International Antarctic conferences cancelled due to coronavirus

orange ship with Hobart in background
The icebreaker Aurora Australis returning to Hobart from Mawson research station in March 2020 (Photo: Simon Payne)

Two major international Antarctic meetings due to be held in Hobart in mid-2020 have been cancelled to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

The meetings of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) were expected to bring more than a thousand Antarctic scientists and operations experts from around the world to Hobart between 31 July and 11 August 2020.

The Chair of the Local Organising Committee, Dr Rob Wooding from the Australian Antarctic Division, said the decision has been taken with due regard to Tasmanian State and Commonwealth health advice, and in consultation with the international Executive Committees of SCAR and COMNAP.

“While it is very disappointing to have to take this step, the health and wellbeing of the people in the Antarctic sector and the Tasmanian community is paramount,” said Dr Wooding.

“We hope that the Antarctic gateway city of Hobart will be considered as the host for future meetings of SCAR and COMNAP.” 

Other key international Antarctic meetings have also recently been cancelled, including the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) due to be held in Finland in May 2020.