Profile: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Profile:  Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

A scientist who pioneered knowledge of the links between climate change and coral reefs. University of Queensland researcher and Director of the Global Change Institute, Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, has been selected as the IPCC Coordinating Lead Author  on “Open Oceans”, His work exemplifies how researchers can help communities around the world understand and manage the most challenging issues. IPCC author teams consist of leading experts in the respective fields with a range of scientific views on climate change.

UQ Scientist named Coordinating Lead Author for next IPCC report

University of Queensland researcher and Director of the Global Change Institute, Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, has been selected as the Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 30, “Open Oceans”, to the Working Group II (WGII) contribution of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  

 The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), scheduled for completion in 2013-2014, will be the next comprehensive assessment of all aspects of climate change by the IPCC.  

UQ Vice-Chancellor & President Professor Paul Greenfield said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg was an excellent scientist and a fine choice by the IPCC. “Ove has pioneered knowledge of the links between climate change and coral reefs. His service to the IPCC will exemplify how UQ researchers can help communities around the world understand and manage the most challenging issues.”

The IPCC Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to its consequences.

Coordinating Lead Authors play a leading role in ensuring that any crosscutting scientific or technical issues, which may involve several sections of a report, are addressed in a complete and coherent manner and reflect the latest information available.

The author teams will conduct the scientific-technical assessment using procedures that emphasize comprehensiveness, scientific independence, openness, thorough review and transparency.

Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg has published works that include over 180 refereed publications and book chapters and is one of the most cited authors within the peer-reviewed literature on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems.  

Other Coordinating Lead Authors from Australia in Working Group II include:

Roger Jones, Victoria University, Ch. 2, “Foundations for Decision Making”; Ian Noble, The World Bank, Ch. 14, “Adaptation Needs and Options”;  Roger Kitching, Griffith University, Ch. 25, “Australasia”;  Roger McLean, University of New South Wales, Ch. 29 “Small Islands”

A number of other Australians have also been selected to participate in WGII as Contributing Authors and Reviewing Editors, as the work on the Fifth Assessment Report progresses.  

Geneva, 23 June 2010 – The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) announces today the release of the final list of selected Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors. This unique team of 831 climate change experts will dedicate almost four years to the three Working Group Reports of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to be published between 2013 and 2014. These experts will also provide contributions to the Synthesis Report to be published in 2014.

In the selection of authors particular attention has been given to relevant expertise to ensure that IPCC author teams consist of leading experts in the respective fields with a range of scientific views on climate change. The 831 individuals are drawn from fields including meteorology, physics, oceanography, statistics, engineering, ecology, social sciences and economics. In selecting the author teams the IPCC stressed the need for regional and gender balance and recognized the importance of involving new and younger authors.

In total 831 experts will contribute to the AR5, divided between the three working groups (WG). WGI focuses on the physical science basis and will include 258 experts. WGII assesses the impacts, adaptation strategies and vulnerability related to climate change and will involve 302 experts. WGIII covers mitigation response strategies in an integrated risk and uncertainty framework and its assessments will be carried out by 271 experts.

In March 2010, the IPCC received approximately 3,000 nominations. At the Bureau session held in Geneva, 19-20 May 2010, the three working groups presented their selected authors and review editors for the AR5. Each of the selected scientists, specialists and experts was nominated in accordance with IPCC procedures, by respective national IPCC Focal-Points, by approved observer organizations, or by the Bureau.

In comparison to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), participation from developing countries has been increased reflecting the on-going efforts to improve regional coverage in the AR5. About 30% of authors will come from developing countries or economies in transition. The proportion of female experts, has significantly increased since the AR4, reaching approximately 25% of the selected authors. More than 60% of the experts chosen are new to the IPCC process, which will bring in new knowledge and perspectives.

The IPCC received 50% more nominations of experts to participate in AR5 than it did for AR4. A total of 559 authors and review editors had been selected for AR4 from 2,000 proposed nominees.

“This increase reflects the high regard of the IPCC’s work within the scientific community”, said Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC. “The IPCC is very grateful to all those scientists, specialists and experts who will give their time freely to participate in the work of AR5.”


