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Science

New Report Card Shows Climate Change Affecting Australia's Oceans

Launched today by the CSIRO is the 2012 Marine Climate Change in Australia Report Card which demonstrates that climate change is having significant impacts on the marine ecosystems that border Australia.

Aspects of the study include changes in sea temperature, sea level, the East Australian Current, the Leeuwin Current, and El Niño-Southern Oscillation, as well as marine diversity, and two new sections looking at microbes in the oceans and whales.

Not only does the report lay out what is affecting the marine ecosystems, but it also outlines actions that are underway to help our marine ecosystems adapt to climate change.

Great Barrier Reef

“Australia has some of the world’s most unique marine ecosystems,” said Project leader CSIRO’s Dr Elvira Poloczanska. They are enjoyed recreationally, generate considerable economic wealth through fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, and provide irreplaceable services including coastal defence, oxygen production, nutrient recycling and climate regulation.”

“Although there are some concerning findings in the 2012 report card, the information we’ve compiled is helping to ensure that ocean managers and policy makers are best placed to respond to the challenge of managing the impact that climate change is having on these systems.”

Key findings show

  • warming sea temperatures are influencing the distribution of marine plants and animals, with species currently found in tropical and temperate waters likely to move south
  • new research suggests winds over the Southern Ocean and current dynamics are strongly influencing foraging of seabirds that breed in south-east Australia and feed close to the Antarctic each summer
  • some tropical fish species have a greater ability to acclimatise to rising water temperatures than previously thought
  • the Australian science community is widely engaged in research, monitoring and observing programs to increase our understanding of climate change impacts and inform management
  • adaptation planning is happening now, from seasonal forecast for fisheries and aquaculture, to climate-proofing of breeding sites for turtles and seabirds.

‘Our knowledge of observed and likely impacts of climate change has greatly advanced since the first card in 2009,’ Dr Poloczanska said.

Source: CSIRO
Image Source: NASA | Wikimedia Commons




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