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Climate change research on coral reefs

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09 April 2010

The Australian Institute of Marine Science has been awarded nearly $1.7 million for six early-career researchers to carry out research on the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

AIMS was amongst 20 Australian institutions to receive the Super Science Fellowships, announced by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr. The Fellowships are part of the Governments $387.7 million Super Science Marine and Climate initiative to improve Australia's ability to respond to climate change and to protect and understand our 13 million square kilometres of marine territory. Marine research is central to understanding how and when our climate is likely to change, and managing the impact on precious environments like the Great Barrier Reef.

The fellowships are designed to support exceptional young researchers to further their careers in areas of scientific importance.

AIMS' CEO, Dr Ian Poiner said the funding would help young researchers continue to develop the growing body of research on the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

"The fundamental reef-building process involves the laying down of calcium deposits," Dr Poiner said.

"But ocean acidification, warming water temperatures and increased freshwater will impact on that reef-building process.

"Using the Fellowship funding, AIMS will lead a collaborative team of researchers from James Cook University, University of Queensland and CSIRO, to do research that will inform planning strategies to deal with this rapidly changing environment."

Another AIMS-led collaborative team of researchers has been awarded Fellowship funding in marine microbiology to focus on the sensitive, symbiotic relationship of corals; how environmental stress reduces coral health, and the long-term impact of that stress. Understanding how environmental stress impacts coral health is fundamental to preventing loss of our coral reefs and preserving them for future generations.

Dr Poiner said the Fellowships reflect the Minister's strong support for marine and climate science. They reinforce the recent investments in infrastructure at AIMS, including the Australian Tropical Oceans Simulator; and IMOS (Australian Integrated Marine Observing System) - which will be central to the work of the Super Science Fellows.

He said the Super Science Fellowships awarded to the AIMS-led teams of researchers, highlights the national and international importance of the Institute's work, which contributes to understanding the implications of a changing climate and assessing its impacts on coral reefs and other tropical marine environments.

For further information, please contact:

AIMS CEO, Dr Ian Poiner 0419 702 652;

AIMS Media Liaison, Ms Wendy Ellery 07 4753 4409; 0418 729 265;


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