People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image

Ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef: the future is now


Thursday 26th of November 11:00 to 12:00hrs (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/88350515490 Password: 730762
Dr. Katharina Fabricius
Dr. Katharina Fabricius

Abstract: Ocean acidification, the increase in seawater CO2 with all its associated consequences, is relatively well understood in open oceans. In shelf seas such as the Great Barrier Reef, processes are much less understood, due to complex interactions with water quality and biological processes. I will show new data how ocean acidification has been progressing in the Great Barrier Reef, and its direct and indirect effects on coral reefs of the GBR, including shifts from corals to seaweed, impaired coral recruitment, and increasing bioerosion. Our new data from the Great Barrier Reef suggest that functional changes are already occurring, measurably affecting coralline algae, and coral recruitment and promoting macroalgae. Although most reefs are still net accreting, some reefs in marginal locations and high latitudes have started to dissolve in winter. The future integrity of GBR reefs under increasing ocean acidification will depend on their specific biophysical properties, and effective mitigation of the cumulative stressors from nutrient pollution. Unlike a clean-up of water quality, OA is irreversible on time scales of thousands of years, and there is no latitudinal escape, re-emphasising the imperative for rapid action on atmospheric CO2 pollution.

Biography: Dr Katharina Fabricius is a Senior Principal Research Scientist, and leader of the Team ‘Cumulative Impacts’ at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. She has spent over 30 years actively researching coral reefs, and has received her PhD from the University of Munich in 1995 for her work on soft corals the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea and reefs in Florida. A major focus of her research is to understand the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on ecological processes in coral reefs. She has spent ten years investigating the effects of ocean acidification on reefs using volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea as a natural laboratory. Her present focus is now on understanding the consequences of ocean acidification and poor water on the capacity of GBR reefs to recover. Katharina has published >165 journal articles and book chapters, and holds advisory roles as coral reef expert on ocean acidification, water quality and climate change issues, and is still fascinated by soft corals.


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies