Australian Antarctic science strategic plan 201112 to 202021

The Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts approved the Australian Antarctic Science Strategic Plan 2011-12 to 2020-21 on 19 July 2010.

This plan will apply from the 2012-13 project application round, with 2011-12 acting as a transition year between the new plan and our previous Science Strategy 2004-05 to 2010-11. Until 2012-13 all projects will be finalised or consolidated under the old strategy's four priority programs.

A pdf copy of the full 2011-12 to 2020-21 strategic plan is available, along with a separate Executive Summary.

Printed copies of the plan and Executive Summary can be ordered through

This plan will guide the Australian Antarctic Science Program over the next 10 years to focus efforts within four thematic areas.

Theme 1 Climate Processes and Change
Theme 2 Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation
Theme 3 Southern Ocean Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation
Theme 4 Frontier Science

Themes 1, 2 and 3 address the priority science needs articulated by government policy and resource management agencies. The research in these themes will be designed explicitly to link investment in monitoring, observational and experimental science with the required process studies, synthesis and integrative modelling, and finally to the provision of scientific input to policy makers, conservation and resource managers. There will be increased emphasis placed on delivering project and program outputs and products to the end user community.

The Frontier Science theme provides opportunity for high quality science projects that address Australia’s national science priorities, without the requirement for current policy relevance. The continued support for this more fundamental science is a vital component of the strategic approach across the Australian Antarctic Science Program.

The program will continue to be responsible for a broad suite of ongoing observational activities, including a network of meteorological facilities; ionospheric activity monitoring; geophysical monitoring including seismic, magnetic and GPS networks; and hydrographic and bathymetric mapping. These activities underpin the diverse science portfolio and are of critical importance to Australia’s understanding of, and operations in, Antarctica.

The plan establishes the framework for Australian Antarctic research to which universities, research institutions, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), and other national and international government bodies contribute. As well, there will always be logistical and budgetary limits on the amount of science that can be supported by the Australian Government in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, which will vary from time to time in line with government priorities. Therefore, there will be a need to prioritise within and across themes. Field work in these remote, challenging and dangerous environments is expensive, and requires significant logistical support, and careful planning and coordination. The AAD, in its role of leading the Australian Antarctic program, will continue to drive towards increased efficiency in operations and support of science within the program, and in particular towards greater collaboration with other national programs operating in eastern Antarctica.

The program will undergo a mid-term review to evaluate progress towards theme goals and assess needs for development of new thematic areas. The Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Antarctic Research will support the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee in recommending future priorities within the program.

The Australian Antarctic Science Program will continue to welcome and support involvement by Australian and international scientists willing to contribute to advancing Australia's interests in the Antarctic. High priority will be placed on collaboration across the Australian and international research communities.

This page was last modified on 14 April 2011.