The Australian government has announced it is to invest A$58.8m (US$40.1m) over the next two and a half years to strengthen its scientific and environmental leadership in Antarctica.
The investment will advance the design and environmental assessments required to build Antarctica’s first ever paved aerodrome near Davis research station – one of three permanent bases and research outposts in Antarctica managed by the Australian Antarctic Division.
According to the government, the project will dramatically enhance Australia’s scientific capacity in the region allowing year-round expeditions to map climates, conduct environmental research and monitor global events, such as iceberg calvings or major volcanic eruptions.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said, “Australian scientists and Antarctic teams are helping groundbreaking programs to map ice shelves, monitor climate change, study marine and migratory bird ecosystems and even test an underwater vehicle destined for Jupiter. We have helped track the shrinking of the hole in the ozone layer to its smallest point in almost 40 years and we are planning to drill an ice core more than a million years old, which will tell us about the future extent and rate of climate change.”
Australia is investing a further A$2.8bn (US$1.9bn) in the Antarctic on projects including: building and operating the state-of-the-art icebreaker RSV Nuyina; upgrading its Antarctic research station network and infrastructure; undertaking Antarctic research initiatives; and the development of a new research station on Macquarie Island.