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Impactful climate and energy science

Australia's changing climate represents a significant challenge to individuals, communities, governments, businesses, industries and the environment.

Our country has already experienced increases in average temperatures over the past 60 years, with more frequent hot weather, fewer cold days, shifting rainfall patterns and rising sea levels.

As Australia's national science agency, we're working with government, business, industry and the community to deliver innovative science and technology to tackle the climate challenge.  

We're providing evidence-based research to support decarbonisation and mitigation to help Australia reach its net zero targets by 2050. 

We're partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop sustainable industries and support resilient ecosystems.

[Music plays and an image appears of Giant Kelp beneath the surface of the ocean, and the camera pans through the kelp forest]


[Image changes to show a view looking down on a rocky stretch of coastline]


Dr Anusuya Willis: As our climate changes the seas around Tasmania are experiencing a devastating loss.


[Image changes to show a rear view of a diver swimming through the Giant Kelp forest and the camera pans through the Giant Kelp forest]


The towering forests of Giant Kelp that once thrived in shallow waters surrounding the island have declined by 95%. This is due to increasing sea surface temperatures and lower nutrients. Giant Kelp forests are now enlisted as an endangered marine community.


[Image changes to show seals swimming around the Giant Kelp forest]


Climate change continues to threaten the few remaining strongholds of Giant Kelp, but there is hope.


[Images move through to show a close view of pieces of Giant Kelp in a specimen tub, and then a rear view of Dr Anusuya Willis walking up to a colleague and speaking with her]


We are working with partner organisations to restore Giant Kelp forests. Our first step is using genomics to learn more about why some strains of Giant Kelp are more tolerant of warmer water.


[Ocean sounds can be heard, and the image changes to show a Giant Kelp forest below the ocean’s surface, and text appears: Protecting Tasmania’s Giant Kelp]


[Image changes to show Anusuya talking to the camera, and text appears: Dr Anusuya Willis, Senior Research Scientist, Australian National Algae Culture Collection]


My name is Dr Anusuya Willis, I am the Director of the Australian National Algae Culture Collection at CSIRO in Hobart, Tasmania.


[Images move through to show Anusuya putting on a lab coat, a close view of Anusuya placing a container on a lab bench, a Giant Kelp forest, and a coastal point, and text appears: Giant Kelp (Macrocytis pyrifera)]


Giant Kelp is a large seaweed, it grows in shallow seas in a number of places around the world including Tasmania.


[Image changes to show a close view of a piece of Giant Kelp]


Seaweeds are not plants, but they have some similarities.


[Image changes to show a diagram of Giant Kelp, and lines appear pointing to the roots, the stem, the leaves, and the gas bladder, and text appears: Holdfast, Stipe, Gas bladder, Blade]


Giant Kelp has a holdfast to attach to rocks on the sea floor, a long stipe which is its stem and long leaf like blades supported by gas bladders that help them float.


[Image changes to show five camper vans in a row, and a line and text appears underneath: Up to 30 metres long, About the length of 10 average size camper vans]


They can grow up to 50cm per day and reach more than 30m tall.


[Image changes to show a diver swimming through a Giant Kelp forest]


Giant Kelp forms a structural forest like trees on land.


[Images move through to show underwater views of fish swimming through the Giant Kelp forest]


These forests support an entire eco-system of marine plants, seaweeds, invertebrates such as rock lobsters, young fish in nurseries and marine mammals.


[Image changes to show a close view of an orange coloured piece of Giant Kelp]


Large dense forests of Giant Kelp used to cover significant areas of the near shore reef, particularly in Eastern Tasmania. They are a key component of coastal eco-systems.


[Images move through to show Anusuya and a colleague looking at specimens of kelp in tubs]


In our lab we work with the microscopic stage of Giant Kelp.


[Images move through to show Anusuya and her colleague cutting the kelp into small pieces, and placing it in a petri dish, and a researcher looking at the petri dishes underneath a microscope]


First divers take cuttings from the blades of Giant Kelp individuals growing in the ocean. The blades produce spores on their underside.


[Image changes to show a close view of the spores under the microscope]


These spores go into microscopic male and female gametophytes that we can keep in culture in the lab.


[Image changes to show a very close view of the spores under the microscope, and then the camera zooms out a little and then in a little again]


Using different temperatures or wave lengths of light we keep the Giant Kelp gametophytes in stasis, grow more cells for study or produce eggs and sperm to form baby Giant Kelp which can be planted in the ocean.


[Image changes to show a close view of a baby Giant Kelp under a microscope]


A baby Giant Kelp looks like a little leaf growing out of some cells.


[Camera gradually zooms out a little and then a pointer appears showing a 2cm long baby Giant Kelp]


It starts a couple of millimetres long and it slowly gets longer and longer and after about three months you can see them, they can be 2cm long and this is the stage when they start getting planted out into the field.


[Image changes to show a diagram showing a thermometer on the left and then three strains of Giant Kelp on the right, and text appears: Kelp A, Kelp B, Kelp C]


Some strains of Tasmanian Giant Kelp are naturally more tolerant of higher temperature. We are looking at the genetic basis of this.


[Image shows crosses appearing next to Kelp A and B and a tick next to Kelp C, and then the image changes to show an aerial view looking down on the coast of Tasmania]


We are also looking at the genetic structure of the remnant populations of Giant Kelp in the coastal waters of Tasmania, to understand the genetic diversity and connections between populations.


[Music plays and the image changes to show a researcher walking down a corridor towards the camera, and a close view of a mortar and pestle being used on the left]


[Image changes to show 18 symbols of Giant Kelp on the screen]


And we’re establishing a biobank which is like a sea bank of Giant Kelp to conserve genetic diversity for future restoration.


[Image changes to show a view looking down on the city of Hobart and the harbour]


We’re part of a large group of organisations working to restore Giant Kelp in Tasmania.


[Image changes to show a view of a Giant Kelp forest in the ocean]


Our partners are The Nature Conservancy, The University of Tasmania and Google.


[Music plays and images move through to show Anusuya and her colleague looking at pictures of Giant Kelp on a computer screen and under a microscope]


[Image changes to show an underwater view of the Giant Kelp in a forest, and outlines appear around the warm tolerant strains of Giant Kelp in the forest]


We hope that our genetic work to understand Giant Kelp and select warm tolerant strains for replanting will give Giant Kelp forests the best chance to grow and recover.


[Image changes to show a view looking up through the Giant Kelp forest to the surface of the water, and text appears: With special thanks to Kaeo Landon-Lane from Freedive Tasmania for the kelp forest footage]


[Image changes to show a cursor selecting a “Subscribe” button, and text appears:, Subscribed]

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Decarbonisation and mitigation

Carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are causing climate change. Decarbonisation is the reduction or removal of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is achieved by switching to low carbon energy sources.

We’re delivering innovative science and technology to support decarbonisation and mitigation.

We’re working with the Australian government, business, industry and our communities to decarbonise our homes, transportation and industries to reach net zero targets by 2050.

Adaptation and resilience

Adapting to climate change is a way to adjust to changes already happening and to prepare for the future to reduce the likely harm caused to our communities, industries, infrastructure and environment.

Adaptation can also maximise opportunities associated with climate change.

We’re working with communities and businesses across Australia and the Pacific to build sustainable industries, protect water security and prepare for bushfires and natural disasters.

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