SCAR Newsletter – September 2014 edition

The latest issue of the SCAR newsletter is now available, the first of 2014.  The considerable work involved in creating the new website and preparations for the XXXIII SCAR Meetings and OSC in Auckland have made it impossible to issue one until now.  This bumper edition covers:
• SCAR focus on . . . the Antarctic Environments Portal
• Results of the 1st Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan
• SCAR News and Announcements
• Antarctic Science News
• Tributes to Phil Smith and Martha Muse
• An update from APECS
• Forthcoming SCAR Meetings

… and more!


The newsletter is available to view and download from the SCAR website at

Announcement of SCAR and COMNAP 2014 Fellowship awards

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) are pleased to announce this year’s Fellowship awardees.

The Fellowships for early career researchers are worth up to US$ 15,000 each and, this year, 25 applications were received with six Fellowships (four SCAR and two COMNAP) being awarded.  The SCAR Fellowships are awarded to: Jaimie Cleeland (Australia), Camila Negrão Signori (Brazil), Fiona Shanhun (New Zealand) and Manoj M.C. (India).  The COMNAP Fellowships are awarded to: Sandra Potter (Australia) and Keith Soal (South Africa).

The winners of the SCAR Fellowships will carry out a range of scientific research in areas including long-term mark–recapture data on albatrosses, microbial diversity in the Southern Ocean, CO2 flux in Antarctic Dry Valley soils and biomarker-based reconstruction of late Quaternary palaeoceanographic conditions.  The COMNAP Fellowship recipients will carry out a project on topics of environmental policy and a technical project to understand ice loading on polar research vessels.  Candidates come from a wide geographic spread of countries, and further detailed demographic information will be available on the SCAR website in the coming weeks.

SCAR has been offering scientific fellowships to early career scientists since 2005.  Such fellowships have enabled Antarctic scientists to participate in a range of significant research including using ice cores to determine proxies for the Southern Annular Mode, a molecular study of Antarctic ostracods, and investigating particulate carbon and biogenic silica in sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.  Since 2005, 29 SCAR Fellowships have been awarded.

In 2011, COMNAP launched their Antarctic Research Fellowship Scheme, offering one fellowship for an early career person in order to carry out research within a COMNAP National Antarctic Program.  With this year’s awards, there have been two COMNAP Fellowships awarded for a total of six awards since the scheme began.

Fellowships support the scientific goals of SCAR and the international cooperation goal of COMNAP, to develop and promote best practice in managing the support to Antarctic science.  Fellowships enable early career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating research partnerships that last many years and over many Antarctic research seasons.  Many of the projects’ results were presented at the recent SCAR Open Science Conference held in Auckland, New Zealand in late August 2014.

For more information about the scheme, please visit the Fellowships section.

Two new countries and two new Vice Presidents join the SCAR Family

During the SCAR Delegates’ Meeting held in New Zealand this September 2014, two new countries joined SCAR: the Czech Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran, bringing the total number of countries in the SCAR family to 39. Two new Vice Presidents were also elected – Azizan Abu Samah (Malaysia) and Terry Wilson (USA).

Terry WilsonTerry Wilson is professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University. With her research group, she investigates the structural architecture of the Earth, how continents rift, and the interaction of the solid Earth and ice sheets in Antarctica, using structural field observations, geophysical data and GPS. Dr. Wilson is the U.S.delegate to SCAR, is active as chair of SCAR’s Scientific Research Programme SERCE (Solid Earth Responses and influence on Cryospheric Evolution) and has extensive experience working to create and sustain international programmes and collaboration. Dr. Wilson earned her PhD in geology from Columbia University in 1983.

Azizan Abu SamahProf Dr Azizan Abu Samah is a meteorologist with a PhD from the University of Reading, UK. He is currently a professor in the Department of Geography, University of Malaya, Malaysia. He is also the Director of the National Antarctic Research Centre and Deputy Director of the Institute of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the same university. His main interest is on tropical-polar and air-sea interactions. He was involved in a number of scientific advisory steering committees such as SHIVA (an EU Framework Programme), the UK’s NERC International Opportunities Fund,  Asian Network on Climate Science and Technology (ANCST) and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies (CMAS). He was a member of SCAR’s 1st Horizon Scan in Atmospheric Sciences.

