North Queensland residents are being urged to "put on their thinking caps" to suggest a name for the new $35m tropical oceans simulator to be constructed at the Australian Institute of Marine Science headquarters, near Townsville.
The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr has launched a competition to name the world-class facility. The prize for the winning entry is a laptop computer.
Senator Carr said: "Coral reefs and tropical coasts are vitally important to the economy of NE Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef contributed $3.6 billion in revenue regionally in 2006-07 and supports nearly 40,000 regional jobs..
He said the Great Barrier Reef was healthy but under threat from global change.
"There is no certainty about how the Reef and coastal ecosystems will respond but we do know that the future of the Reef and the regional economy and jobs of NE Queensland are closely linked, Senator Carr said.
He said the tropical oceans simulator would support research on critical climate issues such as ocean acidification and ocean warming.
The world-class facility will consist of 3,450 square metres of floorspace and have the capacity to accommodate 40 staff working in 20 spaces designed for experiments.
Some 6 million litres of seawater will be contained in four large tanks plus an open pond.
The facility will allow researchers to control parameters such as temperature, pH, salinity, nutrients, and contaminants in large volumes of seawater.
This will significantly reduce timeframes needed to evaluate future climate scenarios and allow timely intervention to protect Australia's coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.
Senator Carr said: "Construction of the Tropical Marine Research Facilities at AIMS is providing local jobs for local people.
"Recent investment in science infrastructure at AIMS has increased research capacity (regionally, nationally and internationally) and provided over 50 jobs in the construction and trade sectors. At the peak of construction over 100 contracted staff may be on site.
"The Government wants to encourage as much local involvement as possible in developing the tropical oceans simulator, a major addition to the national infrastructure," he said.
Information on the competition can be found at www.aims.gov.au
For further information contact:
Steve Clarke, AIMS, 0419 668 497; firstname.lastname@example.org
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