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Committee on the Future of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science —
Background resources

According to its "Statement of Task," the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Review Committee

will identify and summarize the changes to important science conducted on Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean that will demand attention over the next two decades.  The committee will assess the anticipated types and scope of future U.S. scientific endeavors and international scientific collaborations over a ~20-year period in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. 

The committee included leading polar scientists who have a wide range of expertise and have actively participated in Antarctic research in recent years, as well as scientists with broad experience in global and international research.  They identified and summarized likely future science requirements of the U.S. research community, including the needs of the federal mission agencies that depend on U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) infrastructure and logistics. 

The committee's final report, Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean was published in 2011 and is available from Polar Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, at


Community Planning Documents

Workshops influence program goals, investigators' proposals, and funding decisions. The list below contains workshops held over the last several years that provide reports of information about areas of research important to the antarctic research community.





In anticipation of the International Polar Year, the Polar Research Board prepared a vision document to guide planning for the IPY and convenened a workshop to bring the science community together as part of the planning process.


Other Antarctic Information Resources


These documents directly affected the development and operation of the U.S. Antarctic Program. The focus of these range from U.S. policy to research goals, including logistics and future science directions.

  • National Security Decision Memorandum 71, 10 July 1970
    U.S. Antarctic Policy and Program (transfers management of the U.S. Antarctic Program from DoD to NSF and affirms the importance of an “active and influential U.S. presence”).

  • National Security Decision Memorandum 318, 25 February 1976
    U.S. Policy for Antarctica (revalidates the mission of an active and influential U.S. presence, affirms the NSF management responsibility, and asserts that Antarctic funding should not be at the expense of other NSF programs). 

  • White House Memorandum 6646, 5 February 1982.
    U.S. Antarctic Policy and Programs (the active and influential presence requires year-round occupation of the South Pole and two coastal stations).

  • Presidential Decision Directive NSC-26, 9 June 1994.
    United States Policy in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions (U.S. Antarctic policy is to protect the environment, protect opportunities for scientific research, maintain Antarctica as an area of international cooperation for peaceful purposes, and conserve living resources in the adjacent oceans).
  • Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic (107 p.), 1993, Polar Research Board, National Research Council.  The Department of State and the NRC Fund supported this study, which centers on implementing the Antarctic Treaty’s 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection.  It recommends monitoring to inform governance questions with scientific information and states that the management relationship between NSF and researchers should be unchanged.

  • United States Antarctic Program (93 p.), 1996, Committee on Fundamental Science, National Science & Technology Council.  The cost of redeveloping Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was to be nearly as much as that of the annual U.S. Antarctic Program.  The Senate’s VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Committee asked the NSTC to assess the U.S. presence in Antarctica and to examine options for reducing the operating budget.  NSTC concluded that U.S. interests are well-served by the U.S. Antarctic Program and recommended that an external panel examine the options.  Appendix II, a 1996 memorandum by the Executive Secretary of State, states, “More than any other nation, the United States benefits from the Antarctic Treaty. . . .  The effective operation of the Antarctic Treaty is a direct result of the active and influential United States presence in Antarctica maintained through the Antarctic Program.”

  • The United States in Antarctica (vi + 94 p.), 1997, U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel.  Norman R. Augustine, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, chaired the panel recommended in NSTC’s 1996 report.  The panel concluded that the U.S. Antarctic Program is well managed, involves high quality science, and is important.  Of 12 recommendations, two concern funding and building an optimized station at the South Pole.  Appendix III is a 1997 letter by the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs stating that the “United States presence in Antarctica serves important strategic and foreign policy objectives.  This presence in Antarctica, anchored at the South Pole, gives us a decisive voice in the Antarctic Treaty system, which is the basis for the peace and stability of the area.”


Between fiscal years 2006-2009, 54 program officers, representing 41 NSF programs in 13 NSF organizations, awarded 445 International Polar Year (IPY) grants and contracts involving 341 principal investigators or project leaders employed by 169 U.S. institutions in 44 of the 50 United States. The awards, when all the funding increments are completed in 2013, will total an estimated $347,153,747. Of the total, the U.S. Congress appropriated $60,000,000 in new funds for the IPY. The other funds are being allocated from existing NSF funding areas.


The following documents describe U.S. Antarctic Program science support highlights for the austral field seasons from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010. A link to a list of research projects supported in the field that season is included in the table of contents for each season's summary document.


Last updated: 05/23/2014