12 April 2012
The 12-member panel, formed at the request of John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation, is tasked with examining the status and capabilities of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) to ensure that it continues to support the most relevant and important science in the most effective, efficient, sustainable, technologically advanced, innovative, safe, and environmentally-friendly manner - NSF Website.
The Panel is assessing USAP operations, logistics, and management and are charged with recommending a long-term strategy regarding USAP support in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in anticipation of the upcoming renegotiation of the Antarctic Treaty. Signed in 1959, the Treaty’s main purpose is to ensure "in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord."
In March, Panel Chair Norman Augustine and panel members Craig Dorman (University of Alaska), Don Hartill (Cornell University), Diana Wall (Colorado State and McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER) visited the USAP support facility at Punta Arenas, Chile, Palmer Station and both USAP research vessels. They were accompanied by Brian Stone, NSF-OPP Director of Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics, Jim Swift, Program Director Antarctic Research and Logistics Integration and Rebecca Shoop, Palmer Area Manager, Raytheon Polar Services. Earlier, panel members visited USAP bases McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and USAP support facilities in Christchurch, New Zealand. The panel expects to make its report to the White House and NSF in 2012 after further visits to stateside USAP facilities.