Antarctic Roadmap Challenges Project

Antarctic Roadmap Challenges Project

Welcome to the “Antarctic Roadmap Challenges” (ARC) website

Research in the Antarctic requires substantial and sustained investments by governments to meet the challenges of conducting science in one of the most remote and extreme environments on Earth. The ARC project solicited wide community involvement and advice in translating the highest priority Antarctic research questions into actionable requirements for supporting technologies, logistics and infrastructure. The ‘enabling’ of the Antarctic science roadmap is intended to remind and inform those that fund research and provide science support about what will be needed in order to deliver Antarctic science in the coming years.

The ARC outcomes

The project results are available as a printed document (ISBN 978-0-473-35672-9), email: to receive a copy. Or, download as a PDF (ISBN 978-0-473-35673-6) from here: Antarctic_Roadmap_Challenges_Book_2016

An Executive Summary document is also available as a printed document, email: to receive a copy.
Or, download as a PDF from here: Antarctic_Roadmap_Challenges_Brochure_2016

The ARC survey results

The ARC project conducted, two separate, open, on-line surveys.

Survey 1 was opened on 20 March 2015 and closed 31 May 2015. The focus of the first survey was on critical tecnologies, and where, when and how they would be utilised. in relation to each of the seven SCAR Horizon Scan research clusters. The survey also explored the likely logistics, infrastructure and access requirements. Over 450 people participated in the survey. The results of ARC survey 1 can be found as Appendix 1 of the Antarctic Roadmap Challenges document.

Survey 2 was opened on 9 July 2015 and closed 17 August 2015. The survey used the specific technology results from survey 1 as s staring point and pooled all those technologies from all seven reserach clusters together-so that the survey 2 was not structured around specific SCAR Horizon Scan clusters (as was the case in survey 1). Over 250 people participated in the survey. The results of ARC survey 2 can be found as Appendix 2 of the Antarctic Roadmap Challenges document.

The ARC “White Papers”

The ARC project was informed by a series of White Papers from the community. Copies of these White Papers can be downloaded from here.

The ARC Workshop

The ARC Workshop was held at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) in Tromso, Norway, 22-24 August 2015. Fifty-eight people participated in the workshop which was co-convened by Professor Mahlon C. Kennicutt II and Dr. Yeadong Kim. Presentations from Professor Kennicutt and from keynote speaker, Dr. Jan-Gunnar Winther, Director, NPI, can be found below. The ARC Workshop Writing Group Reports can be found in Appendix 3 of the Antarctic Roadmap Challenges document.


An additional PDF with graphic representation of the 7 SCAR Horison Scan science clusters as prepared by Professor Kennicutt is presented here: Science Cluster Presentation Kennicut February2016 The source references for the images and any accompanying articles can be found in this document: Science Cluster Image Glossary 1 with sources

The ARC Workshop Writing Groups utilised a guideline document which can be found here:
00 ALL GROUPS ARC Workshop Guide

Background information on the ARC project

The SCAR Horizon Scan

The 1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan assembled the world’s leading Antarctic scientists, policy makers, leaders, and visionaries to identify the most important scientific questions that will or should be addressed by research in and from the southern Polar Regions over the next two decades. ​See for full information.


In 2014, the first SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Horizon Scan assembled the world’s leading Antarctic scientists, policy makers, leaders, and visionaries to identify the most important scientific questions that will or should be addressed by research in and from the Antarctic over the next two decades.​ The result was the publicaton of a list of 80 of the most important Antarctic research questions identified by the community. The list was published in Antarctic Science​ (Kennicutt et al, 2014) as “A roadmap for Antarctic and Southern Ocean science for the next two decades and beyond“. Delivery of the “roadmap” is not without its challenges. Therefore COMNAP is leading the second stage in the process within the ARC Project. This project will focus on answering the question: “How will national Antarctic programs meet the challenges of delivery of Antarctic science in the next 20 to 30 years?” It will do so by inviting participation in two on-line surveys and by convening an ARC Workshop.

