Instituto Antartico Chileno (INACH)

Photo: Instituto Antartico Chileno

About Chile’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Marcelo Leppe, Director
(DMNAP): Rodrigo Waghorn

The Instituto Antártico Chileno (Chilean Antarctic Institute/INACH) is a technical organization of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with complete autonomy in scientific, technical and outreach Antarctic activities. It is the national institution responsible for planning, co-ordinating, directing and controlling officially authorized scientific and technological activities of the Chilean government and private organizations in Antarctica. INACH organizes and leads its own expeditions and maintains scientific stations in the Antarctic.

INACH is also responsible for compliance with Chilean Antarctic Policy, encouraging:

  • The development of scientific research, technology and innovation in Antarctica following international standards. It does so by funding – with its own budget and via agreements with CONICYT and other national bodies responsible for the financing of science in Chile- an annual system of calls for proposals
  • An effective participation in the Antarctic Treaty System and related international forums
  • The communication and outreach of Antarctic scientific activities

INACH also advises the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Antarctic matters. Since 2003, the national headquarters of INACH are located in the city of Punta Arenas, capital of the Region of Magallanes.

The total annual expenditure of the Chilean National Antarctic Program varies from USD 22 to 24 million. It varies from year to year depending on the projects that will be supported. INACH 2013 budget is USD 7.3 million.

Professor Julio Escudero Station (INACH) located in Fildes peninsula, King George Island. (Photo credit: E. Barticevic)

About the organizational structure of INACH

The growth of the Chilean Scientific Antarctic Program has prompted INACH to undertake in recent years a modernization process, enhancing the profile, training its staff and seeking for greater specialization for the development and promotion of scientific research. The current organizational structure considers four departments:

1. Science Department, Head of Department: Dr Marcelo Leppe Cartes (, Palaeobotanist.
The Science Department is formed by senior researchers whose main purpose is to advice the INACH in Antarctic science issues, conduct their own scientific projects and promoting international scientific collaborations. Its members have to submit projects and develop grants on behalf of INACH, always considering issues relevant and consistent with the guidelines established by the Antarctic international scientific community. In addition, its members may teach at colleges and universities undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Currently, this department is composed of seven senior researchers specializing in microbiology, palaeobotany, marine biology, ecology and glaciology. In addition, there is one engineer and one technician helping to look at projects and guide university students on their final years work and theses.

2. Antarctic Expedition Department
This department advices the INACH Directorate in the planning, coordination and implementation of scientific and technological studies conducted by Chilean institutions in Antarctica, by organizing competitive calls for proposals. Its main duty is to organize and carry on the annual Chilean Antarctic Scientific Expedition. The main responsibility of this department is the management of the Chilean Antarctic Science Program (PROCIEN). It also manages the Antarctic environmental information and compliance with environmental standards of the national activities in Antarctica.

3. Budget Department, Head of Department: Mr Andrés Gajardo (, Business Engineer and Manager.
This department gives the necessary support for the effective performance of scientific and logistic activities of INACH, prepares the expenditure plan, and undertakes the formulation of the annual budget in a way that ensures the appropriate prioritization and allocation of funds to support the annual program, including accounting, treasury, payroll and information technologies.

4. Communications and Education Department, Head of Department: Mr Reiner Canales (, Journalist.
This department is responsible for making disclosure of Antarctic science and institutional activities to the widest possible audience, through the corporate website and other online platforms, printed publications and events like the Antarctic School Fair. It is also responsible for public relations and educational activities related to Antarctica.

About our Science Program (PROCIEN)

Limacina antarctica is a tiny snail that lives floating in
the water column. (photo credit: D. Schories)

The Chilean Antarctic Science Program (PROCIEN) brings together the universities and centers for scientific research projects that are funded by INACH or other national research financing bodies. These projects are then organized, coordinated, and executed in Antarctica by INACH. Projects are funded from various sources through open and transparent calls for proposals subject to peer review.

The research activities carried out within the frame of our Science program are conducted on the field and in institutional laboratories. Currently, PROCIEN includes 63 projects in five main areas of research:

  1. Relationships between South America and Antarctica
  2. Adaptation mechanisms of Antarctic organisms
  3. Abundance and diversity of Antarctic organisms
  4. Global warming and climate evolution
  5. Environment and other initiatives

Chilean research in Antarctica nowadays shows particular strengths in the study and understanding of the Antarctic environment, its physical and biological character in both past and present, and in the modeling of future scenarios. The final objective of this program is to produce high-quality Chilean Antarctic science, worthy of international recognition and in keeping with the Chilean national interests through the delivery of selected studies associated with our cultural, economic and social development.

Chile built its first polar base in the Antarctic in 1947, on Greenwich Island. That semicircular facility of 89 square metres, shared the honour of being one of the first facilities in Antarctica with the Wordie House, which the United Kingdom built in January of the same year. Since then, all Chilean Antarctic operators have built various other facilities with strong support for the scientific work done and to be done by the Chilean and international science community.

Chile has stations and shelters in various locations on the Antarctic Peninsula, in the South Shetland Islands and in the Patriot Hills-Union Glacier area. Additionally, scientific camps are set up in other locations according to the requirements of the projects, and shipping transport is arranged along with coordination for Chilean researchers lodging at other nations stations and shelters. Additionally, in 2011 was the inauguration in Punta Arenas of the Antarctic Laboratories Building “Ambassador Jorge Berguño Barnes”. It has Antarctic and Patagonian palaeobiology, microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry laboratories, a paleontology collection, meetings and students rooms.

Our Contact Details

Marcelo Gonzalez, microbiologist in Margaurite Bay. (photo credit: E. Barticevic)

Instituto Antartico Chileno
plaza Munoz Gamero 1055
Punta Arenas, Chile

Telephone: +56 61 298100
Fax: +56 61 298149