The 2012 Marine Climate Change in Australia Report Card shows climate change is having significant impacts on Australia's marine ecosystems.
The report card provides information about the current and predicted-future state of Australia's marine climate and its impact on our marine biodiversity. The report card also outlines actions that are underway to help our marine ecosystems adapt to climate change.
"Australia has some of the world's most unique marine ecosystems," project leader CSIRO's Dr Elvira Poloczanska said.
"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:
Led by CSIRO, more than 80 Australian marine scientists from 34 universities and research organisations contributed to the 2012 report card. The report card draws on peer-reviewed research results from hundreds of scientists, demonstrating a high level of scientific consensus.
"Our knowledge of observed and likely impacts of climate change has greatly advanced since the first card in 2009," Dr Poloczanska said.
Aspects of marine climate which have been analysed include changes in sea temperature, sea level, the East Australian Current, the Leeuwin Current, and El Niņo-Southern Oscillation.
Marine biodiversity assessed for the report card include impacts on coral reefs; tropical, temperate and pelagic fish; marine mammals; marine reptiles; seabirds; mangroves; tidal wetlands; seagrass; macroalgae; marine microbes; phytoplankton and zooplankton. The two new sections included in the 2012 report card focus on the smallest and largest organisms in the oceans: microbes and whales.
The project has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, through the Marine Biodiversity and Resources Marine Adaptation Network, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and CSIRO's Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.