The Australian Government has awarded AUD $36 million to a research program, Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF), which includes teams from Auckland University of Technology, Otago University, Victoria University of Wellington.
The New Zealand universities will collaborate in the joint program led by Australia’s Monash University. The funding will be awarded under the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Excellence in Antarctic Science.
Change in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is occurring rapidly, with significant implications for its landscapes, resources, and influence on Australasia.
In response, the SAEF program will deliver world-leading research that will forecast environmental change across the Antarctic, deploy effective environmental stewardship strategies, and secure Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.
The New Zealand team bring a wealth of experience and were selected for their expertise in Antarctic drone operations, remote sensing, molecular ecology and geomorphology.
The School of Science research team from the AUT DroneLab, will be led by Associate Professor Bollard and include Professor Len Gillman and chief pilot and drone engineer Ashray Doshi.
"Our New Zealand researchers are a part of a world-class team who are already making a significant contribution to Antarctic research and management,” says Associate Professor Bollard.
SAEF will be directed by Professor Steven Chown, from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences. Professor Chown is also the President of the international Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research.
“This is a critical investment in the future of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,” Professor Chown says.
“In a world of rapidly changing environments and geopolitical realities our work will be transformational in the insights and advantages it provides.”
SAEF’s collaboration includes links with the Antarctic national programs of Chile, Norway, South Africa and the UK, and with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.