Outcomes from the 1st SCAR Antarctic & Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan

Six priorities for Antarctic science

The official outcomes of the 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan were published online today as a COMMENT in Nature (512, 23–25; 2014 entitled “Six priorities for Antarctic science”.

In April 2014, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) convened 75 scientists and policy-makers from 22 countries to agree on the priorities for Antarctic research for the next two decades and beyond. This is the first time the international Antarctic community has formulated a collective vision through discussions, debate and voting. The Horizon Scan narrowed a list of hundreds of scientific questions to the 80 most pressing ones.

The questions fall broadly into six scientific priorities: 1) define the global reach of the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean; 2) understand how, where and why ice sheets lose mass; 3) reveal Antarctica’s history; 4) learn how Antarctic life evolved and

Survived; 5) observe space and the Universe; and 6) recognize and mitigate human influences. A few examples of critical questions that need to be answered include:

a)    How will the recovering ozone hole and rising greenhouse-gas concentrations affect regional and global atmospheric circulation and climate?

b)   Will changes in the Southern Ocean result in feedbacks that accelerate or slow the pace of climate change?

c)    What factors control Antarctic sea-ice seasonality, distribution and volume?

d)   Are there thresholds in atmospheric CO2 concentrations beyond which ice sheets collapse and the seas rise dramatically?

e)    What do geological signatures of past relative sea level tell us about when and where planetary ice has been gained or lost?

f)     What are the genomic, molecular and cellular bases of adaptation in the Antarctic?

g)    What is the nature of the Dark Universe?

h)   What is the current and potential value of Antarctic ecosystem services and how can they be preserved?

The assembled experts concluded that to answer the 80 highest priority questions, it will be necessary to provide long-term sustained and stable research funding; access to all of Antarctica throughout the year; application of emerging technologies; strengthened protection of the region; growth in international cooperation; and improved communication among all interested parties. Maximizing scientific return while minimizing the human footprint should be the goal, and coordinated international efforts that engage diverse stakeholders will be crucial.

Former SCAR President Mahlon ‘Chuck ’ Kennicutt II, who lead the Horizon Scan, summarized that “Antarctic science is clearly globally important. The southern polar community must act together if it is to address some of the most pressing issues facing society…. It is time for nations involved in southern polar research to embrace a renewed spirit of cooperation as espoused by the founders of the Antarctic Treaty – in actions not just words.”  While this is the first Antarctic Horizon Scan, it is recommended that SCAR repeat the Horizon Scan exercise every four to six years in support of national strategic planning efforts and emerging integrated science, conservation and policy efforts.

Communicating the global importance of Antarctica to the public must be a priority. Narratives need to better explain how the region affects and is influenced by people’s daily lives. Antarctic success stories, such as signs of ozone recovery, engender confidence in the power of changes in behavior. SCAR President, Jerónimo Lopez-Martin concluded, “Antarctic science has never been more important to our understanding of how the Antarctic and Earth system work, what this foretells about the future of our planet and the role that humans play in observed change. The challenge is to find new ways for the global Antarctic community to act together to realize this potential for the benefit of all.”

SCAR OSC Antarctic Public Engagement Events

SCAR OSC 2014, Auckland: Get your Tickets for the Amazing Evening

New Zealand’s Antarctic Festival, NZ IceFest presents an Auckland Taster of
Evening Events and Exhibitions especially for the SCAR Open Science
Conference. These events will showcase some of New Zealand’s renown artists
and comedians, as well as SCAR’s own International Antarctic Expertise
events open to both the general public and conference attendees.

