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Tropical fish moving south because of climate change says Australian report

Saturday, August 18th 2012 - 05:32 UTC
Full article 3 comments
A lot of uncertainty about the long-term impacts, says Dr Elvira Poloczanska (Photo: ScienceWatch) A lot of uncertainty about the long-term impacts, says Dr Elvira Poloczanska (Photo: ScienceWatch)

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.

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  • DennisA

    “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”

    Who are these people looking at short term data and making such statements? By ”climate change“ they imply anthropogenic global warming, but climate cycles are with us all the time. Who are these ”ocean managers” and who appointed them? Which policy makers? Whose policies?

    Where is their data from the last thousand years to show how many times populations shifted in response to cyclical changes. In the 1960's, cod moved south from Iceland because of the severe cold. It changed again and they moved back. In the medieval warm period, beluga whales moved in numbers into the sea around Greenland, and were hunted by the Eskimos, who had sailed 3000 miles from northern Alaska in skin covered boats, to colonise Greenland, over an Arctic ocean with less ice than now. The evidence is seen in anthropological and paleological finds.

    Aug 18th, 2012 - 07:02 am 0
  • British_Kirchnerist

    #1 Yes lets just stick our heads in the sand and do nothing until its too late right?!

    Aug 19th, 2012 - 05:19 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Luckily, Dennis, time-series data of various types is available from 'sediment'-cores right back to the first spreading of present-day ocean floors.
    Part of the the work of palaeo-ecologists, etc. researching past ocean environments is the putting together such evidences and making assertions based on these evidences and the statistics they provide.

    Evidence may not be in the cod otiliths in the marine sediments - these are sparse, but it is usually in the calcareous and silicious deposits serially laid down on ocean floors by the constant rain of diatoms, coccoliths, etc. during 'time-marked' palaeo-periods.

    Aug 22nd, 2012 - 03:58 pm 0
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