In 2015, The Department of Science and Technology (DST) facilitated the first dedicated oceanographic winter expedition on the S.A. Agulhas II from 23 July – 14 August 2015. The success of this expedition and others that followed demonstrated the need expressed by the wider marine and Southern Ocean research community and has prompted the DSI to secure funds for additional dedicated research expeditions in 2024, 2025 and 2026. The number of dedicated research expeditions will depend on the need expressed and the funding available. The core objective is to develop a comprehensive marine and Antarctic research expedition plan for 2024-2026, underpinned by the Marine and Antarctic Research Strategy (MARS) and contributing to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for sustainable development. These dedicated research expeditions will not only encompass oceanography but will provide research opportunities for marine-related and South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) –related research.
MARS was developed to provide a platform from which to coordinate marine and Antarctic research. The assumption is that improved coordination of a currently fragmented science system will improve returns on investment. Structured planning and a guided strategic focus will maximize human capital development and bring South Africa to the international forefront of knowledge production in these research areas. From this will follow innovation, increased international influence, and ultimately, economic growth.
The NRF and the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI) have been tasked with coordinating various activities that will feed into improved planning and coordinating of marine and Antarctic research activities. As such, the NRF together with SAPRI would like to maximise on the opportunities for dedicated expeditions based on research community needs to enable long-term planning for expeditions, including sourcing funding for such expeditions. Dedicated expeditions may be implemented in periods where the S.A. Agulhas II is available. The schedule for the annual relief voyages indicate periods when the S.A. Agulhas II is not available (relief voyages for Antarctica, Marion Island and Gough Island). The direction (expedition transects), duration (including number and types of stations) and research focus of each dedicated research expedition would then be decided on by the DSI, together with the NRF, based on such variables as proposed participation, research area alignment, MARS theme alignment, contribution to the Ocean Decade and overall return on investment (data collection and capacity development.). To this end, SAPRI can support the costs of any in person meetings required to discuss collaborative research expeditions.
It should be noted that the attached annexure may change depending on the activities of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE). For example, an emergency may require DFFE to deploy the S.A. Agulhas II to enable the Department of Public Works to do building maintenance and repairs at any of the three bases. As such, all potential dedicated expeditions will need to be approved by the DFFE before final planning can begin.
Please complete the template and return to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 15 August 2023. The completed templates will give an indication of research community demand. More detailed research plans will be requested hereafter.
Text: Expression of interest, Participation in dedicated research expeditions 2024, 2025, 2026. Tracy Klarenbeek, Director: Knowledge Advancement and Support (KAS), National Research Foundation (NRF), Research Innovation Support and Advancement (RISA).