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SCAR XXXI WP17: Report on Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments (SALE)
XXXI SCAR Delegates Meeting
9-11 August 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina

SCAR XXXI WP17: Report on Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments (SALE)

Working Paper 17
Agenda Item: 6.5
Posted/Revised: May 1
Person Responsible: Kennicutt

Executive Summary

Title: Scientific Research Program (SRP) - Subglacial Antarctic Lake Exploration (SALE)

Authors: J.C. Priscu and M. C. Kennicutt II

Relevant URLs or references to other reports: obsolete link

Introduction/ Background/Progress:  SCAR has a long history of involvement in the study and exploration of subglacial aquatic environments (SAE). A Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environment Group of Specialists (SALEGoS) was formed by SCAR in 2000.  SALEGoS served as a focus for community interests in what was an emerging scientific focus for Antarctic research. SALEGoS disbanded itself in 2004 in preparation for becoming one of SCAR’s first Scientific Research Programs. Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments (SALE) became a SCAR SRP in 2004.SALE proposed and was formally recognized as an ICSU/WMO IPY Program as the SALE Unified Team for Exploration and Discovery (UNITED). The SALE program promoted, facilitated and championed international cooperation to better understand subglacial aquatic environments in Antarctica. SALE was highly successful in keeping SAE on the agenda of funding agencies, in the scientific press, and in the lay press. SALE was at the forefront of promulgating guiding principles for environmental stewardship of these unique settings. These efforts culminated in a Code of Conduct currently being considered by the Delegates. SALE sponsored numerous major international workshops and scientific sessions at meetings. SALE’s members are funded by national programs to conduct SALE science and SCAR funding allowed for yearly meetings.

Progress: The SALE website contains a history of the program’s activities and successes and an archive of all SALE materials generated over a 10- year period (

Important Issues or Factors: SCAR SALE met in March 2010 in Baltimore, MD for the sixth time in the margins of an AGU Chapman Conference it co-sponsored. The Chapman conference summarized progress on Antarctic Subglacial Aquatic Environments (SAE) and promoted cooperation and partnerships, particularly among the three major SAE programs (Russia, UK, and USA).  At this meeting SALE members concluded that the groups Terms of Reference had been met and voted to disband SALE (see attached meeting report).  It was also agreed that SCAR should continue to play a leadership role in SAE exploration and research  as national programs entered a phase of lake entry and  sampling over the next few years

(Subglacial Lake Vostok -Russia, Subglacial Lake Ellsworth - UK, and WISSARD - US).  A group of SALE members agreed to form a SCAR Expert Group to assess the state of SAE science, consult with the community, provide a forum for those with SAE interests to interact, and develop plans for the next generation SCAR SAE programs. The details of this effort are provided in the ATHENA proposal.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification:  SALE strongly recommends that the Delegates approve the establishment of ATHENA to continue the long history of SCAR involvement in SAE study.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes:  SCAR will build on the successes of SALE and maintain its leadership role in subglacial aquatic environment research which will be a major focus for Antarctic science over the next decade.

Partners: COMNAP

Budget Implications:  SALE will end in 2010. The budget request for ATHENA is contained within their proposal.