MISA 7 covers three major area of research:
- Biological Science
- Physical Science
- Policy and Governance
The biology section covers multifaceted aspects of Antarctic science pertaining to the knowledge of life sciences in the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and their links to lower latitudes, all of which are facing the urgent challenges of climate change. Understanding of the diversity, composition and function of organisms and ecosystems in these regions is fundamental to their management and conservation, a founding principle of the Antarctic Treaty. Through a massive international effort, important questions shaping key elements and the framework of the future Antarctic research agenda over the next two decades at least were identified through the First SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan in 2014. Encouraged by the SCAR Strategic Plan, the ever-increasing application of interdisciplinary approaches championed by entities such as the international SCAR Scientific Research Programmes ‘State of the Antarctic Ecosystem’ (AntEco) and ‘Antarctic Thresholds – Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation’ (AnT-ERA) is now starting to address these questions and bear fruit. Over a third of the questions identified in the Horizon Scan relate directly to the biological sciences. They address diverse subjects ranging through the genomic basis of adaptation, palaeo and contemporary connectivity, biodiversity, ecosystem structure and function, responses to climatic change, as well as wider human impacts such as pollution and invasive species and their management, human biology and social sciences in the region.
The unique characteristics of the Antarctic continent provides an opportunity to carry out distinct physical science research involving as ice, ocean, land and atmosphere interactions, understanding transport of aerosols that influence the ozone layer and the role of the ozone hole in Antarctic climate. Now it is increasingly evident that as part of the global earth climate system, the polar regions influence weather and climate conditions at lower latitudes and are influenced in their turn by tropical and mid latitude processes. In addition, in the rapidly warming world, it becomes increasingly important to understand the linkages within the global climate system. Therefore, it is pertinent to explore their connectivity in the global scale and to apply the state-of-the art technology to understand fundamental problems in the dynamics of the polar atmosphere-ocean-land-sea ice system and the mechanisms that connect the tropics with polar regions. The seminar, MISA7 intends to provide an excellent platform for the researchers to interact on timely and critical topics in various disciplines such as atmospheric science, geological sciences and oceanography.
Policy and Governance
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty since 1991 has been a significant step forward for the protection of the Antarctic environment. Only within the wording of the protocol, through the merger of the words, Antarctica as “a nature reserve” couple with Antarctica “the land of science”, clearly point out that the scientific significance of Antarctica is equated with its environmental protection. There have been some significant accomplishments, for the last 25 years. While overall the Antarctic region is protected, it is actually under growing environmental pressures prevail over international obligations and the global benefits of protecting the Antarctic. Outstanding issues like Exchange of information, Information Sufficient, electronic information exchange system and International Antarctica policy, often created more duty for the state parties. It’s also worth noting the role that scientific collaborations in Antarctica have become as ‘soft diplomacy’ tools that link between people, scientists, governments and agencies, more often excel always building connections in active elements which otherwise become, slow and thin or unsettled bilateral relationship. Thus, the scientific world is fast becoming interdisciplinary, but the biggest interdisciplinary leap needed is to know and to connect the worlds of science with policy and politics’ in making sure that the international community’s work is focused on addressing the most important issues, the protection of the Antarctic environment. MiSA7 invites scientists, policy-makers and operators and interested parties to discuss the greater and effective ways in strategising the national implementation of the Protocol.