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Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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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2

The National Antarctic Program

While many nations and organizations operate in Antarctica today, the United States is a global leader in Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, both investing significant financial resources and deploying about 2,500 people to Antarctica each year (NSF, n.d.a). The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is charged with managing support for U.S. research as well as governance and environmental protection efforts in Antarctica, in line with the Antarctic Treaty System.

Established in 1959 with 12 original signatory countries, including the United States, the Antarctic Treaty now has 56 Treaty Parties participating in governing activities (NSF, n.d.b). The treaty defines Antarctica as the land, ice, and sea south of 60°S latitude, and establishes it as a place for scientific investigation and international cooperation, prohibiting military efforts and promoting information exchange, international collaboration, and environmental protection. The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is an international forum for exchanging information, consulting on matters of common international interest, and formulating measures that further the objectives of the Treaty; ATCM has been held each year since 1994.

OFFICE OF POLAR PROGRAMS AND U.S. ANTARCTIC PROGRAM

Within NSF, the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) provides access to the polar regions through logistics (e.g., polar facilities and operational support), and promotes research, engineering, and education through administered grants awarded on the bases of intellectual merit and broader societal impacts. Specifically, the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP)—managed by OPP—operates, manages, and supports logistics and scientific research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and is responsible for carrying forward the U.S. goals that support the Antarctic Treaty. To achieve these science goals, the USAP currently operates three research stations, two research vessels, and a fleet of aircraft. The operations and maintenance cost of these platforms is significant, with approximately 60 percent of OPP’s total annual budget spent on U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities and Antarctic Facilities and Operations (NSF, 2023c).1

The three research stations, which operate year-round, are the McMurdo Station, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, and Palmer Station. Given its focus on nearshore and coastal Antarctic research, this report will focus only on the McMurdo and Palmer stations (Figures 2-1 and 2-2). Established in 1955, McMurdo Station, the largest

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1 Written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 2-1 Map of Antarctica showing year-round (open circles) and seasonal (filled circles) research stations and the countries that operate them. Grounded ice and floating ice shelves are indicated by light grey and purple shading, respectively.
SOURCE: Jamin Greenbaum.
Image
FIGURE 2-2 U.S. Antarctic Program stations discussed in this report: (a) Palmer Station and (b) McMurdo Station.
SOURCE: Dan Costa.
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 2-3 Aircraft operated by the USAP includes fixed-wing aircraft—(a) Twin Otter and (b) Basler—and (c) AS-350 helicopters.
SOURCES: Dan Costa and Jamin Greenbaum.

in Antarctica, is located on the southern tip of Ross Island. McMurdo Station is the logistics hub for the USAP, capable of supporting 1,200 people during the summer and 300 during the winter, and consisting of approximately 85 buildings and a harbor (NSF, n.d.c). Infrastructure at McMurdo Station is currently being updated under a long-range investment program called the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (Future USAP, 2023a). Palmer Station, located on Anvers Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, was originally built in 1965; however, this structure was replaced in 1968 by a more permanent building a mile east of the original, and became operational in 1970. Palmer Station consists of two main buildings, three smaller buildings, two fuel tanks, a dock, and a helicopter pad, and can support about 40 people during the summer and about 10 in the winter (NSF, n.d.d).

The USAP has access to an extensive air support system to transport cargo and personnel to Antarctica from Christchurch, New Zealand, and Punta Arenas, Chile, and as transport within Antarctica (see Figure 2-3). These critical air assets open opportunities for supply and support of numerous activities in Antarctica. The aircraft operated by the U.S. Air National Guard for USAP includes the LC-130 Hercules, equipped with both wheels and skis for landing on snow and ice. This is the primary aircraft supporting transportation within Antarctica; it also makes trips from McMurdo Station to New Zealand. The U.S. Air Force2 also operates C-17 Globemaster jets between New Zealand and McMurdo Station. Other USAP-supported aircraft, provided through a contract with Kenn Borek Air, include Twin Otters and the larger Basler (DC-3) turboprop planes, both of which are also equipped with skis and wheels (NSF, n.d.e, 2023c). A contract with Air Center Helicopters will be in the final of 4 options years in fiscal year (FY) 2024 (NSF, 2023c); this contract reportedly includes 1 medium and 2 light-duty helicopters through a Department of Interior public solicitation,3 which is a reduction of 1 medium helicopter from recent years.

