Our Research Strategy: 2019-2024

text in box" Changing with our Climate

The Deep South Challenge is proud to share our Future Strategy for 2019–2024. This strategy builds on our first five years of research (2014–2019) and incorporates input from researchers, partners, stakeholders and advisory groups. 

We invite you to:

  • Take a visual tour of our Future Strategy, as illustrated in our new Challenge infographic
  • Download the infographic as a poster (soon to be available in printed form)
  • Watch a video of our online webinar in which the Challenge Director and Science Leadership Team outlined our future research themes and key partner and stakeholder communities
  • Read a summary of the strategy and access the full strategy, in PDF form
  • Take note of the overall process and timeline for commissioning research 
  • Find answers to FAQs – mainly from the research community – about our Future Strategy.


Take a visual tour of our Future Strategy:


Explore the full Challenge poster below, or email us and we'll send you a print version.

Click to expand image.



Watch our Science Leadership Team present our Future Strategy



Watch the video of our online webinar, held in September 2018, which set out our Future Strategy for researchers within the Deep South Challenge, as well as researchers who might get involved in the Challenge in coming years.

Read a quick summary of our Future Strategy

Our Future Strategy responds to partner and stakeholder needs by focussing our research and engagement around four key domains: Māori, Communities, Infrastructure and the National Economy. Through multidisciplinary teams and with strong expectations around engagement and the incorporation of Vision Mātauranga principles, our research will explore physical climate impacts and their implications for the whole of New Zealand society.

In the process of creating this strategy, we identified stakeholder needs in the following ways: Our Partnerships Director held over 100 interviews with our target communities. We mapped stakeholder needs and climate research over the past five years. We learned a great deal through our Phase 1 research projects and our successful research co-development process (the Deep South Dialogues). We sought feedback from active researchers. And we took note of the knowledge gaps identified by the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group (CCATWG).

Our future research will range from:

  • Projections of future climate and climate impacts for New Zealand, at meaningful scales
  • Observations and process studies to improve climate projections for New Zealand
  • Analysis of international global climate models
  • Research within those sectors that will experience climate change impacts of national social or economic significance
  • Research to better understand the implications of climate change impacts for our key domains

Our future research will aim to understand five key climate impacts: extremes; flooding; drought; changes in temperature and rainfall; and sea level rise.

Within our four key domains, we expect our research to have specific emphasis:

  • Māori: Focus on climate risks relevant to Māori
  • Communities: Focus on those sectors most exposed to direct climate impacts to understand how they are impacted (for example, primary industry, geographic communities and local government)
  • Infrastructure: Focus on climate impacts on NZ’s energy, transport & water networks
  • National Economy: Focus on understanding macroeconomic risks to New Zealand from climate change, in particular extreme events.

We invite you to read our full Future Strategy below:



Process and timeline for researchers

While we are still finalising the process and timeline by which Phase 2 research projects will be established, we expect that it will involve a combination of:

  • Specific Requests for Proposals (RFP), to support Process, Climate Impact or Domain research
  • Co-development of research to understand implications of climate change, with partners and stakeholders, through workshops and/or Dialogues
  • Workshops to develop collaborative and integrated research programmes

We will not be holding open (across the whole Challenge) contestable research rounds. We are currently working towards the following timeline:

  • November 2018: Detailed workplan to be approved by our Governance Group
  • December 2018–January 2019: Call for 1st round of Phase 2 Research (research to start 1 July 2019)
  • June–July 2019: Call for 2nd round of Phase 2 Research (research to start 1 Jan 2020)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Theme: Phase 1 research and progress

Q: Is the DSC on track to fully spend its Phase 1 budget?
A: Yes, we have allocated nearly all our budgeted income from MBIE. We do expect to very slightly underspend, but this will roll into Phase 2. 


Theme: Extent of observational work in Phase 2

Q: It seems like you will no longer be making observations in the Southern Ocean region – on the sea ice, for example. Is this correct?
A: While there is likely to be no new field work on sea ice, we still have a lot of data analysis and modelling to do (for example, analysis of data collected during observational field work funded in Phase 1). In this way, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica remain a key focus for research in the Deep South Challenge.

Q: How will observational research be prioritised?
A: Any and all further observational work, whether in the Southern Ocean or in New Zealand, must be necessary for the improvement of climate models, including the NZ Earth System Model, the Regional Climate Model and the NZ Water Model.


