Strategic Vision Report

A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research (2015)

The National Academies Press has now published “A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research,” which was co-authored by the Committee on the Development of a Strategic Vision for the U.S. Antarctic Program, the Polar Research Board, the Division on Earth and Life Studies, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, at the request of the NSF. The report outlines the “Opportunities and Challenges of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research” (Chapter 2), offers “Suggested Research Priorities for the Coming Decade” (Chapter 3), and closes with the “Foundations for a Robust Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research Program” (Chapter 4).

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean have much to offer to a range of disciplines, from microbiology to astrophysics, and tectonics to oceanography. Understanding the role of both the Southern Ocean and Antarctic ice sheets is becoming increasingly important, both within the region itself and because if the impacts both can have on far off parts of the globe. Indeed, “the extreme Antarctic environment provides unique opportunities to expand our knowledge about how our planet works and even the very origins of the universe” (See Overview).

The report presents a decadal vision, outlining priorities for the region, and suggesting strategies for moving forward with both research and infrastructure support. The committee’s strategic vision includes the continuation of a broad-based program that supports curiosity-based research across Antarctic and Southern ocean sciences, a collection of larger-scale research initiatives to address particularly compelling scientific questions, and foundational elements that enable, support, and add value to all research activities. Holistically, the report advocates for high-priority, larger-scale, community-driven research initiatives, and provides a roadmap for achieving such objectives over the next ten years.

To download the full report, visit

Copyright 2015 Southern Ocean Observing System. All rights reserved.