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Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)

The vision of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is to establish through scientific research and international cooperation a broad understanding of the nature of Antarctica, the role of Antarctica in the Earth System, and the effects of global change on Antarctica.

The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), our predecessor organization, held an Antarctic meeting in Stockholm on 9-11 September 1957, where it was decided that there was a need for further international organization of scientific activity in Antarctica, and that a committee should be set up for this purpose. The Bureau of the ISC’s predecessor organization ICSU invited twelve nations actively engaged in Antarctic research to nominate a delegate each to a Special Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The first meeting of SCAR was held at the Hague from 3-6 February 1958 and all the participating nations and societies were represented except New Zealand and South Africa. Subsequently SCAR was renamed the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

SCAR’s area of interest includes Antarctica, its offshore islands, and the surrounding Southern Ocean including the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the northern boundary of which is the Subantarctic Front. Subantarctic islands that lie north of the Subantarctic Front and yet fall into SCAR’s area of interest include: Ile Amsterdam, Ile St Paul, Macquarie Island and Gough Island. SCAR’s specific mission is to be the leading independent organisation for facilitating and coordinating Antarctic research, and for identifying issues emerging from greater scientific understanding of the region that should be brought to the attention of policymakers.

SCAR is charged with initiating, developing and coordinating high quality international scientific research in the Antarctic region (including the Southern Ocean), and on the role of the Antarctic region in the Earth system. The scientific business of SCAR is conducted by its Science Groups which represent the scientific disciplines active in Antarctic research and report to SCAR. In addition to carrying out its primary scientific role, SCAR also provides objective and independent scientific advice to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCMs) and other organizations such as the UNFCCC and IPCC on issues of science and conservation affecting the management of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and on the role of the Antarctic region in the Earth system. SCAR has made numerous recommendations on a variety of matters, many of which have been incorporated into Antarctic Treaty instruments. Foremost amongst these has been the advice provided for the many international agreements which provide protection for the ecology and environment of the Antarctic.

⭐ The ISC and SCAR

SCAR is a thematic committee of the ISC and as such supports and adheres to the principles of its parent body, including the freedoms and responsibilities of scientists. Indeed, the International Science Council promotes the idea that science is a common human endeavour that transcends national boundaries and is to be shared by all people. Scientific progress results from global exchange of ideas, data, materials and understanding of the work of others.

The ISC contributes to the development and approves strategy and activity plans, as well as associated budgets. The ISC is also in charge of reviewing SCAR, defining review terms of reference, appointing review panel members, funding and science officers.

SCAR on a Polar Special Issue with ECO Magazine

Photo by NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

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