Did you know that Antarctica is reserved for peace and research?

Antarctica is the only continent in the world where there has never been an armed conflict. To gain admission into Antarctic cooperation, a nation must actively carry out research there.
Scientists in AntarcticaThe Norwegian-American traverse during IPY had participants from Norway, USA, Japan, and Germany. Photo: Jan-Gunnar Winther / Norwegian Polar Institute

Research in Antarctica in the years following the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-1958 was dominated by national programs and national priorities, often in the immediate vicinity of the national stations. But this state of affairs changed over time, culminating with the massive international research efforts carried out during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007-2008. During IPY, many nations joined forces to organize expeditions that no nation could have accomplished on its own. These international research collaborations are now bearing fruit, as new knowledge comes to light.

How the ecosystems of the Southern Polar Ocean react to climate change is one of many important research questions examined during IPY. Understanding the ecosystems is important if we are to ensure that living marine resources are managed sustainably; krill harvesting is a particularly pertinent example in this regard. Another issue is what role Antarctica’s vast stores of ice wil play in determining future sea levels. The logistical challenges of doing research in Antarctica were another factor that motivated international cooperation around air and sea transport and operation of research stations – and also encouraged research cooperation.

International scientific research cooperation in Antarctica is organized through the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). SCAR was founded in 1958 as a direct result of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). Today, SCAR includes expert standing committees in a range of disciplines, which coordinate Antarctic research within their fields of expertise, and Norwegian scientists participate.