The RST Winter Lecture Series: The future of the world’s oceans


The third lectures in The Royal Society's Winter Lecture Series for 2017

Start Date

2nd Aug 2017 7:30pm

End Date

2nd Aug 2017 9:00pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

Enquiries: or 6165 7014

Register Now Button

Winter Lecture Series: Session Three


Chair: Prof Jan McDonald

Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene: What does the future hold?

  • Professor Terry Hughes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

Coral reefs will still be alive and reasonably well in 100 years’ time, but only if we try a lot harder to secure their future. Over the coming centuries reefs will run the gauntlet of climate change, when rising temperatures will transform them into new configurations unlike anything previously experienced by humankind. Returning coral reefs to past configurations is no longer an option. Instead, the global challenge is to steer reefs into the future in a way that maintains them as functioning and sustainable ecosystems. This is a confronting message, but ultimately an optimistic one. The most important and difficult challenge is to achieve the COP21 Paris Agreement targets of 1.5-2C of global average warming, because business-as-usual emissions of greenhouse gasses will certainly destroy reefs as we know them.

Terry Hughes is the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville.  His research interests encompass the biology of coral reefs, their evolution and governance. A recurrent theme in his studies is the application of new scientific knowledge towards improving management of marine environments. Terry conducted widespread aerial surveys of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 to measure the extent and severity of back-to-back coral bleaching due to global warming.

Geoengineering the Planet: Can we, should we try to offset global climate change?

  • Professor Philip Boyd, ARC Laureate Fellow, University of Tasmania

Geoengineering is defined as a deliberate intervention in the Earth system of a nature and scale intended to counteract human-induced climate change and its impacts.  Two distinct forms of climate intervention have been proposed: large scale removal and storage of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, or the reflection of a proportion of incoming solar radiation back into space. It has become clear from the recent COP21 Climate Agreement in Paris in late 2015, that in order to limit global temperature rise to no more than 2C, some form of ‘negative emissions’ will probably be required.  In the absence of enough climate mitigation, could geoengineering help us to meet the COP21 targets to limit warming?  In this presentation Philip Boyd will discuss both the benefits and challenges of intervening in Earth’s climate.

Professor Philip Boyd is an ARC Laureate Fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart. He currently co-chairs the UN GESAMP Working Group 41 on marine geoengineering. Boyd has worked in the field of ocean biogeochemistry for over two decades, examining the role of iron enrichment in setting ocean productivity. He successfully co-ordinated two of the largest scientific ocean manipulation studies to date (large enough to be seen from space) which have provided indirect insights into marine geoengineering.  Professor Boyd has also written widely on the scientific, socio-economic and geo-political aspects of geoengineering, including contributing to the UNESCO Guide to Policymakers on ocean iron fertilisation.

More information:

Held in partnership with The Royal Society of Tasmania.logo

Can't attend an event? Catch up with public lectures on the University of Tasmania Livestream Page!