China-Australia Partnership to Explore Sea Ice Solutions

Chinese and Australian scientists are partnering to develop new forecasting methods to aid the challenging task of navigating Antarctic sea ice.

The Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s National Marine Environment Forecasting Centre (NMEFC).

The Acting CEO of the ACE CRC, Mark Kelleher said the main focus of the agreement was cooperation to develop scientific methods for forecasting sea ice conditions, in support of the Chinese and Australian Antarctic programs.

“This MOU enables our two organisations to work closely together to solve some of the big challenges associated with sea ice in Antarctica,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Unpredictable sea ice conditions can create headaches for scientific and resupply operations in Antarctica, and the need for a more reliable method of forecasting has become clear.”

“We have also seen a number of private and commercial ships becoming stuck in the sea ice in recent years, which can lead to costly rescue operations that delay scientific work.”

“Our new partners have a long reputation of excellence in marine environmental forecasting and remote sensing, and we bring considerable expertise and field experience in Antarctic sea ice.”

“We believe this partnership places us in a strong position to take a lead in developing the models and techniques required to provide reliable sea ice forecasting to aid Antarctic shipping.”

In September last year, Antarctica’s sea ice exceeded 20 million square kilometres for the first time in recorded history.

“The patterns of sea ice distribution around Antarctica have been changing significantly.  In some regions sea is ice disappearing, and in others we have seen it significantly expanding,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Understanding the forces that shape Antarctic sea ice conditions is not just important for navigation, it helps us to understand causes and impacts of climate change,” Mr Kelleher said.

The agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the Chinese and Australian governments during President Ji Xinping’s visit to Hobart in 2014.

“This agreement is another small step in a long and proud history of co-operation between Australian and Chinese scientists in Antarctica,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Chinese scientists first travelled to Antarctica on an Australian expedition in the late 1970s, and we are pleased that the bonds formed during that era are still very much alive today.”


Authorised by the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre October 2019.

The ACE CRC was established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

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