Named for some of the last words written in Robert Falcon Scott’s diary,
this unique experience in an evocation of Antarctica: of whiteness and cold
and ceaseless winds. With texts by poet Bill Manhire set to music by
composer Norman Meehan, sung by Hannah Griffin and interwoven with the
images of photographer Anne Noble, this song cycle remembers those who live
and those who have died on the ice. Event starts with a pre-concert talk by
Bill Manhire.
– Mon 26th August, 7.30pm, Sky City Conference Centre.
– Tickets $35. Available on the NZ IceFest website or through your SCAR
registration (can be updated at any time)

Following Te Radar’s trip to Antarctica with Our Far South, Te Radar
presents Antarcticana, an illustrated comedic lecture on all things
Antarctic. The rigors of scurvy, scientific madness, odd flora and fauna
and the even odder folk who have explored there.
– Tues 27th August, 7.30pm, Sky City Conference Centre.
– Tickets $35. Available on the NZ IceFest website or through your SCAR
registration (can be updated at any time)

Savour the wonder of Antarctic science after hours at Auckland Museum. Sit
back and listen to a panel of internationally renowned Antarctic scientists
from the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) talk about the
international endeavour of Antarctic Science, discoveries of working as a
scientist at the bottom of the earth, and what the future holds for
Panelists include:
– Dr Carlota Escutia, Universidad De Granada, Spain
– Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director, Grantham Institute, Imperial
College, London
– Professor Chuck Kennicutt, Professor Emeritus in Oceanography, Texas
A&M University
– Professor Richard Bellerby, Research Scientist, Norwegian Institute for
Water Research
Thur 28 August, 7pm, Auckland Museum
Tickets available from Auckland Museum. General Public $10, Auckland Museum
Circle and Institute Members $7.50, Students $5

Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton
Step ?inside? the historic huts of Antarctic explorers Captain Robert
Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton to relive a time of extraordinary
polar exploration. Experience a unique audiovisual work* created by New
Zealand photographer Jane Ussher and the Antarctic Heritage Trust and
become immersed in the landscape, isolation and lives left behind by these
heroic early explorers. Encounter incredible Antarctic objects from
Auckland Museum?s collections and find out what it was like to live, work
and play in the earth?s southern-most continent. Then through the work of
exhibition partner, Antarctic Heritage Trust, discover what?s happening to
conserve this heritage on the ice today.
*Original immersive experience shown as part of NZ IceFest 2012, with
support from the Christchurch City Council.
– Wed 27 Aug to Sun 05 Oct, Open 10am ? 5pm, Special Exhibitions Hall,
Auckland Museum
– Free with Museum entry

Nita Smith
NZ IceFest Education and Public Engagement Coordinator

Antarctic Environments Portal & APECS Workshop at 2014 SCAR OSC

Deadline for applications is Monday 30 June 2014

For any further questions and enquiries, please contact either Jana Newman ( or Sira Engelbertz (

The Antarctic Environments Portal (Portal) project and APECS will jointly convene a workshop for Early Career Scientists (ECSs) at the upcoming SCAR Open Science Conference (OSC) in Auckland, New Zealand. This workshop is a great opportunity for ECSs to be involved in the development of a potentially significant tool to link Antarctic science and Antarctic policy. The workshop is open to 25 ECS applicants who will also receive a NZ$ 50 grant each as contribution towards their expenses. Funding for the workshop is kindly provided by the Norwegian Government.

Date: Thursday 28 August 2014; Time: 18:00 – 20:00
Location: Auckland Room 3, SkyCity Convention Centre, 88 Federal Street, Auckland, New Zealand
Focus Group: Early Career Scientists, Limit of Participants: 25
Cost: Free + catering will be provided

Apply by 30 June 2014 and join the workshop to not just learn more about the Portal but exchange your views with our five mentors from the Portal project team and Steering Committee:

– Birgit Njåstad, Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway
– Prof. Steven Chown, Monash University, Australia
– Dr. Neil Gilbert, Constantia Consulting, New Zealand
– Dr. Fraser Morgan, Landcare Research, New Zealand

– Prof. David Walton, British Antarctic Survey (Emeritus Fellow), United Kingdom


The Portal ( is a project to link the growing body of scientific research on Antarctica with the governance work of the Antarctic Treaty System, in particular through the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The Portal is an online platform including summaries of the state of knowledge on CEP priority issues, the management of those issues and environmental pressures. Information in the Portal is based on peer-reviewed science and existing CEP materials. The content is intended to be non-technical and a-political. It is subject to a robust editorial process.

