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9 October 2013

SCAR continues to plan and organize the 1st Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan. The Horizon Scan process is a community-based effort to identify the most compelling and important scientific questions to be addressed over the next two decades in and from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. For more details on the SCAR Science Horizon process, objectives and audiences, go to the Horizon Scan home page.

A critical element of the Science Horizon Scan is a Retreat to be held in Queenstown, New Zealand from April 20 to 23, 2014, where the most important scientific questions will be formulated and agreed. The Horizon Scan International Steering Committee (ISC) selected Retreat invitees from nearly 500 community-submitted nominations of highly qualified and deserving candidates. Primary considerations in selection were scientific excellence, leadership, and a broad perspective of Antarctic science. To reach a consensus, ISC members carefully reviewed the credentials of all nominees and selected those they believed should be invited to the Retreat via an online survey. Nominees were classified as experts in the Geo Sciences; Life Sciences; Physical Sciences; and Social Sciences, Humanities and Policy, as defined by SCAR's portfolio of scientific activities, to ensure coverage of the breadth of Antarctic science.

In Round 1 voting, those that were the top 10% vote-receivers were added to a short list (39 candidates) and those receiving two or fewer ISC member votes (out of 25) were no longer considered. The remaining candidates were once again voted on by ISC members and the top 20% vote-receivers of this 2nd round of voting were added (41 candidates) to the short list, making a total of 80 candidates for invitation. In both rounds of voting, candidates receiving the same number of votes, at the 10 or 20% level, were included on the short list. By definition all of those on the short list were deserving of an invitation and selection of the final list of invitees was based on overall expertise coverage, geographic representativeness, gender, inclusion of partner organizations and programs, and community representativeness. A final list of 40 "At-Large" invitees was recommended and approved by consensus of the ISC. Those remaining on the short list with similar profiles were to be invited if invitations were declined. As the list evolved, the ISC reviewed the composition of the invitees and addressed any gaps based on the criteria above - of particular importance was expertise coverage. Members of the ISC (25) and the Local Organizing Committee (8) were extended invitations to arrive at the final 73 invitees. Acceptances of invitations were greater than 90%.

SCAR Science Horizon Scan Retreat attendees are from 24 countries, 7% are early career scientists or students, 27% are female, and topical expertise ranges from history to astrophysics. Based on SCAR classifications, attendees are 22% Geo Sciences, 32% Life Sciences, 33% Physical Sciences and 14% Social Sciences, Humanities and Policy.

Scan Retreat attendees are representatives of their communities and are tasked with providing a broad perspective on their areas of expertise at the Retreat. Everyone is encouraged to contact attendees and make their opinions known and take advantage of opportunities to participate in the Horizon Scan (i.e., online question solicitations). The Scan ISC thanks the community for their participation and enthusiasm and regrets that many deserving nominees could not be invited to the Retreat due to financial and event management constraints. A lack of an invitation should not be construed as a judgment on any individual's expertise and/or the importance of their contributions to the community. Difficult decisions were made by consensus through a methodical, fair and unbiased process that provided all candidates an equal opportunity for an invitation.

The 2nd Round Scientific Question Solicitation is still open and everyone is encouraged to submit their best, future-oriented ideas.