James Cook University (JCU) is a public university and is the second oldest university in Queensland, Australia.
JCU is a teaching and research institution. The University’s main campuses are located in the tropical cities of Cairns, Singapore and Townsville. JCU also has study centres in Mount Isa, Mackay and Thursday Island. A Brisbane campus, operated by Russo Higher Education, delivers undergraduate and postgraduate courses to international students. The University’s main fields of research include marine sciences, biodiversity, sustainable management of tropical ecosystems, genetics and genomics, tropical health care and tourism.
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James Cook University research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Climate-Related Death of Coral Around World Alarms Scientists – April 10, 2016
- Tough times for the tree of life on coral reefs – January 13, 2016
- Love Hertz: At Least for Dengue and Yellow Fever Carrying Mosquitoes – January 8, 2016
- Work on barren soil may bear fruit – August 21, 2015
- Recipe for Saving Coral Reefs: Add More Fish – April 10, 2015
- Nine steps to survive ‘most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history’ – March 6, 2015
- A glimmer of hope for corals as baby reef-builders cope with acidifying oceans – December 28, 2014
- Combating illegal fishing in offshore marine reserves – November 30, 2014
- New biodiversity study throws out controversial scientific theory – May 28, 2014
- Fish living near the equator will not thrive in the warmer oceans of the future
- Wildlife face Armageddon as forests shrink
- Roads could help rather than harm the environment
- The worlds big trees are dying
- Corals and Food Security: Study Shows Nations at Risk
- Can Nature Parks Save Biodiversity?
- One Solution to Global Overfishing Found
Kim Cobb, a marine scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, expected the coral to be damaged when she plunged into the deep blue waters off Kiritimati Island, a remote atoll near the center of the Pacific Ocean. Still, she was stunned by what she saw as she descended some 30 feet to the rim of a coral outcropping.
“The entire reef is covered with a red-brown fuzz,” Dr. Cobb said when she returned to the surface after her recent dive. “It is otherworldly. It is algae that has grown over dead coral. It was devastating.”
The damage off Kiritimati is part of a mass bleaching of coral reefs around the world, only the third on record and possibly the worst ever. Scientists believe that heat stress from multiple weather events including the latest severe El Niño, compounded by climate change, has threatened more than a third of Earth’s coral reefs. Many may not recover.
Coral reefs are the crucial incubators of the ocean’s ecosystem, providing food and shelter to a quarter of all marine species, and they support fish stocks that feed more than one billion people. They are made up of millions of tiny animals, called polyps, that form symbiotic relationships with algae, which in turn capture sunlight and carbon dioxide to make sugars that feed the polyps.
An estimated 30 million small-scale fishermen and women depend on reefs for their livelihoods, more than one million in the Philippines alone. In Indonesia, fish supported by the reefs provide the primary source of protein.
“This is a huge, looming planetary crisis, and we are sticking our heads in the sand about it,” said Justin Marshall, the director of CoralWatch at Australia’s University of Queensland.
Bleaching occurs when high heat and bright sunshine cause the metabolism of the algae — which give coral reefs their brilliant colors and energy — to speed out of control, and they start creating toxins. The polyps recoil. If temperatures drop, the corals can recover, but denuded ones remain vulnerable to disease. When heat stress continues, they starve to death.
Damaged or dying reefs have been found from Réunion, off the coast of Madagascar, to East Flores, Indonesia, and from Guam and Hawaii in the Pacific to the Florida Keys in the Atlantic.
The largest bleaching, at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, was confirmed last month. In a survey of 520 individual reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef’s northern section, scientists from Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force found only four with no signs of bleaching. Some 620 miles of reef, much of it previously in pristine condition, had suffered significant bleaching.
In follow-up surveys, scientists diving on the reef said half the coral they had seen had died. Terry Hughes, the director of the Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland, who took part in the survey, warned that even more would succumb if the water did not cool soon.
Australian and Chinese scientists have made significant progress in determining what causes soil acidification – a discovery that could assist in turning back the clock on degraded croplands.
James Cook University’s Associate Professor Paul Nelson said the Chinese Academy of Sciences sought out the Australian researchers because of work they had done in Australia and Papua New Guinea on the relationship between soil pH levels and the management practices that cause acidification.
Building on the JCU work, scientists examined a massive 3600 km transect of land in China, stretching from the country’s sub-arctic north to its central deserts. The work yielded a new advance that describes the mechanisms involved in soils becoming acidified.
Dr Nelson said soil degradation is a critical problem confronting humanity, particularly in parts of the world such as the tropics where land use pressure is increasing and the climate is changing. “We can now quantify the effect of, for instance, shutting down a factory that contributes to the production of acid rain,” he said.
Dr Nelson said the research found different drivers of soil acidification processes in different types of soil across northern China. “This information is vital for designing strategies that prevent or reverse soil acidification and to help land managers tailor their practices to maintain or improve soil quality,” he said.
The Patron of Soil Science Australia, former Australian Ambassador to the United Nations and for the Environment, The Honourable Penny Wensley AC, welcomed news of the advance.
“With 2015 designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Soils, this is a very important year for soil scientists around the world. We need to promote greater awareness of the importance of soils and soil health and the role soil science has to play in addressing national and global challenges.”
In the context of the International Year of Soils, onHPenny Wensley said: “We want to encourage greater cooperation and exchanges between soil scientists, to accelerate progress in research and achieve outcomes that will deliver practical benefits to farmers and land managers, working in diverse environments.
“This research project, drawing on the shared expertise of soil scientists from Australia’s James Cook University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is an exciting illustration of what can be achieved through greater collaboration,” she said.
Read more: Work on barren soil may bear fruit