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What a warmer planet means for coral reefs

Climate scientist Dr Janice Lough to present Allan Sefton Memorial Lecture

Renowned climate scientist Dr Janice Lough will present this year’s Allan Sefton memorial lecture at the University of Wollongong on Friday 18 August.

Dr Lough is a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the (AIMS), Townsville, and Adjunct Professorial Research Fellow and Partner Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Reef Studies, James Cook University. She has been publishing on issues related to climate change for more than 30 years.

Dr Lough’s talk is titled “A changing climate for tropical coral reefs”.

Climate change is not a future event, Dr Lough said, significant warming of tropical oceans has already occurred with observable consequences for coral reefs.

“Tropical coral reefs are spectacular, complex and diverse ecosystems,” Dr Lough said.

“Although occupying less than 0.5 per cent of the sea floor, they support 25 per cent of all marine species and provide goods and services that contribute to the livelihoods of over 500 million people worldwide.

“Reefs are, however, in trouble. Some have suffered decades of over-exploitation, which is now being compounded, by the impacts of a rapidly changing global climate system.

“This has been most dramatically demonstrated by the recent increase in frequency and extent of mass coral bleaching events. These recent events have been driven by unusually warm surface ocean temperatures and are a direct result of anthropogenically driven global climate change.”

In her lecture, Dr Lough will also discuss what the future holds for coral reefs given different trajectories of projected global warming, and how global and local actions that can contribute to their maintenance into the future.


The late Allan Sefton was well known to residents of the Illawarra and further afield for his work as a naturalist and conservator of the local environment. In recognition of his contributions to environmental science in the Illawarra region, the Allan Sefton Memorial Lecture was established in 1993 and is a public occasion where a distinguished Australian scientist speaks on a topic of wide environmental interest.

When: 5.30-6.30pm, Friday 18 August 2017

Where: Building 43, Sciences Teaching Facility, University of Wollongong main campus

RSVP: Via Eventbrite