Ōtautahi Christchurch has been a hub for scientific expeditions to the remote and frigid regions of the Southern Ocean, Ross Sea, and Antarctica, supporting explorers in their missions of discovery for centuries. Today, Antarctica New Zealand have teamed up with the Australian Antarctic Division to host a week that celebrates the full spectrum of Antarctic research.
A flurry of scientists has descended upon Christchurch for the New Zealand and Australia Antarctic Science Conference 25 to 28 July to strengthen bonds between Antarctic organisations and promote the science and intelligence being collected in the region. The four-day program features workshops, keynote speakers, focus meetings, networking, and public-facing events to discuss the future of critical ecosystems in a changing world.
"Change is our unifying theme, [and] there’s an opportunity to connect and build a deeper appreciation of our respective strengths, identify gaps, and explore opportunities to collaborate to address the big science questions in Antarctica for our World,” says Prof. Jordy Hendrikx Chief Scientific Advisor, Antarctica New Zealand.
Scientific cooperation has always been at the forefront of relations on the frozen continent with the Antarctic Treaty one of the world’s longest standing peace accords. Since its signing in 1959, 44 other countries have acceded to the treaty, growing international cooperation on the ice.
“As one of five gateways to the region, the Christchurch Antarctic Office is incredibly proud to support Ōtautahi Christchurch hosting this event and bring our organisations even closer together. Our commitment to the international programs and their communities is incredibly important to our city and the wider region," says David Tayler, Head of Christchurch Antarctic Office, ChristchurchNZ.
David Tayler - Head of Christchurch Antarctic Office, ChristchurchNZ
As one of five gateways to the region, the Christchurch Antarctic Office is incredibly proud to support Ōtautahi Christchurch hosting this event and bring our organisations even closer together. Our commitment to the international programs and their communities is incredibly important to our city and the wider region,"
"The increase in importance of Antarctic science cannot be understated. Our gateway, through collaboration and facilitation, plays a pivotal role in supporting the scientific endeavours in Antarctica. We are dedicated to fostering research initiatives and promoting knowledge exchange, enabling scientists to make crucial discoveries that impact global understanding and preservation efforts," says Tayler.
In 2017, the Antarctic sector delivered a total economic impact of more than $260 million to the Canterbury economy, contributing to a total economic impact of $480 million for New Zealand as a whole. Additionally, this sector was responsible for creating around 3,500 jobs in the region.
“We recognise the significant economic value of supporting Antarctic logistics. Our city plays a vital role in facilitating the transportation of equipment, personnel, and supplies for researchers and scientists from around the globe. This logistical support not only generates revenue and job opportunities for our local businesses and workforce but also strengthens international collaboration,” says ChristchurchNZ CEO Ali Adams.
The four-day program culminates on the 28 th of July with a public event Antarctica After Dark Friday evening at Christchurch’s Majestic. The two-hour experience features a variety of presenters, designed to entertain, and inspire, leaving the public in awe of the great southern continent.
Following this week’s activity, hundreds more international scientists will visit for the XIII SCAR Biology Symposium 31 July to 4 August at Te Pae. 300 researchers from 32 National Antarctic Programs will discuss Antarctic Biology and Ecology for the first face-to-face SCAR meeting in three years.
The conference offers four days of invited keynotes, plenaries, and concurrent sessions, with a mid-week break of excursions to allow attendees to enjoy some spectacular parts of New Zealand’s South Island. On Tuesday August 1, Awesome Antarctica will be held 6pm-7.30pm at the TSB Community Space Hapori on Level 1 at Tūranga, at which four speakers from around the globe will provide attendees with a deeper understanding of the Southern Ocean.
“From penguin populations to the bleeding edge of Biodiversity science, Awesome Antarctica is all about the continent’s future challenges and inspiring people to care about this extraordinary region,” says Michelle La Rue, Conservation Biologist and Ecologist at University of Canterbury and MC of the event. “There’s never been a more exciting, and more critical time, to enter the realm of Antarctic research and forge a career in understanding the science of the ice,” says La Rue