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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
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Summary

The Southern Ocean and Antarctic coast drive processes of national and global importance, including rising sea level, the global carbon cycle, and ecosystem services.1 A robust U.S. research presence in these regions, which are some of the harshest and most remote places on Earth, is essential to national security and economic interests. A diversity of fundamental and use-inspired research in the Antarctic region provides an important training ground for the workforce of the next generation, which will support the sustainable use of ocean resources in the emerging blue economy.2 These science, economic, and workforce development drivers justify robust investments in the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) and its research platforms. Such investments include the replacement of aging research vessels and other enabling infrastructure, as well as the development and deployment of new technologies. While these investments will be significant, if planned well they will make future research in the Antarctic region more impactful and cost effective.

At the request of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed the ad hoc Committee on the Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research (see Appendix A for committee member and staff biosketches). The committee’s task was to identify the highest-priority science drivers for Southern Ocean and Antarctic nearshore and coastal research, determine the needed capabilities and approaches for this research, and suggest ways to address gaps between science drivers and the current portfolio of capabilities.

Following the consideration of priority science questions identified in past reports and information gathered at a community workshop and three open sessions, the committee identified three thematic scientific drivers—sea level rise, global heat and carbon budgets, and changing ecosystems. These science drivers are inherently interdisciplinary, requiring efforts within and between numerous disciplines. The committee also identified specific high-priority research questions within each science driver (Table S-1) that justify prioritized investments in infrastructure and programs.

A top priority is the near-term construction of a Polar Class 3 Antarctic Research Vessel. Additional priorities include provision for small coastal vessel operations in the relatively ice-free waters of the Antarctic Peninsula region, development of innovative observation systems that can expand vessel capabilities and operate semiautonomously in difficult-to-access environments, expansion and cost-effective management and support of shared instrument pools, implementation of programmatic initiatives to support robust workforce development, and

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1 Ecosystem services are natural systems that directly or indirectly benefit humans or enhance social welfare (Johnston, 2018).

2 The blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources that benefits economic growth and ocean ecosystem health.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
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TABLE S-1 Priority Science Questions Identified Under Each Science Driver for Nearshore Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research

Sea Level Rise Global Heat and Carbon Budgets Changing Ecosystems
How much and how fast will ocean warming raise sea level? What determines the net uptake and release of CO2 in the Southern Ocean and how will it change in the future? What are the feedbacks between changing ecosystems and biogeochemistry that drive the carbon cycle?
How much and how fast will atmospheric warming raise sea level? What are the key temporal and spatial scales of upper-ocean processes that influence air–sea exchange? How have biota adapted and evolved, and what is their resilience to change?
How will floating ice processes impact the rate of ice sheet loss? What are the pathways of ocean heat and biogeochemical properties between the open Southern Ocean and the Antarctic coast? How can the study of global connections and ecosystem services inform evidence-based conservation and management?
Will grounding zone instabilities create tipping points of irreversible ice loss? How can understanding past changes in the Southern Ocean heat and CO2 budgets elucidate the future?
Will geological and geophysical properties and processes exacerbate or moderate sea level rise? What processes will impact Antarctic sea ice extent and thickness on decadal timescales?

NOTE: Questions are not in order of priority.

upgrades to key laboratories in Antarctic field stations. The committee also identified the need for increased support for national and international partnerships and shifts in the programmatic approach for efficient long-term planning and shared implementation of interdisciplinary research programs, the focus of which are best identified with community input.

Conclusion 6-1:3 Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic research provides critical quantitative and predictive data about societally and economically relevant issues, such as rising sea level, the global carbon cycle, and ecosystem services. These science drivers, and the need to develop a robust workforce, justify major investments in the U.S. Antarctic Program, including investments in its infrastructure (e.g., vessels, aircraft, satellites, stations, tools), science mission, and partnerships.

SEA LEVEL RISE

Antarctica’s ice sheets, which contain approximately 58 m of sea level–rise potential, may be approaching a dangerous tipping point toward major and potentially irreversible ice mass loss. Sea level rise due to greenhouse gas emissions will last centuries to millennia and affect the entire global community and economy, especially roughly 1 billion people who live in low-lying coastal zones. Oceanic forcing of the Antarctic ice sheets, through heat delivery and mechanical erosion, is expected to be the dominant source of ice mass loss in the next century, with atmospheric forcing also causing substantial ice mass loss (Figure S-1). Major uncertainties remain about rates and extent of ocean warming, transport of heat through the sub–ice shelf cavities, and the sensitivity of the surface mass balance of ice sheets to increasing global temperatures.

