Scientists have been researching Antarctica since the days of the first explorers, drawn by the extreme environment, unique species and pristine nature of the continent.

These days, a major focus of Antarctic research is how the continent and its ecosystems will be impacted by climate change, and how those changes will influence the rest of the planet. Changes in Antarctica will drive global sea level rise, ocean circulation and weather patterns.

New Zealand's Science Strategy

The New Zealand Antarctic and Southern Ocean Science Directions and Priorities 2010-2020 document establishes themes and priorities for New Zealand Antarctic science. At a high level, these are grouped into:

Climate, Cryosphere, Atmosphere and Lithosphere
Improved understanding of the past and current state of Antarctica, its significance and implications of the role of Antarctica in global change, and implications of global change for Antarctica.

Inland & Coastal Ecosystems
Improved understanding of inland and coastal ecosystems of the Ross Sea region leading to enhanced knowledge, conservation and protection priorities in Antarctica.

Marine Systems
Improved conservation and resource management of the Antarctic marine environment. The science that Antarctica New Zealand supports is closely aligned with this strategy.

New Zealand’s Research in Antarctica

For a small country, the science effort that New Zealand produces is impressive. Our initiative, ingenuity and boldness sees New Zealand leading the way in Antarctic research at a global level.

We facilitate the research of New Zealand scientists and their international collaborators in Antarctica. We are focused on delivering a science programme that is high quality and has a high impact with the scientific community, policy makers and the public. New Zealand’s Antarctic researchers are working hard to tackle the big questions relating to climate change. The answers to these questions will help us to navigate our way into the future.

  • What processes will influence how fast the ice sheets melt?
  • How will Antarctic ecosystems respond to a changing environment?
  • How will climate change in Antarctica influence the rest of the planet?

Working Together

New Zealand’s research efforts in Antarctica are becoming increasingly collaborative, both within the New Zealand scientific community, and at a global level through the involvement of international scientists. There has been a shift towards projects that bring together research teams with multiple areas of expertise, and New Zealand draws on logistical support from other national Antarctic programmes.

Collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches are vital for us to address the big science questions relating to climate change on the continent.
Much of the science that is conducted in and on Antarctica provides valuable guidance for policy and management. We facilitate and encourage dialogue between scientists and policy makers to ensure scientific efforts are delivering robust and useful information wherever possible.

More on science

Antarctica image
10 February 2021

Iceperts arrive in Christchurch

In a normal season, New Zealand’s Antarctic scientists would either be at Scott Base or just returning from Antarctica. Instead they are gathering in Christchurch for the Antarctic Science Conference and the Snow and Ice Research… Read More

Ian Hawes
3 February 2021

What the future could hold for Antarctica’s unique ecosystems

Kiwi researchers are among twenty-five world-leading Antarctic biologists who have come together to produce a comprehensive “state-of-the-nation” style article on Antarctica’s ecosystems. From microscopic bacteria, to penguins an… Read More

EM Bird flying
12 January 2021

Bird's Icy View

A Kiwi research team has, for the first time ever, used a fixed wing aircraft to measure the thickness of a huge area of sea ice in Antarctica.This is a major milestone for understanding sea ice processes in a region of Antarctic… Read More

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