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The Action Group on Integrated Science for the Sub-Antarctic (ISSA) was formed in 2014 and ended in 2021.  The aim of the group was to reinvigorate interest in the sub-Antarctic and to facilitate the development of a strategy for future research in the region based on previous work, the horizon scan outcomes, and national priorities. The AG was cross-cutting, but located within the Life Sciences Group.

The objectives of ISSA were to:

  • Provide a comprehensive overview of past and current sub-Antarctic science;
  • Identify pressing science questions for current and future work based on national priorities, strengths, and 1st SCAR Horizon Scan questions;
  • Identify key lessons for science, conservation, and policy across the region;
  • Develop a network of scientists across the region, including support for early-career researchers.

The ISSA Action Group's Terms of Reference were to facilitate an integrated programme of science in the sub-Antarctic, and identify key areas for new research, in line with national and international priorities, across this important SCAR area of interest. The boundaries of the sub-Antarctic followed those set out in the SCAR Strategic Plan.

The sub-Antarctic area, defined by SCAR to include islands from c. 40°S (e.g. Gough Island) to those south of the Antarctic Polar Front (e.g. South Georgia, Heard Island), includes large portions of the southern ocean and some of the only land between 35°S and 60°S. The sub-Antarctic islands have an extraordinary array of biodiversity and are globally significant breeding areas for many seabird and several mammal species. Given their situation among the major southern ocean fronts and directly in the path of the westerlies, the islands also hold much information regarding past changes in climate that are relevant both to past diversity and future resource availability. Many of them also face a suite of conservation challenges. Unlike the area south of 60°S, the islands are managed by individual countries, while the oceans are typically managed as a globally governed area. In consequence, science coordination is less well-developed in the region than in the Antarctic Treaty area. Moreover the significance of the islands themselves is frequently overlooked in discussions of the Antarctic region. The 1st SCAR Horizon Scan is an important example, where the islands were given comparatively little attention.

The co-chairs of the ISSA group were Gary Wilson and Justine Shaw, with Bettine van Vuuren (South Africa), Peter Convey (UK), Dana Bergstrom (Australia, representing ANTOS) and Aleks Terauds (Australia, representing SC-ATS) on the Steering Committee.

ISSA publications