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Standing Scientific Group on Physical Sciences (SSG-PS)

Within the physical realm, processes at the interfaces between ice, ocean, land and atmosphere are critical to our ability to describe and predict the response to climate change. Outstanding uncertainties will require continued research directed at improving understanding of ice sheet dynamics, extracting climate records from the ice sheet, exploring processes and changes in sea- ice and ocean circulation and improving understanding of atmospheric dynamics and chemistry and the role of the ozone hole in Antarctic climate. A distinct component of physical sciences research in Antarctica is based on the unique properties of the continent that favour its use as a platform for astronomical and solar-terrestrial observations.

SSG-PS is designed to coordinate international scientific research across several fields:

  1. the Antarctic continent and the Southern Ocean play key roles in global climate change, and observations of climate parameters and their evolution over time there are crucial to understand and predict local and global change.
  2. Antarctica is a key environment for studies of all aspects of the cryosphere, including deriving the history of climate change from ice cores.
  3. the position of the magnetic south pole makes Antarctica (like the Arctic in the north) a region where interactions between a variable star, our Sun, and the Earth can be best monitored from the ground.
  4. the characteristics of the site (dry, cold, and wind free at some locations, especially on the high domes of the polar plateau) make Antarctica one of the places on Earth where astronomical research is expected to be best conducted.
  5. Lack of human habitation makes Antarctica a pristine environment in which slight contamination from human activities and from distant volcanic eruptions can readily be observed and related to global physical processes.


Antarctic Ice Rises, 26 - 29 August 2013, Tromsø, Norway

SCAR SSG-PS Meetings

People in SCAR Physical Sciences

SCAR Data Policy

The SCAR Data Policy aims to provide a framework for SCAR-related research data to be handled in a consistent manner, and to strike a balance between the rights of investigators and the need for widespread access through the free and unrestricted sharing and exchange of both data and metadata. In order to be considered part of a SCAR Research Programme, each Project should follow this policy:

Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Plan

Reports & Articles

Action Groups

Expert Groups

Scientific Research Programmes within SSG-PS:

Icon of ACCE report front cover

Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE) Review

SCAR's AGCS team was asked to take the lead in the preparation of a report on Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE), to consider the past and possible future changes in the physical environment of the Antarctic and the impact on the biota. It was published in December 2009. Annual updates are submitted to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. The report and annual updates are available on the ACCE publication page.

Data and Information Services

Partnerships and Co-Sponsorships

CliC - Climate and Cryosphere Programme

SCAR co-sponsors CliC with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). For further information, see the Memoranda of Understanding between SCAR and the WCRP.

CLIVAR/CliC/SCAR Southern Ocean Implementation Panel

SCAR co-sponsors the CLIVAR/CliC Southern Ocean Implementation panel with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). For further information, see the Memorandum of Understanding between SCAR and the WCRP.

ICED - Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean Programme

SCAR partners SCOR and other organisations in sponsorship of ICED. For more information on the Integrated Analyses of Circumpolar Climate Interactions and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED), see the SCAR ICED page.

IGOS-P - Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership

SCAR and the WCRP are co-sponsors of the Cryosphere Theme, a plan for a Cryosphere observing system. The observing system was developed for the IGOS Partners, and was published in hard copy in late 2007. It can be found on the Internet at

IPAB - International Programme for Antarctic Buoys

SCAR co-sponsors IPAB with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). For further information, see the Memorandum of Understanding between SCAR and the WCRP.

IPICS - International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences

At their XXIX meeting in Hobart, July 2006, SCAR Delegates decided that SCAR should formally become a co-sponsor of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS).

SCOR - Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, Oceanography Expert Group

In addition to the SCAR/SCOR partnership sponsoring ICED (see above), a joint SCAR/SCOR Oceanograpy Expert Group was set up to focus on physical oceanography, while recognising the inter-dependence of physical, chemical and biological processes in the Southern Ocean. It is co-sponsored with the Life Sciences SSG.

SCOSTEP - Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics

Annika Seppälä is the SCAR representative on the Bureau of the Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP), and provides a key link between SCOSTEP and SCAR programmes, such as ICESTAR (see under Scientific Research Programmes above).

WCRP - World Climate Research Program

The WCRP and SCAR share common goals in seeking to observe, understand, and predict climate variability and change in the Antarctic region, including the Southern Ocean. Through the SCAR-WCRP Memoranda of Understanding, the WCRP and SCAR aim to share corresponding efforts and resources and avoid duplication. This will be achieved through SCAR co-sponsoring the following activities of the WCRP:

(i) the CLIVAR/CliC/SCAR Southern Ocean Implementation Panel,

(ii) the Climate and Cryosphere Project (CliC), (jointly with IASC and WCRP),

(iii) the International Programme for Antarctic Buoys (IPAB)

as well as through the WCRP co-sponsoring the new SCAR programme on Antarctica in the Global Climate System (AGCS).