New key book on coral reefs

Science Director Carl Folke contributes to the new book “Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment"

Photo: J. Lokrantz/Azote
The peer-reviewed book provides expert assessments of the vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef and identifies ways to respond to the climate change challenge.

Folke and Nyström have written chapter four of the book together with three colleagues from USA, Australia and Kenya. It deals with the management for ecological resilience of this unique living structure that is the world's largest coral reef system composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs stretching for 2,600 kilometres.

Long-term threats to the Great Barrier Reef
Climate change has been identified as the biggest long-term threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is projected to entail increased sea and air temperatures, rising sea level, and more frequent intense storms and rainfall as well as altered ocean currents. Moreover, the ocean is slowly becoming more acidic due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Chapter four of the new book identifies two major approaches that can be taken to minimise all these future climate-related impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

One is the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, which the authors see as “critically important and likely to be the most effective approach". Such measures are, however, beyond the scope of marine management agencies and will not be sufficient alone, the chapter authors conclude.

- No matter how effectively we can reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases there will be long lag times (decades to centuries) in the reversal of current climate trends, Folke and Nyström says.

Consequently, they emphasise the second approach which is the importance of maximising the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef in order to withstand, adapt and recover from future inevitable changes in the climate.

More about the book


Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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