Australia's national scientific agency will cut further funding and jobs from its Antarctic research field, in a move that scientists warn would ruin Australia's key partnerships in the region.
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At a time when other nations are ramping up exploration in the Antarctic, a leaked report obtained on Monday showed that Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) will shed 74 jobs from its ice lab, while it will also cease key activities in the region, in the next step of agency-wide cuts to science funding.
The report comes just days after federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced plans to build a new icebreaker ship and expand research in the region, in an allocation worth up to $1.5 billion over 20 years, Xinhua reports.
Thirty-two of the 74 jobs will be shed in Melbourne while 14 will be lost in Canberra and 12 in Tasmania. Crucial research in conjunction with key partners NASA and EU will be forfeited
Despite the CSIRO's planned cuts, key members of the Antarctic research group are entering talks with other agencies which could make up the shortfall in funding, Fairfax Media reported on Monday.
"Australia can't just divest itself of important global capability without there being consequences," one scientist familiar with the Antarctic program said.
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A spokesperson from the CSIRO said the cuts to the Oceans and Atmospheric sectors of the organization would not prevent the agency from undertaking critical work.