Celebrating 60 years of Antarctic Science
This week the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) marks six decades of successful international collaboration. Since its first meeting in The Hague on 3-5 February 1958, SCAR has grown an international network of thousands of scientists who share a common ambition to carry out Antarctic science for the benefit of society.
“The environmental threats to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean make international research collaboration more urgent and important than ever,” said SCAR President, Steven Chown, a professor at the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University.
Professor Chown was elected SCAR President in 2016 for a four-year term. It is the first time Australia has held the SCAR presidency in its 60-year history.
With a membership representing the scientific communities of 43 countries, SCAR is instrumental in initiating, developing and coordinating high quality international scientific research in the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean. As an inter-disciplinary committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU) SCAR provides objective and independent advice to international bodies such as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“Antarctica and the Southern Ocean have a fundamental role in regulating processes such as climate and carbon uptake, and research in the Antarctic is crucial to understanding processes of global significance and to advancing science,” Professor Chown said.
“Additionally, rapid changes are occurring in parts of Antarctica that could open the continent to a new level of activities in the coming decades. Antarctic governance, administration and environmental protection must be based on scientific data.”
Since 1958, SCAR has been central in defining the vision and goals of science in Antarctica and has facilitated the implementation of Antarctic science by promoting international and transdisciplinary collaborations. The provision of scientific advice, identification of opportunities, and the facilitation of collaboration are the core elements of SCAR’s essential mission.
“In the last 60 years Antarctic scientists have made astonishing discoveries that have changed how we view our changing world,” Professor Chown said.
“These discoveries have influenced global policies to ban the use of ozone-depleting chemicals; to protect Southern Ocean ecosystems while managing commercial activity; and have informed international discussions on climate change. No one nation can achieve this alone and SCAR is proud of its international leadership role in shaping the Antarctic research agenda.”
Sixty years ago, the International Geophysical Year drew world attention to the importance of continuing international Antarctic collaboration. Today, governments around the world are working together to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. SCAR is very well placed to inform and enable intergovernmental initiatives to chart a new course (in the global climate effort) through its continued ambition for a coordinated international approach to Antarctic science.
SCAR is moving into its seventh decade and has grown substantially in membership – from 12 original members in 1958 to 43 currently. It is now well-established as an internationally recognized and influential organization. This has only been possible through the engagement and support of thousands of researchers from around the world that comprise the SCAR Antarctic scholarly community, together with the support of the SCAR member organizations. SCAR invites everybody to celebrate its 60th birthday!
SCAR will celebrate its 60th year at its 35th Meeting and the Open Science Conference (POLAR2018) at Davos in Switzerland from June 15-26 June 2018.
Silvia Dropulich Marketing, Media and Communications Manager, Science