Cool fact…
Cloud cover at Atlas Cove, at the north-western end of Heard Island averages 7.3 octas - an octa is one eighth of the whole sky.

Research

Spit Bay camp during 2003/04 research expedition
Spit Bay camp during 2003/04 research expedition (Photo: E Woehler)

While a variety of human activities are undertaken in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Marine Reserve, most activity on and around the islands over recent decades has been associated with terrestrial and marine research expeditions.

The islands and surrounding waters offer a unique opportunity for conducting scientific research, due to a combination of their location south of the Antarctic Convergence, the presence of permanent glaciers, the large colonies of wildlife of high conservation significance, the complex flora and the largely unmodified status of the environment and ecosystems.

The research undertaken on Heard Island can be very broadly classified into two categories, that which is required in support of the Australian Government’s management obligations, and of compelling science that cannot be undertaken elsewhere and takes advantage of Heard Island's location, its relatively undisturbed condition and its unique, unusual and dynamic natural features. In particular, research in the Reserve may contribute to a greater understanding of the global impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

However the distinction between management-related and other research is not firmly set, with many research projects contributing to a better understanding of the Marine Reserve environment, how it is changing and why.

Recent land-based studies have focussed on vegetation mapping, glaciology, cultural heritage, terrestrial ecology, seabird populations, and the marine ecosystem, while marine research has been looking into the physical and biological oceanography, fish and invertebrates, and marine geology of the HIMI region.

See below for direction to information on conducting research at HIMI.

Research applications

The Australian Antarctic Division currently intends to support a summer research expedition to the HIMI region approximately every three years. If you are interested in undertaking research at HIMI as part of the Australian Antarctic science program, check out the Research and program applications pages in the science section of the Australian Antarctic Division website. You can also contact us (choose ‘Research Grants’ or ‘Scientific Research’ as your topic of interest.)

If you are interested in conducting private science at HIMI, it is necessary to submit an application. See the Environmental Impact Assessment and Permits pages in the Protection and Management section for more details or contact us (choose ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ or ‘Permits’ as your topic of interest).

This page was last modified on 28 February 2005.