On 21 April 2020, the Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the outcome of applications to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for funding under the Special Research Initiative for Excellence in Antarctic Science. “This research project will demonstrate Australia's leadership in Antarctic Science and strengthen our relationships with Antarctic Treaty nations” Mr Tehan said.

The University of Tasmania (UTAS), in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and 40 other national and international research institutions and Universities formed the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) to bid for the funding.

The Centre received $20 million from the ARC over three years from January 2021. The Partners will contribute a further $5 million, and as well as other significant human and scientific resources. The resources will be used to conduct world-leading research into changes that are happening in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and the impact that those changes are having on the global climate system.

The research will revolutionise predictions of the future of East Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Changes in the Antarctic will be profoundly costly to Australia but the speed and scale of future change remains poorly understood.

The new Centre's activities will build on the work done under the recently concluded ARC Special Research Initiative for Antarctic Gateway Partnership and further progress Australia's Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP). These priorities align with Australia's investment in the AAPP, in Government Agencies, and in infrastructure.

Australia's new Antarctic infrastructure will substantially improve the ability to conduct remote fieldwork in the Southern Ocean and the Australian Antarctic Territory.

ACEAS will provide, for the first time, the national-scale research capacity required to advance knowledge and hone predictions of Antarctica's complex ice-Earth-ocean-atmosphere-ecosystem interactions that govern future changes and impacts. New data will improve predictions of the nature and rate of future change, enabling Australia to better safeguard against the worst impacts.

The geographically integrated Research Programs of the Centre focus on understanding and modelling the coupled ice-ocean-atmosphere-ecosystem-solid Earth system of East Antarctica.

The Centre's research will focus on Antarctic and Southern Ocean change over time periods relevant to humanity - now, mid-century and 2100, and longer-term. The research will be underpinned by integrated field campaigns and the development of a unique, coupled ocean-atmosphere-sea ice-ice sheet-ecosystem model which spans all timescales.

Program 1: Circum-Antarctic and East Antarctica

Satellite and field observations and model studies to provide the large-scale context for variability and change over East Antarctica and in the Southern Ocean, and their interactions with the global climate system.

Program 2: Regional/Marginal Ice Zone

This program will make use of regional models and satellite and autonomous observations, and carry out field campaigns, to provide the underpinning knowledge (from atmosphere to ecosystems) needed to cross-link the larger scale circumpolar and smaller scale sub-regional activities, and to enable coupled model development and analytics.

Program 3: Sub-regional

Developing new understanding of fundamental processes and change, with one focus on past, present and future glacier basin dynamics at high resolution and forced by understanding of regional and circum-Antarctic change. Research will be enabled through satellite, in situ (autonomous and manual) and high-resolution model studies.

Program 4: Model development and data analytics

Development of world-first coupled ice-atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere-ecosystem models for projection of the future of Antarctica and Southern Ocean, and development of data analytical techniques and the application of these techniques to ACEAS observational and model datasets.


Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
September 2, 2020