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SCAR General News

2018 has been an eventful year at the SCAR Secretariat, featuring SCAR’s 8th Open Science Conference and 35th Delegates’ Meeting, as well as our 60th anniversary, an expanded team, and much more. As the year draws to a close, we've drawn up a selection of highlights and a glimpse of the year ahead.

SCAR's 8th Open Science Conference

At the Polar 2018 meetings in Davos, Switzerland, we welcomed over 2500 attendees to SCAR’s 8th Open Science Conference held jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee and aptly named ‘Where the Poles come together’. You can read about it here. We’re already working closely with local organisers and the International Science Organising Committee to plan SCAR’s 9th Open Science Conference in Hobart, Australia, in 2020. We’d love to get your initial ideas for sessions (email one-line ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and there will be a further call for input in the spring of 2019.

Polar Change and the Future of Society

SCAR’s President has highlighted SCAR’s responsibility to make the implications of science from its members more broadly known, in particular through the Antarctic Treaty System, in his latest post ‘A View from the South V’.

As 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, he points to the opportunities this will provide for SCAR to highlight the implications of the evidence coming from Antarctica about our changing Earth System.  Such evidence was the focus of the panel discussion SCAR hosted on 'Polar Change and the Future of Society', during the Polar2018 meetings in Davos, sponsored by the journals Nature and Nature Communications. You can watch the video here.

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Celebrating SCAR's rich history

The panel event was just one of a number of exciting events marking 60 years since SCAR was established, following the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. You can read about our birthday celebrations here. SCAR’s achievements have been expertly documented in an updated edition of Science in the Snow, as well as in our video on the History of SCAR.

The SCAR Secretariat’s offices at the Scott Polar Research Institute are home to a wealth of historical papers on SCAR dating back to its early days. Thanks to the work of archivist Leonora Fane-Sanders during 2017/18, we now have a basic catalogue of this collection so it is more accessible to researchers. PhD student Iqra Choudury embarks on her 2nd year of research on ‘Unlocking the SCAR Archives’ in 2019. Watch out for interesting insights from Iqra in SCAR news over the course of the year.

Capacity Building

2018 saw rising demand for SCAR’s Early Career Fellowships and Visiting Scholar Awards (previously called Visiting Professor Awards). This year SCAR awarded five Fellowships after a record 49 applications. One of these Fellowships was made possible by the Prix Biodiversité of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. We also received a record number of Visiting Scholar applications, with 26 people applying this year. We look forward to seeing interest in these schemes continue in 2019 and to supporting an ever more diverse range of researchers. We’re also continually exploring ways to meet rising demand.  

New Secretariat – expanding horizons

The SCAR Secretariat doubled in size this year! I took up the role of Executive Director back in June in time for the Polar 2018 meeting. In December we were joined by Alice Oates, part-time Communications and Information Officer. Along with Rosemary Nash (part-time Administrative Officer) and Eoghan Griffin (Executive Officer) this brings our number up to four. 

The brief quiet period after Polar 2018 was a great opportunity to consider how we will work together as a team.  Many thanks to the British Antarctic Survey for allowing us to hold our first ever Team Away Day there in September. We had a day of lively discussions about how we operate and how we can support the SCAR community in the most effective way.  We also got the chance to get a feel for Antarctic research through some encounters with living organisms, as well as long dead ones! 

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Reaching a wider audience

With a greater cohort of staff, the Secretariat will be better equipped to meet SCAR’s growing needs in the coming years – whether this be through supporting its scientific groups, keeping the website informative and up-to-date or assisting in the planning of timely and relevant events.

One priority is to support SCAR to bring its members’ science to ever wider audiences. SCAR’s work has the potential to resonate with many different groups – the enthusiasm of new supporters like 5-year-old Maddie (who plans more fundraising activities in 2019!) is evidence of this.  With Alice Oates on board, we will be looking at a number of activities such as refreshing SCAR’s publicity materials, bringing back the Newsletter and building up SCAR’s presence on social media to help reach these diverse audiences.

Policymakers, both national and international, are a key group for SCAR. January 2019 will see an exhibit on SCAR at the UK Houses of Parliament, as part of a wider event on Science Diplomacy hosted by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

These are just a few of our highlights. We look forward to working with all our partners in 2019, building on the many successes of 2018, and we hope you’re as excited about the coming year as we are. Do email us if you have any news you would like us to share (even if it’s just a tweet!) or events to add to the SCAR calendar. And we always love to have visitors, so if you are passing through Cambridge, please let us know.

It’s been a pleasure to work with you all during 2018 and we wish you a safe and successful 2019,

Dr Chandrika Nath, SCAR Executive Director, on behalf of the SCAR Secretariat.