Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF)

Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) aims to become the world’s leading research program delivering interdisciplinary science to forecast environmental change across the Antarctic region, to deploy effective environmental stewardship strategies in the face of this change, and to secure Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

SAEF exemplifies the leadership in science and environmental stewardship that lies at the heart of securing the environmental future of Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the sub-Antarctic Islands. The Program’s outcomes include:

  • Advances in climate, biodiversity and environmental science;
  • Innovative ways to forecast, mitigate, and manage environmental change;
  • New data-science tools to analyse, interpret and visualise Antarctic data;
  • Unparalleled capabilities for exploring decision-making to secure the region’s environmental future;
  • A new collaborative Antarctic science workforce with skills and experience in interdisciplinarity, and access to the new technologies that SAEF will deliver.

Research themes

UOW contributes to all the three themes of SAEF. Integration of these outcomes, from three key themes, will strengthen Australia’s leadership in Antarctic science, policy and governance at a time of rapid environmental and geopolitical change.

Theme 1: Climate processes and change

SAEF integrates knowledge from ice sheet reconstructions, satellite observations, meteorological field measurements, and high-resolution climate proxies from Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the sub-Antarctic islands to understand recent variability and change in the region’s weather, climate and ice sheets. This delivers new insights into tropical to polar interactions, enhance understanding and forecasting of Antarctic precipitation and circulation patterns, and improve downscaling and ice sheet projections.

Theme 2: Biodiversity status and trends

Using downscaled climate and environmental information, novel biodiversity data, and integrated biological and geochemical proxies, SAEF produces transformative insights about the structure, function and drivers of Antarctic, Southern Ocean and sub-Antarctic biodiversity. New approaches will be developed to anticipate community spatiotemporal trajectories in response to physical change, including uncertainty quantification and sensitivity assessments for multiple species. Their outcomes will be combined with innovative remote-sensing techniques, ecological genomics, advanced statistical modelling approaches, and automatic image analyses to offer cost-effective tools for assessing trends in Antarctic biodiversity. They will be used to inform spatial planning for conservation and will provide a scientific basis for leading environmental stewardship.

Theme 3: Supporting environmental stewardship

In collaboration with key stakeholders, SAEF is developing bespoke decision-support tools to identify conservation priorities and strategies in the face of alternative environmental and political futures. To ensure that stewardship focuses on the most important environmental and biodiversity features, SAEF will develop a data-to-decision framework that explicitly and visually connects new biodiversity and human activity data streams, and modelling outcomes, with the key questions that managers and policymakers need to answer. New methods will offer insights into the evolving geopolitical relationships that affect the implementation and success of policy actions both in the region and globally, offering options to secure a sustainable global future.


The UOW team contributes, across a diverse field of expertise, with 30 collaborating partners to address Antarctica’s challenges. It will demonstrate Australia’s leadership in Antarctic Science and strengthen our relationships with Antarctic Treaty nations.

SAEF brings together researchers from UOW, Monash UniversityQueensland University of Technology, University of New South Wales, James Cook University, University of Adelaide, ANSTO, BOM, Geoscience Australia, Western Australian Museum, and South Australian Museum.

The UOW team

UOW researchers play a leading role in this Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative in Excellence in Antarctic Science project.

UOW’s Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson is Deputy-Director (Science Implementation) and climate scientist Professor Helen McGregor co-leads the climate theme. Statisticians Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie and Dr Andrew Zammit-Mangion contribute vital climate modelling, allowing SAEF to statistically downscale from climate models to smaller, more biologically appropriate scales.

Senior Professor Pascal Perez and Dr Johan Barthelemy use smart sensing technologies to remotely monitor Antarctic ecosystems. Distinguished Professor Stuart Kaye is SAEF's expert on environmental law and Antarctic policy. 

Chief Investigators 

Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson (website)
Deputy-Director Science Implementation, UOW Node Lead 

Professor Helen McGregor
Theme 1 Leadership Mentee 

Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie
Chief Investigator Spatio-temporal Statistics

Distinguished Professor Stuart Kaye
Chief Investigator International Environmental Law 

Senior Professor Pascal Perez
Chief Investigator Agent based Modelling

Andrew Zammit-Mangion (Senior Lecturer, ARC DECRA Fellow) 
Chief Investigator Statistical Climate Modelling 

Johan Barthélemy (Lecturer)
Chief Investigator Smart Sensing 

Krystyna Saunders (Honorary Fellow) 
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation/ANSTO Node Lead 

Quan Hua (Honorary Fellow) 
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation/Partner Investigator Climate


Research Associates 

Dr Melinda Waterman 
Postdoctoral Fellow


Bao Vu (PhD)

Hao Yin (PhD)

Isabella Todd (BConsBio Hons)

Rachel O’Shannessy (BConsBio Hons)

Yifan Wu (PhD) 


Professional Staff 

Dr Diana King 
Deputy Program Manager

Liz Ragen
Executive Assistant

Georgia Watson
Research Officer

Contact us

For general information please email 


This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 13: Climate action   Goal 14: Life Below Water   Goal 15: Life on Land    Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions    Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals