Antarctica research #ST6 [fr]
France and Australia are working closely together to build their research programs in Antarctica. Find out more about Australia’s 10-year Strategic Plan for Antarctic Science
Australia and France are the two players behind the Antarctic Treaty initiative. This treaty establishes that only peaceful activities are permitted in the Antarctic, and that observations and results of scientific research conducted in the region will be exchanged and made freely available. The two countries have long shared a diplomatic interest and leadership role in the region, particularly through their scientific programmes. Australia supports the development of excellent research, but also of its equipment and infrastructure, which enables it to assert its role as a key scientific and logistical partner for the various stakeholders. The country also benefits from a strategic position that makes it an ideal gateway to the East Antarctic region. This interest in Antarctica is shared by France, which has deployed two research stations there, the Dumont d’Urville station in Terre Adélie, and the Franco-Italian Concordia station in the heart of the continent.
The organisations that implement research programmes in Antarctica, (the Australian Antarctic Division, CSIRO, the University of Tasmania, the Paul-Emile Victor Institute ...) have been working closely together for many years. The operational and logistical construction of an Antarctic research programme involves the use of an ice-breaking vessel and airborne supply and equipment capabilities, in addition to scientific staff. Collaboration is therefore an important component of these programs as it allows for the pooling of means and logistical capabilities. The main themes of this Franco-Australian collaboration in Antarctica are the study of climate, and marine fauna and flora.
Australia’s 10-year Strategic Plan for Antarctic Science
On 26 April 2020, the Australian Antarctic Science Council (composed of scientists and representatives of the key agencies involved in the Antarctic science programme, including the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the Australian Academy of Sciences, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia), unveiled its 10-year strategic plan for Antarctic science. The plan aims to guide future science activities, to meet the research goals set by the 20-year action plan published in 2016.
Through this plan, Australia aims at conducting world-class scientific research that has benefits for the world, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The studies of climate based on million year ice core, and the studies of Antarctic krill, are among the key areas of research announced. Nevertheless, many fields will be explored, around four axes:
1. Environmental protection and management
Targeted research and monitoring for improved management of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean: Climate change impacts, Ecosystem conservation and management, Area protection of natural values, Fisheries management, Environmental monitoring and assessment, Environmental remediation
2. Ice, ocean, atmosphere and earth systems
Understanding the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean on Australia and the World: High-latitude climate science, Role of the East Antarctic ice sheet in global sea-level rise, Interpreting past climate records to inform future climate understanding, Southern Ocean circulation, heat and acidification, Geophysical mapping, Atmosphere and weather, Climate change mitigation
3. Human presence and activities in Antarctica
Providing practical advice to address societal issues: Polar medicine and human biology, Social sciences – policy and law, Monitoring pollution, Space and astronomy, Human Impacts, Biosecurity
The 10-year strategic plan also stresses the importance of digital integration, data collection and analysis, and open access to data. E-integration is a component cross-cutting all the fields of research:
4. Digital integration
Bringing it all together with innovation in data collection and analysis in accordance with FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Inter-operable, Reusable): Innovative technology, Remote systems, Digital Model of Antarctica, GIS platform integration, Data communications, Statistical analysis and data analytics
The plan outlines several means of action that will allow the various research projects to be implemented, such as:
- Building on existing data and samples to complement and support field programs
- The transfer of activities to the new logistics of the Australian Antarctic program (the state-of-the-art research and resupply icebreaker RSV Nuyina, overland traverse capability, and rebuilt research station on Macquarie Island)
- Collaboration with a number of actors (academics, industry representatives, and policy makers) of Antarctic science, both Australian and international
- Encouraging integrated and multidisciplinary research through the creation of a digital data integration platform