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Results of the Community-wide Solicitations of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Scientific Questions

February 2014

1st Round - Community-wide Solicitation of Scientific Questions

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.

The 1st Round community-wide solicitation of scientific questions was opened on 15 May 2013 and closed on 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 needed to be addressable by research in the southern Polar Regions or where studies in Antarctica could provide insights not attainable elsewhere.

The organizing committee was pleased with the community response of 751 questions from 351 submitters from 38 countries! It is appreciated that so many took the time to participate in this important activity. 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:

2nd Round - Community-wide Solicitation of Scientific Questions

In order for the 1st Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan to attain its goal of a collective vision of future directions in Antarctic science beyond present strategic planning efforts, the community was challenged to pose additional questions that extrapolated from current knowledge and understanding of the southern polar regions and reasonable short-term (next 10 years) expectations for advances. This was a targeted solicitation based on analysis of gaps, disciplinary representativeness, geographic distribution, and inclusion - a challenge 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 programmes. By design, a Horizon Scan aims to move the community toward a longer-term vision that will inform decision-making in the interim to ensure that the loftiest of goals will be attained by planning now for requirements many years (two decades) in the future.

Next Steps

After the close of the 2nd round, the organizers combined the two sets of questions and created lists sorted by topic to easily access those questions of greatest interest to you.