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

The ‘Climate Vulnerability Index’ (CVI) – a scientific and repeatable method to rapidly assess climate threats to the world’s natural and cultural heritage


Thursday October 3, 12:00

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Scott Heron and Jon Day
Scott Heron and Jon Day

Climate change is the fastest-growing global threat to the world’s natural and cultural heritage. No systematic approach to assess climate vulnerability of protected areas and their communities has existed – until now. The ‘Climate Vulnerability Index’ (CVI) is scientifically robust, transparent and repeatable, and has now been applied in various World Heritage properties. The CVI systematically assesses vulnerability through a risk assessment approach (after IPCC) considering the key values of the area, and then assesses the economic, social and cultural aspects of the associated community. This includes evaluating the adaptive capacity of both to future changes. Climate impacts are increasingly adding to a wide range of compounding pressures (e.g., increasing tourism, infrastructure development, changing land-use practice) that are affecting places, people, customs and values. Applications of the CVI to-date have led to intentions to integrate outcomes into relevant management plans, and to periodically repeat the process enabling responsive management to changing future circumstance. The CVI has also demonstrated its potential applicability for other types of protected areas. The CVI engages local community members in identifying key climate drivers and impacts, aids communication about key climate issues to a wide range of stakeholders and provides opportunities for adaptation and impact mitigation within the community.


Dr Scott Heron is a Senior Lecturer in Physics at JCU in Townsville.  Scott’s research focus is on coastal and near-shore environmental physics, involving the synthesis of physical information with the biological and/or chemical characteristics of the environment.  His current work investigates impacts on coral reefs, including coral bleaching and disease, reef resilience and conservation management, within the context of climate change.  This work continues from Scott’s time with the US government’s NOAA Coral Reef Watch program, with whom he remains affiliated.

Jon Day is completing a post-career PhD in the Centre at JCU in Townsville. Jon had 39 years of professional experience as a protected area planner and manager, 28 years of which were in the Great Barrier Reef.  As a GBRMPA Director for 16 years, he was responsible for matters including biodiversity conservation, commencing and coordinating the Representative Areas Program (the rezoning program for the entire GBR), all heritage matters (including World Heritage) and developing the 2009 Outlook Report. Prior to that Jon worked for Victorian, Queensland, Northern Territory and federal government protected area agencies.


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies