Antarctic Scientists Work on 20-Year Goals


Antarctica has been the focus of a major conference in Queenstown over Easter. Dozens of scientists came together, and for once they were not after answers, but questions. The world’s best Antarctic scientists say we cannot ignore the icy continent.

“As we always say, what happens in Antarctica actually has global implications,” says American oceanographer Chuck Kennicutt.

Fifty-five scientists from 24 countries have convened in Queenstown for the first-ever Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan conference. Their aim was to come up with the most important questions about Antarctica that need to be answered in the next 20 years. Delegates submitted 800 questions, and they were culled to about 100 over the three days of the conference.

“They were questions about how ice sheets relate to sea level, changes in the ocean, changes in the atmosphere and also changes in weather and long-term climate patterns,” says Dr Kennicutt.

Scientists say sea level rise caused by Antarctic ice melt is likely to be a major issue for New Zealand. There may be another marine-based problem – increased acidity in the Southern Ocean, which threatens our shellfish stocks.

“To which extent that might be happening is something that for sure we don’t know,” says marine ecologist Jose Xavier. “But what we are witnessing today and our predictions for the future is that they will have an effect, and probably a negative effect, regarding ocean acidification in New Zealand waters.”

That’s just one of the questions deemed most important. It’s now hoped they can set out to answer them, with a more cohesive direction than they have had in the past.

For more information, including video, see the item on the 3 News website.

For further information on the Horizon Scan, visit the Horizon Scan section.

Polar Research Board E-Newsletter


Message from the Chair

The earth is changing, and the polar regions, as usual, are changing faster and by larger amounts than the global average. To any student of the planet, this is old news. Old in the sense that it has long been clear that change is happening today, and old in the sense that the earth is always changing. What is new is that there is a new dominant agent of change, one that can think, plan, and understand that it is responsible for change. The explosion of humans on the planet, both in numbers and in resource needs, has created a collision of sorts between our awesome ability to change the earth, and our fledgling ability to responsibly manage that power.


Read more……

Forthcoming Events: April 2014 Conferences

Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2014

7 – 12 April 2014, Helsinki, Finland

ASSW 2014 will include the 2nd Arctic Observing Summit (AOS). For more information, please visit the ASSW website.

[pdf] Second Circular

10th Annual Polar Technology Conference

15 – 17 April 2014, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

The primary purpose of this conference is to bring together Polar Scientists and Technology Developers in a forum to exchange information on research system operational needs and technology solutions that have been successful in polar environments. This exchange of knowledge helps to address issues of design, implementation, and deployment for systems that are to achieve their research goals in the Polar Regions.

Past participants have come from the private sector, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academia. Presentations generally cover system requirements for proposed research along with descriptions of systems and approaches that have been proven in polar deployments. Typical hardware and software topics have included weather stations, robotics, power systems, telemetry, and remote communications. The scale of systems ranges from the autonomous data collection towers to large scale research stations. Polar venues represented include under, on, and above the ice, tundra, or sea.

We are pleased to have support from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs as an endorsement of the concept of bringing together providers and consumers of these technologies in hopes of benefiting from that synergy.

For more information and to submit an abstract or to register, please visit the Conference website.

Obituary: Martha T. Muse

SCAR and the Selection Committee for the Martha T Muse Prize for Antarctic science and policy join the Tinker Foundation in mourning the passing of Martha T Muse on 9th February 2014. Martha was a founding director of the Tinker Foundation. She served as its president for 27 years and its chairman for 33 years, retiring in 2008. It was under her direction that the Foundation became a leading funder of Latin American-related activities, providing support for educational, environmental, security, economic, legal and governance issues. One of her final directives to the Tinker Foundation was incorporating Antarctica-related subjects under its funding mandate. Her passion for Antarctica was recognised with the Tinker Foundation establishing the Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica, an award for mid-career Antarctic scientists and policy makers, recognised as leaders of tomorrow. The First Martha T Muse Fellows Colloquium will be held in her honour, in conjunction with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan, in April 2014 in New Zealand.

Martha received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1948 and a master’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 1955. In 1981 she received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University. She was the first woman elected as a trustee to Columbia University and was among the first women named to the Board of the New York Stock Exchange and the Council on Foreign Relations.

A memorial service will be held in New York City in the late spring. Letters of inquiry and condolence may be sent to the Tinker Foundation, 55 E. 59th St., New York, NY 10022.

For a detailed obituary, please follow link below:

Details of the Martha T Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica:

Details of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan, and the 1st Martha T. Muse Fellows Colloquium (“What will Antarctica and the Southern Ocean look like in 2065?)

Obituary: Philip M. Smith

The Polar world and SCAR have lost a great friend.

Phil Smith, known to SCAR members as the leader of the review that led to major restructuring of SCAR in the early 2000s, passed on February 16, 2014.

Phil began his involvement in the Polar Regions when, as a young US Army Lieutenant, he was sent to Greenland as a navigator for the heavy tractor “swings” then traversing the Greenland Ice Sheet. Phil was trained by Major Palle Mogenson and Captain Bert Danielson for his work in Greenland.

When his tour of duty in the Arctic was completed, Phil made the decision to volunteer to join the US efforts in the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958 (IGY) in Antarctica, and there he joined with Bert Crary and others utilizing heavy tractors to haul materials for the construction of the US bases established as part of IGY.

After returning to the US, Phil became an early member of the Office of Polar Programs that was established in the National Science Foundation to continue the scientific efforts begun as part of the IGY. Bert Crary was the Chief Scientist and Phil served as the Deputy Director of OPP for a number of years.

His abilities were soon recognized by his colleagues in Washington, DC, and in following years he spent time in the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and the Budget, followed by over a decade of leadership in the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council.

In the late 1990s Phil was asked by the then president of SCAR to conduct a review of that organization. At that time, SCAR was operating on the same “plan” that was instituted when it was formed in the late 1950s, and the increase in size and activities were not reflected in the SCAR system of operation, leading to pressure to change from some quarters. After some reflection, he agreed to lead a review committee, and it is as a testimony to his wise and skillful chairmanship that reforms which might well have been controversial met with wide approval. Indeed, SCAR as we see it today is largely a result of that review. More recently he was asked, and agreed to chair, a “review of the review” for a fine tuning of the operation of SCAR. He was elected as an Honorary Member of SCAR to recognize his contributions to SCAR.

Anyone who has worked with Phil knows that he was a unique individual. Outstanding leadership skills, the ability to get diverse groups to work together, but most importantly, he had the ability to see years ahead and to have an understanding of what was to come. He has been called a “futurist” by some.

Phil’s contributions to the continued growth and development of SCAR as an important organization in the international arena cannot be ignored. SCAR members owe a great debt to Phil and those of us who knew him well, some for over 50 years, will miss his skills, humour, and leadership. SCAR today is a far better and more relevant organization due largely to the efforts of Phil Smith.

Antonio Rocha-Campos, SCAR President 1994-1998

Robert Rutford, SCAR President 1998-2002

Jorn Thiede, SCAR President 2002-2006

Chris Rapley, SCAR President 2006 – 2008

Mahlon “Chuck” Kennicutt II, SCAR President 2008-2012

Jerónimo López-Martínez, SCAR President 2012-2016