Australian Antarctic Program

Expeditioners hiking through snow.
Our highly capable expeditioners contribute to the success of the Australian Antarctic Program. (Photo: Ian Phillips)

The Australian Antarctic Program conducts world-class science of critical national importance and global significance that delivers on Australian Antarctic policy and operational priorities. The Program is led, coordinated and delivered by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The Australian Antarctic Program is highly collaborative, comprising partnerships across government and with more than 150 national and international research institutions. Together, these partnerships contribute to advancing Australia’s interests in Antarctica and the subantarctic region. Australia also works with other countries’ Antarctic programs to run joint international scientific and logistical support operations.

Antarctic science, aligned with our policy interests and integrated with our operational capabilities, is at the heart of the Australian Antarctic Program. Together, Australian and international scientists participating in the program, deliver world-class scientific research consistent with Australia’s Antarctic science strategic priorities.

These priorities include:

  • understanding the role of Antarctica in the global climate system;
  • understanding and conserving Antarctica’s unique life forms;
  • protecting the Antarctic environment; and
  • supporting sound environmental stewardship in the region, with a particular focus on fisheries.

Science conducted through the Australian Antarctic Program:

  • gives us the knowledge and understanding to develop the technologies and make the policies needed to protect the Antarctic environment and conserve the Southern Ocean ecosystem;
  • enables Australia to contribute to and strengthen the Antarctic Treaty system and its comprehensive environmental protection regime, ensuring that the Antarctic environment remains valued, protected and understood;
  • supports Australia’s leadership in environmental stewardship;
  • supports valuable Australian commercial operations and opportunities such as sustainable fishing within the Antarctic Treaty system’s governance framework.

The operational and logistical building blocks of the Australian Antarctic Program are highly capable people, our four research stations, multipurpose icebreaker, aviation and field support capabilities.

Shipping is the backbone of the Australian Antarctic Program. The next-generation successor to the Aurora Australis will provide a step-change in Australia’s Antarctic capabilities and sustain the next generation of Australian Antarctic science and operations in Antarctica.

Aviation also plays a critical role in sustaining Australia’s contemporary operations in Antarctica. Modern, sophisticated research and intra and inter-continental transport systems are critical to Australia continuing to lead a world-class Antarctic program into the future and to maintain our position as a leading Antarctic nation.

Read more about the Australian Antarctic Program in the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan.