Friday, November 27, 2009

Australia's oceans under pressure

Nicky Phillips for ABC Science Online (Australia): Scientists have given the state of Australia's marine environment a low grade in the country's first Marine Climate Change report card released today. The report, compiled by CSIRO and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, details how Australia's marine environment has already changed as a result of a warming planet, and how it is expected to change in the future.

Marine biologist and contributing author Dr Alistair Hobday of CSIRO says "our marine environment is vulnerable of dropping out of school". But he says the report does offer strategies to help marine environments adapt to the projected impacts of climate change.

Dr Hobday says the report, which took more than a year to prepare, demonstrates that climate change is already having an impact. He says the temperature is going to rise by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, even if greenhouse gas emissions are regulated from today. "Over the next 30 years the kind of changes we're expecting to see are already locked in now because of the amount of greenhouse gases we've put into the atmosphere," he said. "Nothing we do today can change that."

….He says climate change impacts on the marine environment and the projections are rated on a confidence scale, which is based on current literature and the consensus of leading scientists in the field. Dr Hobday hopes the report's adaptation strategies will be used in the short term while more drastic longer-term solutions are negotiated. "These strategies [are what] scientists feel will help these marine systems adapt to climate change [in the short term]," he said….

Island Archway on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Taken as a 6 segment panorama showing the surrounding coastline. Shot by David Iliff, or Diliff, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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