The South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI) is one of 13 large Research Infrastructures (RIs) developed by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR).
The SAPRI was established in 2021 to ensure coordination of South African marine and Antarctic research as a national Big Science programme, providing seamless access to
existing and new research infrastructure required to develop and enhance long-term observations of South Africa's polar region.
The ultimate objective of SAPRI is to enable balanced research growth across the polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class long-term observational datasets already established.
The SAPRI is designed as a consortium hosted at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and is divided into four Integrated Facilities (IFs):
Data, Products and Society (DPS)
Bringing together the SAPRI Data Centre, the various types of generated data and downstream products, including modelling and the societal outreach programme.
Long-term Observations on Land (LTO-Land)
Ensuring the continuity of the established long-term observation networks in three different regions: the Prince Edward Island system (Marion and Prince Edward Islands), Gough Island; and, the Dronning Maud Land (DML) section of Antarctica where the South African Expedition Station (SANAE IV) is located.
Long-term Observations in the Ocean (LTO-Ocean)
Ensuring the continuity of the established long-term observation networks in the oceans surrounding South Africa, including the Southern Ocean, the South-West Indian Ocean, and the South Atlantic Ocean.
Establishment of the first sub-zero, temperature-controlled laboratory in Africa, for the simulation of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environment for experimental and training purposes. This innovation will bring new opportunities for polar research in Africa.
The vision of SAPRI is to enable balanced and transformed research growth across the multiplicity of marine and polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class, long-term observational research infrastructure and datasets already established within South African polar and oceanographic research. This will benefit the governmental strategies for Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands and assist decision makers to formulate appropriate environmental policies that lessen the risk and vulnerability of global climate change on the regions which impact South Africa, but also which South Africa are custodian to.
The SAPRI mission is to transform the access to, and perception of, South African polar research for technicians, engineers, scientists of all disciplines, learners and students, government, private business and civil society and to further accelerate the implementation of the pan-African Science, Technology and Innovation agenda. In doing so, SAPRI will create a co-designed, sustainable and responsive Research Infrastructure which produces Big Science stimulating innovative research and Intellectual Property generation that is of global relevance, and services the needs of all.