The Polar Research Board (PRB) has a long history of distinguished service to the polar community. First established in 1958, the PRB exists to promote excellence in polar science and to provide independent scientific guidance to federal agencies and the nation on science issues in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and cold regions in general. The PRB strives to:
- make research in the polar regions more productive and responsive to the needs of the United States,
- maintain U.S. awareness of and representation in international science programs, and
- enhance understanding of issues in polar regions.
The PRB program has two elements: a core element and a study element. Under its core element, the PRB serves as a source of information and assistance to federal agencies, Congress, and others in the polar community. The PRB is unique in its coverage of both Arctic and Antarctic science, and attempts to foster improved coordination between research at both poles.
Also, under its core element, the PRB serves as the U.S. National Committee for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) of International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), and thus it ensures that the U.S. polar research community participates in critical planning activities and encourages international cooperation. It is also the U.S. National Committee for the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). Although nongovernmental in nature, both SCAR and IASC have important international advisory roles to ministerial level organizations and meetings. SCAR provides advice to and participates actively in meetings of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties. IASC attends meetings of the Arctic Environmental Ministers, Senior Arctic Affairs Officials, and new Arctic Council.
The PRB also served as the U.S. National Committee for International Polar Year 2007-2008, helping to initiate this global program and continuing a role in disseminating and synthesizing the information generated.