SCAR Scientific Research Programs

The focus of SCAR’s international scientific coordination is its major Scientific Research Program (SRP). If you want further details and/or explore how you might participate in a specific program, contact the SRP Chief Officers (follow the links below to the program home web site) or the SCAR Secretariat.


Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica (AAA)

Broadly stated, the objectives of Astronomy & Astrophysics from Antarctica are to coordinate astronomical activities in Antarctica in a way that ensures the best possible outcomes from international investment in Antarctic astronomy, and maximizes the opportunities for productive interaction with other disciplines.

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Antarctic Climate Change in the 21st Century (AntClim21)

The goals of AntClim21 are to deliver improved regional predictions of key elements of the Antarctic atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere for the next 20 to 200 years and to understand the responses of the physical and biological systems to natural and anthropogenic forcing factors. A primary form of data that we see being used by AntClim21 are the global coupled atmosphere-ocean model runs that form the basis of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Palaeo-reconstructions of selected time periods, recognised as past analogues for future climate predictions, will be used to validate model performances for the Antarctic region.

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State of the Antarctic Ecosystem (AntEco)

Biological diversity is the sum of all those organisms that are present in an ecosystem, that dictate how ecosystems function, and that underpin the life-support system of our planet. This programme has been designed to focus on patterns of biodiversity across terrestrial, limnological, glacial and marine environments within the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and Southern Ocean regions, and to provide the scientific knowledge on biodiversity that can be also used for conservation and management. In essence we propose to explainwhat biodiversity is there, how it got there, what it does there, and what threatens it. A primary product of this programme would be recommendations for its management and conservation.

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

AnT-ERA will examine the current biological processes in Antarctic ecosystems, to define their thresholds and thereby determine resistance and resilience to change. Such processes depend on a cascade of responses from the genomic and physiological through organismic and population to the ecosystem level. The extreme environment and marked difference in community complexity between the polar regions and much of the rest of the planet may mean that consequences of stress for ecosystem function and services, and their resistance and resilience, will differ from elsewhere. Polar ecosystem processes are therefore key to informing wider ecological debate about the nature of stability and change in ecosystems. The main goal of AnT-ERA is to define and facilitate the science required to determine the resistance, resilience and vulnerability to change of Antarctic biological systems. In particular, the science needs to determine the likelihood of cataclysmic shifts or “tipping points” in Antarctic ecosystems.

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Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic (EBA)

This programme combines the research communities and aims of the past SCAR programmes of RiSCC, EVOLANTA and EASIZ.  EBA seeks to:

  1. Understand the evolution and diversity of life in the Antarctic;
  2. Determine how these have influenced the properties and dynamics of present Antarctic ecosystems and the Southern Ocean system;
  3. Make predictions on how organisms and communities are responding and will respond to current and future environmental change; and
  4. Identify EBA science outcomes that are relevant to conservation policy and communicate this science via the SCAR Antarctic Treaty System Committee

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Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics (PAIS)

PAIS aims to improve our understanding of ice sheet dynamics during past warm world conditions by:

  1. targeting the study of vulnerable areas around the continent (both on the West and East Antarctic margin);
  2. linking ice-proximal records with coastal and offshore records including far field paleoceanographic and sea level records;
  3. integrating data into the latest generation of coupled Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA)-Ice Sheet-Climate models, which include new paleotopographic/paleobathymetric reconstructions.

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Solid Earth Responses and influences on Cryospheric Evolution (SERCE)

SERCE aims to improve understanding of the solid earth response to cryospheric and tectonic forcing. SERCE will:

  1. Identify and develop key disciplinary and interdisciplinary science components of a science programme aimed at advancing understanding of the interactions between the solid earth and the cryosphere, including glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) and ice mass change and the influence of solid earth parameters (heat flow, disposition of sediments) on ice sheet dynamics;
  2. Communicate and coordinate with other international groups investigating ice mass change, ice sheet contributions to global sea level rise, glacial isostatic adjustment models of Greenland and other ice caps, and other pertinent research efforts;
  3. Work with SCAR action/expert groups and research programmes to promote interdisciplinary science using POLENET data;
  4. Provide an international framework for maintaining, and potentially augmenting, the remote autonomous POLENET infrastructure after the International Polar Year (IPY).

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