Conclusion 3-1: Observations of surface energy, heat transport, and ice mass balance will result in better model representation of ice sheet flow and sensitivity to atmospheric and oceanic forcing, leading to improved projections of global and local rates of sea level rise.

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3 The recommendations and conclusions in this summary are numbered according to the chapter of the main text in which they appear.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
Image
FIGURE S-1 Schematic representation of a grounded ice sheet and floating ice shelf over the continental shelf that are being affected by atmospheric and oceanic forcing. Sea ice is crystallized from ocean water, whereas icebergs are calved from inland ice sheets. Cold and dense Antarctic Bottom Water produced in this region flows down the continental slope. Warm Circumpolar Deep Water flows into the ice shelf cavity.
SOURCE: Modified from Gille (2014). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

Limited understanding of key processes, such as how grounding line retreat may trigger self-perpetuating feedbacks (e.g., marine ice sheet and ice cliff instability), results in uncertain projections of sea level rise. Constraining these processes through targeted observations and verifying models through paleoclimatic records will help clarify projections about how much and how fast the sea level will rise.

Conclusion 3-2: Increased remote and in situ observations of existing ice shelf cavities, grounding zones, and ice fracture mechanics, as well as more detailed reconstructions of the rates and regional extent of ice loss during past warm periods, will elucidate tipping points for possible irreversible ice mass loss.

Resolving uncertainties in sea level rise involves interdisciplinary research, particularly on ice–ocean interaction and the interaction of ice and ocean with the solid Earth and subglacial hydrology. Recent discoveries, including surprisingly rapid rates of uplift on the Antarctic Peninsula, suggest that extensive and robust monitoring of these processes may be needed for accurate predictions of sea level rise.

Conclusion 3-3: Improved observations and modeling of geologic and geophysical processes and properties—including glacial isostatic rebound; geothermal heat flow; subglacial geology and hydrology; and the seismic, thermal, and rheological properties of the underlying lithosphere–asthenosphere system—will improve accurate projections of sea level rise.

GLOBAL HEAT AND CARBON BUDGETS

Climate change is expected to have significant social, economic, and health impacts on both national and global populations. The global ocean has so far absorbed more than 90 percent of the excess heat from humanity’s input of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (two-thirds of that in the waters from the Southern Ocean), thus mediating the rate of global atmospheric warming. The Southern Ocean plays an outsized role in this global climate system, as most deep waters rise to the surface and exchange heat and carbon with the atmosphere in this area. It also serves as a crossroads, connecting the circulation of all ocean basins and controlling the strength and properties of the global deep overturning circulation through the production of Antarctic Bottom Water (Figure S-1), as

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

well as shallower intermediate and mode waters that impact lower latitudes. Large changes in the lower limb of the overturning circulation (Figure S-2) have been documented in paleoceanographic records and implicated in the release to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2) stored in the deep ocean. However, variability and rates of change of this lower limb of the overturning circulation are poorly understood and sparsely measured, compared with those of the upper ocean.

Image
FIGURE S-2 The global overturning circulation. The lower limb of the circulation is constituted by the northward flow of the dense abyssal flow that is set from Antarctic Bottom Water. The upper limb is constituted to the northward surface flow of the upper part of deep waters and the mode and thermocline waters, as well as southward return flow of dark purple deep-water flows.
SOURCE: Meredith (2022).
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

Conclusion 4-1: Additional sediment coring and drilling, as well as deployment of autonomous platforms, are needed to understand the role of the Southern Ocean in controlling the variability of the global overturning circulation and its long-term influence on total oceanic heat content, carbon storage, and climate.

Given that the Southern Ocean is responsible for about 40–50 percent of the net removal of fossil fuel CO2 emissions, there is a need to better constrain how its carbon reservoir may change. Prediction of these changes will benefit from an improved understanding of the physical processes that control the large-scale (hundreds of kilometers) distributions of heat, carbon, and nutrients. Notably, these distributions often depend on circulation features and air–sea interactions at smaller spatial scales (100 m to 100 km).

Conclusion 4-2: Collecting biogeochemical and physical oceanographic data from crewed and uncrewed vehicles at temporal and spatial scales reflective of the dominant scales of physical variability in the upper ocean, including mesoscale and submesoscale variations, will improve constraints on air–sea exchange and the Southern Ocean’s contribution to future atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

A priority identified in both Chapters 3 and 4 is to improve constraints on the oceanic transport of heat toward the Antarctic coast and the oceanic thermal forcing of Antarctic ice shelves. This is essential to project not only future sea level rise but also the strength of the lower limb of the global overturning circulation and carbon sequestration in the ocean. A picture of interannual variations in heat transport has started to develop, but it remains difficult to assess this variability in the context of a full seasonal cycle.

Conclusion 4-3: Sustained observations of a full seasonal cycle, carried out over multiple years, are needed to improve understanding of seasonal to interannual variations in the ocean’s density structure, heat delivery into Antarctic ice shelf cavities, and the production of Antarctic Bottom Water, which control the strength and structure of the global overturning circulation and rates of carbon sequestration in the ocean.

The sea ice–ocean system has seen recent dramatic variability and a possible regime shift in sea ice extent. The drivers of this variability and trend are poorly understood. Sea ice in the Southern Ocean is a sensitive indicator of change and is known to modulate freshwater fluxes and air–sea heat and carbon exchange; yet large biases still persist in model representations of sea ice extent. This suggests that key processes are not yet understood or represented in models.

Conclusion 4-4: Multiplatform and multiprogram initiatives that can cover a broad range of spatial and temporal scales will provide better understanding of controls on sea ice extent, as well as its role in air–ocean interaction, freshwater exchange, circulation dynamics, and carbon cycling.

CHANGING ECOSYSTEMS

The Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic ecosystem is uniquely adapted to extreme environments and rich in important ecosystem functions4 that regulate the exchange of energy, nutrients, and carbon throughout the food chain. Biogeochemical cycles allow Earth’s biota to regulate their chemical environment and adapt to climate change. However, considerable uncertainty remains about the role of different functional groups, from microbes to megafauna, in mediating the cycles of key elements (e.g., carbon, iron, silica, nitrogen, phosphorus) in the Southern Ocean and the feedbacks of these elements into the Antarctic ecosystem.

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4 Ecosystem functions are the processes that control the fluxes of energy, nutrients, and organic matter through an environment. They may provide useful services both within and outside of the ecosystem (e.g., filtering water/air, providing habitat, serving as a carbon pump).

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

Conclusion 5-1: Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic biogeochemical processes play a key role in the global climate system through the biological carbon pump. However, these processes are poorly understood and require sustained and widespread biogeochemical and paleobiogeochemical measurements to better constrain models that address the role and impact of the Southern Ocean on global systems.

Although previous investments have defined questions for future research, there is much to be learned about how Southern Ocean biota will respond to continued and accelerating climate change or how their response may alter biogeochemical cycles and food webs. Sustained research will be essential for improving models of the global carbon cycle and the impacts of continued warming on the planet.

Conclusion 5-2: Antarctica is a unique laboratory in which the biological responses to millennia of climate variability are archived. Understanding the resilience of Antarctic biodiversity and ecosystem function requires innovative technologies—from advanced molecular analyses to continent-scale, remotely sensed observations—to document Antarctica’s biological heritage and reveal untapped resources. Because the full potential of this living and historical archive remains unknown, efforts to conserve it are essential.

Many Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic biota and ecosystems directly or indirectly benefit humans. These benefits include fisheries, biomedical and technological applications of bioactive products, tourism, opportunities for climate change–mitigation strategies, and the biological carbon pump. These ecosystem services can be protected using evidence-based conservation and management practices.

Conclusion 5-3: Sustaining Antarctic and Southern Ocean resources for a healthy ocean economy requires foundational and ongoing observations and modeling of marine resources, nutrient and biogeochemical cycling, climate, and biodiversity.

UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC RESEARCH

The United States is a global leader in Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, investing significant financial resources and deploying approximately 2,500 people to Antarctica each year. NSF OPP is charged with supporting Antarctic science and logistical operations, including three research stations and two research vessels that operate in the region. The science infrastructure that enables research in the region is aging and without major immediate investments will not be able to support the science necessary to advance U.S. interests. At the time of this writing, both USAP research vessels—the Nathaniel B. Palmer and the Laurence M. Gould—are approaching or have exceeded their roughly 30-year design service life. Without near-term investments in USAP vessels, the United States will be less capable than other nations of undertaking research important to national security, such as research on sea level rise. A U.S.-owned and -operated icebreaker dedicated to science is critical to advance this report’s science drivers and U.S. interests in the region.

Conclusion 6-2: The near-term prioritization of the design and construction of the Antarctic Research Vessel will support U.S. national interests in use-inspired research, including studies that will advance resilience and adaptation to global climate change and rising sea levels. This critical research would otherwise be compromised by a gap in vessel support for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region.

