Study in Progress

Development of a Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation

Topics: Polar Science

Statement of Task

The Committee will identify priorities and strategic steps forward for Antarctic research and observations for the next decade, in the context of the current state of knowledge, ongoing research activities, and resource availability. The Committee's report will present a compelling research strategy for increased understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The report will include the following elements:

1. Building upon the high-level scientific questions identified in the report Future Science Opportunities in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean (NRC, 2011), identify areas of strategic investment in compelling scientific activities that may yield the highest potential reward for Antarctic research over the coming decade. Suggestions will be prioritized based on factors such as: recent or anticipated scientific and technological breakthroughs; opportunities to make progress on vital, yet underdeveloped topics; and foundational research with potential for both short- and long-term benefits.
2. Analyze the research infrastructure needed to address the priority research topics identified in no. 1.
3. Analyze the current research portfolio of USAP investments with recommendations to achieve the priorities established in no. 1 and no. 2.

The final report will articulate a strategic vision commensurate with U.S. national interests in Antarctica and identify a prioritized suite of science questions or topical areas that the USAP should consider. The report will also outline a roadmap through which the vision and these priorities can be met. Recommendations should include guidance on the most effective portfolio of investments to support the research infrastructure and programmatic science necessary to address the most significant priorities. This should include: assessing trade-offs among options; assessing the impact of new initiatives and /or modification of existing programs on the overall portfolio; and identifying activities that should be considered for phase-out.