APECS brief report on SCAR XXXI conference (Buenos Aires, Argentina) August 2010
Representation on the Scientific Standing Group of Life Sciences (SSG-LS)
The Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) is part of the International Council for Science (ICSU) with the aim to initiate, develop and coordinate high quality science in the Antarctic. It is constituted by Scientific Research Programs (SRP´s; e.g. Evolution and Biodiversity in the Antarctic – EBA, is the only one representing the interested of the Antarctic Life Sciences), Expert Groups (e.g. SCAR Expert group on Birds and Marine Mammals - EGBAMM) whose major results are fed to the Scientific Standing Group of Life Sciences (SSG-LS). The SSG-LS coordinates the research and identifies gaps of knowledge for future Antarctic Research on life sciences topics, who gathers every 2 years in person (most work is carry out via email meanwhile). The SSG-LS provides guidance and information for the Antarctic Treaty (ATS). The interaction between SRP´s, SSG´s and ATS is bi-directional. The role of APECS being represented in SSG-LS is to provide a voice to early career scientists on Antarctic science, policy and opportunities of collaboration. This is the first time that APECS attended an SSG-LS meeting. APECS is considered an observer in SSG-LS, with no right to vote.
The SSG-LS took place between 30 July and 2 August, with 34 items in the agenda, led by Kathleen Conlan (Canada; chair) and Deneb Karentz (USA; secretary). The agenda comprises talks on important life sciences (data management and latest Antarctic science book, Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment, led by John Turner), updates from expert groups, reports from ATS, previous SCAR conferences, working papers, SCAR observers in conferences, finances, between others. APECS gave a talk on what APECS is and how APECS can work with SCAR together, and was well received.
The main findings of the SSG-LS meeting in Buenos Aires were:
EBA has more 2 years to go. EBA is coordinated by Pete Convey (UK) and Guido de Prisco (Italy) and has the main aims of understanding the evolution and diversity of life in the Antarctic, to determine how these have influenced the properties and dynamics of present Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems, and to make predictions on how organisms and communities will respond to current and future environmental change. The progress of EBA was expressed by the high number of publications, workshops, production of a website and a newsletter, contributions to IPY, contributions to the Antarctic Data Management (SCADM), between others. Potentially the highest contribution in Antarctic research most recently was the research presented at the ACCE report (see http://www.apecs.is/apecs-news/1216-scar-report-on-antarctic-climate-change-and-the-environment). Major findings at the EBA newsletters at www.eba.aq
- Two new proposals for research programs were proposed (APECS being mentioned in both)
- Huge interest on cross-discipline workshops (planned every year)
- Important discussions on SCAR Code of Conduct for Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes in Antarctica (working paper at present time)
- Emphasis on the Southern Ocean Observation System (SOOS) program and the new action group on Ocean acidification
- Request for more engagement on Medical research (requested by the Expert group on Human Biology and Medicine)
- Census if Antarctic Marine Life program is coming to an end in October 2010
- Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Life Resources (CCAMLR) might have new scholarships for early career scientists to attend CCAMLR meeting (more information soon)
- Extra funding from SSG-LS will be available for early career scientists grants
Opportunities for early career scientists may rise from the research programs. If interested, the solution may lay in contacting the leaders of the research programs themselves, of the action groups and of the expert groups (see SCAR website for further information). Also, getting involved in cross discipline workshops is a possibility. Next SCAR SSG-LS meeting is in Portland (USA) in 2012.