion.

Several helpful discussions are also taking place about the new suite of SCAR Scientific Research Programs (SRPs) that will commence in 2020. These have all been locally organised, such as the one by the United States Polar Research Board, and those at meetings I have attended in several countries. At Polar2018, community discussions open to all SCAR members will also be held, such as the SCAR-PAIS Futures meeting to be held on Wednesday 20th June (12.20 – 14.00).

Both in a previous View from the South, and on other occasions, such as at SCAR’s 60th Anniversary celebratory lunch at the XLI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (, I have indicated that there is much opportunity to develop substantial support for large interdisciplinary SRPs. Enthusiasm for these is growing in the community.

Most prominent among the ideas, and reflecting the SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan outcomes (, are: (i) understanding the biodiversity and functioning of marine and terrestrial biological systems and how to protect them; (ii) understanding ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere interactions, the behaviour of ice sheets and global sea level variation.

Polar2018 will provide a truly exceptional opportunity to discuss polar research and shape its future. I look forward to seeing you all in Davos in a month’s time.

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SCAR President

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the second of my Views from the South.

Over the past several months, SCAR has seen a great deal of activity, from the Biology Symposium in Leuven, Belgium to the #GreatAntarcticClimateHack in La Jolla, California. Many groups have also been busy planning for their meetings next year in Davos and Polar2018 has seen Abstract submissions open and close.

I have had the opportunity to take part in several of the activities. I attended the Biology Symposium, the Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics Conference in Trieste, Italy, and the IX Congreso Latin Americano De Ciencia Antartica in Punta Arenas, Chile. The range, depth and quality of the science has been impressive to listen to and be part of. The exceptional organisational arrangements and the focus on ensuring attendance by a wide variety of scientists from all career stages was notable across all of these meetings.

A key message that struck me from the meetings is that appreciation of the importance, for the rest of the planet, of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and science in, from, and about these regions, is steadily growing. The same message emerged at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in China, and is not far from centre stage in the news. Understanding the history of ice sheets, their interactions with the ocean, atmosphere and life, and how this knowledge will improve forecasting of what is to come, especially with regard to sea level rise, are undeniably among the most compelling Antarctic questions of our time.

In recognition thereof, I have been encouraging those considering the preparation of a new generation of Scientific Research Programmes (SRP), to think about a Programme that would address this very question. The elements of this integration are visible everywhere now – in SERCE, PAIS, AntClim21, AntEco and AnT-ERA – and many of the conversations at meetings have been about integration of these elements.

Such a single new programme would not be the only new SCAR SRP, but it should be central to the SCAR scientific focus for the coming decade. Such a focus would provide a firm foundation for SCAR to leverage additional support for this scientific work. An argument about the most compelling question of our time is a difficult one to ignore. A variety of other SRP proposals are in the design process. Overall, however, I think it of great value to reduce the total number and increase the support to each SRP. The six to date have been immensely successful, though with the continual message that with more support, more would have been achieved.

Discussions about the new SRPs and how these can best serve the entire SCAR community, especially recognising and accommodating the variety among SCAR’s membership in terms of interests, capability, and resourcing, should be underway among all the SCAR groups, but especially among the current SRP and Group Chief Officers, and those who might be developing new SRP proposals.

To facilitate such discussion, the Secretariat will be establishing a means to do so and especially in preparation for Polar2018 in Davos. Indeed, to give effect to preparing for the SCAR Open Science Conference and Delegates meeting in 2018, and taking account of the Executive Director vacancy in the Secretariat, I have engaged the services of Mahlon (Chuck) Kennicutt II as a Special Consultant for the next seven months. Chuck will assist the Executive Committee and Secretariat with preparation for the SCAR portion of the Polar2018 meeting, and will provide some assistance to the Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System too.

As many of you will appreciate, the Secretariat has been exceptionally busy, especially with the departure of the Executive Director and the launch of the new web page (a production which is thanks to the Secretariat and especially to Jenny Baeseman). Eoghan Griffin and Rosemary Nash have been doing a fabulous job of managing all of our business. Thanks to them for their indefatigable enthusiasm. We had promised additional office assistance, but that has been held back until the new Executive Director is in place.

The Executive Director position has now been advertised (see "SCAR seeks Executive Director") and the final date for applications is 29th November 2017. The position has benefitted not only from an increase in annual remuneration, but also from several changes in the Secretariat that have been brought into effect. I would encourage you to draw the attention of any suitable candidates to the position. The Executive have agreed a timeline such that we hope to be in a position to make an offer to a new Executive Director by the end of January 2018.

