Tropical fish moving south because of climate change says Australian report
Australia’s Marine Climate Change 2012, released on Friday, provides evidence of a large-scale redistribution of marine species in ecosystems around Australia. Dr Elvira Poloczanska, who led the study, says there's a lot of uncertainty about the long-term impacts.
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 said project leader Dr Poloczanska from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).
Some of the key findings show that warming sea temperatures are influencing the distribution of marine plants and animals, with species currently found in tropical and temperate waters likely to move south and new research suggests winds over the Southern Ocean and current dynamics are strongly influencing foraging of seabirds that breed in south-east Australia and feed close to the Antarctic each summer.
Further more; some tropical fish species have a greater ability to acclimatise to rising water temperatures than previously thought; the Australian science community is widely engaged in research, monitoring and observing programs to increase our understanding of climate change impacts and inform management, and finally adaptation planning is happening now, from seasonal forecast for fisheries and aquaculture, to climate-proofing of breeding sites for turtles and seabirds.
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 Niño-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 National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility's Marine Biodiversity and Resources Adaptation Research Network, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship.