The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) held its third Open Science Conference jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee in St Petersburg in July. This year’s theme was ‘Arctic and Antarctic Perspectives in the International Polar Year'.The conference was well supported with 1300 participants and 29 sessions covering major topics including: status and change of the polar regions, polar/global linkages, a sense of discovery, the poles as vantage points for observations, and people and resources at the poles.
The latest data emerging from International Polar Year programs was presented. Of particular interest was the genetic evidence that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current acts as an engine to drive speciation of marine organisms, by providing a ‘thermohaline’ highway of north-bound currents. There was also much talk about observations suggesting that the rate of polar change is right at the upper limit, or even above, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions.
Immediately after the conference, SCAR delegates held a business meeting, at which SCAR became a registered charity in the United Kingdom. This satisfies the requirements of the International Council for Science that all affiliated organisations become registered as charities. Dr Chuck Kennicutt (USA) was elected President and Drs Ad Huiskes (Netherlands) and Rasik Ravindra (India) were elected Vice-Presidents. The next science conference will be held in Buenos Aires in August 2010.
Chief Scientist, AAD