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Science

Background

SCAR logo blue backgroundThe work of SCAR in achieving its mission is carried out by its many and varied groups. SCAR is currently composed of three permanent, disciplinary Science Groups (Geosciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences), six flagship Scientific Research Programmes focusing on high priority topical areas, four Standing Committees to handle ongoing business of a permanent nature, and over 30 specialized subsidiary Expert and Action groups serving to address various scientific needs over a limited timeframe. All SCAR groups are allocated budgets for their activities and are governed by the pdf Rules of Procedure for Subsidiary Bodies (223 KB) . They are periodically reviewed to help focus SCAR outcomes on the most important priorities and products needed. The work of these groups advances understanding of all aspects of the Antarctic region and may result in seminal publications, and feeds into the advice given to the Antarctic Treaty System and other policy makers.

Subsidiary Expert and Action groups are established by the main Science Groups, or in some cases by the Executive Committee, to address specific research topics of interest to the community. Researchers propose new groups when they identify areas where current research is lacking or more coordination is needed. Groups report to their parent Science Group and membership is open to any interested researchers from SCAR member countries. Action Groups address one specific issue and are short-term, usually with a lifetime of between two and four years. Expert Groups have a broader focus and a longer lifetime of around six to eight years, with the option of renewal. Groups are asked to report activities yearly to the SCAR Executive Committee and Delegates Meetings. Internal review of Expert Groups is conducted every four years and an external review is conducted if the Expert Group wishes to extend for another six- or eight-year term. Current groups are listed in the Appendix of the pdf SCAR Membership Guide (262 KB) with a brief description of their remit.


The Process of Proposing a New SCAR Expert or Action Group

The first step to proposing a new group is to gather a small group of people to work together to develop an idea of what the group would aim to do and in what timeframe.

Once such a group is formed, they should get in touch with the SCAR Secretariat and/or the Chief Officer of the Science Group they would fall under; Geosciences, Life Sciences or Physical Sciences. Humanities and Social Science focused groups should contact the SCAR Secretariat, as should groups interested in policy, capacity building, outreach and other topics. This initial interaction should include a short summary of what your group wants to do and will open a dialogue as to how the group could fit into the larger SCAR structure. This process will provide guidance for the group in putting together the proposal for a new group.

The proposers of the new group should plan to attend the Science Group or other meeting where the decision on approval of the group will be taken. Proposed groups not falling under Geo-, Life or Physical Sciences should contact the Secretariat for the appropriate meeting to attend. Group leaders may request a short (~10-15 minute) presentation from the proposers and ask them to participate in a discussion with the larger Group.

After consultation with the Chief Officer(s) or other SCAR group leaders as appropriate, a proposal should be prepared and be submitted to the SCAR Secretariat three months before the next Delegates Meeting. The Secretariat will then distribute the proposal to the appropriate Science Group and the SCAR Delegates for discussion at the upcoming meeting.

After the presentation and discussion, the overarching group will decide whether or not they wish to bring the proposal forward to the SCAR Delegates. If the proposal will be brought forward, the Delegates will discuss the creation of the group and make a final decision.

Shortly after the Delegates Meeting, the proposers will be notified of the decision.

If the group is approved, the SCAR Secretariat will set up a webpage for the group and provide any additional administration help the group might need (for example, setting up a mailing list). Group leaders are asked to work with the Secretariat to provide the information needed, and also to help write a short news item for the SCAR website and newsletter announcing the creation of the group and how interested researchers might get involved with the group's activities.

Groups are expected to send a short update yearly for the SCAR Executive Committee/Delegates Meeting reporting on progress and plans, as well as use of funds and future funding needs. There is a short template provided for the reports. These reports are not meant to be cumbersome but sufficient to provide information on the group’s activity. Every other year, at the Business Meetings held in conjunction with the Open Science Conference and Delegates Meeting, group leaders are asked to participate in the relevant Science Group meetings, or meetings of other relevant groups they are associated with, and report their progress, discuss future plans, etc.

Three months prior to a group’s end date, they should get in touch with the Secretariat to discuss the process of closing the group. A final report from the group will be needed to archive the group’s achievements as well as recommendations for future SCAR efforts in the topic area. This report will be published on the group’s website and included in the SCAR newsletter.

Expert Groups, or groups with a longer duration (four years or more) will have an internal review halfway through their term. This internal review will involve the officers of the Science Group looking at the past reports of the group, as well as the proposed activities, and making recommendations on future group activities.

