Oceans and climate change
Crunch time for coral reefs?
Who: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor and Director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland
When: October 20, 2016
Where: WWF, 1250 24th ST NW, Washington, DC
The Paris Climate Agreement has been widely applauded as the first science-based targets to be agreed to by the international community. As yet to enter into force, the Paris targets will lead to the stabilisation of planetary conditions by mid-century, which will greatly reduce the current disruption to human and natural systems. But will they be enough? Climate trajectories and the known tolerance of many ocean ecosystems suggest major changes over the next 30 to 40 years before stabilisation is achieved (e.g. we will lose another 90% of coral reefs, Frieler et al. 2013). While confronting, this reality check suggests a two-part strategy of doubling down on climate change action while putting resources into managing non-climate stresses on the world’s ecosystems. The latter will be important if we are to maintain the genetic stock for the replenishment of ecosystems under a stabilised climate. These observations will be discussed within the context of the UNFCCC (COP21, IPCC) as well as the very timely establishment of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 on oceans.
Frieler, K., M. Meinshausen, A. Golly, M. Mengel, K. Lebek, S. D. Donner, and O. Hoegh-Guldberg. "Limiting global warming to 2oC is unlikely to save most coral reefs." Nature Climate Change 3, no. 2 (2013): 165-170.
About the Speaker
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (BScHons., Sydney; PhD., UCLA) is the inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute (GCI), member of the Australian Academy of Science, and Professor of Marine Science, at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. The GCI is a University level institute that is focused on bringing together the research capacity of UQ around some of the most pressing and serious challenges facing humanity worldwide, such as climate change, food security, clean energy and sustainable water. In addition to directing the GCI, Prof Hoegh-Guldberg leads an active research group interested in the biology and ecology of coral reefs, particularly the impact of ocean warming and acidification. He is among the most cited scientists in the area of climate change and ecology, and was the coordinating lead author for Chapter 30, (Oceans) for the latest IPCC and the Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. In 1999 he was awarded the Eureka Prize for his scientific research, and the Queensland Smart State Premier's Fellow (2008-2013). In 2012 he was awarded a Thomson Reuters Citation Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to research and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship, and the the Climate Change Prize from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2014.
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