The two vessels that currently support USAP research and logistics are the Laurence M. Gould and the Nathaniel B. Palmer (Figure 2-4 and Table 2-1). The Laurence M. Gould is operated via a charter, set to expire in June 2024, with Edison-Chouest Offshore. As of the publication of this report, NSF has not reported whether it will extend the charter for this vessel (NSF, 2023b). The Laurence M. Gould is 76 m long and is strengthened to ice class ABS A1,4 but it is not an icebreaker. It can accommodate about 26 research scientists for up to 75-day missions. The Laurence M. Gould currently supports marine research and resupply and transport of people to Palmer Station (NSF, n.d.f).

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2 This sentence was altered after release of a pre-publication version of the report to indicate that the C-17 Globemaster jets are operated by the Air Force.

3 Notice ID: 140D0423R0058.

4 There are two different icebreaking ratings for vessels. American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) ice class notations indicate the thickness of the ice in which the ship can work. A0 relates to vessels that can work in first year ice, whereas ice class A2 to A5 are designated as icebreakers. In 2008, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) was delegated to establish seven new Polar Ice Classes. ABS Ice Classes A5, A4, A3, A2, A1 (highest icebreaking to lowest) correspond approximately to IACS Polar Classes PC1, PC2, PC3, PC4, PC5 (highest icebreaking to lowest) (ABS, 2016).

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 2-4 The Laurence M. Gould in the foreground and the Nathaniel B. Palmer in the background.
SOURCE: Dan Costa.

TABLE 2-1 Comparison of the Key Vessel Design Characteristics for the Current U.S. Antarctic Program

Nathaniel B. Palmer Laurence M. Gould
Expiration of current charter March 2029 June 2024
Length (m) 94 76
Ice class/Polar Class ABS-A2, similar to PC5/PC4 ABS A1
Science/technical personnel 39–45 ~26
Endurance (days) ~65 ~75

SOURCE: Data from NSF, n.d.f,g, 2023b.

The Nathaniel B. Palmer is also chartered through Edison Chouest Offshore, until March 2029. The Nathaniel B. Palmer is an icebreaking vessel (ice-classed ABS-A2), which is similar to an IACS Polar Class of approximately PC5 or PC4 (Table 2-2; see also footnote on previous paragraph). It accommodates 39–45 science and technical personnel and is capable of 65-day missions (NSF, n.d.g). NSF has indicated that it plans to maintain the Nathaniel B. Palmer charter until a new USAP vessel is acquired (Future USAP, 2023b).

Both USAP vessels are approaching or have exceeded their roughly 30-year design service life (the Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould are 31 and 26 years old, respectively; NSF, n.d.f, g). While the NSF OPP Advisory Committee (2019) recommended that future USAP operations utilize a two-vessel model, NSF has indicated that

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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.
×

TABLE 2-2 International Association of Classification Societies Polar Classes (PC)

Polar Class Ice Descriptiona Select USAP, UNOLS, other U.S. and International Vessels with Polar Classes
PC1 Year-round operation in all polar waters
PC2 Year-round operation in moderate multiyear ice conditions
PC3 Year-round operation in second-year ice, which may include multiyear ice inclusions Norwegian RV Kronprins Haakon; Chinese Xue Long 2; Australian RSV Nuyina
PC4 Year-round operation in thick first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions Finnish IB Polaris
PC5 Year-round operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions U.S. RV Sikuliaq; South African Agulhas II; British RRS Sir David Attenborough
PC6 Summer/autumn operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
PC7 Summer/autumn operation in thin first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions

a Based on World Meteorological Organization Sea Ice Nomenclature.

NOTES: IB = icebreaker; RRS = royal research ship; RSV = research survey vessel; RV = research vessel.

SOURCE: Data from ABS (2016), Appendix B.

the USAP is planning to move from its current configuration of a two-vessel program to a one-vessel program. NSF notes that the Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould are operating “below their operational capacities due to budget constraints.”5 Shifting to a one-vessel model once a new NSF-owned vessel is constructed would allow for more efficient and cost-effective operations, due to lower personnel, maintenance, fuel, and port fees. This would allow more funding to be allocated for commercial resupply of Palmer Station, and for the support of additional ship time on other vessels provided by University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), or through other National Antarctic Programs.6

New Antarctic Research Vessel

The construction of a replacement for the current USAP vessels must be funded through NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account. This is an agency-wide account that supports the “acquisition, construction, and commissioning of major facilities and larger mid-scale research infrastructure” (NSF, n.d.h, para. 1). Projects funded by this account must “represent an outstanding opportunity to enable research and innovation, as well as education and broader societal impacts” (NSF, 2021). In addition, candidate projects should be consistent with the NSF Strategic Plan and should have received strong endorsement from the science community, based upon a thorough external review. NSF commonly utilizes National Academies studies, community workshops, and other activities to allow for community input in this process (NSF, 2021).7

The first stage of the MREFC process is the Conceptual Design Stage. The goals for this stage include the definition of the research objectives that the vessel will address, a description of the vessel, system-level design for major systems, preliminary budgets and schedule, environmental and safety impacts, and an initial estimate of operations and maintenance cost if the vessel is completed. A Conceptual Design Review (CDR) is completed near the end of this stage. Copies of the CDR and other information are provided to the Facilities Readiness Panel and the Facilities Governance Board, which review the information and recommend to the NSF director whether to advance the project to the next stage (NSF, 2021).

