This year’s Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting begins tomorrow (April 6) in Baltimore, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaty’s signing in 1959. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will open the meeting at a special Washington session attended by many dignitaries and foreign ministers. During the fortnight of the meeting, various environmental and political issues will be discussed, including tourism, new management plans, and monitoring.

On the science/monitoring front, the US has tabled two papers regarding Oceanites’ Antarctic Site Inventory project, one describing the project’s methodology, the second reporting the Inventory’s progress over its 15-year history. Oceanites and the Inventory are the only nongovernmental science project working in Antarctica. To date, the Inventory has made 951 site visits and collected data at 128 Antarctic Peninsula locations, and continues setting the pace regarding the monitoring of penguin and seabird populations throughout the Peninsula.

In terms of better understanding penguin and seabird population changes, Oceanites and colleagues at The Fagan Lab at the University of Maryland are analyzing the Antarctic Site Inventory database in context with other extant, long-term Peninsula datasets. The goal is creating a Peninsula-wide, multi-species, spatially explicit model of population trends, which, hopefully, will answer specific questions regarding the likely drivers of population shifts and forecast Peninsula-wide changes in these populations.