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    CANBERRA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national scientific agency will cut further funding and jobs from its Antarctic research field, in a move that scientists have warned would ruin Australia's key partnerships in the region.

    In a time when other nations are ramping up exploration in the Antarctic, a leaked report obtained by local media on Monday showed that Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (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 U.S. dollars over 20 years.

    Thirty-two of the 74 jobs will be shed in Melbourne, while 14 will be lost in Canberra and 12 in Tasmania, while 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.

    "The public record of the leading players (in CSIRO's paleo-climate team) shows they have made a global impact."

    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.

    "We will still do critical climate change measurement, but will also use some of these funds to focus on preparing for the climate changes we know will happen as well as doing research to prevent further climate change from occurring."

    Meanwhile Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the decision to cut funding and jobs from the Antarctic research sector was "deeply disturbing," particularly after Hunt's billion-dollar icebreaker ship announcement.

    "How can one moment you have CSIRO saying that they will make Hobart a new climate science hub and the next week start pulling out from Antarctic research, the very research area why Hobart is globally renowned?" Whish-Wilson said.

    "Antarctic and Southern Ocean research is Australia's biggest contribution to understanding how climate change will affect the world."

    "To cut funding from this area is to face the future with a blindfold on."

    The job losses are part of an agency-wide cutback on jobs and funding, with up to 300 scientists to lose their position over the next 12 months.

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