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Marine Biology and Climate Change


Climate change affects organisms in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The ocean regulates global heat cycles, carbon distribution, freshwater supplies, and land temperature patterns. Global temperature projections are based on precise comprehension of the potential condition of the ocean. The marine biologists analyses the effects of climate change on aquatic organisms and recommends approaches for mitigating these effects, while ensuring sustainability. The role of a marine biologist is to study “the anatomy, physiology, functions, characteristics, behaviour and environments of all forms of life living in the sea and connected water bodies” (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) Dictionary 2009, p. 39). This paper investigates the role of a marine microbiologist in identifying, analysing and mitigating the effects of climate change on marine organisms. The first section of the paper reviews the role of marine biologists in climate change mitigation while the second part discusses how marine biology contributes to improving sustainability. An evaluation of literatures shows that marine biologists have active roles in predicting, analysing, and mitigating the effects of climate change on aquatic habitats.

The Role of Marine Biologists in Climate Change Mitigation

The Role of Marine Biologists in Climate Change Mitigation

This part of the paper elaborates the role of marine biologists in mitigating the effects of climate change. Mitigation has been described as a human effort to reduce the causes or hasten depletion of greenhouse emission (“IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers” 2014). Optimal mitigation can be accomplished if different bodies promote their interests autonomously (“IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers” 2014). The emission from each source contributes to the climate change problem and every agent must attempt to minimise greenhouse emissions (“IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers” 2014). Due to the passive mitigation behaviour of greenhouse agents, climate change has affected terrestrial and marine habitats. Higher ocean temperatures cause fluctuations in the spreading of marine organisms, with tropical fish migrating southward (Lambeck 2014). An increase in ocean acidity, due to higher atmospheric Carbon dioxide (CO2), will lead to higher bleaching activities in Northern Australia (Lambeck 2014).

Australia has an inconsistent climate. This inconsistency makes it complex to forecast the imminent significances of human-influenced climatic alterations. Climate simulations and experience offers direction. It is predicted that by 2030, Australia’s temperatures will be more than it was two decades ago and there would be more hot days and night (Lambeck 2014). Climate changes will increase the seal level 15 centimetres. Variables show changes in prospective rainfall patterns throughout Australia. Although it is difficult to project changes in rainfall, some projections are consistent, such as higher rainfall patterns in Northern Australia and lower rainfall patterns in Southern Australia (Lambeck 2014). Rainfall projections across the whole of Murray-Darling region remain unpredictable (Lambeck 2014). It is possible that increased temperatures and altering wind movements will affect the occurrence and patterns extreme bushfires (Lambeck 2014), and will cause an increase in heat-related mortality and a decrease in cold-related mortality.

Although the most effective way of mitigating climate change is by focusing on the sources of emission, marine biologists have a role to play. For instance, it is the role of the marine biologist to detect fluctuations in the marine coastal ecosystems by analysing necessary time series data. Reviews by Hobday et al. (2006) and Poloczanska et al. (2007) although there are numerous time series available in Australia, the knowledge of these data is not extensive. Linda Chambers’ National Ecological Meta Database gathers data that is used to detect locations in marine ecology. Using such data will create a central point for marine biologists and policy developers to detect information available in Australia. Marine biologists working on diverse structures should integrate data in their fields. Knowledge sharing amongst marine biologists will increase the data applicability and utilisation. Marine biologists should collaborate by holding dedicated workshops where datasets are examined to detect regional trends. A collaborative data analytical process will increase the uniformity of recommendations among Australia’s marine biologists.

It is also the duty of marine biologists to the impact of climate change on the aquatic habitat. Various models are available and may predict specie distribution, species population, specie abundance, and environmental responses. Predictive models have their advantages and disadvantages (Sutherland 2006).

Examples of models that may be used by marine biologists include fishery population model, game-theory, and genetic algorithms. When selecting models to predict the effect of climate change in aquatic habitats, marine biologists should consider the quality of biological data.

Chronological and longitudinal identification of predictive models will be influenced by data accessibility and the requirements of marine biologists. For instance, commercial and industry interests will need forecasts for the next two decades while marine biologists will need information of climate influence for the next hundred years. Procedure models are unavailable for most aquatic habitats in Australia because of rare biological records and lack of marine biologists’ ability and willingness to develop predictive models. Predictive models of organic climate influence are supported by the actual prototypes making it necessary to enhance interactions between biological and physical model developers.

The marine biologist predicts the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems in Australia. The ability of different ecosystem modelling methods to forecasts and improve the understanding and implications of the impact of climate change on marine habitats has developed significantly, and these methods are still evolving. Marine biologists in Australia may improve their ability to predict the influence of climate change on aquatic habitats using the results of NMFS and FAO examinations.

