Marine Projections of Warming and Ocean Acidification in the Australasian Region

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Lenton, Andrew ORCID ID icon; McInnes, Kathy ORCID ID icon; O'Grady, Julian ORCID ID icon


Journal Article

Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal




In response to increasing carbon dioxide emissions the oceans have become warmer and more acidic. In this paper, based on simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) under low, medium and high emissions scenarios (RCPs 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5 respectively) we project how ocean acidification and sea surface temperature will change in the Australian region. The ability of these models to simulate observed temperature and ocean acidification is assessed using gridded data around Australia as well as more specific observations collected at the National Reference Stations around Australia over recent years. We find that overall ESMs, capture well the mean state except in regions influenced by local processes, but overall underestimate the magnitude of the variability. In the future under all emissions scenarios the ocean around Australia will be warmer and more acidic, and the physical changes are quite heterogeneous, with changes under high emissions of up to 6K above the pre-industrial value in areas such as the Tasman Sea. We also assess the potential impacts of these changes on the marine environment based on available literature, and find that the projected changes in SST, aragonite saturation state and pH have the potential to significantly and profoundly impact marine ecosystems, and the ecosystem services that they provide. Furthermore the magnitude and rate of changes is strongly tied to the emissions trajectory followed, therefore the sooner emissions reduction commences and atmospheric CO2 levels begin to fall, the sooner the potential impacts on the marine ecosystems will be minimized.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

ocean acidification sea surface temperature projections CMIP5 NRM Australian Region

Climate Change Processes


Journal article - Refereed


Lenton, Andrew; McInnes, Kathy; O'Grady, Julian. Marine Projections of Warming and Ocean Acidification in the Australasian Region. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal. 2015; 65(1):S1-S28.

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