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News Release 12-010

Online Chat About NSF-Funded Antarctic Discoveries to Mark the 100th Anniversary of South Pole "Race"

On January 19, polar scientists will answer your questions about cutting-edge discoveries being made on the southernmost continent and connections between the earliest science and today's research

Photo of U.S. Antarctic Program personnel at the geographic South Pole on Dec. 14, 2011.

U.S. Antarctic Program personnel at the geographic South Pole on Dec. 14, 2011.

January 17, 2012

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

You are invited to participate in a live online chat on January 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST with two eminent scientists about cutting-edge research currently being conducted by the U.S. Antarctic Program in Antarctica--the coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean as well as related logistics support. NSF operates three year-round research stations in Antarctica.

This chat will be hosted by ScienceNOW, the daily news site of the journal Science and will feature:

  • Scott Borg, the director of the Division of Antarctic Sciences in NSF's Office of Polar Programs.
  • Gretchen Hofmann, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in the ecological physiology of marine organisms, including polar organisms.

You may ask Borg and Hofmann about these and other topics:

  • Why Antarctica serves as a unique laboratory for researching diverse subjects, including adaptations of life to extreme environments, ozone depletion, the status of the continental ice sheets and possible effects on sea level, and sophisticated, large-scale astrophyiscs experiments.
  • How Antarctica is responding to climate change and ocean acidification. What the potential impacts of the continent's responses to environmental change will be on the rest of the Earth.
  • How the retreat of sea ice in some parts of Antarctica is affecting two penguin species that only live in Antarctica.
  • Why Antarctic waters have spawned undersea giants, including extremely large sea stars, jellyfish and sea spiders.
  • How adaptations enable various life-forms--from microorganisms to penguins to seals--to survive in Antarctica and how research of these adaptations may ultimately help humans.
  • What it is like to live and work in the extreme ecosystems of Antarctica.
  • How did the "race to the South Pole" lay the foundation for modern scientific research in Antarctica?

This online chat will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Navy officer Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen race to the South Pole, which ended with Amundsen's arrival at the Pole on Dec. 14, 1911, and Scott's arrival on Jan. 17, 1912. The race lay the foundation for today's research in Antarctica.

To participate in the chat, visit the chat page on January 19 at 3 p.m., EST and submit your questions. A transcript of the chat will be archived on the ScienceLIVE website.

This chat will be part of the Science's weekly series of chats on the hottest topics and science; these chats are held every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST.


  • 2011 bronze marker at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station designating the geographic South Pole.
    Credit and Larger Version

Media Contacts
Jane J. Lee, Science, (202) 326-6627, email:
Lily Whiteman, National Sceince Foundation, (703-292-8310, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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