Marine Climate Impacts and Adaptation


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Current projects

1. Integrating climate and Australian Ecopath models to predict climate change impacts on Australian marine systems

Project leaders: Dr Anthony Richardson (CSIRO, University of Queensland), Dr Alistair Hobday (CSIRO)

Partner investigators: Dr Richard Matear (CSIRO), Dr Tom Okey (Bamfield Marine Sciences), Beth Fulton (CSIRO), Hugh Possingham (University of Queensland), Christopher Brown (CSIRO, University of Queensland)

It is difficult to make predictions and generalisations of the impact of climate change on whole marine ecosystems, particularly in Australia, where there have been very few long-term marine studies. This information is essential for conservation and economically sustainable management of marine ecosystems. 

Ecosystem models integrated with global climate models are a powerful way to generate predictions and identify critical gaps in knowledge to optimise further research efforts and monitoring studies. Importantly, these models allow consideration of multiple anthropogenic drivers of change in marine ecosystems. Thus, they can provide advice to managers on measures that can be taken, such as reducing fishing impacts, to foster resilience of marine ecosystems to climate change.

This project aims to:

  • develop methods for linking global climate and ecosystem models
  • assess the impact of climate change on biodiversity and economic sustainability of Australia’s marine ecosystems using these models
  • advise marine ecosystem managers on fostering resilience of Australian marine ecosystems to climate change.

2. Risk assessment tools for coastal vulnerability to climate change

Project leader: Dr Elvira Poloczanska (CSIRO)

This project aims to apply risk assessment tools to undertake a national assessment of the vulnerability of coastal marine habitats to climate change. The tools developed will allow assessment of risk to coastal habitats for a number of existing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios as well as the relative vulnerability to non-climate stressors.

These coastal habitats include the following coastal ecosystems: beaches, estuaries, wetlands, supratidal, dune vegetation, mangrove, saltmarsh, subtidal, seagrass, rocky reef, coral reef and macroalgae.

3. Assessing and Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Australia’s Temperate Deep Coral Reefs

Project leader: Dr Ron Thresher (CSIRO)

Modelling studies indicate that probably the first Australian ecosystem to be severely impacted by changing ocean pH (ocean acidification) are the temperate coral reefs found at depths of a kilometre or more on sea mounts along Australia’s southern coats. Preliminary data suggest that shoaling of the carbonate saturation depths due to increasing acidification in intermediate water masses sourced from the Antarctic are already affecting these reefs. 

In December 2008/January 2009, a month-long cruise deployed the remotely controlled deep-sea vehicle, Jason, which will be used to obtain data and samples from the reefs to depths in excess of four km. The data obtained will be used to assess the scale of present degradation, parameterise models to predict future impacts and aid the development of appropriate management options. 

Completed projects and reports

1. Second Marine Climate Change Report Card for Australia

We have developed the second-ever Marine Climate Change Report Card 2012 for Australia, to fulfil the growing demand for up-to-date knowledge and information on how climate change is impacting and may impact our marine environment.

2. Climate impacts on Australian fisheries and aquaculture

A review of the known climate impacts on fished and cultured species from a range of fisheries and aquaculture operations around Australia.
[Chapter 12] in Climate change impacts and adaptation options for Australian agriculture

3. Climate impacts on Australian Marine Life

A review of the physical ocean changes, and the impacts on a range of marine taxa. The report is divided into three sections, all available from the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency: Impacts of Climate Change on Australian Marine Life [external link]

4. Scoping Study into Adaptation of the Tasmanian Salmonid Aquaculture Industry

Scientists working in CSIRO's Climate Adaptation Flagships are contributing to one element of this project, to identify and review key climate change information needs as they relate to the Tasmanian salmonid aquaculture industry.
Download report from the TAFI (Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute) website [external link, PDF 1.3 MB]

5. National Coastal Vulnerability Assessment Case Study: Tasmanian East Coast Rock Lobster Fishery

Project leaders: Greta Pecl and Stewart Fusher (TAFI), (CSIRO contact: Dr Alistair Hobday)

Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI) is leading a large project team from the University of Tasmania and CSIRO in a ‘first-pass’ assessment of climate change impacts on east coast rock lobster productivity and interactions with fisheries management and flow-on effects to local communities.

This project is one of six case studies nationwide that form part of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency funded National Coastal Vulnerability Assessment. This case study will focus on southern rock lobster on the east coast of Tasmania and the potential impact of climate change on productivity, and consequences for the commercial and recreational harvests.
Download the The East Coast Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishery report [external link].