The current management of the Antarctic Environments Portal is provided by Antarctica New Zealand, the technical design and development is currently provided by Landcare Research New Zealand. Partner organisations are: SCAR, the Australian Antarctic Division, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. A steering group comprised of scientists, policy and technical experts and a SCAR representative provide leadership, oversight and expert guidance to the Project Manager.


The Portal is an exciting initiative at the interface of Antarctic science and policy. A beta or demonstration version of the Portal was recently demonstrated at the meeting of the Antarctic Treaty System’s meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection, and it was very well received The Portal is still under development and will be fully functional by June 2015. The objective of the Portal & APECS workshop is to seek the views of emerging science and policy leaders on the project and on making the Portal user-friendly. This feedback in the development phase will be instrumental to the project’s success.


Interested ECSs can apply by sending an expression of interest including brief self-introduction and academic background as well as motivation to attend the workshop to Jana Newman ( The application for the workshop will include the consideration for the NZ$ 50 grant for participants. No separate application for sponsorship is necessary. Deadline for applications is Monday 30 June 2014.

For any further questions and enquiries, please contact either Jana Newman ( or Sira Engelbertz (

The SCAR Visiting Professor Scheme 2014

SCAR is pleased to announce the launch of its ‘Visiting Professor Scheme 2014’The scheme is designed to encourage the active involvement of scientists and academics in Antarctic research, and to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in Antarctic research.

The Visiting Professorship is for mid- to late-career stage scientists and academics (at least 5 years after completing their PhD) who are involved in Antarctic research, providing the opportunity for them to undertake a short-term visit (1 to 4 weeks) to an institute in another SCAR member country, to provide training and mentoring.  The ultimate goal of the scheme is to strengthen the scientific research capacity of countries with smaller or less well-developed Antarctic research programmes, promoting capacity building in the host institute and developing long-term scientific links and partnerships which will lead to advances in Antarctic research.

The Visiting Professor Scheme is seen to complement the early-career SCAR Fellowship Scheme ( by providing scientists and academics with the opportunity to intensify collaboration amongst SCAR member countries and to contribute to SCAR’s objectives.

The scheme provides awards of up to USD $2500 each, covering the cost of an international return flight and some contribution towards living expenses for the visiting period.  Some commitment is required from the candidate’s home institute (or the candidate themselves, if retired) and the proposed host institute.

Full information on the scheme, including details of the application process and the criteria on which applications will be assessed, is available on the SCAR website.  Follow the link from the SCAR home page:
The closing date for applications is Thursday 31st July 2014.Queries about the scheme should be sent to

National Research Council (NRC) Seeking Input on Science Priorities

The National Research Council (NRC) Committee to Advise NSF Science Priorities for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research is seeking your input.

This committee is charged to articulate a strategic vision for NSF’s investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean research– anchored by community engagement and input, and building upon the broad vision of key scientific questions identified in the 2011 NRC report “Future Science Opportunities in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean“, as well as other relevant efforts such as the SCAR Horizon Scan currently underway.  The goal of this study is to develop consensus recommendations on priorities for compelling research that could feasibly be undertaken in the coming decade or so, and outline practical steps forward to implement this research.  Our scope stretches across topics as diverse as geology and geophysics, terrestrial and aquatic biology, glaciology and ice core studies, ocean and atmospheric sciences, astrophysics and space weather, as well as cross-cutting areas such as education, public engagement, and data management.

As input for this study, the committee would like to draw widely on the expertise and experience of people across the Antarctic and Southern Ocean science communities.  We are planning a series of outreach events to be held at various locations across the country, where you may have an opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas in person (dates and locations will be circulated once the plans for these events are further solidified).   In addition, we’ve set up an online “Virtual Town Hall” at the link given below, where you are invited to submit your ideas in writing.

This NRC study presents an important opportunity to help shape the future of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, and we do hope you will choose to take advantage of this opportunity.   The committee welcomes and values your ideas.  The window for input will remain open for the next several months (until November 1, 2014), so you should have ample time to contribute.

Please feel free to share this email and the link with any of your colleagues who you think may be interested.  Questions can be directed to Lauren Brown at the NRC:

Thanks in advance for your input,
Robin Bell, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Committee Co-Chair
Bob Weller, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Committee Co-Chair