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A View beyond the Horizon: Future Directions in Antarctic Science
SCAR is embarking on a unique and exciting project to identify the most important and compelling questions in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science over the next two decades. A collective, community-based vision of the 100 highest priority scientific questions will be developed to assist in strategic planning; influence future directions in Antarctic research; highlight opportunities for collaborations and synergies; identify future critical infrastructure, logistical, and technological needs; and inform international decisions about investments in the Antarctic scientific enterprise. For this project to be successful, we need your opinion and insight on what are or will be the scientific questions that, once answered, will measurably improve our understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and its connections to the Earth and climate systems and beyond.
Questions can be of importance to global issues and/or questions grounded in curiosity-driven research capitalizing on the unique setting of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Questions supported by observations from Antarctica because of its singular characteristics are also solicited. Questions should be ones that are best addressed by research in the southern Polar Regions or where studies in Antarctica provide insights not attainable elsewhere.
While this process has been successfully used by others this will be the first attempt by the Antarctic and Southern Ocean community to use this approach. The process itself will generate a community-wide discussion and broad recognition of emerging frontiers encouraging people to think in ways not previously considered.
Outputs will include a high-profile, summary paper published in a leading journal and various other documents and products that will be widely disseminated to the community. Your responses will be the "raw material' to identify the most compelling and timely questions for Antarctic and Southern Ocean science in the future. This project will only be successful if the community – and you – choose to participate! Please encourage your colleagues to submit questions as well. This first round solicitation will close on 15 June 2013.
The Horizon Scan process will be based on inclusive, community-wide consultations led and managed by SCAR. Horizon Scan organizers invite all interested parties and individuals to participate throughout the process. No formal association with SCAR is necessary and the intent is to develop as broad a view as possible of future directions in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science, regardless of the source and/or affiliation of contributors. Not only do we want everyone to participate, your participation is essential for ensuring the credibility of the outcomes of the Horizon Scan.
If you have any questions or wish for more details, please contact a member of the Horizon Scan Action Group, especially a member from your own country or region. If you have any feedback regarding the usage or any content of the online form, please contact Renuka Badhe (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan
The SCAR 2011-2016 Strategic Plan calls for instituting a "Horizon Scanning" activity to support SCAR's vision of leadership and international cooperation in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science and assist in achieving its mission of excellence in science and scientific advice to policy makers. From SCAR's Strategic Plan:
"To sustain a position of leadership, SCAR must maintain a continually evolving vision of frontiers and emerging directions in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science. To this end, SCAR will sponsor a regular assessment of scientific frontiers. The objective will be to assemble the world's leading experts to scan the horizons for emerging frontiers in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science and identify gaps in knowledge. This gathering will draw on data and information from SCAR conferences, symposia, workshops, meetings and other scientific gatherings; the outcomes of SCAR's Action, Expert and Programme Planning Groups; National Antarctic Programme planning and strategic documents; outcomes of SCAR's Scientific Research Programmes; and reports of SCAR's Cross-linkages Meetings. The assessment will produce a …..vision of future directions and grand challenges in Antarctic science. These assessments will inform SCAR leadership and members as it evaluates its scientific portfolio, concludes programmes and approves new ones."
- SCAR Strategic Plan 2011-2016, 'Antarctic Science and Policy Advice in a Changing World'
While this is the 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan, it is envisioned that every four or five years this view of the future will be revised and updated based on the latest scientific and global developments. Each Scan begins with assumptions and the current state-of–knowledge and it is reasonable to expect in these times of rapid change that these underpinnings may substantively change over a time period of four to five years. Regular, and sustained, forward thinking allows for course corrections and recognition of newly emerging trends that are critical to shorter timeframe strategic planning efforts.
For more details, see the Scan Framework page.
Background and Context
The Scan is being proposed within an expansive framework of activities that is defining a new and robust paradigm for how Antarctic science and policy can work more effectively to benefit society. There are three inter-related, but independent, initiatives within this framework that are mutually supportive and synergistic while having independent goals, budgets, processes, leadership and timelines.
For more details, see the Context page.
The 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan will assemble 50 of the world's leading Antarctic scientists, policy makers, leaders, and visionaries to identify the most important scientific questions that will or should be addressed by research in and from the southern Polar Regions over the next two decades. The proven method of "Horizon Scanning" will be applied to develop a community view of the 100 most important scientific questions in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science. The Scan outcomes will assist in aligning international programmes, projects and resources to effectively facilitate Antarctic and Southern Ocean science in the coming years. The Scan process of bringing the global Antarctic science and policy community together to plan for the future will also serve as an unprecedented opportunity to enhance existing partnerships, forge new relationships, mentor early career scientists and students, and communicate the importance of Antarctic and Southern Ocean science to the public and policy/decision makers.
Audiences and/or Beneficiaries
The audiences for the Scan are:
- the international Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific community,
- the world-wide organizations/agencies that fund and support Antarctic and Southern Ocean science, and
- the Antarctic Conservation Strategy and the Antarctic Environments Portal which provide direct links to the policy-making community.
For more details, see the Audiences page.
The Scan is based on a proven, iterative approach to processing hundreds of scientific questions posed by the community through a series of methodical steps to arrive at a prioritized list of the 100 most important and compelling scientific questions. This approach has been successfully used for a wide range of applications which have resulted in highly cited papers that have influenced national priorities for funding and action. There are key steps in the process relative to the core activity which is a physical gathering of experts (the "Retreat"). Pre-Retreat planning includes formation of a diverse and representative International Steering Committee, assembling foundational documents in a database, community-wide solicitations for nominees for Retreat participation and scientific questions, preliminary sorting of questions and recruitment of discussion leaders. At the Retreat the list of 100 most important questions will be embellished within an integrated, substantive narrative.
For more details, see the Methodology page.
Post-Retreat activities include communicating outcomes to the community and producing a high profile article in a journal such as Science or Nature. Other types of output will include: short summaries of key topics, prioritized lists of questions, a website, Scan resource databases, a final report, presentation materials, presentations at conferences and symposia, topical papers in journals, and submissions to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.
Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean - a report by the US National Academy of Sciences, 2011