WELLINGTON, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- A new Antarctic Science Platform will be jointly developed by Antarctica New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), New Zealand officials said on Thursday.
"Antarctic science is hugely important to New Zealand," Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee said in a statement.
With a mandate to carry out New Zealand's activities in Antarctica, alongside their existing logistics and infrastructure, Antarctica New Zealand is well positioned to support the delivery of a strategic and collaborative approach to New Zealand's Antarctic science, Brownlee said.
The platform will bring together New Zealand's top experts, facilities, information and knowledge for underpinning longer-term Antarctic science critical to maximizing scientific and strategic benefits for New Zealand, he said.
An independent governance group will be established to make funding decisions, based on advice and recommendations from the platform host, said Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith.
"This governance model will result in most research programs and projects being developed collaboratively with input from relevant science providers and government agencies," Goldsmith said.
The priority research areas will include understanding the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, change in the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean, threats to ecosystem dynamics in the Ross Sea, and connections between terrestrial and near shore Antarctic environments, including sea ice, he said.
"These priorities have a high strategic and scientific value and will ensure we build a strong, internationally connected, and respected Antarctic science program," Brownlee said.
MBIE will now work closely with Antarctica New Zealand to develop a Platform Plan. A governance group is expected to be established early next year with the platform becoming operational from July 2018.