In Hot Water? Australia’s Maritime Resources in a Warm, Acidified Ocean.

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Speaker: Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (Global Change Institute)
Date: 9th of Sptember 2011

Australia is more water than land.  Its maritime territory covers 16 million km² which is almost twice its land area. Within this vast territory, industries such as fishing and tourism provide $52 billion per year or 8% of Australia’s GDP.  At a global level, ocean resources are responsible for a range of planetary services from absorbing CO2 to providing much of the oxygen we breathe.  Despite their size and importance, however, the world’s oceans are degrading rapidly, threatening the ability of the oceans to provide services at both local and global levels. Declining water quality, pollution and the over exploitation of fish stocks are having massive impacts on marine ecosystem function. Recently, the impacts of global climate change have become to manifest themselves.  Ocean heat content has steadily risen over the past 40 years, while ocean pH and carbonate chemistry have moved well outside where they have been for millions of years.  These changes are already having additional fundamental impacts on the biology of the world’s oceans.  This talk will address these changes and their origin, and will consider the future of Australia’s marine resources within a warm and acidified ocean.  Particular emphasis will be placed on the changes that are occurring within a number of key habitats including coral reefs, kelp forests and open ocean environments.

Australia is more water than land. Its maritime territory covers 16 million km² which is almost twice its land area. Within this vast territory, industries such as fishing and tourism provide $52 billion per year or 8% of Australia’s GDP. At a global level, ocean resources are responsible for a range of planetary services from absorbing CO2 to providing much of the oxygen we breathe. Despite their size and importance, however, the world’s oceans are degrading rapidly, threatening the ability of the oceans to provide services at both local and global levels. Declining water quality, pollution and the over exploitation of fish stocks are having massive impacts on marine ecosystem function. Recently, the impacts of global climate change have become to manifest themselves. Ocean heat content has steadily risen over the past 40 years, while ocean pH and carbonate chemistry have moved well outside where they have been for millions of years. These changes are already having additional fundamental impacts on the biology of the world’s oceans. This talk will address these changes and their origin, and will consider the future of Australia’s marine resources within a warm and acidified ocean. Particular emphasis will be placed on the changes that are occurring within a number of key habitats including coral reefs, kelp forests and open ocean environments.