Environment Minister Tony Burke has congratulated the recipients of the 2012 Antarctic Medal which is awarded for outstanding service to the Australian Antarctic program.

The Governor-General, Her Excellency, Quentin Bryce AC CVO today announced the Antarctic medals were awarded to oceanographer Dr Steve Rintoul and medical practitioner Dr James Doube.

A posthumous award was given to meteorologist Dr Neil Adams and a clasp to the Antarctic Medal was awarded to Dr Graham Robertson.

“The recipients have each made a unique and significant contribution to support Australia’s Antarctic program,” Mr Burke said.

“It’s inspirational to see Mawson’s legacy continue today, more than a century on, as Australians dedicate their work to the science of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and supporting Australia’s presence on the frozen continent.”

As a recipient of the award for a second time Dr Robertson received a clasp to the Antarctic Medal in recognition of his research on ways to reduce seabird bycatch in long line fisheries, including developing an underwater bait setting machine.

Dr Robertson was first presented the honour in 1989 for his contribution to the scientific knowledge of Emperor penguins.

“Dr Robertson has spent more than two decades working in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. He has spent long periods in remote field locations and on fishing vessels, often under arduous conditions,” Mr Burke said.

Dr Rintoul who has undertaken 14 marine science voyages, 11 as Chief Scientist, received the award for his leadership and outstanding contribution to science and Australia’s Antarctic program.

“Dr Rintoul’s work has improved the world’s understanding of the workings of the Southern Ocean and its significance in the global climate system,” he said.

Dr Doube who was the Station Doctor, Search and Rescue Leader, Field Training Officer and Watercraft Operator for more than three years received the award for outstanding service to Antarctic expeditions to Macquarie Island.

“Dr Doube has an exceptional level of skill across a variety disciplines including generalist medicine, expedition medicine, public health and occupational medicine,’’ Mr Burke said.

“He has honed skills in biology and science, communications, media, search and rescue and field support and enabled the success of the various expeditions and programs and is an inspiration to other doctors practicing remote medicine.

Meteorologist and scientist Dr Adams who passed away in March was the Manager of the Bureau’s Antarctic Meteorological Section and spent three decades supporting Australia’s Antarctic program.

“Dr Adams developed forecasting infrastructure which underpins the Bureau’s Antarctic forecasting service including the polar Numerical Weather Prediction suite; the observational data and NWP model output viewing system; the Australian Antarctic Division aviation-based Automatic Weather Station network; and the Bureau’s satellite facilities in Antarctica,’’ Mr Burke said.

“Dr Adams exceptional abilities as a forecaster contributed immensely to the achievement of scientific programs across many years. He was crucial to the safe work of Australian’s in Antarctica, with his forecasts supporting the Australian Antarctic Division’s station, traverse, shipping, flights and deep field activities.”

The Australian Antarctic Medal was established in 1987 and is an award in the Meritorious Service awards category of the Australian Honours System.

It replaced the (British) Imperial Polar Medal and its variations which date back to 1857 for service in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.