Curious Climate schools
Curious Climate schools

Kingston High School 10B4 Science

Our Questions

What effects of climate change are happening in the D’Entreacasteaux channel area?
View Answer

This is a great question, because we often think about the impacts of climate change on our favourite places and our homes. Tasmanian coastal waters and the Channel are some of the fastest warming areas in the world, also called the climate change hotspot. Apart from the warmer water for swimming and snorkelling, this also means that marine species and ecosystems are changing rapidly, and new species are arriving from further north. Some of these species are loved by anglers, such as the yellowtail kingfish. Other species are less welcome, such as the long-spined sea urchin. Unlike Tasmanian native urchins, these invading urchins can eat a lot of kelp, denuding kelp forests and creating urchin barrens. Kelp forests are disappearing also because of the heat waves and because the warmer waters and currents, reaching further from the mainland, have fewer nutrients.

Tasmania’s scientists and state government are aiming to preserve kelp forests by encouraging long-spined sea urchin harvest, breeding kelp that is more resilient to heat, and planting them back into the sea. The best thing we can do to increase resilience of marine ecosystems to climate change is to reduce pollution, restore natural habitats, such as seagrass and oyster reefs and, most importantly, ensure that the ecosystem has lots of large urchin eating fish and especially rock lobsters. Large fish and lobsters and important urchin predators and a natural control, and they do the work for us for free.  

You can learn more about the kelp restoration efforts here -

Here you can learn about seagrass restoration here -

Or if you would like to learn more about new species that are arriving to Tasmania, you can check out and contribute to the citizen science empowered Redmap Australia -

Finally, here is a great site by Reef Life Survey researchers and volunteers, mapping the changes that are happening in reefs around the world. You can zoom into Tasmania and select “Location time series” option on the top, to view summaries for the Channel

Answer provided by: Dr Asta Audzijonyte
As scientists, is your work affected by the impacts of climate change?
View Answer

Yes, some scientific work can be affected by the impacts of climate change – especially scientific research that looks at the environment and plants and animals.

Lots of plants and animals around the world are moving habitats because the climate is changing where they have typically lived before. This phenomenon is known as ‘species on the move’.

In Australia, the water in Eastern Australian Current (known as the ‘EAC’ in Finding Nemo 😊) is warming because of climate change and as a result, the current is travelling further down the east coast of Australia than it used to – bringing marine species with it. For example, the Gloomy Octopus is not typically found in Tassie but has been spotted as far south as Falmouth on the east coast. Some Tiger Sharks have also been seen as far south as St Helens! Scientists who study these ‘species on the move’ now need to change their work to try to understand where species are moving, how fast they are moving, and what these moves might mean for the ecosystems that already exist in these places.

You might like to check out Redmap which is a website where people from all over Australia are invited to log any marine species they see that are new or atypical to coastal areas around the country. Scientists verify these sightings of ‘species on the move’ and the information is stored in a national database so scientists and the community can document how marine life is responding and moving because of climate change.

Answer provided by: Dr Rachel Kelly
What are you most concerned about in terms of changes to your personal life because of climate change?
View Answer
Answer provided by: Dr Linda Murray
How much does climate change impact Tasmanian seahorses and how?
View Answer

Climate can impact Tasmania sea horses in many ways. To understand the total impact, we need to think about not only what warmer water will do to the seahorses themselves, but also the things the eat and the things that eat them! We are not exactly sure how this will play out, but one thing is for sure: For reef-dwelling animals that enjoy colder water for any number of reasons, there is not much space to move furth south in Tasmania before hitting the inhospitable Southern Ocean.

Specifically, we have seen a nearly 60% drop from in the population of the Weedy Seadragon in Southern Tasmania. However, it is important that this could be caused by other human impacts like poaching. And some evidence does suggest sea horses will be able to adapt to warmer waters as they already live in quite a large range of temperature conditions.

Answer provided by: Research Associate Tyler Rohr
Is climate change irreversible now we are on a trend we can’t escape?
View Answer

Stopping, or reducing climate change, known as mitigation, is something that is really important so I’m very glad you’ve asked how to do this. 

Reducing climate change will involve lowering the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This means reducing the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This is done by reducing the use of fossil fuels and moving to renewable energy sources, like wind, solar and ocean wave energy instead. The effectiveness of these energy sources is improving all the time and around the world (especially in Australia) they are becoming a major source of energy already. Increasing efficiency and finding ways of reducing energy use and waste is also very important. Around the world businesses and governments are making commitments to reduce the use of fossil fuels and to transform manufacturing, food production and transport (e.g. trucks, cars, trains and shipping) to electricity or other fuels (like hydrogen). 

Another way to help mitigate climate change is to support processes that actively remove carbon out of the atmosphere. Healthy oceans, forests and soil are great carbon stores. This means restoring and protecting these environments and supporting sustainable practices will help. Growing trees is a great way of helping remove carbon from the atmosphere. This effect is so large that the natural regrowth of Tasmania’s forests means that the state is currently a carbon sink – meaning more carbon is removed from the atmosphere than is emitted. This means as a state Tasmania is doing better than the net zero emissions target governments around the world are talking about.  

Rather than just letting the trees do all the heavily lifting though we can help Australia and the world by reducing our individual emissions. On a personal level that means turning lights and appliances off when you’re not using them; putting on a jumper rather than turning the heating up to full; and walking, cycling, or using public transport if we can. Also finding out about what you eat and changing to options that contribute less to climate change can also help. Agriculture is a major producer of greenhouse gases so look for low carbon meals, such as sustainable seafood and local seasonal foods, and try having at least a couple of red meat free days a week.  

In addition to reducing energy use we can also consume less (e.g. use clothes for longer rather than chasing the latest fashion look), increase recycling and appropriately dispose of organic waste (e.g. food scraps). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, over twenty years it is about 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide. When food and garden waste is buried with general garbage the microbes and chemical processes that break the waste down cannot easily access oxygen and so they produce a lot of methane (known as anaerobic breakdown). However, if you put the organic waste into a compost bin (at home or one provided by the council) the microbes can access oxygen and so they use a process that produces much less methane (known as aerobic breakdown). The nutrient rich compost that results also means more plants can be grown (absorbing carbon) and less energy is needed to make artificial fertiliser. A win-win-win. 

The biggest thing you can do to help climate change is to stay informed, to help share useful information and to think about your actions – each little bit really does help. Around the world innovations and action by young people is helping accelerate action to reduce climate change. 

For starters, you might like to find out how Tasmania’s tree growth is helping our carbon budgetNASA also has a great page on climate change, which mentions some solutions. The United Nations also has some high-level information on different activities around the world.  

You might also like to play with the simple climate model at en-Roads, explore options for reducing climate change 

Answer provided by: Dr Beth Fulton
Can human beings biologically adapt fast enough to cope with climate change?
View Answer

Thank you for this excellent question. I am not an expert in genetics and don’t believe that there is currently any evidence of true genetic adaptation to climate change. Authors such as Donna Harraway have speculated about this in works that use writing styles similar to science fiction (e.g her book “Staying with the Trouble”). However at the moment works like this are “thought experiments” which imagine what genetic adaptation might be like, rather than science based on genetic evidence. 

There are many other ways that human societies are starting to adapt to our changing climates. Some of this change involves large-scale changes to the way societies live every day, e.g changing our power and transport systems to renewable energy rather than systems reliant on fossil fuels. For example, it’s no mean feat to change our current transport systems from petrol cars to predominantly electric vehicles.  However, countries like Aotearoa New Zealand are currently preparing their infrastructure to do just that. This is an example of large-scale adaptation.  

In terms of our bodies dealing with extremes in temperature (e.g hotter summers), there are limits to how our bodies can deal with this and still maintain a healthy core temperature. For example if we live in hotter, more humid conditions (e.g higher than 33 degrees Celsius), we would need to be careful to avoid heat exhaustion by drinking more fluids and being careful what time of the day we exert ourselves. Many people in the world already live in very hot places, and generally their housing and lifestyles reflect sensible ways to live in these conditions. It’s possible that some of these ways of life will become more common in other parts of the world if the weather is consistently warmer. 

Answer provided by: Dr Linda Murray
How long until climate change becomes a serious problem for the average Australian?
View Answer

There will be a variety of Impacts that are unique to Australia, The Aboriginal people of Australia are made up of 64 plus nations, most of these have 10 dialects of language and have an even greater variety of lore’s. These lore’s have served and guided the Aboriginal people for over 60000 years. They have protected the mother earth and all its inhabitants so that there is a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship. These cultures rely on cultural resources to engage in all aspects of their traditional cultural processes, which include among many items hunting resources, food and cooking resources, mental health, and wellbeing through the practice of culture itself, healthy diets, food resources, ancient customs all of which will severely be strained by climate change impacts.

Aboriginal people’s connection to country has helped with the micro-observations of climate change effects.  Scientists from across the globe have had academic papers, conferences, and meetings with the regional indigenous peoples. The local unique impacts are those that effect all levels of Aboriginal traditional culture, starting with the changes in migration patterns of fish and birds. The endemic species climate self-adaptations means that some species of fish are being found in Tasmanian waters that have never been seen before because our waters are warming.  The Torres Strait peoples islands both physically and spiritually are slowly being absorbed into the sea, and in doing so, the sea is exposing and washing away ancestral burial grounds. They are among the first people to become climate refugees, new laws of governance on the international level have had to be created and observed as these lands sink or are washed away, an understand has been drawn up so that when these lands reappear that the Torres Strait islander forward generations are protected and that this treaty of kinship internationally recognised as being owned by the Torres Strait peoples, clans and family groups. As always, the Torres Strait people will also record these things in song lines.

This is just a small sample of the negative impacts that are and will impact the land called Australia.

Torres Strait Islands:
Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Answer provided by: Dean Greeno
climateFuturesUnviersity of TasmaniaTas Gov Sponosored
We acknowledge the Palawa/Pakana people, the Traditional Custodians of lutrawita/Tasmania. We recognise and respect their collective wisdom and knowledge about country and change.
(c) copyright 2024 University of Tasmania.
About this site