Just last month, the latest of Ove’s scientific papers was published in Science (18 June 2010). Here’s the abstract:


The Impact of Climate Change on the World’s Marine Ecosystems

By Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and John F. Bruno

Marine ecosystems are centrally important to the biology of the planet, yet a comprehensive understanding of how anthropogenic climate change is affecting them has been poorly developed. Recent studies indicate that rapidly rising greenhouse gas concentrations are driving ocean systems toward conditions not seen for millions of years, with an associated risk of fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation. The impacts of anthropogenic climate change so far include decreased ocean productivity, altered food web dynamics, reduced abundance of habitat-forming species, shifting species distributions, and a greater incidence of disease. Although there is considerable uncertainty about the spatial and temporal details, climate change is clearly and fundamentally altering ocean ecosystems. Further change will continue to create enormous challenges and costs for societies worldwide, particularly those in developing countries.

Here’s what Ove says about himself:

My early fascination with the ocean led to studies at the University of Sydney (BSc Hons) and UCLA (PhD). After returning from the United States in 1992, I took academic positions at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland (2000). Over this period, I built up the Coral Reef Ecosystems group, pursuing questions from molecular to global scales.

The full range of my research interests and laboratory group are detailed at the lab website and in my CV.

In addition to my love of science, I have been deeply motivated by the desire to communicate science effectively and to help solve the serious problems that ecosystems such as coral reefs face. In this respect I have actively collaborated with organisations such as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Royal Society of London and World Bank, as well as advising government and business on the science and urgency associated with climate change.

I have also worked extensively with the media, believing that scientists need to extend the impact of their science using the full set of communication options. This one of the primary reasons for why I maintain the active blog,

And a fuller biography:

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is currently Professor of Marine Studies and Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland. Ove has held academic positions at UCLA, Stanford University, The University of Sydney and The University of Queensland and is currently a member of the Australian Climate Group; the Royal Society (London) Marine Advisory Network; and the Board of Editing Reviewers at Science Magazine. He also heads a large research laboratory (over 30 researchers & students) that focuses on how global warming and ocean acidification are affecting and will affect coral reefs now and into the future.

Ove completed his BSc Hons at the University of Sydney and PhD at UCLA in 1989, and has spent the past 20 years working on climate change issues within marine ecosystems. He was recognised in 1999 with the Eureka Prize in 1999 for “ground-breaking research into the physiological basis of coral bleaching”. Ove’s published works include over 180 refereed publications and book chapters. Three of his publications are now the 1st, 4th and 6th most cited works over the past 10 years in the area of “climate change”. Two of these papers are also the 1st and 2nd most cited papers over the past 10 years in the area of “coral reefs”: 649 (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999) and 426 (Hughes et al. 2003). His recent Science paper in Dec 2007 is now ISI’s hottest paper (most cited over the past two years) in the both the area of “climate change” and “ocean acidification” (cited 192 times in <24 months). In 2008, he became a Queensland Smart State Premier’s Fellow.

Ove is also a regular contributor to the media, with his work over the past 12 months featuring in the ABC (Catalyst), BBC (with Sir David Attenborough) and NBC (with Tom Brokaw), reaching over 15 million people in Australia, the UK and the USA. In his role as Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and as Coordinator for the Australasian Centre for Excellence and Chair of the Bleaching Working Group within the World Bank-Global Environment Facility Coral Reef Targeted Research project. Hoegh-Guldberg interacts with a wide array of national and international scientific networks that focus on the challenges that climate change poses to the health of the world’s oceans.

In addition to his work as a university academic, Ove has been advisor to numerous organisations including the Royal Society (London), Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Rio Tinto Aluminium, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, The World Bank, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, NOAA and the Australian Government on the issue of coral reefs and climate change.   Ove Hoegh-Guldberg become the Queensland Smart State Premier’s Fellow in 2009, a position he will hold for 5 years.

About the Global Change Institute

The University of Queensland established the Global Change Institute (GCI) to provide a vehicle for collaborative research, learning, engagement and advocacy in major global change issues.

The GCI will contribute to evidence-based, progressive solutions to the problems of a rapidly-changing world within the existing and projected frameworks of those problems: political, environmental, social, economic and technical. The GCI will investigate complex, interconnected issues in innovative ways, in order to achieve multi-disciplinary, integrated solutions.

About the IPCC

The IPCC is a scientific body which reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. Differing viewpoints existing within the scientific community are reflected in the IPCC reports.

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.

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