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5 Written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

6 Written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

7 This sentence was altered after release of a pre-publication version of the report to reflect a more up-to-date reference on the MREFC process.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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.
×

The second stage, Preliminary Design/Readiness, further refines the concepts initiated in the Conceptual Design Stage. For example, this stage will include refining the research objectives, vessel description, and operating cost estimates, as well as environmental assessments/impact statements, budget and contingency estimates, construction schedule, and feasibility demonstrations for key technologies. A Preliminary Design Review is then conducted and the Facilities Readiness Panel and the Facilities Governance Board recommend to the NSF director whether to advance the project to the Final Design Stage. The director will only bring projects forward if they believe that the Office of Management and Budget and Congress are likely to approve the appropriation of funds (NSF, 2021).

For a project to enter the Final Design Stage, the National Science Board8 must have decided to include the project in a future NSF budget request. Requirements for this stage include designs that can be placed for bidding and refined cost estimates. A project can exit this stage when it is construction ready and when congressional appropriation of MREFC funds occurs. If a project is not approved, or deemed not fully construction ready, the project will return to the Preliminary Design Stage. A Final Design Review includes a construction-ready design, tools and technologies needed for the project, updated budgets, partnership agreements, and updated operating costs. After the appropriation of funds, NSF awards contracts for construction (NSF, 2021).9

Information-gathering in preparation for the MREFC process to replace the USAP vessels initially began in 2002 when the Antarctic Research Vessel Oversight Committee (ARVOC) established the Polar Research Icebreaker Study. It convened a number of workshops on polar icebreaker needs and requirements. The ARVOC concluded that a new icebreaker should have greater icebreaking capabilities than the Nathaniel B. Palmer, 80 days endurance,10 berths for 50 scientists, a moonpool, and helicopter support. The committee argued that this icebreaking capability and 80-day endurance were essential to provide access to more of the Southern Ocean during all four seasons, whereas the increased accommodation was essential to support interdisciplinary and technically complex projects (ARVOC, 2006).

Following the 2002 report, a UNOLS committee was established in 2010–2012, which held the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) Science Mission Requirements Workshop with 66 participants (UNOLS, 2011). The report from the UNOLS committee called for a 115-m-long PC3 vessel with an endurance of 90 days (the midsummer optimal maximum) that could support up to 45 scientists in addition to crew and technical staff. The committee argued for a large moonpool and the ability to support geotechnical drilling, helicopter capability, and design features to enable the use of marine and airborne autonomous vehicles (UNOLS, 2012).

NSF OPP attempted to enter the MREFC process in 2012, but the application was denied due to a pending independent review of the USAP (NSF, n.d.i), a request for an expanded analysis of leasing options, and a determination that the operational costs of the proposed PRV would exceed the combined operational budgets for the Nathaniel B. Palmer and the Laurence M. Gould. Further analysis by NSF identified that leasing vessels was unfeasible, as leasing would substantially exceed the combined operational budgets of these vessels.11

In 2016, NSF completed a Request for Information for Antarctic vessels, and in 2018, the Antarctic Support Contract completed several vessel study reports. These reports largely came to similar conclusions as the ARVOC and UNOLS reports (NSF OPP Advisory Committee, 2019). In 2018, the OPP Advisory Committee assembled an ad hoc subcommittee to review the science mission requirements developed over the prior decade and to gather new information from the science community. The committee’s report broadly agreed with the science mission requirements identified in previous reports, including increased icebreaking capability similar to or slightly greater than the Nathaniel B. Palmer, with a recommendation for further study of the trade-offs between a PC3 and PC4

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8 The National Science Board “establishes policy, reviews and approves MREFC Account budgets, and reviews and approves specific MREFC projects for funding. The NSB is an independent policy body established by Congress in 1950 with dual responsibilities to oversee and guide the activities of, and establish policies for, the NSF. Within the NSB, the Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP) oversees NSF program initiatives and major new projects and facilities. The NSB sets the priority order of projects recommended for construction” (NSF, 2005, p. 22).

9 This text was altered after release of a pre-publication version of the report to indicate that the MREFC Panel was superseded by the Facilities Readiness Panel and the Facilities Governance Board, as indicated by NSF (2021).

10 Endurance is the total number of days that a vessel can operate and includes both days committed to science and transit. Endurance is generally the midsummer optimal maximum but will be reduced when icebreaking is necessary.

11 Presentation to the committee by NSF, February 2023.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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.
×

vessel (NSF OPP Advisory Committee, 2019). The committee also recommended accommodation for more than 45 science and technical personnel, with more than 55 science and technical personnel being ideal, and more than 70 days endurance, with more than 90 days being ideal. Lastly, the committee recommended:

“…improved capabilities for deployment and recovery of AUVs [autonomous underwater vehicles], ROVs [remotely operated vehicles], and gliders, improved workboat operations, a functional moonpool, greater scope of biological and geophysical support capabilities, temperature-controlled environmental rooms, improved capability to work in typical Southern Ocean open sea swell for operations over the side and stern, and improved helicopter capabilities.” (NSF OPP Advisory Committee, 2019, p. 139)

NSF OPP successfully entered the MREFC process for a new Antarctic Research Vessel (ARV) in June 2021. A Conceptual Design Review was completed by September 2021, and the NSF director approved advancing to the Preliminary Design Stage in December 2021.12 A science advisory subcommittee composed of Antarctic and Southern Ocean researchers produced four interim design review reports in May 2022, September 2022, November 2022, and February 2023 (Future USAP, 2023b), which contain recommendations that have been passed to the designer.13 The Preliminary Design Review occurred in February 2023.

At the time of this report’s publication, the design of the ARV is based around three key parameters—icebreaking capability of a PC3 vessel, 90 days (midsummer optimal maximum) endurance, and accommodations for 55 science and technical personnel. Despite the 90 days of optimal endurance, the ARV may only be able to operate for 45–60 days for a midwinter cruise where substantial icebreaking is required.14 NSF has presented the ARV’s ability to operate in all seasons and in heavy ice as a fundamental shift in the nature of the USAP, as it could expand the community’s access to the continent and Southern Ocean year-round.15 Additionally, unlike the Laurence M. Gould (which typically supports at least two dedicated, 14- to 17-day cruises each season to rotate personnel and supply fuel and cargo to Palmer Station16), the new vessel is not expected to be used as a logistics vessel for resupply of Palmer Station. Instead, Palmer Station resupply will be managed through commercial contracts. This means that the ARV operation will be entirely focused on science support.17

Other notable parameters in the conceptual design of the ARV include a length of 105 m, DPS118 dynamic positioning, an uncrewed aerial systems deck, four high-quality small boats (including a large landing craft and multibeam survey boat), a Stern A-frame with a sea dynamic load capability of 30,000 lbs through its full range of motion in Sea State 5, and an open side deck and specialized equipment to handle the loads of 40–50 m–long jumbo piston cores (Glosten, 2021).19 Notably, a moonpool and helideck that would enable full helicopter support (including a hangar to store and service two helicopters) were eliminated in 2020. Instead, the current design allows for the landing of one light-duty helicopter for the transfer of cargo and people between ships. NSF has indicated that a major factor in determining the capabilities on the preliminary design of the ARV is a consideration of its operation and maintenance cost, which, if too expensive, would impact the amount of science that can be supported (Chapter 6).

Pending funding for ship construction, NSF currently expects to deliver the ARV in 2031 (Figure 2-5), approximately when the Nathaniel B. Palmer turns 40, roughly 10 years beyond the service life of similar vessels.

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12 Presentation to the committee by NSF, February 2023.

13 Presentation to the committee by NSF, February 2023.

14 Presentation to the committee by NSF, March 2023.

15 Presentation to the committee by NSF, March 2023.

16 Written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

17 Presentation to the committee by NSF, March 2023.

18 DPS1 are vessels fitted with a dynamic positioning system capable of automatically maintaining the position and heading (Station Keeping) of the vessel, with a manual position control system for use under specified maximum environmental conditions (ABS, 2021).

19 Presentation to the committee by NSF, March 2023.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 2-5 Timeline of the ARV and the MREFC process.
NOTES: ARV = Antarctic Research Vessel; MREFC = Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction; NSB = National Science Board; NSF = National Science Foundation; R&RA = Research and Related Activities.
SOURCE: Future USAP (2023c).

