Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie and Dr Andrew Zammit-Mangion, from the Centre for Environmental Informatics in the National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia at the University of Wollongong (UOW), are chief investigators on a successful bid to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for carrying out critical Antarctic research.  The $36M grant, which is administered by Monash University and led by chief investigator, Professor Steven Chown, will fund a seven-year research program.

UOW is one of three main hubs in the Special Research Initiative (SRI), Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF), which includes Monash University and Queensland University of Technology. SAEF partners also include the University of New South Wales, James Cook University, University of Adelaide, Western Australian Museum, and South Australian Museum. Also included are peak government bodies, such as the Australian Antarctic Division, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and Bureau of Meteorology. SAEF’s collaboration extends to 30 organisations in Australia and abroad, and it establishes links with the Antarctic national programs of Chile, Norway, South Africa, UK, and New Zealand.

This SRI represents a substantial investment in Antarctic science by the Australian Government. It will build an integrated program that will be the first in the world to bring together the best Antarctic physical scientists with marine and terrestrial biologists and statistical scientists. This interdisciplinary expertise will allow SAEF to understand how the Antarctic climate is changing, how it will change in the future, and what this means for Antarctic biodiversity. Using a number of unique data sets, researchers will work with national programs in Australia and around the world, to enable them to make the best decisions for future Antarctic environmental management. Such impactful research is core business for UOW, and the interdisciplinarity proposed fits extremely well within its Global Challenges philosophy.

UOW will contribute to all three themes of SAEF. Ecologist Senior Professor Sharon Robinson will be the Deputy Director (Science Implementation) of SAEF. She is an international expert on how climate change impacts Antarctic terrestrial communities. Climate scientist Associate Professor Helen McGregor will co-lead the climate theme.  Statistical scientists Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie and Dr Andrew Zammit-Mangion will contribute to vital climate modelling by statistically downscaling coarse-scale climate models to smaller, more biologically appropriate scales. Senior Professor Pascal Perez and Dr Johan Barthelemy will investigate the use of smart sensing technologies for remotely monitoring Antarctic ecosystems. Distinguished Professor Stuart Kaye is SAEF’s expert on environmental law and Antarctic policy.