Strategic Science in Antarctica Conference – Australia and New Zealand

Some of the best minds in Antarctic research in Australia and New Zealand are in Hobart this week for the first such meeting of its kind between the two countries.

Three hundred delegates from around Australia and across the Tasman are meeting to exchange ideas and share information on policy, current research and operational planning on the icy continent and in the Southern Ocean.

In a welcome message via video from Canberra, Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, reflected on the foresight of earlier decision-makers who agreed to set aside an entire continent for scientific research.

“But what’s made it such a permanent conservation decision is that the quality of the research that has come about as a result is second to none, and doesn’t just inform us about Antarctica, it informs us about the whole world.

“The work you do is important and I think it symbolises everything about the decisions that were made some years ago about Antarctica,” Mr Burke said.

(Watch Minister Burke’s full message at the foot of this page.)

The conference was born out of ongoing collaboration between the Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctica New Zealand who have a shared vision for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

It is an important forum offering the opportunity for attendees to explore how the assimilation of policy, research and operational priorities can influence Antarctic science.

It will also highlight the role science plays, now and into the future, in informing and evaluating the successful environmental management and biodiversity conservation in the region and beyond.

Presentation and talks throughout the conference will cover:

  • Antarctic ice sheet
  • Marine ecosystems
  • Terrestrial ecosystems
  • Land and coastal marine
  • Human impacts in Antarctica

The ‘Strategic Science in Antarctica’ conference runs from June 24 to 28, 2013.

Conference official Twitter – @AntarcticScienc. Use #antsci13 to track the conversation.

Minister's welcome message for Strategic Science in Antarctica conference 2013

Video transcript

G’day, it’s Tony Burke – the Environment Minister for Australia. I wish I could be with you in Hobart for the Strategic Science in Antarctica conference. I think it’s a great initiative, and I’m really glad we’ve got so many scientists from Australia, but also who’ve come from New Zealand, and some from even further afield.

The work that you do is important, and I think it symbolises everything about the decisions that were made some years ago about Antarctica. The whole concept – and to reflect on it now – to think that decision, we had that moment in time where people said let’s set aside an entire continent for scientific research, is worth reflecting on itself. But what’s made it such a permanent conservation decision isn’t just that everyone got together and made that decision, but the quality of the science that has now come about as a result, is second to none, and doesn’t just inform us about Antarctica – it informs us about the whole world: the rest of our planet.

The work on whales that’s done there, for the full migratory path they have from the southern ocean all the way through north. The work that’s being done now with the protection of some large marine parks through the CCAMLR process and the biodiversity benefits that can come through with that. Those of you who work also in the marine environment in looking at phytoplankton and krill – two foundation species, and the possible impact that we get from changes in the qualities of our ocean – in ocean acidification; in ocean temperature, and how quickly the species are able to adapt to that. Knowing of course the extent to which they then underpin so much more marine life. Probably the most obvious of all examples, those of you who work with ice cores, which have provided and unlocked so many of the secrets of the history of our planet and allowed us to have the understanding of the modern science of climate change to give the warning signs to our nation and to the world; to give governments the opportunity, if they’re smart enough to take it, to act, and take action in time, before it’s too late.

That work is all possible because of those twin decisions. One, the fact that we put aside the Antarctic for science research, conservation and peace. Secondly, because of the quality of the work that then came, has been able to provide so much of a benefit.

So to all of you, I’m glad that you’re there; and I’m terribly glad, sincerely glad of the work that you do. You’re providing answers to some of the most important questions on our planet. There’s no other way of summarising what you do. Congratulations. Enjoy the meeting. Keep doing more of it. Thanks.

[end transcript]