Unlike the Laurence M. Gould, which is partially utilized as a logistics vessel for resupply of Palmer Station, the Antarctic Research Vessel (ARV) will be focused solely on science support and will serve a diverse research community that operates in a variety of Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic environments. Therefore, the ARV needs a wide range of capabilities to accommodate the requirements of research. The need for wintertime access to nearshore regions is a needed capability that cuts across the three science drivers identified in this report, and thus is a critical performance parameter for the ARV.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
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Conclusion 6-3: The wintertime access to nearshore regions that can be afforded by a Polar Class 3 vessel is a critical performance parameter for the Antarctic Research Vessel. This capability will support research that will advance U.S. security interests in preparedness and resilience to global events, including sea level rise and climate change.

U.S. helicopter support in the Antarctic region ensures the capability to deploy people and heavy equipment to heavily crevassed areas that do not accommodate fixed-wing aircraft. Full helicopter support from a vessel requires at least two light-duty helicopters plus a helipad and supporting infrastructure. This capability was removed from the ARV conceptual design in 2020. A solution will be required to address this gap and ensure access to these important regions.

Conclusion 6-4: Full helicopter support on icebreakers enables scientists to access and deploy heavy equipment for gathering critical data related to sea level rise—as well as other societally relevant questions, such as global heat and carbon budgets and changing ecosystems. Given that these data are often gathered from very remote and heavily crevassed locations, alternative methods for accessing these locations can be logistically complicated, expensive, or dangerous.

Recommendation 6-1: The National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs should release a request for information to develop innovative solutions for supporting U.S.-led expeditions to remote, heavily crevassed, and rapidly thinning glaciers and ice shelves to enable critical research into sea level rise. Some potential solutions may include (1) international partner agreements (see Recommendation 6-8), (2) commercial leasing options, (3) a cost-effective solution for supporting two light-duty helicopters on the Antarctic Research Vessel that could be incorporated without delaying progression through the Final Design Stage, (4) combined fixed-wing and helicopter modes of operation, or (5) some combination of these options.

NSF has indicated that a representative of the ARV Scientific Advisory Subcommittee will be included on the Technical Change Board as a full voting member throughout the ARV design and construction phase. This is a positive approach that will encourage continued community engagement and transparency.

Recommendation 6-2: The National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs should continue to incorporate community input in major infrastructure development and ensure transparent development processes.

In light of the impending retirement of the Nathaniel B. Palmer and the charter expiration for the Laurence M. Gould in June 2024, the USAP has indicated that it is planning to transition its dedicated Antarctic fleet from a two-vessel to a one-vessel program. NSF notes that the Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould are currently being scheduled “below their operational capacities due to budgetary constraints,” and that a one-vessel program would allow for more cost-effective operations. This planned transition to a one-vessel program would constitute a major restructuring of the USAP that may have far-ranging implications for the research community.

One potential impact of this transition is equity in field participation. Implementing approaches to foster equity and promote robust and diverse workforce development will be essential for supporting the science drivers.

Recommendation 6-3: To foster the next generation of polar leadership, the National Science Foundation (NSF) should complete impact assessments on the planned transition to a one-vessel program, communicate their results, and implement actions to mitigate possible impacts from the transition. Impacts may include changes to the diversity of the Office of Polar Program’s funded project portfolio and the diversity (e.g., career stage, race, gender) of the chief scientists on U.S. Antarctic Program vessels. NSF should assess the potential for dual-anonymous peer review and other approaches to ensure equitable evaluation of proposals and opportunities for career development.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

Another potential impact of a planned transition to a one-vessel program is related to the relative importance of large, interdisciplinary field projects. Small, individual principal investigator–driven research projects have a long history of advancing Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic research and should continue to be supported. However, given the logistical constraints of working in the region under a planned one-vessel program and the growing interdisciplinary nature of many research questions, NSF-directed calls for proposals on large, interdisciplinary field projects will accelerate discoveries.

Recommendation 6-4: The National Science Foundation should regularly convene community workshops to identify cost-effective, directed, and interdisciplinary field programs focused on specific regions and integrated science questions.

Tools and Technologies

Major investments in tools and technologies are justified by the diversity of science drivers identified in this report. For example, there is a currently unmet need for a small coastal vessel that can operate independent of icebreakers and provide safe and nimble access to the shallow coastal zone for research on the resilience of ecosystems to a changing climate and other science drivers. Unless addressed, this gap may be exacerbated following the planned transition to a one-vessel program. As climate change drives a decline in the extent and persistence of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula region, the need for sustained small coastal vessel operations is likely to grow.

