Climate Change Focus of Antarctic Research Grants

Sunday, 06 August, 2000

Air, ice and rock studies seeking information about long-term changes to the earth's climate will dominate grants for Australian research in the Antarctic in 2000-2001.

Grants have been provided for 57 Antarctic research projects involving universities and government research agencies throughout Australia.

The array of atmospheric, glaciological, biological and geological climate studies will include: the investigation of Antarctic space weather using a radar facility in southern Tasmania; the analysis of the production of sulphur gasses by southern ocean plants and their role in climate regulation in the region; and sea-floor mapping and drilling in Prydz Bay to improve the understanding of sediment deposits and the climate changes they signal. Researchers will also investigate the ice shelf movement and ice-sea interaction to improve prediction of future sea level changes; examine geological formations in the Prince Charles Mountains to help determine the history of past climate fluctuations indicated by the size of the ice sheet; and study of the impact of global environmental change on the distribution of animal and plant species. The impact of untraviolet radiation on shallow water animal communities will also be studied as part of a global experiment involving several countries.

A secondary focus of the coming year's research program will be the geological and biological processes of the subantarctic World Heritage site of Heard Island. Heard Island studies will focus on the island's volcanic structures and what they reveal about formation of continents, on its unique indigenous animal and plant communities and the cultural heritage remaining from the days of whaling and sealing.

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