Australia has been conducting scientific research in Antarctica, the subantarctic and the Southern Ocean for over 100 years. Today, the Australian Antarctic Division leads the Australian Government's scientific program in Antarctica.

As Antarctica grows in national and global importance, the 'Australian Antarctic program' addresses critical issues such as climate change, the human footprint on Antarctica and the increasing demands for food security caused by human population growth.

This diverse research program covers physical and life sciences in the atmospheric, terrestrial and marine domains, as well as human biology and medical research. It is also responsible for a long-term observational activities, including a network of meteorological facilities; ionospheric activity monitoring; seismic, magnetic and GPS networks; and hydrographic and bathymetric (seafloor) mapping.

Our science is directed by the Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan 2011–12 to 2020–21, developed in consultation with the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee and approved by the Australian Government in July 2010.

In addition to this work, the Australian Marine Mammal Centre at the Australian Antarctic Division coordinates studies focussed on understanding, protecting and conserving whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs.

Australia's active membership of the Committee for Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty is supported by a program of research into site remediation and environmental clean-up.

Australian Antarctic program research also supports Australia’s role in the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the International Whaling Commission and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

More than 100 projects are undertaken in Antarctica, the subantarctic and in Australia, involving scientists from some 28 countries and 176 institutions (search our project database). About 90 Australian graduate students are also associated with the program.

This page was last updated on 14 July 2015.