US Antarctic science involves several organizations with Antarctic missions.
Scientific research and the operational support of that research are the principal activities supported by the United States Government in Antarctica. The goals are:
- to expand fundamental knowledge of the region,
- to foster research on global and regional problems of current scientific importance, and
- to use the region as a platform from which to support research.
The Polar Research Board is a unit of The National Academies, which is comprised of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. The PRB provides independent analysis to the federal government and the nation on matters of science and technology research needs, environmental quality, natural resources, and other issues in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and cold regions in general. The PRB serves as the US National Committee to SCAR.
The United States has strong diplomatic interests in Antarctica, in particular promoting its status as a continent reserved for peace and science in accordance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The United States played a major role in negotiating this Treaty, which was signed in Washington, and it participates actively in all aspects of the Antarctic Treaty System. There are currently 46 parties to the Treaty, of which 28 are consultative parties having the right to participate in decision-making.
NOAA’s Antarctic investigations (since the late 1920’s) have: monitored weather conditions on Antarctica; studied sea ice, sea conditions, marine life, and oceanography of areas surrounding Antarctica; monitored and observed geophysical parameters such as geomagnetism, seismological activity, and gravity in Antarctic regions; and established observatories on the Antarctic continent to study global change parameters such as the buildup of greenhouse gases and the loss of ozone from the upper atmosphere.
NOAA Fisheries’ U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Program is a national program providing information needed for the development and support of U.S. policy regarding the conservation and management of the marine living resources in the ocean areas surrounding Antarctica.
The United States Antarctic Resource Center is a joint effort of the USGS National Mapping Division and the National Science Foundation United States Antarctic Program. The USARC is the United States contribution to the SCAR Library system and is managed through an interagency agreement with the National Science Foundation which provides support to the USGS for scientific activities in Antarctic and in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program.
NASA has a wide variety of Antarctic based science initiates and a number of NASA scientists have active research interests in Antarcitca. Interested readers are referred to theto use their internal web search engines to locate projects of interest.
The cryosphere is the component of the Earth System that contains water in its frozen state. This includes glaciers, snow, lake ice, sea ice, ice caps, ice sheets and permafrost. While these elements of the cryosphere exist at many locations on Earth, they are in greatest abundance in the polar regions. The mission of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch (CSB) is to increase our understanding of the ice cover and its connection to the rest of the climate systems.
Additional US entities with Antarctic interests:
- is responsible for regulating US-based tourisim in Antarctica. Interested readers are referred to the to use their internal web search engines to locate projects of interest.