Climate Change

photo of dried up mud

In 2004, Ove and Hans Hoegh-Guldberg presented a study of the "Biological, Economic, and Social Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia" at the 10th Annual Coral Reef Symposium in Okinawa, Japan. Ove is Professor of Marine Studies and Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Hans has specialized in applied cultural economics for over 25 years and has added scenario planning and environmental economics to his skill base since 1998.

Origin of Project

The US Coral Reef Task Force recommended that a similar study be done in the Florida Keys. In FY 2005, NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) funded a scoping effort by Hans to see if the study framework could be adapted to the Florida Keys. In FY 2007 and 2008, CRCP funded the study in the Florida Keys. The study was included in the Socioeconomic Research and Monitoring Program for the FKNMS and portions of the study were integrated into the 12-year replication of the study on recreation-tourism.

Project Goal

Provide alternative estimates, using scenario-planning techniques, of the medium- and long-term socioeconomic effects that may arise from climate change in the Florida Keys.


  1. Develop four scenarios ranging from global to local (Florida Keys) showing pathways through the 21st century. Base the global scenarios on the 2000 Special Report on Emissions Scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), updated to incorporate known developments since 2000. Derive US-wide scenarios compatible with each of the four scenarios. Develop local (Florida Keys) scenarios through the collection of economic, demographic, scientific, environmental and other relevant data and through a series of scenario-planning workshops in the Florida Keys (which were held in June 2008).
  2. Estimate market and non-market economic use values from surveys of residents and visitors of Monroe County/Florida Keys undertaking recreation-tourist uses of the coral reefs, as part of the initial input into each of the four scenario stories. This effort was not completed due to inadequate data and methodological limitations, but the report contains a discussion of how such an analysis might succeed in future.
  3. Based on each scenario, provide information to support adaptive management by both coral reef managers and local stakeholders. This information will include combinations of global strategies (centered on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions) and local strategies (water quality protection, education/outreach/enforcement, no-take areas, mooring buoys/channel markers, reef restoration, and other identified strategies).
  4. Develop policy recommendations basically to avoid worst-case scenarios by directing policies towards more environmentally sustainable conditions associated with other scenarios.


All the reports commissioned by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, by Australian economist, Hans Hoegh-Guldberg, were completed in 2010. All the reports have received extensive peer review.

The links below provide various levels of detail: an executive summary; nine short "fact sheets"; the main report; and four global background papers focusing on the increasing severity of climate and other global change, and the shortage of appropriate policies. All views and policy recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by NOAA.

Download the executive summary

This document is for the general public and condenses the main report with a brief description of what scenario analysis is and how it can be used; a brief description of each of the four scenarios; the results of each scenario both globally and in the Florida Keys; and policy/management recommendations. The recommendations are not official NOAA positions, but those offered by the author.