Monday 8 December 2008

Friend or Foe?  The Ocean’s Response to Climate Change

Dr Ben McNeil

Dr Ben NcNeil

Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is the principle driver of future climate change. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased 30% beyond pre-industrial levels through human combustion of fossil-fuel carbon and will continue to increase rapidly into the future.  The ocean covers 70% of the earths surface, is the largest active reservoir of carbon on earth and is the most important natural sink for reducing anthropogenic atmospheric CO2.  The ocean controls atmospheric CO2through both biological cycling (phytoplankton production) and solubility cycling (thermodynamics).  Here I will discuss the latest scientific understanding governing climate change impacts on the ocean : including implications for global circulation and heat transport, oceanic CO2 uptake, pH acidification and changes in oceanic biological production.  I can then synthesize the likely future implications in order to answer whether the oceans will be working for us or against us in slowing climate change.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Ben will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions? Contact Joel (0411 267 044 or or Nelle (

Ben McNeil is an Australian academic who is an expert in a range of areas relating to climate change science, policy and energy.

Completing his PhD in 2001 he worked as a research fellow at Princeton University, USA and returned to Australia in 2004, where he is now a senior research fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.  In 2007, he was chosen as an expert reviewer for the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change 4th assessment report and was invited to present his research to the Prime Minister and cabinet at Parliament House in Canberra. He was also recently elected to represent young scientists in the Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies.

His writing on climate change and energy policy has been widely published in Australia’s newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian and The Canberra Times.  He has also made numerous radio and television appearances including ABC Radio National, CNN, BBC and Sky News Australia.