Using the SCAR Horizon Scan roadmap as an indication of future science, a review of the 80 questions proposed revealed a number of challenges for national Antarctic programs of a practical and technical nature. The COMNAP ARC Project will focus on four of the challenges identified:

Challenge 1: Extraordinary Logistics Requirements & Access

“Future research in Antarctica will require expanded, year-round access to the continent and the Southern Ocean.”
(Kennicutt II 2014b, page 12)

Antarctic logistics requirements are already complex and challenging. The geographic isolation, the extreme physical conditions (weather and darkness), the expense, and the implementation of policy and reporting requirements make planning and logistics complicated and demanding on people, resources and time. Inter-continental air routes are limited, though well-established, but future science requirements indicate a need for expansion of intra-Antarctic flights and ground traversing capabilities, including expanding into understudied but scientifically interesting regions. Future research will require greater data gathering and sample retrieval from atmospheric, sub-glacial, and deep sea environments which will require extraordinary logistics. Science that is achievable using improved remote sensing capabilities may introduce new challenges. Aircraft, satellites, balloons, and unmanned aerial vehicles will not only continue to be used as platforms for science but usage is expected to increase. Research vessels, icebreakers, and cargo ships provide important logistics capabilities. Such vessels are expensive to build, operate and maintain. Deployment of scientific equipment to Antarctica requires years of advance planning and must include consideration of contingencies such as redundancy in systems and supplies in cases where alternative operations must be implemented.

Challenge 2: Technology

“Innovative experimental designs, new applications of existing technology, invention of next-generation technologies and development of novel air-, space- and animal-borne observing or logging technologies will be essential.” (Kennicutt II 2014b, page 12)

Science has always been advanced by improvements in technology. New designs, instrumentation, sensor technologies (from micro- to macro-scale), and ‘clean’ technologies will continue to be required and improved. Technological advances not only support on-going science but may limit what science can be done and, in some instances, change the scientific questions being asked (for example, genomics has revolutionized ecology). Marine research requires technologies that allow for exploration of the benthos, the water column, the areas below ice shelves, and the water/ice/atmosphere interface. This will require improvements in long-duration buoys and associated sensors, remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, and miniaturized instruments deployable on animals.

Challenge 3: Infrastructure & Access

“Antarctica and the Southern Ocean occupy a vast territory, much of which is inaccessible during Austral winter months. Even during summer months the conditions prove challenging…infra- structure is essential to survival and is vital to the conduct of science. Two kinds of infrastructure can provide opportunities to advance scientific research in Antarctica: physical systems infrastructure, including transport, and cyber-infrastructure.” (National Research Council 2011, page 109).

The original expansion of physical systems infrastructure on the continent began in 1957/58 in support of the International Geophysical Year. Upgrades, rebuilds and new stations and related facilities have occurred in the intervening years. Infrastructure implies a ‘permanence’ and so does not include the numerous temporary field facilities established for a finite period of time to support specific activities or science programs. There are many parts of the Antarctic where there has been no direct human activity. However, there are science questions which will require extensions into areas not now occupied or accessible. This includes remote land areas, sub-glacial environments, beneath iceshelves and in the deep sea. Infrastructure requirements for many of the astronomy-related programmes require winter-over infrastructure and long-term monitoring programs, for example, the discovery and subsequent long-term data set collection of ozone gas depletion data would not have been possible without a station. Do we continue to build infrastructure in Antarctica and, if so, in what form and where? It can be envisioned that future programs will require simultaneous presence across the continent – how will these nodes of exploration be established and coordinated?

Challenge 4: International Collaboration

“Barriers to international collaboration need to be minimized…mutually beneficial and efficient models for partnerships that share ideas, data, logistics and facilities need to be explored.” (Kennicutt II 2014b, pages 12-13).

The 80 SCAR Horizon Scan questions are highly interdisciplinary and broad in scope emphasizing the ever-increasing need for greater collaboration at a number of scales and in a number of ways. International collaboration, interdisciplinary teams (likely from multiple countries), partnerships with the private and public sectors, and close coordination between scientists and science support personnel being some examples. Science in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is increasingly tied to research questions that cross-cut traditional scientific disciplinary boundaries. In addition, scientific advice based on knowledge are critical to other issues, such as conservation and regulatory regimes (governance and policy-making).

Recent Presentations on ARC Project Outcomes

Professor Chuck Kennicutt at the BES/CCI Symposium: Making a Difference in Conservation, Cambridge, UK, April 2016:
Horizon Scan/ARC BES Presentation (video)

Professor Jeronimo Lopez Martinez, SCAR President, at Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) XXXIX, Santiago, Chile, May 2016:
2016-SCAR LECTURE-39ATCM_JeronimoLopez_FINAL

Recent Publications related to the SCAR Horizon Scan and the ARC Project

“Future challenges in Southern Ocean ecology research”, by Jose Carlos Xavier, Angelika Brandt, Yan Ropert-Coudert, Renuka Badhe, Julian Gutt, Charlotte Havermans, Christopher Jones, Erli S Costa, Karin Lochte, Irene R Schloss, Mahlon C. Kennicutt II, William J. Sutherland, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, section Marine Ecosystem Ecology. To view the online open-access publication please click on the link:

The ARC Project was made possible with funding and in-kind support from:
COMNAP, SCAR and the Tinker Foundation.