About > Staff

Elaine Baker

Senior Expert, Marine Sciences, Marine Division (University of Sydney)
Phone: +61 2 93 51 3000 / +47 99162969
Email: ebaker@mail.usyd.edu.au

 

Education:
• PhD University of Sydney, Australia. Sedimentation in a Tidally dominated delta and the impact of upstream mining: Fly River Papua New Guinea
• M. App. Sc. Environmental Toxicology
• B.Sc. (Hons.)
• Dip. Languages (Modern Hebrew)

Experience:
UNESCO Chair of Marine Ecosystem Management at the University of Sydney
Manager of the UNEP Shelf Programme in the Pacific
Associate Director Australian Ocean Drilling Program Secretariat (AUSODP), University of Sydney (1998 –  2003)
Program Manager (1994-1998) seconded from the University of Sydney to Sydney Water
Research Fellow (1985-94) School of Geosciences University of Sydney
Well-site Geologist (1982-1984) Gearhart Australia

A glimpse from Elaine's daily work:
Elaine Baker is leading a project for GRID-Arendal, with help from Miles Macmillan-Lawler, Steven Lutz, Peter Harris and UNEP’s Jerker Tamelander, to publish a UNEP report on mesophotic tropical coral reefs. These are reefs that live on the seafloor at water depths of up to 30 meters or more. They are still in the depth zone of the ocean where sunlight penetrates, so that's why they’re called “mesophotic” reefs.

Globally, coral reefs are deteriorating rapidly due to elevated sea surface temperatures, coastal development, pollution and unsustainable fishing practices. Repeated coral bleaching and mortality have been recorded in most regions since the mass mortality event of 1998. Under a business as usual scenario almost all shallow water coral reefs will experience thermal stress sufficient to induce severe bleaching every year by the 2050s. Coral reefs most likely to survive include those that sustain low impact from terrestrial runoff and occur where the water column is well mixed and close to sources of cool upwelled water. This includes large areas of submerged reefs, also known as mesophotic reefs. Occurring at depths greater than 30 m, they are buffered from several human and natural disturbances that affect shallow water reefs. Science has shown that mesophotic reefs are far more widespread and diverse than previously known. However, they remain largely uninvestigated in most parts of the world, and awareness of their importance remains low among policy makers and managers as well as scientists. Consequently they are largely not considered in conservation planning, marine zoning, and other marine policy and management frameworks.

This project will produce a report to enhance awareness of the importance of mesophotic reefs, advocate for and catalyse appropriate policy, management and research responses. The report’s authors will be drawn from leading research institutions from around the world, including NOAA, University of Oxford, University of Puerto Rico, Israeli Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, University of the Virgin Islands, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Hawaii Pacific University, California Academy of Sciences, Marine Conservation Institute, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Japan Agency for Marine Science and Technology, Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University.

Elaine Baker is a GRID-Arendal staff member who is seconded from the University of Sydney. She has been working for GRID-Arendal since 2006.