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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


22 July 1998

Understanding of Antarctica's influence on the world's climate and environmental systems will be enhanced as a result of grants totalling $559 000 announced today by Senator Ian Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic.

Senator Macdonald released details of the grants for sixty Antarctic research projects to be undertaken in 1998-99 by scientists from twenty Australian universities and other institutions. "These grants demonstrate the Federal Government's commitment to protecting the Antarctic environment and improving our understanding of the Antarctic region."

"Understanding what happens in Antarctica is of considerable importance to Australia, not only because of the importance of the region for the global environment, including climate change and ocean systems, but also because of the region's impact on Australia's weather patterns," Senator Macdonald said.

The grants are awarded annually on a competitive basis to projects of high scientific merit and relevance to Australia's Antarctic goals. The projects supported cover a range of scientific disciplines including studies of the Antarctic atmosphere, the Antarctic ice sheet and sea ice, the nature of the Southern Ocean, and the life forms that inhabit the region. Other projects supported aim to improve our understanding and management of the Antarctic environment, including alternative energy systems, introduced species, the behaviour and effects of contaminants in Antarctic conditions, and the impacts of disturbance on wildlife.

Some of the projects will be undertaken at Australian Antarctic stations and others at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

Grants awarded in Queensland totalled $55 156 and were awarded to seven projects in three institutions - the University of Queensland, Griffith University and James Cook University. The research projects aim to investigate aspects of terrestrial and lake systems, sea ice, metal and organic contaminants in marine organisms, and the combined effects of contaminants and ultra-violet radiation on marine organisms.

Senator Macdonald said "As a Queenslander and the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Australia's Antarctic Program, I find it personally very pleasing to see Queensland institutions being involved in such important work."

For further information contact:
James Shevlin (Senator Macdonald's office) on 02 6277 3665 or 0417 717 935

Commonwealth of Australia