If an Expert Group wishes to extend its lifetime for another six- to eight-year duration, an external review will need to be conducted before the Delegates Meeting at which their group was originally expected to end. For example, if a group was created in 2010 for eight years and wanted to extend for another eight-year term, they would need to contact the Science Group Chief Officer and the Secretariat at least six months before the Delegates meeting in 2018. A plan will then be constructed to conduct a simple external review where people outside the group, and ideally outside of SCAR, will look at the achievements of the group and their future plans and send comments back to SCAR. A discussion will then be had at the Science Group meeting to decide if an extension of the group is desired and, if so, will be passed along to the Delegates for further discussion and decision.

If an Action Group wishes to extend its lifetime for another two years, they should contact their Science Group Chief Officers and the SCAR Secretariat three months before their end date. The group will under go an internal review by the Chief Officers and Executive Committee and a discussion will take place at the Science Group Business Meeting and the Delegates Meeting and a decision on an extension made.

Action Groups are expected to terminate when their tasking is completed. In the case where there are compelling reasons for related activities to continue, a group should consider whether a new Action or Expert Group is appropriate, under advice from the appropriate Science Group Chief Officers and the Secretariat.

Detailed guidance on the proposal process is available to download in the pdf SCAR Group Proposal Procedure document (111 KB) .  If there are any questions an any aspect of establishing a SCAR group, please contact the Secretariat.  Separate information on the process to establish a new Scientific Research Programme (SRP) is available from the SRP page.


Description of the Proposal Requirements

The proposal for a new group should be less than five pages, including the cover page. The information below provides some guidelines on what is required for each section of the proposal and a document template (in MS Word format) (78 KB) is available to download. Should you have any questions, please contact the SCAR Secretariat.

Title Page

Name of the Proposed Group
Please provide the name of your group and include if it is an action or expert group.

Name(s) of the lead proponent(s)
Please list the contact information for the people leading this application. Include first and last name, affiliation, country and email address. These people do not necessarily need to be the leaders of the group or future chairs.

Sponsoring Science Group(s) or Standing Committee(s)
Please list which of the overarching SCAR groups will be sponsoring your proposed group. It is not necessary to have discussed your group with the sponsoring group chief officer before the application is submitted, but it is highly recommended. Sponsoring groups can be: Life Sciences, Geosciences, Physical Sciences, SCATS, SCADM, SCAGI, CBET, the Development Council and the SCAR Executive Committee. If you are unsure which overarching group you would fall under, please contact the Secretariat.

Summary of Group
Please provide a very short summary (50 words or less) of the purpose of your group and what you aim to do. This should be written so anyone with a general science knowledge base can understand, not just an expert in your field.

The Proposal

Introduction and Background
Please provide a brief summary of the importance of the research topic your group will focus on, in general terms. Also include an explanation of what your group will do and why it is important that this is done now. Please also discuss how your group will contribute to SCAR’s mission and Strategic Plan, etc. and any linkages to other SCAR groups and groups or activities beyond SCAR. This should roughly be 1 to 1.5 pages in length (11pt font, single spaced).

Aims, Goals and Objectives
Please list the specific aims, goals and objectives of the proposed group (i.e. what you hope to accomplish).

Proposed Milestone Activities with Timeline
Please provide a brief outline of the proposed steps that will be taken to achieve your project goals and a rough timeline for activities.

Capacity Building, Education and Outreach Plans
Capacity building and education are central to SCAR’s mission. One of the goals of each of our groups should be to help build international capacity in some area of research, including supporting the development of the next generation of scientists. Please provide a short summary (~300 words) of the types of activities your group would engage in to help with these areas.

Data Management Plans
SCAR encourages the free and open access of data generated for Antarctic research. Please describe what type of data might be generated from your group and how you plan to ensure it is shared with the larger community. If your group will not be generating data, please provide a short description of how you will share information generated from your group’s activities.

Terms of Reference
Each SCAR group needs to have terms of reference under which they operate. To help guide you in developing these, we suggest starting with the short summary of your group, adding bullet points of your goals and objectives, then including information on who can be a member of your group (ie is it a closed group or can anyone interested participate?). Also include a concluding statement on the proposed duration of your group, its management and your plan for leadership turnover* (see below).

Budget and Justification
Typically Expert and Action groups have yearly budgets between $1000-5000 USD. Please include a short description on how much funding you might require and what specifically those funds would be used for.

