PAIS: The Sound of a Community Effort

“Every contribution matters.” Anybody who ever played in a sport team probably heard this sentence at some point. Actually, this is completely true also as far as science is concerned. Whereas in the collective imagination science is about big discoveries made by a single genius, the truth is that great science is made little by little, step by step. Science is a community effort in which every contribution matters. And that is the concept from which this video was born. 

Video contributions of many Antarctic surveys were collected from research institutes from all over the world, and edited all together by Giulia Massolino in this video. The aim is to celebrate the work done so far by the PAIS community, the SCAR Geoscience Past Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics program, and to address the topic of new challenges in science and society. 

The music of the video was designed and performed live by Marco Battigelli. Basically the idea behind the music was to take tiny motifs, or melodic fragments, and put them over a steady beat, which is called a 5:3 polyrhythm, in order to create a larger pattern that are repeated over and over again. Every pattern contains in itself a form of variation, like tiny temperature increases generate a huge climate change over the years. And this is actually the idea behind minimal music: the repeated patterns symbolize the tiny little increases in temperature in a never ending process.

The SCAR Scientific Research Programme PAIS (Past Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics) aims to improve understanding of the sensitivity of East, West, and Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheets to a broad range of climatic and oceanic conditions.

PAIS builds on the success of SCAR-ACE (Antarctic Climate Evolution), but with a new focus on the ice sheet rather than palaeoclimate reconstructions. Study intervals span a range of timescales, including past "greenhouse" climates warmer than today, and times of more recent warming and ice sheet retreat during glacial terminations.

The PAIS research philosophy is based on data-data and data-model integration and intercomparison, and the development of "ice-to abyss" data transects, extending from the ice sheet interior to the deep sea.

The data transect concept will link ice core, ice sheet-proximal, offshore, and far-field records of past ice sheet behaviour and sea level, yielding an unprecedented view of past changes in ice sheet geometry, volume, and ice sheet-ocean interactions. These integrated data sets will enable robust testing of a new generation of coupled Glacial Isostatic Adjustment-Ice Sheet- Atmosphere-Ocean models that include new reconstructions of past and present ice bed topography and bathymetry.

PAIS will accomplish its objectives by: 1) facilitating the planning of new data-acquisition missions using emerging technologies; 2) encouraging data sharing and integration of spatially targeted transect data with modelling studies; and 3) initiating/expanding cross linkages among Antarctic research communities.

The overarching goal of PAIS is to improve confidence in predictions of ice sheet and sea level response to  future climate change and ocean warming.

Six subcommittees have been established to implement the scientific objectives of PAIS:

  • Palaeoclimate Records from the Antarctic Margin and Southern Ocean (PRAMSO)
  • Palaeotopographic-Palaeobathymetric Reconstructions.
  • Subglacial Geophysics.
  • Ice Cores and Marine Core Synthesis.
  • Recent Ice Sheet Reconstruction.
  • Deep-Time Ice Sheet Reconstructions.

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This activity is part of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)