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AIMS tropical marine research facilities project.

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Ministers for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research


Australian Institute of Marine Science Townsville, Queensland

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Too little is known about Australia’s oceans.

We have the third largest marine territory in the world, but our knowledge is simply not commensurate with our responsibilities.

We currently have information for only 5 to 10 per cent of the 14 million square kilometres that now come under our jurisdiction.

That’s why the Australian Government is making marine science a priority - and why we have allocated an extra $387 million for marine and climate science as part of the $1.1 billion Super Science Initiative.

This funding will be used to build new marine science infrastructure from Hobart to Darwin - and a new blue water research vessel that will take our scientists to the far corners of Australia vast ocean territory.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science is receiving $55 million from the Super Science Initiative to create some of the tools we need to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Australian Tropical Oceans Simulator

Among the most important of these tools is the Australian Tropical Oceans Simulator, to be built at AIMS headquarters here in Townsville.

It will enable scientists to recreate ocean conditions and examine how changes to atmospheric or ocean chemistry, for example, might affect marine life.

Our oceans face many threats - from acidification, from global warming, from coastal development, and from terrestrial run-off.

The increasing acidity caused by the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is a grave threat to all marine life, but very little is known about its potential effects.

Innovation Minister > Senator the Hon Kim Carr


Senator the Hon Kim Carr

01 Jul 2009

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This is just one of the problems the new simulator will be used to address.

The simulator will also help AIMS scientists and their collaborators understand the physical and chemical properties of the ocean, the micro-organisms that make up our unique marine ecosystems, and how these factors interact.

Better knowledge of how microbes drive and respond to change in the ocean will give us a far more complete picture of how the seas around Australia are likely to be affected as environmental conditions alter over time.

It will enable scientists to better predict the effects of change on complex marine processes such as the growth of coral reefs.

This state-of-the-art facility will also improve our understanding of how coastal development - including farming, cane-growing and secondary industry - affects marine ecosystems.

This will give us the evidence we need to manage agriculture and other economic activities in a sustainable way and maintain the health of precious ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.


The Australian Tropical Oceans Simulator will dramatically increase Australia’s marine science capabilities.

It will add to AIMS’ existing field and laboratory facilities and its strengths in:

• coral reef ecology

• marine microbiology

• molecular science

• ocean-going research

• and observation through the Integrated Marine Observing System and the institute’s other Great Barrier Reef and north-western Australia monitoring programs.

Put all this together and you have a research institute of genuine international significance - a centre of excellence second to none.

Papers produced here in ecology and environment and plant and animal sciences are among the most widely cited in the world. AIMS is ranked in the top 1 per cent of research agencies globally on this measure.

It anchors what is already an international hub for marine science here at Townsville, which is also home to James Cook University, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and several Queensland Government research facilities.

The Tropical Marine Research Facilities Project will take this hub to the next level.

It will create even richer links between AIMS, the international research community, and the users of marine science - including governments, industry, researchers in other disciplines, and the general public.

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The future

There are several other elements to the Tropical Marine Research Facilities Project, including a new building to house the AIMS Coral Core Archive and the Marine Bioresources Library.

All of these facilities will provide new opportunities for collaboration.

They will enable Australian scientists to perform experiments that were not possible before.

And they will increase Australia’s capacity to create solutions not just for this country, but for the world.

There is no question that expanding our marine science capabilities will pay real dividends - environmental, economic, social and cultural.

The great gaps in our knowledge of the ocean make it harder for us to tackle climate change, maximise prosperity, and maintain our coast-loving way of life.

The sooner we fill those gaps, the stronger, richer and safer Australia will be.

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