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Integrated Science for the Sub-Antarctic (ISSA)

The Integrated Science for the Sub-Antarctic Action Group aims to provide a comprehensive overview of past and current sub-Antarctic science; to identify pressing science questions for current and future work based on national priorities, strengths, and the 1st SCAR Horizon Scan questions; and to identify key lessons for science, conservation, and policy across the region, and develop a network of scientists across the region, including support for early-career researchers.

The sub-Antarctic area, defined by SCAR to include islands from c. 40°S (e.g. Gough Island) to those south of the Antarctic Polar Front (e.g. South Georgia, Heard Island), includes large portions of the southern ocean and some of the only land between 35°S and 60°S. The sub-Antarctic islands have an extraordinary array of biodiversity and are globally significant breeding areas for many seabird and several mammal species.

Given their situation among the major southern ocean fronts and directly in the path of the westerlies, the islands also hold much information regarding past changes in climate that are relevant both to past diversity and future resource availability. Many of them also face a suite of conservation challenges. Unlike the area south of 60°S, the islands are managed by individual countries, while the oceans are typically managed as a globally governed area.

In consequence, science coordination is less well-developed in the region than in the Antarctic Treaty area. Moreover the significance of the islands themselves is frequently overlooked in discussions of the Antarctic region. The recent 1st SCAR Horizon Scan is an important example, where the islands have enjoyed comparatively little attention.