Understanding local and regional thermal regimes to prepare for climate change 

Project Leader(s) Dr Robert Smith (UoO), Dr Peter Russell (UoO

This project will provide a framework for predicting the locations and processes that lead to local oceanographic resilience, as well as vulnerability, in a warming ocean. Using in situ timeseries from southeast New Zealand, in conjunction with simple but accurate heat budget models, we will investigate how local-scale ocean physics controls temperature extremes in high value shallow-water marine ecosystems (e.g. coastal inlets, rocky reefs and/or kelp forests). We will generalise the heat budget models to enable temperature extremes within and across these systems to be predicted based on habitat parameters that can be readily estimated by coastal communities (e.g. tidal, solar, wind, seafloor and aquatic vegetation). This will allow predictions to be made about the locations of habitat-based refugia from climate change, as well as areas of increased sensitivity. These results will create informed and engaged local communities that have strategies to prepare and adapt to climate change across Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific.