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Collaboration key to Deep South Science Challenge success

Collaboration key to Deep South National Science Challenge success


The Government’s Deep South National Science Challenge provides an unprecedented opportunity for scientific collaboration that will ultimately improve the lives of all New Zealanders, according to Rob Murdoch, the challenge’s interim director.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today officially launched the Deep South Challenge at NIWA’s Wellington campus. It is one of 10 Government challenges aimed at responding to the most important scientific issues facing New Zealanders.

Dr Murdoch, NIWA’s general manager research, said the challenge would bring together the best scientists from across New Zealand to work together on transforming the way New Zealanders adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate.

Deep South involves several partners including GNS Science, Landcare Research, University of Otago, Victoria University, Antarctica NZ, the NZ Antarctic Research Institute and NIWA.

“The challenge will bring together New Zealand’s leading science expertise who will work together on a common goal,” Dr Murdoch said.

“It is an exciting opportunity to address one of the most pressing issues facing New Zealanders: how do we adapt to our climate as it changes over the coming decades and centuries.

“Given the importance of the climate system and its significance to New Zealand’s economy and infrastructure, this is hugely important to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.”

Dr Murdoch also said one of the key elements of the challenge was the requirement to engage with all levels of society.

“What makes this unique is that we will be working with industry, Maori, government and communities to guide planning and policy to enhance resilience to the effects of a changing climate on key economic sectors, infrastructure and natural resources.”

Funding of $24 million over the next four years will enable the challenge to focus on issues such as drought, freshwater availability, flooding due to coastal inundation, damaging storm events and changes to mean climate and variability.

Dr Murdoch said the challenge has a very focused programme that builds on New Zealand’s areas of expertise and makes best use of our strengths, such as the NIWA supercomputer, our knowledge of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and the understanding of climate systems.

New Zealand’s proximity to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean was also crucial as it provides access to develop new work to investigate how New Zealand’s climate will respond to changes in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

“This is an ambitious undertaking that has the potential to transform New Zealand society. We shouldn’t underestimate the work involved but we believe that by combining our collective strength and expertise and directing it into world-class research projects we have the ability to address one of the world’s most important issues,” Dr Murdoch said.

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