Budgetary and Logistical Constraints

In June 2023, OPP released a Dear Colleague Letter regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and the need for facility renewal on Antarctic research and infrastructure (NSF, 2023e). The letter indicated that the USAP is facing a severe shortage of logistics resources relative to the volume of deferred science, and that the upcoming Antarctic seasons will be significantly curtailed. Additionally, NSF noted that the Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould are operating “below their operational capacities due to budgetary constraints.”20

NSF indicated that several factors have led to these constraints. First, a COVID-19 flare-up in the 2022–2023 season caused a significant backlog in projects. Second, OPP’s budget over FY2012–2022 has declined slightly, when corrected for an average 3 percent rate of inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index. Furthermore, the FY2023 budget did not substantially increase from 2022, and OPP is not expecting significant increases to the FY2024 budget. The impact of this declining buying power is compounded by the increasing costs of maintaining and operating aging infrastructure and the unequal impact of inflation on certain costs, such as heavy aircraft, tankers and cargo ships, U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking, and fuel. There are also new costs for predeployment quarantine policies for COVID-19.21 These factors have led OPP to request a greater than 8 percent increase to

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20 Written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

21 Presentation by NSF, July 2023; written response from NSF to the committee, August 2023.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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.
×

funding for both the U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities22 and the Antarctic Facilities and Operations23 for FY2024 (NSF, 2023c). Finally, the capacity of beds at McMurdo is currently limited because of dorm construction related to the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science.24 Unless OPP’s budget is increased to keep pace with inflation and to enable improvements and updates to facilities, logistical constraints will continue to decrease the amount of science that can be supported and limit early-career investigator training opportunities, and thus U.S. research capacity and leadership.

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION

In addition to U.S.-specific efforts in the Antarctic Region, the United States also participates in a number of organizations that promote international collaboration in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty. These include the Commission of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Commission of Managers of National Antarctic Programs

The Commission of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), established in 1988, is an international association responsible for bringing together the National Antarctic Programs to enhance collaboration in the Antarctic region. Specifically, COMNAP is responsible for facilitating information exchange and logistical decision-making. Each national program is a government-appointed organization from a country that has signed the Antarctic Treaty and the Environmental Protocol. COMNAP is one of the three Parties that have observer status at ATCM and can provide advice on the Antarctic Treaty’s governing structure. As noted in its constitution, COMNAP seeks to “develop and promote the best practice in managing the support of scientific research in Antarctica” (COMNAP, n.d., para. 3) and does this by establishing a platform to develop and improve the effectiveness of environmentally friendly activities, facilitating international partnerships, supplying opportunities to exchange information, and providing independent and objective advice on the Antarctic Treaty System. The U.S. representative to COMNAP is the NSF OPP director (COMNAP, n.d.; NSF, n.d.j).

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an interdisciplinary scientific organization under the International Science Council, which was established in 1958 to promote international scientific cooperation. SCAR currently has 32 member countries and 12 associate member countries; it is charged with initiating, developing, and coordinating international scientific research efforts in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. SCAR’s Science Groups, which represent the scientific research disciplines active in the Antarctic region, carry out its scientific work. SCAR also provides independent and objective scientific advice as an observing Party to the ATCM, as well as other organizations, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. U.S. representation on SCAR is appointed by the National Academies’ Polar Research Board and includes a delegate, an alternate delegate, and three members in each Science Group (SCAR, n.d.).

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22 U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities is the Department of Defense contract for fuel and fuel tanker, cargo vessel(s), military aircraft, and associated personnel support for Antarctic missions.

23 Antarctic Facilities and Operations supports the “infrastructure, logistics, and science operations” underlying the USAP, including “transportation, facilities, communications, utilities (water and power), health and safety infrastructure, and environmental stewardship” (NSF, 2023c, p. 59. paras. 1 and 4).

24 Presentation by NSF, July 2023.

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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.
×

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

CCAMLR, established in 1982, is an international treaty between 25 nations that seeks to stabilize the Antarctic marine ecosystem and preserve biodiversity by managing Antarctic fisheries using an ecosystems approach.25 The treaty was a direct response to concerns about the negative impacts on Southern Ocean ecosystems due to exploitation of the krill fishing industry. CCAMLR is responsible for establishing the Ecosystem Monitoring Program in 1989 to better monitor fishing and harvesting impacts in the Southern Ocean; it began establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas in 2009 (CCAMLR, n.d.).

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25 An ecosystem approach “does not concentrate solely on the species fished, but also seeks to avoid situations in which fisheries have a significant adverse effect on ‘dependent and related species’” (CCAMLR, 2000, p. iii).

Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 15
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 17
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 18
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 19
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 20
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 21
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 22
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 23
Suggested Citation:"2 The National Antarctic Program." 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 24
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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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