Finally, I would like to remind you all that this coming austral summer will mark SCAR’s 60th Anniversary (, which we have elected to celebrate as a community at Polar2018. Announcements about events at the meeting will be made over the next few months. Nonetheless, plenty of scope exists for you to celebrate this event in your groups, during your expeditions, and within your organisations. We have already received several suggestions to date and are keen to hear of more and to do what we can to support them.

The date of the first meeting of the Special Committee on Antarctic Research (as it was first named) was 3-6 February 1958. Thus, we will consider Monday 5th February 2018 SCAR’s official 60th Birthday. We will, however, celebrate the 60th anniversary in various ways throughout the year, in keeping with the significance of the anniversary. The Secretariat is working on developing merchandise to support events – all suggestions are welcome and simply send these on to Rosemary, Eoghan or myself.

In closing, I wish everyone a safe and successful Antarctic field season.

Steven L Chown
SCAR President

- Contributed by: Steven L Chown, Jenny Baeseman, Azizan bin Abu Samah, Karin Lochte, Jerónimo López-Martínez, Jefferson C Simões, Terry Wilson

In 1957, the International Council of Scientific Unions (now the International Council for Science, ICSU) invited 12 nations active in Antarctic research each to send a delegate to a Special Committee on Antarctic Research. The Committee held its first meeting at The Hague early in 1958.

SCAR will turn 60 in this coming (2017-2018) Antarctic season.

Over these 60 years, SCAR (now the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) has continued to facilitate scientific research in, from and about the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region and to provide evidence-based scientific advice to a range of bodies. How it has done so, and how it has had to change in concert with a changing world is in part the subject of a recent history1. The challenges lying further ahead for the region scientifically, and in the realm of research support, have also been comprehensively examined2-4. We set out in brief here what SCAR’s immediate future plans are in the context of  pdf the new Strategic Plan5 (1.49 MB) .

Given its role as a subsidiary body of ICSU, SCAR will continue to advance, facilitate and promote scientific research in, from and about Antarctica. Several developments will significantly influence these undertakings.

Dear Colleagues,

Several months have passed since our successful and enjoyable SCAR OSC and Delegates Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, for which I’d like to thank our Malaysian colleagues again.

Over my term, I will provide a series of updates on matters important to the SCAR community and its broader network. In keeping with the geographic location of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and my residence in Melbourne, these will be entitled ‘View from the South’. Hence the title of this correspondence.

At the last Delegates meeting I indicated that the primary focus of my term would be on implementing our new strategic plan, especially four matters: Office re-organization in Cambridge, further strengthening our engagement with the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and broader policy environment, ongoing facilitation of the science of our community, and further resourcing for our activities, including capacity building.

We have already changed some of our operations in Cambridge. Most significantly, we have outsourced some of our financial management. This accounts for the new procedures that many of you are now encountering when claiming for expenses and so on. The Secretariat has worked tirelessly to get this implemented, and is doing an amazing job. In addition, we have also embarked on the process to invest some of our reserve. Jefferson Simões and Jenny Baeseman have been handling the discussions and we have an ethical investment portfolio that will meet both SCAR’s low appetite for risk and for ensuring we keep our investments ethical.

In terms of our engagement with the ATS, two major activities have taken place or are in process. SCAR was well represented at the CCAMLR meeting in October 2016, with Jenny, Aleks Terauds, Mark Hindell and I attending. We presented several papers, and in particular a review of key elements of SCAR science that can be of assistance to CCAMLR in its work. Our presence was well received and we look forward to ongoing work with CCAMLR.

SCAR has also been active in the lead up to this year’s Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. We are either lead or co-submitter of eight Working Papers and several Information Papers. These cover matters such as science priorities, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Codes of Conduct, and the outcomes of recent research. The SCAR Lecture at the ATCM this year will be presented by Professor Tim Naish of the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and entitled: What does the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement mean for Antarctica?

The Executive Committee has also met several times electronically. Perhaps one of the most notable elements of discussion has been the work we will need to do to celebrate SCAR’s 60th Anniversary, which coincides with the late 2017/2018 period. We certainly intend to celebrate the event at the forthcoming meeting in Davos. Nonetheless, we would also welcome additional suggestions. These can be directed either to the Executive Director, Jenny Baeseman, or to me.

Finally, as you will notice from the SCAR home page ( our community has a range of important forthcoming meetings. I’ll not provide details of them all here, but I would encourage you to seek out those that you find most important. One of SCAR’s greatest benefits is the connections it enables through these meetings and the new knowledge about and from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean that is subsequently generated.


Steven Chown
SCAR President