6 August 2004

Understanding how ice, ocean, atmosphere and climate interact with the Antarctic environment will help give a clearer picture of how future issues, such as climate change, may impact on the Antarctic ecosystem.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Antarctic today announced Australian Government funding of more than $760,000 for research projects for the 2004–05 Antarctic season.

Dr Stone said that more than 50 projects involving researchers from Australian universities and other institutions were made possible through the Australian Antarctic Science (AAS) grants scheme.

“The grants scheme illustrates the Australian Government’s commitment to Antarctic research and recognition of the importance in understanding how the processes that take place in Antarctica can provide valuable information for the rest of the world,” Dr Stone said.

“Australia plays a leading role in Antarctic and Southern Ocean research into climate and ecosystems and is a major contributor to the development of policy on sustainable fisheries and animal conservation in the region.”

Projects receiving support this year include:

  • Understanding the role of ice shelves in the global climate system. The research will use GPS and satellite images of the Amery Ice shelf including further measurements of large crevasses near the so-called “loose-tooth”, a region 30km by 30km where very large icebergs are made;
  • Investigation of the importance of sea ice as a major source of primary production for Antarctic food webs;
  • Exploration of ocean water masses and their sensitivity to climate change;
  • The impact on ozone depletion on marine microbes;
  • The influence of El Nino on the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic;
  • Geological studies into the formation of the Earth’s crust, climate change, sea level change and changes to the sea floor and oceanic circulation since the break-up of Gondwanaland; and
  • Examination of various aspects of Southern Ocean seabirds and seals that are needed to assist with their conservation.