Recommendation 6-5: In consultation with the research community, the National Science Foundation should consider investing in the lease or purchase of small coastal vessel(s) (e.g., 15–50 m in length), which could operate independently of icebreakers or other larger vessels, for cost-effective research access in the relatively ice-free shallow waters of the Antarctic Peninsula region. Doing so will avoid having to deploy the Antarctic Research Vessel in situations in which its capabilities are not fully utilized.

A recurring theme in this report is interest in localized regions of the Southern Ocean and nearshore Antarctic, including the ice shelf face and grounding line, which are important for a number of science drivers. The gap between the needed measurements at these key locations and the limited availability of USAP vessels can be addressed by supporting long-term investments in innovative, multiplatform observations.

Recommendation 6-6: The National Science Foundation should support the development of new and innovative observing systems—such as fiber optic cables, autonomous underwater vehicles, drones, and other potential platforms—that will collect sustained data at key locations (e.g., polynyas, ice shelf face, rifted ice shelves, grounding line), even in the absence of icebreaker support.

Research on the effects of increased temperature, hypoxia, and ocean acidification on Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems requires facilities that can accommodate multifactorial experiments in the manipulation of seawater temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH. These capabilities are currently a gap in the aquarium facilities at the Palmer and McMurdo stations.

Recommendation 6-7: The National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs should convene a community workshop to consider needed upgrades to the aquarium and other laboratory facilities at the Palmer and McMurdo stations.

Partnerships

NSF OPP regularly collaborates with intra-agency directorates/divisions (e.g., Directorate for Engineering; Division of Ocean Sciences; Division of Earth Sciences; Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences; Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships) and other U.S. agencies, such as the National Oceanic and

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

These inter- and intra-agency partners share many of OPP’s research interests, and important scientific advances depend on linking satellite remote observations with in situ field work and state-of-the-art numerical simulations. Thus, closer engagement between these partners and OPP will help to advance knowledge.

Conclusion 6-5: Targeted inter- and intra-agency open competitions on interdisciplinary topics (e.g., planetary science, air–sea exchange, sea level rise, long-term Earth observations, validation of satellite observations) will maximize the resources and expertise of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic science community.

Where possible, the United States should prioritize investments in its own infrastructure. However, partnerships with commercial organizations, nongovernmental organizations (e.g., University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System), and international organizations (e.g., National Antarctic Programs) are essential for advancing research questions and addressing logistical and resource constraints. Lead agency agreements,5 similar to those developed for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, are effective for large interdisciplinary programs and can address gaps that are inevitable in any single organization. Call for proposals for programs with established lead agency agreements will improve access to opportunities for early-career and other researchers who may not have existing relationships with potential partners. The codevelopment of project plans by NSF and the partner agencies will also optimize outcomes and support these new partnerships.

Recommendation 6-8: The National Science Foundation should strengthen existing and identify new strategic opportunities for lead agency agreements with countries that can help support the science priorities identified in this report. This is particularly important for those nations with year-round stations and vessel capabilities that are complementary to those of the United States.

Partnerships can also alleviate concerns around the equitable access to advanced technologies due to their expense and limited availability. Resource pools, including mid-to-large remotely operated vehicles and drones with dedicated technical support, that are accessible upon submission of a successful proposal may enhance the equitable allocation of resources.

Recommendation 6-9: The National Science Foundation should explore the creation and expansion of shared instrument and equipment pools to support cost-effective and equitable access.

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5 Lead agency agreements “provide a framework for joint peer review of proposals by two funding agencies in different countries. One organization takes the lead in managing the review process with an agreed level of participation by the other, and both agencies accept the outcome of the review process and fund the costs of the successful applications in their respective countries” (UKRI, 2022, para. 3).

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27160.
×
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 Future Directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic Nearshore and Coastal Research
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Antarctica hosts some of the harshest and most remote environments on Earth - and it is a region of vital importance for scientific research. The environment and position of Antarctica on the globe mean that research conducted there can offer unique insights on important Earth processes, including rising sea level, the carbon cycle, ecosystem structure. As the climate warms, data gathered from Antarctic research will be essential to understanding how Earth processes are changing and the potential social, economic, and health impacts on both U.S. and global populations.

This report identifies the highest priorities for research in the Southern Ocean and nearshore and coastal Antarctica, as well as gaps in current capabilities to support this research. Global sea level rise, heat and carbon budgets, and changing ecosystems are the three highest-priority science drivers for research in the region. To address those drivers and maintain a robust U.S. research presence in this vitally important region, investments are needed in the U.S. Antarctic program and its research platforms, including the development of new technologies and the replacement of aging icebreaking research vessels. Additionally, the U.S. should strengthen relationships with other nations’ Antarctic programs that can help support these essential science drivers.

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