From the Director

Welcome to this first issue of Australian Antarctic Magazine. Our aim is to reach out to the wide community of people who share an excitement about Antarctica. Its successful predecessor ANARE News has enjoyed an over-long sabbatical. It is my hope that you will enjoy this magazine and, through its pages, become more aware of the diversity of the Australian Antarctic program and Australia’s commitment to Antarctica. Australian Antarctic Magazine will report on the current work of the Australian Antarctic program, look forward to the future, and reflect on the achievements of the past.

During the past two years we have been implementing the Government’s response to the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee’s Report Australia’s Antarctic Program Beyond 2000 — a Framework for the Future. The Government set us four ambitious goals: to maintain the Antarctic Treaty system and enhance Australia's influence in it; to protect the Antarctic environment; to understand the role of Antarctica in the global climate system; and to undertake scientific work of practical, economic and national significance. Each issue of Australian Antarctic Magazine will report on what we are doing to meet these goals.

A key challenge for the Antarctic program is to ensure consistently high quality results are achieved with maximum efficiency in all the areas of our work. In doing this we are staying alert to opportunities to do better. This year we are looking very carefully at a number of matters including air transport to, and within, Antarctica; the potential for joint use of facilities and logistics; the development of a more flexible program; multi-ship operation; and enhanced automation of scientific equipment. 2001 is an exciting time for the Antarctic program.

Plans for air transportation to Antarctica and enhanced air support for science on the ice are currently being developed, and will be subjected to close scrutiny for their likely environmental impact before any recommendations are made to Government.

We are developing a ten-year strategic plan for our operations, questioning every aspect of our present activities and asking if by doing things differently we can save resources for deployment elsewhere.

Discussions are being held with other nations to see if savings can be made through cooperative use of logistics.

We are now in the first year of a three-year charter period in which we will operate two vessels to support the Antarctic program. The RSV Aurora Australis is spending a greater proportion of her time as a scientific platform.

The Science Branch of the Australian Antarctic Division has embarked upon a rolling program of instrument automation, with many experiments now running automatically.

There have been other changes too. In 1999 we reorganised the Biology Program to allow the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program to develop its national and international visibility. Australia maintains a high profile in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and has been very successful in having its scientific findings on krill and fish stock assessments translated into international agreements. As I write, the atmospheric sciences effort is being reformed into two programs — the Meteorological Science and Atmospheric and Space Physics programs. This change will better focus their activities on the global climate system. The deployment at the start of this season of the LIDAR instrument at Davis marks a significant development in Australia’s middle atmosphere climatology research, and the science community is looking forward eagerly to the research results.

An environmental management system is being put in place which will cover all of our activities in the Antarctic and at the program’s Kingston headquarters.

Within the Antarctic Treaty we have a number of initiatives being developed in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other agencies, all directed at delivering on our goals of maintaining and enhancing the Antarctic Treaty system and protecting the Antarctic environment.

Finally I must pay tribute to the high professionalism of the staff of the Australian Antarctic Division and other participants in the Australian Antarctic program. Their teamwork and commitment shines through in everything they do and I am hopeful that over time our readers will better come to know our Antarctic program and all the people proudly associated with it.

I hope you enjoy Australian Antarctic Magazine. Please let us know what you think of it.

Dr. Tony Press
Director Australian Antarctic Division