Antarctic bacteria could reveal climate change clues

Updated at 8:54 am on 16 June 2013

Waikato University researchers have received a grant to study microscopic life in one of the harshest environments on Earth.

The $60,000 project is one of seven being funded by the newly-formed Antarctic Research Institute.

Researchers will use the money to monitor bacteria in Antarctica's Dry Valleys, the continent's largest area of ice-free land, which is regularly blasted by intense winds reaching more than 230 kilometres an hour.

Waikato University scientist Craig Carey says his team plans to build biosensors tough enough to survive the conditions and monitor bacteria living in the valleys.

He says any changes detected in bacterial behaviour could give new insights into climate change.

The Antarctic Research Institute is giving a total of $574,000 for research into subjects such as the impact of ice and glacier breaks and the adaptation of sea creatures to warmer, more acidic habitats.

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