Theme: Clarifying the Modelling

Q: How is the Deep South Challenge planning to address model uncertainty?
A: We will use CMIP data and the CMIP archives to explore model uncertainty – to compare and quantify differences in projections across the models.

Q: Does the Deep South Challenge have a list of preferred models that can be used to propose regional scale process studies?
A: We have a chain of models we’re using for global and regional climate data production, into hydrological modelling. These models are in place, but they don’t cover every question we’d like to address. If you have a particular model you’d like to use, please come and talk to us.


Theme: In scope / Out of scope

Q: Can you please clarify what you mean by legal and political responses to climate change being out of scope? How will work around decision-making tools or other planning responses fit in?
A: There is of course a resourcing tension in the Deep South Challenge and we’ve had to make choices about the spectrum of research we can undertake. While it’s easy to articulate the need for climate adaptation research in and for New Zealand, we don’t want to create the impression that the Deep South Challenge “has it all covered”. We’ve stated that research around adaptation needs to be linked to the physical science the Challenge is resourcing. In other words, our expectation is that adaptation research must be strongly linked with other Challenge projects. There are no blanket exclusions – we invite you to come and discuss your research with us.

Q: Is land-use planning in scope?
A: Land use is in scope, though we’re not sure how far our research will move into planning. Building on Phase 1 research and other research programmes, Phase 2 research will likely investigate climatic drivers and multiple impacts to better understand land use suitability.

Q: Are projects around mitigation options and solutions (for example, in the primary sector) likely to be within scope?
A: It’s unlikely. It would be difficult to fund research about how farmers can adapt their management practices to reduce carbon emissions. It would be easier to fund research to understand how climate change is likely to impact farm production and to develop tools to help farmers identify options to minimise future impacts. 

Q: Are solution-based investigations out of scope? Is the preference to support modelling and identify the extent of climate impacts, rather than finding solutions to those impacts?
A: Solutions-based investigations are absolutely in scope. If we are not trying to find solutions, then we will not be able to achieve our Mission.


Theme: Collaboration with other National Science Challenges

Q: Will there be any research interactions with other National Science Challenges, particularly in terms of impacts and implications?
A: We hope so. The Directors of many of the National Science Challenges are currently considering opportunities to collaborate or even to co-fund research. Where there is current or planned work within an NSC that could relatively easily be extended to include a climate change dimension, we believe this will be possible.


Theme: Engagement in Phase 2

Q: In Phase 2, will there still be an engagement fund that researchers and end users can access via an EOI process?
A: We are currently revising our Engagement Strategy, which will define our engagement tools and processes more clearly. In Phase 2, we will have high expectations of our researchers about the nature and quality of stakeholder engagement they undertake. We will also continue in our highly targeted, partnership approach – supporting key stakeholders to get our research to their communities.


Theme: “Research capacity” and “Capacity building”

Q: In Phase 2, you want researchers to commit to higher FTEs on research projects. What level of FTEs is regarded as “small”?
A: This issue has been raised by our Independent Science Panel and has been a general concern of the SLT as well. We’re asking research teams to demonstrate that there is adequate time and resources for the research they’re planning. We’re particularly concerned about proposals that might include 10 researchers with only 0.05FTE each, and where it’s unclear who is owning or driving the research.

Q: Will there be PhD, research graduate or research assistant positions with the Deep South Challenge?
A: We’ve already seen, in Phase 1, many research projects including graduates in their project teams. We certainly hope this continues. We recognise that PhD students are also doing a significant amount of work in the Challenge. In Phase 2, while we may not fund the PhDs directly, we have agreed to fund work those students might be doing for the Challenge within their PhDs.

Q: Will scholarships be available, for both Vision Mātauranga and other researchers?
A: We will soon be announcing another round of Vision Mātauranga scholarships. We’re still talking about wider PhD scholarships, though no decisions have been made.


Theme: The Deep South Challenge’s “identity”

Q: Given there is a possibility that the National Science Challenges may have a future beyond 2024, should the Challenge consider changing its name (and possibly its Objective)?
A: Great question! Our name, and our objective, are set by Cabinet – we can’t change these ourselves. Nevertheless, we are currently considering our “presence” in the climate science and climate adaptation research space – we’re watching closely to see how the Zero Carbon Act consultation as well as the Interim Climate Commission develop.

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