UQ environmental sciences researcher: Climate change leadership needed to preserve Great Barrier Reef

24 November 2014

A decision by G20 leaders to discuss climate change at their meeting in Brisbane last week is good news for the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say.
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.

UQ Environmental Sciences Marine Science
UQ researcher: The Reef can be saved if we take action on climate change (Photo: T Knoll)

“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 Queensland

Environmental 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?

One of the biggest problems confronting biologists worldwide is the increased extinction rate of animal and plant species. This is due in large part to the impact humans have had on land use, climate and resource consumption—an impact that is decreasing the earth’s biodiversity and increasing the number of endangered or threatened species at an alarming rate. Conservation biology is an integrative discipline that focuses on the problems of restoring and maintaining viable populations of animal and plant species, and natural and managed ecosystems. The program aims to provide core theoretical and practical training in conservation biology.

Program: Master of Environmental Management
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1.5 years
Entry requirements
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.

Apply to the University of Queensland!


Would you like more information about environmental science programs at the University of Queensland? Are you interested in studying conservation biology in Australia? Contact OzTREKK Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.