One of our Outreach Coordinator (Precious) recently attended the Marine Polar Science Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar in Ventura CA, USA from 26-31 March 2017. GRC is an international forum founded in 1931 by scientists in order to enhance presentations and discussions of science frontiers in the biological and physical sciences, and their related technologies. GRS is a subdivision of GRC and aimed at early career science and scientists, such as APECSSA members. Furthermore, it is organised and run by early career scientists (Masters and Doctoral students, as well as Postdocs).
The 2017 GRS was titled ‘Advancing the Physical-Biological Understanding of Polar Marine Ecosystems Through Innovative Technology’, hosting 45 early career scientists from across the globe. The GRC was titled ‘Understanding Polar Ecosystem Change Through Time Series Observations, Technological Advances, and Biophysical Coupled Modeling’ and was concurrently hosted with the GRS. The nature of GRC and GRS is frontiers based, and prioritises unpublished or recently published work for participation. As a consequence the meeting focuses on new ideas, technologies and approaches to polar marine research. The 2017 meeting had particular emphases on sea-gliders (wave gliders) as an important technology for the future of polar science, amongst other technologies. It was suggested to organise internationally collaborated hubs to help reduce the cost of deploying, service and retrieving these instruments. This is important in a South African context, as fruits of this proposition might even be locally harvested, given the recently-developed sea-gliders and other ocean autonomous instruments expertise by the Southern Ocean Carbon & Climate Observatory (SOCCO) program within the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Even more important, Cape Town is the most southern city with this expertise. This offers many opportunities for our emerging researchers and scientists and places them on an international platform where they can collaborate with their international counterparts. Furthermore, these efforts come at a time when there is a growing international interest in the importance of Southern Ocean physical and biogeochemical processes in relation to Earth system processes and climate change.
The GRC meeting also touched on varies aspects of earth system science including sea-ice modeling and biogeochemistry, as well as Arctic and Antarctic biogeochemical cycles. Both GRC and GRS incorporated broad aspects of polar science and consequently, diversity in the represented disciplines fostered discussions around interplanetary science and the interconnectedness of earth system science.