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July 2013

SCAR has embarked on a unique and exciting project to identify the most important and compelling questions in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science in the next two decades. A collective, community-based vision of the highest priority, most compelling 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. The Science Horizon Scan is also a community-building opportunity. Progress has been made on several fronts over the past few months and updates on recent developments and next steps are provided.

1st Round Community-wide Solicitation of Scientific Questions

The 1st Round community-wide solicitation of scientific questions was opened on 15 May 2013 and closed 14 June 2013. Question submitters were asked to develop questions 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 were also solicited. Questions must be addressable by research in the southern Polar Regions or where studies in Antarctica provide insights not attainable elsewhere.

The community responded with 751 questions from 351 submitters from 38 countries. It is appreciated that so many took the time to participate. The questions reflected the geographic, gender and disciplinary diversity of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific community. The complete (unedited) questions and the demographic and topical distributions of submitted questions can be viewed at:

The organizers are in the process of creating lists sorted by topic to easily access those questions of greatest interest to you. An additional opportunity to submit questions will be provided by the 2nd Round Community-wide Solicitation of Scientific Questions (see below for details).

Tinker Foundation, Antarctica New Zealand, and New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute Award funds for the Science Horizon Scan

In June 2013 SCAR was notified of an award of $200,000 from the Tinker Foundation for the Science Horizon Scan. New Zealand's offer to host the Scan Retreat has been accepted. Antarctica New Zealand and the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI) have jointly pledged $48,000 and SCAR has allocated $40,000 to financially support the Scan.

Solicitation of Additional Funds

Based on the commitments to date, the majority of the funds for conducting the Science Horizon Scan are now in hand though additional funds must still be raised. Post-Retreat development of publications and wide dissemination of Science Horizon Scan outputs will require additional financial resources as well. If you or your organization wishes to financially contribute to the SCAR Science Horizon Scan, please contact Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to explore opportunities. All financial contributions will be widely recognized on the Horizon Scan web site, at the Retreat, and all products, presentations and other outputs produced by the Horizon Scan.

Science Horizon Scan International Steering Committee (ISC)

In order to plan and manage the SCAR Science Horizon Scan, an International Steering Committee (ISC) has been assembled. Membership on the committee was developed over several months and the goal was to reflect the disciplinary, gender, stage of career, and geographic diversity of the global Antarctic science community. If you have any questions regarding the Science Horizon Scan please feel free to contact any of the ISC members.


News of the Science Horizon Scan has been widely disseminated and communicated. The Scan has been featured in various newsletters, email distributions, scientific meetings, and other forums. Papers were presented at the recent Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Brussels in May 2013 and at least half a dozen interventions during the meeting mentioned the Scan. Organizing committee members have provided presentations at a number of meetings. The Scan website has been operational for several months and the SCAR Secretariat has used the latest social networking tools to disseminate information. Of particular note was an article on the Nature journal website: "Antarctic science looks ahead" by Alexandra Witze. The organizing committee continues to ask everyone to discuss the Scan with their peers, promote the Scan in various forums, encourage others to participate, and pass on information to any interested parties. The best type of publicity is word of mouth!

Management of the Retreat

Discussions have been initiated with a private sector company that is expert in conducting surveys called Qualtrics. Qualtrics specializes in conducting surveys that are easy to use, produce meaningful results, and supply unambiguous information and input. Qualtrics' motto is "Sophisticated Research Made Simple: Get the real-time insights you need to make fact-based decisions". Over 5,000 organizations, half of the fortune 100 companies, and 95 of the top 100 business schools use Qualtrics' survey tools. The goal for the Scan is to produce tools that allow online conduct of the Scan, generate real-time data and statistics for decision making, allow simultaneous revisions and adjustments to decisions, and preserves all steps in the process. All of the steps in the process and the outcomes from the Retreat will be made publicly available.

Next Steps

The success of the Scan process and the validity of the outcomes will be critically dependent on the participation of the international Antarctic scientific community. The organizing committee is committed to providing multiple, substantive opportunities for everyone to contribute ideas and suggestions.

The next steps in the process will provide additional opportunities for participation and will be launched in the next several weeks including:

  • Community-wide solicitation of nominees for invitation to the Horizon Scan Retreat that will be convened in April 2014. The Retreat will be "Invitation Only" and limited to 50 – 60 participants due to financial constraints and manageability issues. The organizing committee will conduct a democratic process to narrow the list of invitees so your input about who you see as leaders and visionaries is crucial. Launch: 12 July 2013.
  • 2nd Community-Wide Solicitation of Scientific Questions – this will be a targeted solicitation based on analysis of gaps, disciplinary representativeness, geographic distribution, and inclusion. A challenge will be to "think-outside-of-the box" and truly gaze into the future to discern what Antarctic and Southern Ocean science will look like in 20 years. The Horizon Scan process will cull questions that are narrowly focused, can be reasonably expected to be addressed in the short-term (next 10 years), and are too general in nature to propose doable scientific projects and programs. Projected launch: August 2013.
  • The organizing committee is contemplating a community-wide survey to identify the collective view of the most important Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific questions. Your opinion of the usefulness of such a survey is welcomed. Projected launch: To be determined.


If you have any questions or wish for more details, please contact any member of the ISC, especially a member from your own country or region and/or visit the Scan website, or email Dr Renuka Badhe at the SCAR Secretariat.

The Horizon Scan process is 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.