NZ to launch research project in Antarctic

New Zealand and South Korea are set to launch a collaborative research effort in the Antarctic following the building of a $90 million state-of-the-art station on the frozen continent.

The Jang Bogo Antarctic Research Station, to be constructed by at Terra Nova Bay by South Korea, would widely benefit New Zealand's research in the area, University of Canterbury Antarctica director, professor Bryan Storey said.

Storey has been named the focal point co-ordinator for the collaborative research and has received $174,000 funding from the New Zealand Government for the three-year project.

''My role will be to identify common research links between the New Zealand and Korean Antarctic programmes. The funding is to organise Korean researchers to come to New Zealand for workshops and vice versa, to discuss common interests and develop joint research programmes,'' he said.

South Korea is set to become a significant player in research on the continent, increasing their Antarctic expenditure from US$10 million to US$60m over the past five years and investing in a new ice-breaker ship worth US$1 billion.

Professor Storey said the partnership would benefit New Zealand by opening up a new geographical area in which to work, assisting with marine research and enabling new directions for research.

''Marine research in the Southern Ocean will be enhanced because New Zealand doesn't have an ice-breaker and you really need a ship like that to do that sort of research. So to work collaboratively with a country that's prepared to invest so heavily in a new ice-breaker and station is a great opportunity."

The collaborative research with South Korea has already begun, despite Jang Bogo station not being completed for another two to three years.

Storey said it was important for New Zealand to establish international links in the continent in order to further our research.

"Antarctic science is very much an international currency so partnering with nations that are bringing logistical resources through our country, and staging through Lyttelton, is great for our researchers.

''Korea wants to partner with a country with a long background of Antarctic research that knows the area and what issues can arise. New Zealand has a lot of experience in Antarctic research so in some sense we are providing the experience while they heavily invest in resources."

New Zealand already worked with international research programmes from the United States, Italy, China, Germany and Australia.

"We do have very strong international links. Antarctic research is all about forming these links and working together. I am very excited for Korea to join that and bring more research through Christchurch, which is the gateway city to Antarctica," Storey said.

The Press