International cooperation

Australian and Chinese researchers meet at Amanda Bay
Australian and Chinese researchers meet at Amanda Bay (Photo: Cath)
The Chinese KA32 helicopter on the ground prepares to lift the 2500kg BobcatAustralian Antarctic Division personnel in front of America's McMurdo station

Mutual assistance, cooperation in emergencies and free exchange of scientific information are key aspects of the way the Antarctic Treaty is applied in Antarctica. The Treaty encourages member nations to cooperate in Antarctic research in the interests of humanity.

In this spirit, scientists and observers from Argentina, Austria, France, UK, Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United States have taken part in Australian expeditions.

Australians have accompanied Argentine, British, French, Italian, Japanese, New Zealand, Russian and United States expeditions. Australian scientists are involved in numerous international collaborative studies. Antarctic Magazine issue 6 provides many relevant articles.

Also see the Australia's contribution in the International Polar Year.

A unique spirit of camaraderie pervades expedition life in Antarctica. Besides recreational exchanges over radio, expeditioners on occasions make goodwill or official visits to colleagues in other nations' bases. The Chinese station, Zhong Shan, is 110 km west of Australia's Davis station in the Larsemann Hills, and the stations are in frequent radio and helicopter contact. Russian summer stations are to the west and east, and friendly visits by Chinese and Russian expeditioners are a feature of life at Davis.

It is an Antarctic tradition that when anyone is in a life-threatening situation, all national expeditions cooperate as necessary to deal with the problem. Where a member of a national expedition falls ill or is injured or lost, the support required may be beyond that nation's operational capability. Such international support may extend to providing intercontinental air transport for expeditioners needing hospital treatment.

  • Provide students with these examples of international cooperation [PDF]. Have them list all the nations involved. What impression does this give them about international cooperation in the Antarctic region?
This page was last modified on August 5, 2015.