Pacific Islanders are heavily reliant on the oceans bounty for food security, livelihoods and economic growth. Over the next 25 years the population of the tropical Pacific is set to rise by 50%. This will put enormous strain on marine resources. At the same time Global Warming will significantly modify the ocean environment that supports vital fisheries and aquaculture.
In this project we examine the the Tropical Pacific might change in the future and how this will affect marine species.
The climate of tropical Pacific Island is dominated by the ocean. Changes to the ocean will therefore have major implications for the region. A collaboration between BOM, CSIRO, Australian Universities and Island stakeholders, under the banner of the PCCSP, are putting together a major new analysis of Climate Change in the Pacific.
Subtle changes to ocean temperature can control regional rainfall patterns, as dramatically demonstrated by the the La Nina induced Queensland floods. We have shown that changes in the Indian Ocean are often as important as those in the Pacific Ocean (associated with ENSO) for rainfall changes in western and eastern Australia and in other Indian Ocean rim countries.
In particular Indian Ocean variability is strongly implicated in causing the worst historical droughts over southeastern Australia
In recent years the signature of El Ninos seems to have changed, Instead of causing broad scale warming in the eastern Pacific El Ninos now often produce warming confined to the central Pacific - these are termed El Nino Modoki. Our work has shown that during Modoki events the Australian monsoon doesn't follow its normal progression - instead it starts late, terminates early and becomes more intense
Recent work also shows that the Indian monsoon that is normally extra strong during El Nino years can be weakened by the Indian Ocean Dipole
Carbon credits wil be a lucrative extra income to some businesses in the future. But does growing oysters remove carbon from the atmosphere as some have claims?
Ocean chemistry means that the growth of oyster shell actually increases dissolved CO2 concentration and so slows the sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere (read more)