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The research programme

In 1985, at the occasion of the XIII ATCM organised in Brussels, the Belgian Government took the initiative to organise a structured action of scientific research on the Antarctic. It was the first time that Belgium established and coordinated a national multi-annual research programme specifically devoted to the Antarctic.

At present the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) supports high quality research teams, internationally recognised within the fields of climatology, glaciology, biogeochemistry, geophysics, geology and biodiversity.

The broad objectives of the Belgian Antarctic Programme are:

  • Maintain and strengthen the Belgian expertise, particularly in those areas of science where Belgian teams are known to be strong;
  • to provide the scientific support necessary for the development of a Belgian position within Antarctic fora for policy development;
  • Contribute to the rational management of Antarctica’s environment and natural resources;
  • Assess the consequences at the world scale of major natural processes occurring in the Antarctic and surrounding ocean.

Calls for research proposals are issued among all Belgian universities, public scientific institutions and non-profit research centres likely to be in a position to present projects. Projects are selected on the grounds of a scientific assessment carried out by foreign experts in accordance with the "peer review" method.

Emphasis is given on a multi-disciplinary approach of the dynamics of the global functioning of Antarctic main natural systems and of their evolution and interactions. Research topics and priorities are in full line with European and international research agendas.

Funding, management, coordination and development of the Programme are in the hands of BELSPO. All research costs (personnel, equipment, travel, working and overheads) are financed. Scientific liaison with the Antarctic Treaty System is also the responsibility of BELSPO.

The major Antarctica research themes include:

  • Climate and atmosphere
  • Biodiversity
  • Geology and geophysics
  • Astrophysics
  • Data- and collection management

More information about the different phases of the Programme is included in publications which can be ordered via the "Links & Resources" page.

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