Confirmed and/or Potential Members
Please provide a list of people who have agreed to be part of this group or those that have expressed interest. Include first and last names, affiliations, countries and email addresses. Indicate Confirmed Members with * and Early Career Members with **.

Webpages and Communication Plans
SCAR provides a website for all its groups, as well as access to GoToMeeting, an online communication platform that groups can use to conduct business, and can also create a mailing list for your group if that is of interest. Please provide any comments you have for these initial set-up items. You should also be prepared to send photos that can be used on your webpages. An example statement for this section could be: We are pleased SCAR will provide our group with a webpage and will send information upon approval. We would also like to have a mailing list set up and would like advice on communicating our activities via social media and other channels.

Other notes and comments
If you have other points for the Science Groups and Delegates to consider, please include them here. If there are none, you can delete this section from your report.


*A note on Leadership turnover:
There is no limit to the length of time someone can chair an action or expert group, so your leadership turnover plan is up to you to decide. We mainly ask for a note on your plan to be included to prevent a situation where a chair(s) may not be active for various reasons and to keep the group moving forward and to task, it may be necessary to review the leadership. If your group is short term (i.e. an action group), you may likely have the same leaders throughout the duration of the group. If you are proposing an expert group or one with a longer duration, you should include a statement on how long the chair/co-chairs terms will be and how you will approach finding new leaders.

Two simple example statements may be:

  • We propose our expert group to last for eight years with objectives and activities guided by two co-chairs and a small five-person steering committee. At least one member of our steering committee will be early career. After four years we will undergo an internal SCAR review. As part of this review we will examine the leadership of our group to see if the chairs want to continue or if anyone else is interested in leading the group and address turnover accordingly.
  • We propose our group to last for two years. During this time we will have the same chair. Should a need arise to replace the chair, the group will decide on someone to fill the post. Group activities will be steered by a small group, including several early-career researchers from countries with developing Antarctic programmes.

sooslogo2c

The Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) is an international initiative of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR). Developed over many years, SOOS was officially launched at the end of 2011 with the opening of the International Project Office, hosted by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), and the Australian Research Council's Antarctic Gateway Partnership at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Since then, SOOS has built a network of stakeholders and contributors, all working together to achieve the community-defined mission and objectives

Mission

SOOS is an international initiative with the mission to facilitate the collection and delivery of essential observations on dynamics and change of Southern Ocean systems to all international stakeholders (researchers, governments, industries), through design, advocacy and implementation of cost-effective observing and data delivery systems.

Objectives

SOOS Objectives are structured to follow a logical sequence of implementation: Design of the System, Capabilities, Observations, Regional Implementation, Data Delivery, Support Activities.

  1. Facilitate the design and implementation of a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary observing system for the Southern Ocean.
  2. Advocate and guide the development of new observation technologies.
  3. Compile and encourage use of existing international standards and methodologies, and facilitate the development of new standards where required.
  4. Unify and enhance current observation efforts and leverage further resources across disciplines, and between nations and programs.
  5. Facilitate linking of sustained long-term observations to provide a system of enhanced data discovery and delivery, utilising existing data centres and programmatic efforts combined with, as needed, purpose-built data management and storage systems.
  6. Provide services to communicate, coordinate, advocate and facilitate SOOS objectives and activities.

The SOOS Vision

SOOS has the vision that sustained observations of dynamics and change of the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the Southern Ocean system should be readily accessible to provide a foundation for enabling the international scientific community to advance understanding of the Southern Ocean and for managers to address critical societal challenges.

In 2012, SOOS published its vision for the future, outlining the long-term goal of SOOS, the gains inherent in its implementation, and how the international community can move towards achieving it.

fig1 soos 3d 20 yr vision final 2012 lowres

The SOOS vision is nicely summarised in this schematic. It shows a cyberinfrastructure-based vision for SOOS, where marine assets would include a mixture of both autonomous and non-autonomous platforms, but relying more heavily on the former over time. Combined with satellite remote sensing, the data would be relayed to ground stations in real time, where assimilating ocean models would produce near real-time state estimates of each of the parameters in the system. The error fields associated with these assimilating models would then be used to re-task the autonomous platforms in real time, thus maximising the spatial-temporal coverage of each of the parameters being measured, without specific need for human intervention.

The above vision is many years away, and it behoves us to work towards it progressively, yet strategically. Significant advances in cyberinfrastructure, modelling and observation technologies are needed to achieve the required capabilities. Further, international cooperation, infrastructure and investment are critical for the success of SOOS. 

Learn more about SOOS by visiting their website: http://www.soos.aq

Antarctica contains 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its fresh water, enough to raise sea level by more than fifty metres. Some regions of Antarctica, particularly the Peninsula, have warmed rapidly in recent years, contributing to disintegration of ice shelves and accelerating the retreat of glaciers. There is growing consensus that the Antarctic ice sheet is experiencing a net mass loss. Loss of ice from the West Antarctic ice sheet may possibly contribute to a rise in sea level by 2100 of up to 1.9 metres. Observations of the cryosphere are therefore of the utmost importance. SCAR is a partner in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Cryosphere Theme Report (CryOS) and various SCAR programmes such as the Antarctic Sea Ice Processes and Climate Expert Group (ASPeCt) make a direct contribution to this effort and will continue to do so.

The Southern Ocean plays unique and critical roles in the Earth system by driving global weather and climate. For example, Antarctic Bottom Water, formed along the Antarctic coast, sinks to ventilate the global ocean. Meanwhile, Antarctic Intermediate Waters supply the world ocean with 75% of the nutrients that sustain ocean productivity. The ocean absorbs around 40% of anthropogenic atmospheric emissions of CO2 of which 40% is absorbed by the Southern Ocean20. This uptake is increasing the acidity of the oceans, which may be deleterious to marine organisms and ecosystems. It has been documented that the Southern Ocean is changing, but observations to confirm and monitor this change are sparse. Integrated, multi- disciplinary observations are needed to understand and predict the response of biota to changes in Southern Ocean chemistry, temperatures and circulation. A plan and 20-year vision for the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) have been developed with the support of international partners, in particular the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR).

For further details please see:

 

Additional Resources:

GeoSciences Group (GSG)

Life Sciences Group (LSG)

Physical Sciences Group (PSG)

Astronomy & Astrophysics from Antarctica (AAA)

Antarctic Climate Change in the 21st Century (AntClim21)

State of the Antarctic Ecosystem (AntEco)

Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation (AnT-ERA)

Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics (PAIS)

Solid Earth Response and influence on Cryosphere Evolution (SERCE)

Antarctic Clouds and Aerosols (ACA) Action Group

Expert Group on Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE)

Action Group on Ocean Acidification

Antarctic Digital Magnetic Anomaly Project (ADMAP) Expert Group

Antarctic Near-shore and Terrestrial Observing System (ANTOS)

Antarctic Permafrost And Soils (ANTPAS) Expert Group

Expert Group on Antarctic Volcanism (AntVolc)

Antarctic Sea-ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt) Expert Group

Biogeochemical Exchange Processes at the Sea-Ice Interfaces (BEPSII) Action Group

Southern Ocean Continuous Plankton Recorder Database (SO-CPR) Expert Group

Connecting Geophysics with Geology (CGG) Action Group

Expert Group on Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics (EG-ABI)

Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals (EG-BAMM)

Forum for Research into Ice Shelf Processes (FRISP) Expert Group

 

Geological Heritage and Geoconservation Action Group

Geological Mapping Update of Antarctica (GeoMap)

Geodetic Infrastructure of Antarctica (GIANT) Expert Group

GNSS Research and Application for Polar Environment (GRAPE) Expert Group

Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED)

A Co-Sponsored Group

International Partnership in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS) (Expert Group)

International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) Expert Group

Joint Expert Group on Human Biology and Medicine (JEGHBM)

Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level (ISMASS) Expert Group

Integrated Science for the Sub-Antarctic (ISSA)

Operational Meteorology in the Antarctic (OpMet) Expert Group

Polar Atmospheric Chemistry at the Tropopause (PACT) Action Group

Action Group on Remote Sensing

Sun-Earth Relationships and Antarctica (SERAnt) Action Group

Snow in Antarctica (SnowAnt) Action Group

The CLIVAR/CliC/SCAR Southern Ocean Region Panel (SORP)

Tropical Antarctic Teleconnections (TATE) Action Group

History of the Institutionalisation of Antarctic Research (Expert Group)

The Humanities

Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group (HASSEG)

Action Group on Environmental Contamination in Antarctica (ECA)

Interhemispheric Conjugacy Effects in Solar-Terrestrial and Aeronomy Research (ICESTAR) Expert Group

Multibeam Data Acquisition Action Group