How addressing climate change would contribute to improving sustainability

Energy is important for social and economic growth and enhanced livelihood. However, most of global energy is generated and used in ways that may be unsustainable if there were substantial increase in required energy. The need to manage environmental emissions will become dependent on the effectiveness of energy generation, distribution, and consumption and on increasing dependence on ecologically sustainable energy structures (‘AGENDA 21’ 1992). The consumption of energy sources must consider human health, ecology, and the atmosphere (‘AGENDA 21’ 1992). Marine biologists have a role to play in ensuring sustainability. It is the responsibility of a marine biologist to foster flexibility in coastal and marine habitats. A high percentage of the earth’s waters are affected by activities including fishing, eutrophication, habitat obliteration, pollution, hypoxia, pollution, and specie migration (Halpern et al., 2008). The increasing effects of these sources may decrease the flexibility of marine habitats to climate change.

The effects of climate change can be mitigated through collaborative efforts, and it is impossible for CO2 discharges to be eliminated. Implementation of mitigation policies will require time however immediate actions may be taken. Marine biologists should recommend policies that may be executed, such as the need for agencies to concentrate on improving flexibility in natural systems. Flexibility is the ability of the natural habitat to accept or prevent change while maintaining the same ecosystem. Among numerous ecosystem stressors, it may be easier for the habitat to change to a new state that may offer different activities (Bilio and Niermann 2004). Therefore, the usual model regarding flexibility, species and habitats is that minimising the influence of stressors will increase flexibility (Anderson et al. 2008). A continues increase in climate change stressors in the next decades will push marine habitats to new states if other stressors are minimised. Therefore, marine biologists can ensure sustainability in the marine habitat by reducing the effects of other stressors.

Marine organisms are exposed to diverse stressors and threats, such as boat strikes, fish catch, prey weakening, pollution, degradation, habitat disturbance and algal blooms (Perrin, Wursig & Thewissen, 2002). These organisms are safeguarded under various agencies and policies such as the Bern Convention. In using sustainability measures, marine biologists should consider the possible changes in variety and changing necessities of marine organisms. The negative effect on a breeding ecosystem may be mitigated by forming separated regions for the remaining ecosystem. The major approach for adjusting to stressors in the broader habitat will be to cope with human influence on the resources needed by marine organisms. One method of protecting marine organisms is by designating protected zones and prohibiting the preying of marine species in such areas. When protected zones are created, it is likely that human activities will shift to other zones. To ensure sustainability accords the aquatic habitat, it is the duty of the marine biologists to access and analyse activity data and determine the numbers of activities in each zone (MacLeod et al. 2005). The conservation and protective strategies will not solve all problems experienced by marine organisms due to climate change. However, these strategies will reduce the stressors that cause marine depletion.


Climate changes directly affect the activities in marine habitats. Understanding the relationship between climatic change and marine activities would help marine biologists develop timely and effective mitigating strategies. This report examined the effect of climate change on organisms in aquatic habitats. Records show that climate change impacts the ocean. The ocean’s reaction to ice will define the course of world weather. Satellite records and data collected over the past years shows increased warming in the ocean. Change in climatic conditions is also making rivers to discharges into the ocean, reducing salinity and changing sea distribution and food chains in the marine ecosystem. Ocean characteristics play an important role in the global climatic system. The paper focused on the role of marine biologists in identifying the effects of climate change on aquatic habitats and developing strategies to ensure a sustainable marine ecosystem. While the first part of the report highlighted the function of marine biologists in mitigating climate change, the second section focused on the contribution of marine biologists to marine habitat sustainability. A review of literature showed that marine biologists contribute in forecasting, examining, and preventing the effects of climate change on marine habitats. Knowledge in data analysis and predictive analytics are necessary in forecasting the activities of the marine ecosystem and marine biologists should develop such skills.


“IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers” 2014, in O Edenhofer & J Zwickel (eds), Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 4-30.

‘AGENDA 21’ 1992, United Nations conference on environment & development, vol. 1, pp. 1-351.

Anderson C, Hsieh C, Sandin S, Hewitt R, Hollowed A, Beddington R, May M & Sugihara G 2008, ‘Why fishing magnifies fluctuations in fish abundance’, Nature, vol. 452 no. 11, pp. 835-839.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) Dictionary 2009, Web.

Bilio, M & Niermann, U 2004, ‘Is the comb jelly really to blame for it all? Mnemiopsis leidyi and the ecological concerns about the Caspian Sea’, Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 269 no. 18, pp. 173-183.

Halpern, B, Walbridge, S, Selkoe, A, Kappel, C, Micheli, F, D’Arosa, C, Bruno, J, Casey, S, Ebert, C, Fox, H, Fujita, R, Heinemann, D, Lenihan, H, Madin, E, Perry, M, Selig, E, Spalding, M., Steneck, R & Watson, R 2008, ‘A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems’, Science, vol. 319 no. 18, pp. 948-952.

Lambeck, K 2014, The science of climate change: questions and answers, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra. MacLeod, C, Bannon, M, Pierce, J, Schweder, S, Learmonth, A, Herman, S & Reid, R 2005, ‘Climate change and the cetacean community of north-west Scotland’, Biological Conservation, vol. 124 no. 12, pp. 477–483.

Perrin, W, Wursig, B & Thewissen, J 2002, Encyclopaedia of marine mammals, Academic Press, San Diego, USA.

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