IMAS Research Roundup - Feb-Mar 2022

In case you missed it, here are some of the research stories and achievements we celebrated in February and March...


You may have heard that marine heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense, but as climate change disrupts the dynamics of our oceans, there’s something else going on.

Marine cold spells have decreased in intensity and frequency since the 1980s, according to a new study.

IMAS PhD candidate Yuxin Wang analysed sea surface temperature data between 1982 and 2020 to understand the global trend in cold spells, and said these changes can have both positive and negative effects on ocean ecosystems.

“Marine cold spells can have critical impacts on marine ecosystems, such as coral mortality and the loss of cold refuges under warming water. But they can actually help marine ecosystem recovery after extreme marine heat wave events,” Yuxin said. Read the news article.

Photo: Francesco Ungaro (Unsplash)


Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, says the latest IPCC report, released in February.

We are immensely proud our four University of Tasmania scientists who were lead authors of the report, and among the 270 scientists around the world who assessed over 34,000 scientific publications for the report.

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee said.

“It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.” Read more

Our UTAS authors Prof Phillip Boyd, Prof Gretta Pecl, Dr Andrew Constable
and Dr Rebecca Harris – shallow kelp forest photo by Scott Ling


How quickly and by how much must humanity reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide to maintain a safe climate? The answer depends on understanding the complex way carbon moves between the ocean, the land and the atmosphere.

IMAS researchers Professor Zanna Chase and Dr Taryn Noble were recently awarded an Australian Research Council grant to study sediment cores extracted from the deep sea, to learn how the ocean’s carbon cycle responds to climate change.

Their small all-female team will take advantage of the natural climate experiment of the last glacial cycle, for insights into how climate change might alter the way the ocean absorbs and releases carbon.

It’s one of 14 new projects, amounting to grants of over $5.5 million, awarded to University of Tasmania researchers in the highly competitive ARC Discovery Projects round for 2022 – and 11 are led by women. Read more

Image: Professor Zanna Chase (R) and Dr Taryn Noble (L)


Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022

Since the early 1800s, when women in England first hitched up their petticoats and donned boy’s outdoor boots to collect seaweed specimens, women have been pioneers in the study of algae, and have influenced generations of female scientists to take up seaweed research.

IMAS researcher, Professor Catriona Hurd, has been immersed in seaweed physiology and ecology, called phycology, across her extensive international career – and she is passing the legacy on to emerging phycologists like IMAS PhD candidate Ellie Paine. Read more

Image: Catriona with Ellie, who is using the centuries-old method of seaweed pressing to preserve specimens for studying


You know our marine science courses are worth diving into when our University of Tasmania Vice Chancellor joins us in the field – and jumps in for some snorkelling and fish survey action!

Prof Rufus Black recently joined our IMAS Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science students on Maria Island – a four-day field trip to kick off their studies in our third-year Marine Ecology unit.

During the field trip, students had amazing first-hand experience in reef fish surveys, monitoring fish communities in the Marine Protected Area using baited remote underwater video (BRUV), and assessing estuary function, zooplankton, intertidal species, seaweed production and seagrass photosynthesis.

Where would you rather be? Learn more about our Marine and Antarctic Science course or Marine Ecology unit

IMAS students and researchers were recently joined by UTAS VC Prof Rufus Black on
Maria Island during their four-day Marine Ecology field excursion (Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith)

  • French Ambassador visits IMAS: As part of the research community here in Hobart at the Gateway to Antarctica, we value our relationship and collaboration with France. So we were honoured to welcome the Ambassador of France, H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, and members of the French Embassy to tour IMAS in February. The Ambassador met five of our outstanding IMAS AAPP scientists, and saw some of the Antarctic research that happens here at IMAS - from ice core and glaciology experimentation in our -20°C ice core lab, to a PhD project investigating the influence of marine ice on ice shelf dynamics and stability. Photo: AAPP researcher Joel Pedro shows the Ambassador an ice core inside our -20°C processing facility.
  • IMAS scientist takes centre stage in Hobart TEDX event: IMAS fisheries scientist, Dr Lokman Norazmi (pictured right) took centre stage at the TEDxHobart Of Land and Sea event in February. Lokman talked about the science of eradicating alien pest fish, like the mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) invading freshwater ecosystems across Australia, including Tasmania. He was one of 11 speakers sharing why their work is important to Tasmania and the world.
  • Investigating impact of salmon escapees on Tasmanian ecosystems: A new IMAS study found that Atlantic Salmon involved in two large escape events in southeast Tasmania during late 2020 do not appear to have caused significant ecological issues, with minimal feeding on native species impacting their ability to survive in the wild.
  • End of the World: new exhibition explores impact of climate change in Antarctica: A new exhibition by European-Australian artist Michaela Skovranova, exploring the impacts of climate change in Antarctica, was launched at the IMAS gallery in February. End of the World | Antarctica is a free public exhibition that showcases Michaela’s captivating photography and features her latest short film, End of the World, which premiered at TEDx Sydney in 2020. The exhibition is open until April 22 - see now showing for bookings, COVID entry requirements and opening hours.

End of the World... Antarctica © Michaela Skovranova. All rights reserved.

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Published 31 March 2022

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
28 October, 2022