Section 1 - Introduction
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) was formed in 1948 to administer and coordinate Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions, which later became the Australian Antarctic program.
The AAD (part of the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) seeks to promote Antarctic policy which is based on the region’s strategic, scientific, environmental and potential economic importance for Australia. The Government’s key goals for the Antarctic Program are:
- maintaining the Antarctic Treaty System and enhancing Australia’s influence within the System
- to protect the Antarctic environment
- to understand the role of Antarctica in the global climate system
- to undertake scientific work of practical, economic and national significance.
In 2009 the Australian Government reaffirmed the importance of Antarctica to national interests and agreed on the following key policy priorities for Australia’s future engagement in the Antarctic:
- Maintaining and increasing Australia’s physical presence in the Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT), including through scientific research, facilities and transport capabilities and the ability to conduct activities in all parts of the AAT, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) external territory and their adjacent waters.
- Maintaining Australia’s diplomatic presence and increasing Australia’s influence in Antarctica through actively engaging internationally in matters affecting Antarctic governance arrangements, including under the Antarctic Treaty and other international instruments.
- Continually improving the environmental management of Australia’s activities and encouraging other states active in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to do likewise, including through a revitalised Australian inspection program.
- Delivering scientific outputs that meet the defined policy needs of government.
- Pursuing collaborative science and logistics relationships with states active in eastern Antarctica focusing on Australia’s key bilateral partners.
- Pursuing possible economic opportunities arising from Antarctic-related activities, including from:
- well managed Antarctic tourism
- sustainable, well regulated Southern Ocean fisheries
- Australia’s Antarctic gateway cities (Hobart, Perth and Sydney).
These policy priorities set the context for the Australian Antarctic program going forward including its important science activities – and have guided the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee’s development of the strategic plan and its implementation.
The AAD provides operational and logistic support to scientific research, as well as funding under the Australian Antarctic Science (AAS) Grants Program. Due to the uncertain nature of Antarctic conditions (such as adverse weather and sea ice coverage) and financial considerations, the AAD cannot guarantee to provide this support in all circumstances.
The Program considers applications for science projects that require logistic support from the Australian Antarctic Program (AAP), and/or an Australian Antarctic Science Grant. Research projects that do not require Australian Antarctic logistics but are addressing the goals of the Science Strategic Plan (e.g. data modelling, or using existing samples, or remote sensed data) are welcome.
In 2010, the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) developed the Science Strategic Plan.
The plan was developed following broad consultation with government science users (policy makers, environmental managers, service providers and defence and national security agencies) and the science community (universities and a number of publicly funded research agencies). It draws from national and international research frameworks and strategic plans, and aims to continue Australia’s leading roles in many aspects of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research.
The Themes and Streams are:
- Theme 1 - Climate Processes and Change
- Stream 1.1 - The Antarctic Ice Sheet
- Stream 1.2 - Oceans and marine ice in the Southern Hemisphere
- Stream 1.3 - Atmospheric processes and change
- Stream 1.4 - Antarctic palaeoclimate
- Theme 2 - Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation
- Stream 2.1 - Trends and sensitivity to change
- Stream 2.2 - Vulnerability and spatial protection
- Stream 2.3 - Human impacts: prevention, mitigation and remediation
- Theme 3 - Southern Ocean Ecosystems: Environmental Change and Conservation
- Stream 3.1 - Marine ecosystem change
- Stream 3.2 - Wildlife conservation
- Stream 3.3 - Southern Ocean fisheries
- Stream 3.4 - Protecting marine biodiversity
- Theme 4 - Frontier Science
The first three themes are interrelated and connect directly to key government policy drivers. To assist in coordinating the research effort within themes, each one has been subdivided into streams of research effort and each has defined goals and research questions which link to the theme goal. The Frontier Science theme has been developed to encourage and support research that falls outside of priorities of the three policy related themes, but within Australia’s national science priorities.
The AAD invites research applications in 2011 for projects commencing in 2012–13 and beyond.
Projects requesting major logistic support (e.g. dedicated marine science days, deep-field projects, air-support for field or survey work or projects requiring field teams greater than six) should submit an EOI at least two years ahead of the season that they require the support. Therefore an application for a project that requires major logistic support, such as ship time in 2013–14 should be submitted in 2011.
The application process will open again in 2012, and thereafter every second year.
Applications must be submitted electronically using the online application system. Information on the process and links to the application forms is available at Information for scientists. Applications must be formulated according to the requirements described in this document and research projects must address at least one Theme.
The online science application process occurs in two stages.
Figure 1 outlines the application process [PDF]. The first stage is an Expression of Interest (EOI). The EOI questions are designed to provide a broad view of the proposal in relation to fit to the strategic goals of the Science Strategic Plan and to outline the likelihood of the proposal delivering expected outputs and outcomes.
After assessment of the EOI researchers may be invited to complete a full application. The questions in the full application form are designed to gather more detail on the project, particularly on the scientific approach and its path to impact. The full application will be assessed by expert scientific peer reviewers, and by the Antarctic Research Assessment Committee.
Chief investigators submitting full applications will be forwarded comments by external reviewers and given an opportunity to respond to the reviewers’ comments through a rejoinder. They may also be contacted by various officers from the AAD Support Centre during the assessment process. This does not indicate that the project has been approved. Applicants will be formally advised of the scientific assessment of their proposal in April however advice on the final outcome of their application may not be until July of the year following submission, due to the complexities of operational planning for Antarctic operations.
After the science assessment is completed, projects will be required to meet various requirements prior to a final approval being granted. These include environmental impact assessments, permits, occupational health and safety, animal usage, human ethics and radioisotopes together with logistic support. By providing multi-year approvals and grants (see eligibility 3.5) the AAD is aiming to provide greater certainty over the logistic support that will be possible in future years to researchers.
Competition between the scientific and operational programs for ship berths, flights and station accommodation can be very intense during the Antarctic summer season. The Antarctic Operations Committee (AOC) considers, coordinates and approves or rejects travel requests submitted in a season for the AAP.
Theme Leaders, with the assistance of Stream Leaders, should be consulted in developing research projects to ensure the maximum coordination of research is possible in implementing the Science Strategic Implementation research plans. Roles, responsibilities and definitions are provided in Appendix A.
Chief investigators should contact the relevant Theme Leader, prior to completing an EOI.
Australian Antarctic Science (AAS) Grants support high-quality research projects which will make a significant contribution to Australia‘s Antarctic science program.
Expressions of Interest for the 2012–13 season close Wednesday 31 August 2011.
Researchers proposing to undertake field research, in the Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) or Australia’s subantarctic islands, that is not to be supported by the AAP (i.e. does not require transport, accommodation, kitting, etc) or another Antarctic Treaty nation’s support program, must still provide project information to satisfy the legislative requirements and assessment procedures necessary for the approval of that research (e.g. environmental assessment, animal ethics assessment and permits).
Private researchers should familiarise themselves with the relevant guidelines and complete the online Application Form.
Australian researchers supported by other treaty nations
Australian researchers undertaking projects which are supported by the operational programs of other Antarctic Treaty nations or who are undertaking private expedition research in non-AAT/Australian areas of the Antarctic or subantarctic should contact the Permits Officer at the AAD, in sufficient time to ensure they comply with any permit and legal requirements of the relevant nation(s).