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$24 million for NIWA-led Deep South Challenge

Steven Joyce

5 AUGUST, 2014

$24 million for NIWA-led Deep South Challenge

Funding of $24 million over five years has been approved for New Zealand’s second National Science Challenge - The Deep South Challenge Te Kōmata o Te Tonga, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Deep South 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.

“The Southern Ocean and Antarctica play a very big role in determining New Zealand’s climate,” Mr Joyce says. “This Challenge aims to shed new light on the exact impact the Deep South has in determining our climatic conditions, and to transform the way New Zealanders adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate.”

Mr Joyce says the Deep South Challenge will involve multi-disciplinary research across universities, Crown research institutes, and other research organisations including international institutions.

“The Deep South Challenge will leverage the world-class climate research currently undertaken by New Zealand researchers, to provide New Zealanders greater certainty in their planning for changing climatic conditions,” Mr Joyce says.

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. The Government has announced ten Science Challenges to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand.

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