, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 841-857,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 24 Aug 2013

Future Scenarios as a Research Tool: Investigating Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation Options and Outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef, Australia


Climate change is a significant future driver of change in coastal social-ecological systems. Our knowledge of impacts, adaptation options, and possible outcomes for marine environments and coastal industries is expanding, but remains limited and uncertain. Alternative scenarios are a way to explore potential futures under a range of conditions. We developed four alternative future scenarios for the Great Barrier Reef and its fishing and tourism industries positing moderate and more extreme (2–3 °C above pre-industrial temperatures) warming for 2050 and contrasting ‘limited’ and ‘ideal’ ecological and social adaptation. We presented these scenarios to representatives of key stakeholder groups to assess the perceived viability of different social adaptation options to deliver desirable outcomes under varied contexts.