Assessing the demand for science on South Georgia: consultation with Asian polar research institutes – Part 2

NARC University of MalaysiaThe South Georgia Future Science team embarked on the second leg of their trip by flying to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on February 18th. Prof. Azizan Abu Samah, Director of the National Centre for Antarctic Research (NCAR) and numerous scientists from NARC and other local institutes hosted the South Georgia Future Science team for detailed discussion on the NARC science strategy and how South Georgia may feature within it. A primary focus of the NARC Antarctic programme is the ‘connectivity between the poles and the tropics’, a theme which spans a number of disciplines from atmospheric and oceanic circulation to latitudinal gradients in biodiversity and ecosystem tolerances to environmental change. With ongoing projects at Rothera Station, Antarctic Peninsula and Signy, South Orkneys, complementary studies at South Georgia would extend this latitudinal transect into the Subantarctic, a ‘stepping stone’ between the poles and tropics. We are hopeful that South Georgia will feature in NARC’s future strategy.

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The last polar research institute that the South Georgia Future Science team visited in Asia was the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) in Goa, India. Director Dr. Rajan and a number of NCAOR scientists spent the day discussing NCAOR’s science strategy and the opportunities that South Georgia presented to them. NCAOR research spans the three poles, the Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas, as well as Indian Ocean. Atmospheric and cryospheric sciences, in addition to paleoclimate, microbiology and remote sensing feature high within the NCAOR polar science strategy. Dr. Rajan expressed a keen interest to explore the possibility of NCAOR to work within an international consortium on South Georgia. In this idealised model each institute can provide their niche expertise within a co-ordinated framework ensuring optimal utilisation of resources, logistics and expertise and generation of the best possible science. This concept is something that the South Georgia Future Science team are keen to promote and will be discussing further with representatives from each institute at a workshop in the Falkland Islands in August 2015.

Thank you again to both NARC and NCAOR for their support for the South Georgia Future Science project.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the UK Science and Innovation Network for co-ordinating our meetings throughout this trip. Special thanks go to Mr. Gareth Davies in Korea, Ms. Elizabeth Hogben in Japan and Dr. Rita Sharma in India.

Paul, John and Vicky are now back home from their three week trip and are busy planning their next meetings at polar research institutes within Europe and North America.

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Assessing the demand for science on South Georgia: consultation with Asian polar research institutes – Part 1

By Victoria Peck

The South Georgia Future Science Project is assessing the international demand for science on and around South Georgia with an aim to make recommendations on future logistics and infrastructure which could make the island and surrounding region more accessible to scientists. On February 9th Dr. Paul Brickle, Prof. John Turner and Dr. Vicky Peck flew to the Far East to begin the first phase of consultations with world renowned polar research institutes to see how South Georgia may fit into their future science strategies. First port of call was the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), in Incheon, Seoul. Although KOPRI is currently in the process of “moving house”, with much of their science becoming focussed on their newly opened base, Jang Bogo, at Terra Nova, the South Georgia Future Science team were thoroughly impressed by the consideration that KOPRI scientists put into assessing the opportunities that South Georgia may offer their science. KOPRI scientist and Head of International Cooperation Dr. Hyoung Chul Shin, recognised the considerable synergy with the science that KOPRI undertakes at King Sejong Station at the northern Antarctic Peninsula and what could be done at South Georgia, and were enthusiastic about the opportunity for comparative studies between the two locations. Extension of upper atmospheric studies and bio-logging determination of penguin foraging behaviours were just two of the possibilities that emerged in a very productive discussion session.

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The next stop for the South Georgia Future Science team was Tokyo, to meet with the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, NIPR. Although NIPR’s Antarctic research stations are located on the East Antarctic ice sheet, their scientific outlook is wide ranging and already includes NIPR scientists actively involved in research on South Georgia. The South Georgia Future Science team were particularly interested in the thoughts of Dr. Akinori Takahashi, who has worked on South Georgia over several seasons.  Dr. Takahashi was enthusiastic about the opportunities that South Georgia presents for the study of marine mammals, seabirds and penguins, recognising the “unparalleled diversity and abundance of marine predators” and the invaluable baseline knowledge that past research on South Georgia provides to this field of research. Dr. Takahashi and terrestrial biologist Dr. Satoshi Imura were also kind enough to share their thoughts and aspirations for future research on and around South Georgia and we will be sure to use this information in our assessment of how science could be better facilitated in the future.

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The South Georgia Future Science team would like to thank KOPRI and NIPR again for sharing their time, thoughts, enthusiasm and generous hospitality with us.

In our next update we will report on meetings with scientists from the Malaysian National Antarctic Research Centre and the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research.

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