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)

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Setting climate change targets to protect the Great Barrier Reef


Wednesday 20 June , 12.30pm

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Conference Room, JCU.
Chris McGrath, Barrister-at-Law, Brisbane


This seminar addresses what policy targets should be set to avoid severe impacts to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from climate change. The evidence of climate change and current knowledge of likely impacts to the GBR are reviewed, particularly the major coral bleaching events in 1998 and 2002. Three key conclusions are drawn. First, setting policy targets of stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols at 450–550 ppm carbon dioxide equivalents to limit increases in mean global temperatures to 2–3°C over pre-industrial levels are likely to be too high to avoid severe impacts of coral bleaching to the GBR. Second, stabilising greenhouse gases and aerosols around year 2000 levels, of 370 ppm carbon dioxide equivalents, and allowing a rise in mean global temperature of 1°C, appear to be the highest targets that should be set if the GBR is to be protected from serious degradation. Third, current policies are far from achieving or even setting these objectives and, consequently, severe impacts to the GBR are likely in coming decades. This seminar is of particular importance in the context of the current national political debate on emissions trading and emissions reduction targets.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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Coral Reef Studies