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.