Monday, November 30, 2009

Australian marine ecosystems get benchmarked

Science Blog: The first-ever Australian benchmark of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and options for adaptation is being released in Brisbane today. The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia, and an accompanying website, will provide a biennial guide for scientists, government and the community on observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

"The objective of compiling this information is to consider options available to environmental and resource managers in their response to changes in ecosystem balance," says project leader, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship scientist Dr Elvira Poloczanska.

"On both sides of the continent there is clear evidence of ocean warming and this is already bringing sub-tropical species south into temperate waters, and in the case of the giant kelp forests in Tasmania, appears to be having a severe impact in just a few years. This research is relevant for anyone with a recreational interest or financial investment in our coasts and oceans," Dr Poloczanska says.

The Report Card highlights observations over the past decade, projects forward to 2030 and 2100 with assessments of likely status and confidence ratings, and offers adaptation responses that can also inform policy makers.

Key concerns include; waters around Australia becoming warmer and more acidic, increases in strengths of major warm-water currents such as the East Australian Current, changes in the productivity of marine ecosystems and shifts in the distribution and abundance of species. The Report Card identifies where change is already occurring, likely trends and confidence levels in those trends depending on the state of knowledge….

From NASA: The striking orange-red colored southern Australian coast contrasts against the deep sapphire-blue waters of the Southern Ocean in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image acquired by the Terra satellite on August 19, 2002. In the northern portion of the image, a handful of fires (marked in red) were detected burning in the Great Victoria Desert by the MODIS instrument. South of the desert is the lighter-orange Nullarbor Plain, which stretches for over 1000 kilometers (about 600 miles) from end to end. Finally, just off the coast in the Southern Ocean is the Great Australian Bight, home to Australian Sea Lions, Southern Right Whales, and various fish species.

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