UQ environmental sciences researcher: Climate change leadership needed to preserve Great Barrier Reef
The University of Queensland’s Dr Juan Ortiz, lead author on a study of the reef released last week, said the research was the most detailed to date and the first to show definitively that the reef could be preserved if emissions were reduced, with visible benefits within 20 years.
“We were heartened to find that a healthy future is possible if the global community takes stringent action on greenhouse gas emissions,” Dr Ortiz said.
“The prognosis of reefs under climate change is often so dire that some people give up hope,” he said.
“Our research shows that we could see the benefits of concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within our lifetime.
“It is possible to secure the reef’s future if we continue to invest in local controls of pollution and start taking serious action against climate change.”
The research, under the auspices of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, showed that continuation of a business-as-usual approach would overwhelm reef recovery mechanisms by 2050, leaving little living coral, which is threatened by rising sea temperatures.
“The reef future looks dire if we do not take greater action on climate change,” Dr Ortiz said.
“However we point out that we assume that the response of corals to future warming does not change from that observed in the last few decades. It is possible that coral adaptation could lessen the impacts we predict under business-as-usual conditions.”
The study used more than 40 scientific publications and Australian Institute of Marine Science monitoring data from 18 Australian reefs to build and validate a model to forecast the reef’s future under different conditions.
Study co-author Professor Peter Mumby said the reef’s fate was not sealed and there was still time to save it.
Professor Mumby said the research was good news for Australia as a healthy reef was of immense environmental importance and worth at least $6 billion per year to the nation’s economy.
Master of Environmental Management at the University of QueenslandEnvironmental management is the planning and implementation of actions geared to improve the quality of the human environment. The postgraduate programs in environmental management at the University of Queensland are multidisciplinary programs designed to enhance the skills and technical expertise of graduates working in all facets of the environmental arena. The programs aim to produce managers able to address the many issues in the highly complex and changing area of environmental management. At the master’s level the degree may be taken in a range of fields.
Studies may be undertaken in the following specialisations:
- Conservation biology
- Conservation and Natural Resource Management
- Resource and Environmental Economics
- Sustainable Development
Why study Conservation Biology?
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1.5 years
Bachelor degree with a in environmental management, environmental science; environmental studies; geography; natural resources; biology; ecology; conservation; sustainable development/sustainability; environmental engineering; marine science; marine studies; or an approved discipline with a GPA of 4.5 on a 7 point scale.