Impacts and risks of climate change to marine ecosystems and their services

Oct 14 2019 11:00 AM - Oct 14 2019 12:00 PM

Impacts and risks of climate change to marine ecosystems and their services
  • Dr. Elvira S. Poloczanska
  • Monday, October 14, 2019
  • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Building 2 · Level 5 · Room 5220
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​Dr. Elvira S. Poloczanska

Senior Scientist, Alfred Wegener Institute, Integrative Ecophysiology, Bremen, Germany
Science Advisor, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bremen, Germany
Honorary Professor, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia


Bio: Dr. Poloczanska is the Science Advisor to the Co-Chairs and Technical Support Unit (TSU) of Working Group II (WGII) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is a Senior Scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. She also holds an Honorary Professorship at the Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia. In her current role, she provides scientific support to the development of the three IPCC Special Reports: Global Warming of 1.5°C (approved October 2018), The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, as well as the main WGII Assessment Report in the Sixth Assessment Cycle.  She was a Lead Author of Chapter 30 The Ocean in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Prior to joining the WGII TSU in 2016, Dr. Poloczanska was a senior research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia. Her research focus is on the vulnerability, impacts (including detection and attribution) and risks of and adaptation to climate variability and climate change for species and ecosystems, and the human populations and industries that depend on them. She contributes to international collaborations that aim to use ecological models to predict the rearrangement of marine biodiversity under climate change. Her early work focused on understanding ecological processes across scales working on intertidal rocky shores. The communication of climate change science to policy, decision makers and public are central to her work. She has worked in multi-disciplinary teams with climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, agricultural scientists, ecologists, conservation biologists, and economists among others, thus has a broad oversight of the climate change risks, challenges and adaptation options. 

Abstract: In this talk, Dr. Poloczanska will first introduce the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) at the science-policy interface. She will explore the impacts and risks of climate change to coastal and marine life and for the industries and people that depend on them, at 1.5°C, 2°C and higher levels of warming, drawing on the IPCC Special Report of Global Warming of 1.5°C and the recently released Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (September 2019). Climate-related risks depend on the magnitude and rate of warming, geographic location and choices and implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions. Anticipating the risks of climate change for marine biodiversity is critical for adaptation and management, she will then focus on two examples, the projected distribution of marine life and the consequences for coral-reef fisheries. Recent analysis using three decades of fish and plankton data reveals that temperature is a fundamental driver for change in marine systems, with predictable restructuring of communities in the most rapidly warming areas using metrics based on species thermal affinities derived for diverse taxa. By projecting thermal niche space under two greenhouse emissions scenarios for over 12,000 marine species reveals that high extirpation rates are projected in tropical oceans while in mid-latitude regions a homogenisation of present-day communities is projected. Climate change brings risks to coral reefs and to the fisheries that depend on the functioning of coral reef ecosystems. Anticipating and planning for these risks, while keeping fisheries resources sustainable, requires fisheries managers and businesses to navigate the complex interactions of climate change with economic, social and social/psychological drivers. She will present a novel framework with a Bayesian Belief Network to investigate how vulnerable Great Barrier Reef fisheries are to climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems combined with concurrent intrinsic and external economic and governance drivers, and explore the extent these challenges can be managed.