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Otago welcomes Deep South Antarctic science challenge role

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Otago welcomes Deep South Antarctic science challenge role

The University of Otago is a key partner in the second of the Government’s multi-million dollar science challenges, the Deep South Challenge, which will draw on the University’s extensive strengths in Antarctic science, oceanography, climate processes and related research.

The Government announced today that the Challenge will be hosted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and conducted by researchers across seven organisations including Victoria University of Wellington, the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, Antarctica New Zealand, GNS Science, Landcare Research, and the University of Otago.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie warmly welcomed today’s announcement.

“Our strong involvement reflects the world-class contributions the University’s researchers are making in many aspects of polar and Southern Ocean research,” says Professor Blaikie.

“Greatly improving our understanding of how changes in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean may affect New Zealand’s oceans, climate and eco-systems is a clear priority, and Otago researchers are more than up to this task. This significant funding will allow our scientists across a variety of disciplines to further their important work in this and other key areas of polar research.”

The Deep South Challenge will:

• Develop a New Zealand-specific model to improve predictions of our future climate
• Create a better understanding of how our climate conditions are driven from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica
• Research impacts on climate-sensitive economic sectors, infrastructure and natural resources of changes driven by climate processes in the deep south
• Research climate-related risks and opportunities for industry, Māori, communities, planners, and regulators

Research into Antarctic sea ice is one example of the science to be undertaken by the Challenge. Scientists will study the growth and decay of Antarctic sea ice to gain a better understanding of its influence on the ocean and the atmosphere components of the climate system.

The $24 million funding approved for the Challenge is subject to the finalisation of contract conditions. Total funding available for the Deep South Challenge is up to $88.1 million over ten years. This includes CRI core funding of up to $37 million for work aligned to the Challenge. Funding was approved by the Science Board, appointed by the Minister of Science and Innovation, following assessment from a panel comprising world-leading experts in a number of fields including marine and climate science.

The Deep South Challenge is the second National Science Challenge to have its funding confirmed, and Otago is also a partner in the “High-Value Nutrition National ScienceChallenge”.

Ten Science Challenges to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand were selected last year.

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